Poverty simulation helps shape future health care professionals

NDSU nursing and pharmacy students will get a glimpse into how a family in poverty navigates the complexities of life. Approximately 70 senior nursing students and third-year professional pharmacy students are scheduled to take part in a poverty simulation experience Friday, Feb. 5, from 1 p.m. to 4 p.m. in the Memorial Union Great Room.

During the simulation, the students will role-play the lives of low-income families, from single parents trying to care for their children, to senior citizens trying to maintain their self-sufficiency on Social Security. The task of each family is to provide food, shelter and other basic necessities while interacting with various community resources.

Hailey Goplen, assistant director for service-learning and civic engagement, said the goal is to enable participants to view poverty from different angles and begin to understand what life is like with a shortage of money and an abundance of stress and become motivated to be part of the solution to ending poverty.

“Students studying health care will one day work with patients facing difficult financial- and health-related decisions on a regular basis,” Goplen said. “Many of those patients will be deciding between using what little money they have to buy food for their children and pay the rent or paying to fill a prescription and see a doctor. This experience helps future health care professionals better understand the stressors and difficult decisions some patients will be facing in order to be stronger allies and advocates for those in poverty.”

Participants will be taking on the role of people just below, on or just above the poverty line. The family roles participants take on are based off of actual families that have sought help through community action agencies.

Volunteers will fill roles including school teachers, social services, childcare workers, bankers and community healthcare providers.

More than 200 students have taken part in a series of the simulations. The first was held in April 2015. This week students from NDSU’s College of Health Professions and College of Human Development and Education participated.

Students attending the first simulation session were surprised how hard it is to navigate the system. “They identified how stressful it was and why,” said Elizabeth Skoy, associate professor of practice in the School of Pharmacy. “In role-playing, they did things they normally wouldn’t do to survive. They learned that it’s really easy to cast judgment, and as health care professionals, to think about what could be affecting someone’s well-being and think outside of what’s immediately visible.”

The College of Health Professions is using the training as part of its focus on an educational model where students collaborate on an interprofessional team, as they will in hospitals, clinics and other health care settings upon graduation.

The poverty simulation kit used during the experience was purchased with help from Dakota Medical Foundation.

As a student-focused, land-grant, research university, we serve our citizens.

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NDSU named ambassador for weather-readiness initiative

NDSU has been by selected by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration as a Weather-Ready Nation Ambassador.

The initiative is an effort to formally recognize NOAA partners who are improving the nation’s readiness against extreme weather, water and climate events.

As a Weather-Ready Nation Ambassador, NDSU is committed to working with the NOAA and other ambassadors to strengthen national resilience against extreme weather.

The Weather-Ready Nation Ambassador program helps unify efforts across government, non-profits, academia and private industry toward making the nation more ready, responsive and resilient against extreme environmental hazards.

Ambassadors serve as change agents and community leaders. They inspire others to be better informed and prepared, and help minimize or avoid the impacts of natural disasters.

As a student-focused, land-grant, research university, we serve our citizens.

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Emergency management faculty awarded grant to study hurricane evacuation



NDSU researchers, along with colleagues from Purdue University and Virginia Tech University, have been selected to receive a $2.5 million National Science Foundation Hazards Science, Engineering and Education for Sustainability, known as SEES, grant to understand the role of uncertainty in hurricane evacuation decision-making.

Gurt Ge, NDSU assistant professor of emergency management, is a co-principal investigator leading the social science team for the four-year multi-campus project. Daniel J. Klenow, professor of emergency management, is the senior personnel on the grant, which brought $249,943 as a sub-award to NDSU.



The interdisciplinary project will develop next-generation data-driven tools for capturing and mitigating uncertainty in hazards such as hurricanes. The integrative approaches of transportation modeling, social science and computational systems science will be developed in leveraging recent advancements in data gathering with the goal to improve the safety of evacuations. Project outcomes will assist emergency managers and agencies to anticipate transportation and sheltering needs and enhance community planning prior to and after hurricanes. The improvements will lead to lower evacuation costs, stress and loss of life.

Ge and Klenow are involved in collecting novel data through post-hurricane mail surveys, web experiments, personal interviews, and social media. They are developing new integrative scientific approaches to modeling household level behaviors and social network effects across households and other stakeholders. The project will develop new understanding of household level decision-making behaviors, how individuals and agencies process uncertainty at different instances of the hurricane onset and the consequences of the household decisions on city-scale traffic congestion, using computational sciences as a supporting discipline.

In addition, the project will model evacuation logistics for hurricanes. The project will provide a holistic approach to characterize, measure and analyze uncertainty in various aspects of hurricane evacuation modeling, social networks, household decision-making and stochastic traffic modeling.

Ge and Klenow’s collaborators include project principal investigator Satish Ukkusuri, civil engineering; Seungyoon Lee, communication; and Milind Kulkarni, electrical and computer engineering, from Purdue University and Pamela Murray-Tuite, civil engineering, from Virginia Tech.

Additional details about the project can be found here.

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NDSU to host Veterans Town Hall Meeting

North Dakota Veterans Affairs Commissioner Lonnie Wangen is scheduled to make a stop at NDSU as he visits cities across the state to hold town hall meetings with veterans.

Fargo-area veterans are invited to a town hall meeting at NDSU on Tuesday, Feb. 16. The event is scheduled from 2 to 4 p.m., in the Memorial Union Great room, 1401 Administration Ave.

Veterans will have the opportunity to hear from Wangen and to present ideas, share opinions, ask questions and give feedback on services.

Other scheduled Veterans Town Hall meetings include:

• Minot

Jan. 25, 1 p.m. to 3 p.m.

