Past Awards: 2016

The following are brief descriptions of the projects selected for Research Infrastructure Investment Program awards in 2016. These awards are designed to facilitate interdisciplinary partnerships and strengthen the University’s research infrastructure. One-to-one matching funds from the collaborating colleges, institutes, and/or centers were required for funding eligibility.

3D Bioprinting Facility

Angela Panoskaltsis-Mortari, Pediatrics, Medical School
Matching funds: Medical School, College of Science & Engineering, Angela Panoskaltsis-Mortari, Biomedical Engineering, Mechanical Engineering, Stem Cell Institute

This investment supports the continued operation of the new UMN 3D Bioprinting facility that has spawned new, synergistic, intercollegiate research partnerships. Bioprinting is an automated and versatile platform technology to create 3-dimensional tissue constructs composed of living cells and/or biological substances. The award supports a dedicated scientist who manages the facility, assists investigators with tissue construction experiments, and incorporates new bioprinting technologies. It also provides funds for the purchase of an EVOS incubated imaging system with which bioprinted constructs can be monitored over time in a sterile, closed system during tissue incubation and maturation with 3D image stacking capabilities. The facility is located in room 269 DVCRC/KE, and offers single-, dual-, and multi-head extrusion, as well as state-of-the-art laser-assisted bioprinting. This facility is available for all researchers interested in regenerative medicine, cell therapies, bioengineering, mechanical engineering, biomaterials, surgery, stem cell biology, disease modeling, drug screening, medical devices, robotics, and computational and mathematical modeling of tissue formation.

Advanced Imaging Services for Objects and Spaces

Gilliane Monnier, Department of Anthropology, College of Liberal Arts (CLA)
Matching funds: Department of Anthropology, Department of Geography, Department of Earth Sciences, CLA, Bell Museum of Natural History, Department of Computer Science and Engineering

The Advanced Imaging Service for Objects and Spaces (AISOS) will be a new facility on campus dedicated to 2D and 3D imaging at the macro- and meso-scales. The facility will house advanced technology for exploring objects and artifacts with new levels of precision, including gigapixel macro imaging, reflectance transformation imaging, photogrammetry and structured-light 3D scanning. This will enable researchers across campus to gather images of objects (art, ethnographic objects, artifacts), scientific samples (biological, geological), spaces (buildings, landscapes) and archival materials. These images will be suitable for publication, instruction and exhibit purposes, as well as for quantitative analyses. AISOS will house the instrumentation and expertise necessary to help researchers whose work relies on the analysis of objects.

Establishing Driven to Discover as a Permanent Presence at the Minnesota State Fair

Ellen Demerath, Division of Epidemiology and Community Health, School of Public Health (SPH)
Matching funds: Medical School; College of Education and Human Development; Division of Epidemiology and Clinical Research, Pediatrics; SPH; University Libraries

The Driven to Discover Research Facility (D2D) at the Minnesota State Fair is an innovative facility that provides a public face for the University that builds a culture of research participation among Minnesotans, communicates research results directly to the public and provides a pipeline to studies conducted at the University. D2D links the University’s massive research capacity with the over 1.8 million fairgoers each year for recruitment into research studies that represent a diverse array of departments, colleges and campuses. Activities funded through this grant will expand the capacity of the facility with greater support for: external grant applications; enhanced pre-Fair publicity and recruitment protocols; mechanisms for returning results of D2D studies to the public; and a public venue for engagement with University research generally.

FIB/SEM Dual-Beam System for the UMN Characterization Facility

K. Andre Mkhoyan, Department of Chemical Engineering and Materials Science, College of Science and Engineering (CSE)
Matching Funds: Department of Earth Sciences, Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering, Department of Chemical Engineering and Materials Science, Material Research Science and Engineering Center, Characterization Facility, CSE Dean’s Office.

Funding from this award will allow for the acquisition of a state-of-the-art, combined focus ion beam and scanning electron microscope system (FIB/SEM Dual-Beam) to fill a critical need for the U’s Characterization Facility. This system will dramatically improve the UMN’s role as one of the leaders in nanotechnology research. This FIB/SEM Dual-Beam system will make previously inaccessible scientific study possible, allowing researchers to push the limits of understanding of the fundamentals of nanoscale materials through nanoscale cutting, patterning and manipulating a wide range of materials with parallel SEM-based, high resolution imaging and spectroscopy.

