Honoring Five Research Technical Staff Members

The Office of the Vice President for Research (OVPR) is proud to announce the five winners of the inaugural Research Technical Staff Award, which recognizes staff for their distinguished service to the University of Minnesota research community and celebrates exemplary leadership that positively impacted their colleagues and advanced the University's mission. Each winner received a personal honorarium of $1000.

“Innovative research relies on a whole team of people. That’s why we’re grateful for the opportunity to recognize and honor some of the technical staff behind the amazing work that happens here at the University,” said Frances Lawrenz, interim vice president for research. “Congratulations to the five winners, who received glowing recommendations from colleagues for their tireless and important contributions to the research enterprise.”

Read on to learn about the winners, their roles at the University, and quotes from the colleagues that nominated them. 

Adele Dimian serves as a research associate in the Institute on Community Integration (ICI) and the associate director of the TeleOutreach Center, which uses video communication technology to provide support for young people with mental health and neurodevelopmental disabilities. In her dual roles, Dimian co-leads the Masonic Institute for the Developing Brain Tele Core and multiple telehealth research projects. She specializes in early intervention especially relating to self-injurious behavior among children with intellectual and developmental disabilities.

“Dr. Dimian not only contributes but drives initiatives that enhance research excellence at the University. Dr. Dimian is a core leading member of teleoutreach and very involved in multiple studies, including a large, federally funded randomized control trial in the use of supplemental telehealth-supported family support for waitlisted families of children on the autism spectrum. She is consistently involved in every aspect of the research process, from grant attainment and implementation to analysis and dissemination.”

Lane Johnson serves as a research forester at the Cloquet Forestry Center (CFC) where he is engaged in research support for University and non-University research groups, forest stewardship, and science communication. He is most passionate about fire–specifically the restoration of fire to fire-dependent woodlands and forests. Lane's research focuses on the red pine forests in the Great Lakes region, where he uses tree-ring fire scars and other bio-cultural records to better understand the past and future of our fire-dependent landscapes and communities.

“In his present work, Lane has been able to translate his research into contemporary land stewardship practices. We were able to conduct prescribed burning at the CFC in May 2022 for the first time in over 20 years. This relied on his professional network through the development of Memorandum of Understandings with the Bureau of Indian Affairs on behalf of the Fond du Lac Band of Lake Superior Chippewa, The Nature Conservancy, and The Forest Stewards Guild. This was the culmination of Lane’s four years in his position and over six years of work at the CFC.”

Kelley Kitto serves as a researcher for the Department of Neuroscience at the Medical School, where his pre-clinical neuropharmacological research in chronic pain and analgesia helped him become the leading experimentalist in the world for spinal therapeutic delivery in mice. He is a member of the U of M Pain Consortium and conducts collaborative work spanning four health science units, the College of Biological Sciences, and the Twin Cities and Duluth campuses.

“Kelley’s keenly observant nature and pride of work has positively impacted our scientific contributions as a team to the University’s research enterprise. Kelley models integrity and self-awareness at a level that encourages the rest of  the team to put forth that same level of work ethic, and thus pushes our whole research team further along in our research endeavors.”

Megan Manion serves as a senior research fellow at the Human Rights Center at the University of Minnesota Law School and a senior legal advisor to Professor Fionnuala Ní Aoláin, the United Nations Special Rapporteur on human rights and counterterrorism. In these roles, she writes and conducts research on human rights, gender and justice, and security issues and has served as a lecturer (Spring 2022) in the Law School. She further provides legal advice to the Special Rapportuer to promote and protect human rights and fundamental freedoms while countering terrorism.

“Megan’s work is world-leading. She plays a unique research and policy support role which has global, national, and regional impact. Her direct work is primarily focused on legal and political engagement with the UN Security Council, the UN General Assembly, the UN Office of counter-terrorism and the UN Global Counter-Terrorism co-ordination compact. In all of these contexts and institutional settings, Megan is an acknowledged technical expert on national security issues, a trusted political interlocutor bringing the name and reputation of the University of Minnesota to the forefront.”

Todd Schuster serves as the core manager of the Instrument Core Facility at The Hormel Institute. In this role, he operates, maintains, and instructs scientists on the shared equipment used in research at the facility. He manages a very broad portfolio of research services and equipment, from biology and pathology services to biochemistry and biophysics instrumentation, and supports over 20 different labs with research interests spanning cell and molecular biology to bioinformatics, biochemistry, and chemical biology.

“Todd’s contributions to the growth of the research and capabilities at The Hormel Institute cannot be understated: he works tirelessly alongside the faculty and labs to ensure that we have everything we need to be working at the cutting edge of our science. In any other institution, his level and breadth of work would be overseen by a team of facility managers across disciplines. He is a shining example of the kind of research support that makes the UMN system so successful and is, unquestionably, highly deserving of this distinction.”