Malvern Zetasizer Nano ZS for Size and Zeta Potential Measurements

Tonya C. Schoenfuss, Midwest Dairy Foods Research Center, College of Food, Agricultural and Natural Resource Sciences (CFANS)
Matching Funds: Malvern Instruments, Midwest Dairy Foods Research Center, Tonya Schoenfuss Foundation Account, Gary Reineccius Foundation Account

Zeta potential evaluates the tendency of particles in solutions to interact. These tendencies are important elements of foods, pharmaceuticals, cosmetics, and innumerable industrial and environmental applications. This award will fund a Malvern Zetasizer Nano ZS, which will allow food science and nutrition researchers to evaluate modifications to dairy and other protein ingredients. The instrument will make new projects possible, including evaluating mixes of proteins for “clean label” ingredient applications in foods and hydrolyzing and cross-linking soy and dairy proteins to change their functional properties and allergenicity. The system will also allow researchers to select shell material for emulsions to get the best interaction with a protective coating, as well as to improve the feed efficiency of piglets and the viability of probiotic microorganisms during digestion.

Minnesota Nano Center Core Facility Device Application Upgrade

Stephen Campbell, Minnesota Nano Center (MNC), CSE
Matching funds: CSE Associate Dean Mos Kaveh, MNC non-sponsored funds

The Minnesota Nano Center is a core research facility that supports about 300 academic and industry users with the equipment needed to make micro- and nano-scale structures for a wide range of applications. This award aids MNC in targeting the crucial step of cutting and packaging structures to enable them to be tested and used. The grant will allow for the acquisition of a substrate saw and a wafer bonder, both of which replace old systems designed to only work on silicon wafers and simple geometries. The new tools will enable researchers working in nontraditional implement their devices in real applications.

Minnesota Nano Center Core Thin Film Etching and Characterization Upgrade

Stephen Campbell, Minnesota Nano Center (MNC), CSE
Matching funds: CSE Associate Dean Mos Kaveh, MNC non-sponsored funds

This award funds upgrades to two areas of the MNC where many users currently rely on old legacy tools that are no longer supported by the vendor. The first will replace a system from the 1970s with a new system that allows researchers to rapidly map film thickness, producing 3D renderings of film thickness uniformity. This is a ubiquitous requirement in a lab where almost all structures are made by successive deposition and patterning of thin films. The second purchase will upgrade a 20-year-old etch tool, replacing the control electronics and software, which are now unsupported by the vendor. This upgrade will allow MNC to avoid fully replacing the tool at a higher cost.

Molybdenum Micro-Focus Source Technology for X-ray Diffraction

Connie C. Lu, Department of Chemistry, CSE
Matching Funds: Department of Chemistry, CSE

Single-crystal X-ray diffraction is arguably the best method for determining the 3D structures of chemical compounds at atomic-level resolution. Understanding chemical structure at this level of detail is critical for designing catalysts, developing methods for synthesizing drugs, evaluating how chemical compounds function and facilitating serendipitous discovery that drives research in new directions. This award will fund the integration of a molybdenum X-ray source into the X-ray diffractometer, an instrument in the X-ray Crystallographic Laboratory (XCL) used by 17 research groups across five University departments. The molybdenum X-ray source generates ultra-bright radiation, which can dramatically improve signal to noise and provide higher quality data in less time, leading to enhanced research productivity. The source’s capabilities will also provide opportunities for new collaborations within the XCL.

Nanoliter Acoustic Droplet Ejection Dispenser to Support Drug Discovery

Jon Hawkinson, High Throughput Screening & Assay Development Facility, Institute for Therapeutics Discovery and Development, College of Pharmacy
Matching funds: College of Pharmacy, Institute for Therapeutics Discovery and Development

Nanoliter acoustic droplet ejection technology uses sound energy to provide highly accurate, fully automated, non-contact dispensing of nanoliter volumes of fluids. The Echo 550 Nanoliter Acoustic Droplet Ejection Dispenser makes it feasible to directly transfer nanoliter volumes of compounds in DMSO at high concentration from source plates to 96- or 384-well destination plates in a high-throughput manner to achieve final assay concentrations. The primary applications include High-Throughput Screening (HTS) and Fragment-Based Screening (FBS) campaigns, Structure-Activity Relationship (SAR) projects, cherry-picking screening hits, and dose-responses to generate potency values for biochemical, biophysical, and cell-based assays. The Echo 550 will also have the ability to transfer nanoliter volumes of aqueous samples, opening up the possibility of conducting genetic screens.

The Echo 550 Nanoliter Acoustic Droplet Ejection Dispenser will support a broad range of drug discovery projects in diverse therapeutic areas in collaboration with numerous Principal Investigators in several colleges at the University of Minnesota.

Pacific Biosciences Sequel System: Bringing Long-Read Next-Gen Sequencing to the UMN

Kenneth Beckman, University of Minnesota Genomics Center (UMGC), Academic Health Center
Matching Funds: Academic Health Center

The Genomics Center provides next-generation sequencing (NGS) services to the University research community. Over the past two years, a “long-read” NGS technology called Single Molecule Real-Time (“SMRT”) Sequencing has matured to sequence single DNA molecules up to 60,000 bases long — two orders of magnitude longer than current UMN instruments. This award will fund the acquisition of a cutting-edge Pacific Biosciences SMRT Sequencing instrument that operates at dramatically lower cost and higher efficiency. The system will fill a gap in the University’s current technological portfolio and enable new research avenues, allowing scientists to carry out experiments that are difficult or impossible with short-read NGS. Examples include independent assembly of novel genomes, complete re-sequencing of microbial isolates and genetic diagnoses of difficult-to-sequence genetic disorders.

Purchase of Asphalt Mixture Performance Tester/Asphalt Standard Tester

Manik Barman, Department of Civil Engineering, Swenson College of Science and Engineering, University of Minnesota Duluth (UMD)
Matching funds: Manik Barman start-up funds; Department of Civil Engineering at UMD

The performance of asphalt pavement largely relies on the quality of the asphalt mixtures used in its construction. An Asphalt Mixture Performance Tester (AMPT) is a compact servo-hydraulic testing machine that characterizes the performance of asphalt mixtures against typical pavement distresses. An AMPT can conduct a number of asphalt mixture performance tests with the same equipment, including fatigue tests on new- or recycled- asphalt mixtures, resistance tests against rutting and stiffness tests. The award will fund a new AMPT, which is a necessity for a modern asphalt pavement engineering laboratory and will help in conducting research on sustainable asphalt materials. Research projects funded by the Minnesota Department of Transportation, Local Road Research Board of Minnesota and Federal Highway Administration can be conducted using this equipment.

Rapid Sequencing Capacity to Transform Collaborative Animal Agriculture Research in Minnesota

Timothy Johnson, College of Veterinary Medicine and Mid-Central Research and Outreach Center (MCROC)
Matching Funds: Willmar Poultry Company, Purina/PMI Feed Additives, Phibro Animal Health, MCROC Lab; Jennie-O Turkey

With the threat of livestock diseases such as avian influenza, it is essential to be ready to quickly identify and respond to threats. Industry-academia collaborations at the University’s Mid-Central Research and Outreach Center, located in Willmar, Minn., require rapid sequencing with immediate turnaround for applications such as the development of vaccines and antibiotic alternatives. This award will fund an Illumina MiniSeq system to be implemented at MCROC along with computational resources supporting acquisition and rapid analyses of genomic data. The addition of MiniSeq at MCROC will transform researchers’ ability to predict, identify and respond to emerging issues in poultry production. It will also strengthen collaborative research with industry using a new dual-purpose partnership model applicable to all of animal agriculture.

Obesity Prevention Center Lending Library of Research Equipment, Software and Protocols

Melissa Laska and Lisa Harnack, Obesity Prevention Center (OPC)
Matching funds: OPC

The Obesity Prevention Center’s lending library provides research equipment, software and protocol training to University researchers conducting obesity prevention research. The library is heavily used and there is often a wait list for equipment. This funding will expand inventory in the lending library to accommodate increased requests and to add new state-of-the-art technologies, including 24-hour physical activity monitors and larger-capacity body composition analyzers for measuring heavier research participants. Increasing the availability of research equipment will improve the quality of research projects, reduce equipment costs, enhance cross-disciplinary collaboration and provide more opportunities for the high-quality training. The enhanced lending library will provide added support for internally funded developmental research projects and will help to strengthen proposals for extramural obesity prevention research.