Minot State University, Conference Center

• Wahpeton

Feb. 1, 3 p.m. to 5 p.m.

North Dakota State College of Science, Old Main

• Bismarck

Feb. 2, 1 p.m. to 3 p.m.

Bismarck State College, Auditorium – NECE Building

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Construction continues inside Wellness Center aquatic addition

Construction continues inside the Wallman Wellness Center aquatic addition.

Construction continues inside the Wallman Wellness Center aquatic addition.

The Wallman Wellness Center aquatic addition is fully enclosed and construction is underway on the inside of the facility.

Air ducts have been placed throughout the addition and walls have been placed to separate locker rooms, classrooms and mechanical rooms from what will be the main pool area.

Work also continues on laying the red brick facade to the outside walls to match the architectural look of the Wellness Center.

The full project is scheduled to be complete by late summer.

The $11 million project is completely student funded. Students voted in spring 2013 to approve construction and bond financing through student fees. Those fees will increase this fall to support operation of the facility.

The project includes a leisure pool, lap pool, sauna, fire pit, a “wet classroom” for activities like scuba instruction, gender-neutral locker rooms and additional women’s and men’s locker rooms.

The Wallman Wellness Center was built in 2001, with an earlier addition completed in 2007. The center also houses the Student Health Service, Disability Services and Child Care facilities.

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Journalism student displays North Dakota photos

The NDSU Department of Communication is showcasing the photographic talents of one of its outstanding students.

Dura's prairie fringed orchid photo.

Dura’s prairie fringed orchid photo.

Throughout spring semester, the department will display 25 photographs by Jack Dura, a senior journalism major from Fargo. Titled, “Jack Dura: A North Dakota Rural Legacy,” the exhibit features a variety of historical and cultural places across the state.

A reception is scheduled for Thursday, Feb. 4, at 5 p.m. in Minard Hall, room 338. Dura is set to give a talk on his photos, and light refreshments will be served.

Dura’s work documents little known and forgotten rural spaces throughout North Dakota, places most people will never visit. The displayed photos were selected from more than 10,000 images he took during the past year.

“North Dakota has a great diversity in its landscapes, so I tried to show the scope of what’s out there in my photos, be it a weathered sod house on the Sheridan County prairie, the trees of the Pembina Gorge or just the vastness of the state as a whole,” Dura explained, noting his favorite photo depicts a prairie fringed orchid, the only plant on the state’s endangered species list.

“I never considered myself an artist or photographer, but I am happy to have pictures of North Dakota up on display, regardless of whose they are,” Dura said. “My North Dakota photography is also a way to get out of town for a day without leaving home. Having my photographs on display shows bits and pieces of the 12,000 miles I logged within North Dakota’s borders outside of Fargo in 2015.”

Ross Collins, professor of communication, and Mark Meister, professor and department chair, helped organize the display and reception.

“He’s amazingly prolific and knows North Dakota better than just about anybody of any age,” Collins said. “I personally like the simple honesty of his photos that I think reflects North Dakota values and scenes. His photos are part of the archival tradition, straightforward without apparent compositional contrivance. They record and reflect a sense of place and time.”

Dura, who is news editor for The Spectrum student newspaper, also has written projects for Prairie Public Broadcasting and the High Plains Reader.

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Professor earns NSF grant for power grid research


Ray Chaudhuri

Nilanjan Ray Chaudhuri, assistant professor in the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering, received a $132,182 National Science Foundation grant to research and develop a model that could help stabilize large power grids while increasing the use of renewable energy.

The research will help provide a deeper understanding of the impact of data dropouts and delays in communication channels on wide-area grid stabilization controls, and create new ways to help grids prevent large-scale problems.

“Increasing the amount of wind integration is a big deal,” Ray Chaudhuri said. “If we can do it by replacing the current energy sources or by adding above conventional generation, it would be a very important step toward achieving environmental emissions and carbon footprint goals around the globe.”

Ray Chaudhuri’s research will focus on the integration of renewable energy, mostly from wind farms, into a large power grid. His team will use a reduced model of the United State’s Eastern Interconnection, which includes the East Coast and much of the Midwest.

The project will use two new techniques that rely on computational estimation of dropped data packets that power grid controllers would receive. The estimates would be used to prevent the controllers from misoperation.

The research could prove that networked control systems can effectively stabilize a large power grid, Ray Chaudhuri said.

Ray Chaudhuri said little work has been done on the computational challenges of power grids because of the size and scope of the components involved. Ray Chaudhuri’s project will look into the reduction of the size of the model through novel frequency-domain abstractions. This reduction could help computation and control in real time.

The NSF award number is 1464208 and the abstract can be found here.

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NDSU researchers awarded NSF grant for ambitious power systems project



NDSU researchers are leading a team that has been awarded a $496,000 grant from the National Science Foundation for a project titled “CPS: Breakthrough: Collaborative Research: WARP: Wide Area assisted Resilient Protection.”

NDSU will receive more than $314,000, while New Mexico State University will receive about $182,300. The grant is associated with the “Breakthrough” category of the NSF Cyber-Physical Systems program. The category focuses on significant advances in cyber-physical science, engineering and technology that have the potential to change the field, and is therefore extremely competitive.


Ray Chaudhuri

Rajesh Kavasseri, associate professor of electrical and computer engineering, is the project’s principal investigator, while Nilanjan Ray Chaudhuri, assistant professor of electrical and computer engineering, is the co-principal investigator. The work is in collaboration with NMSU colleague Sukumar Brahma.

The project proposes a radical solution to avert cascading failures and blackouts in bulk power systems by designing a new genre of “resilient” protection schemes.

“We are excited to win this award, especially in the ‘Breakthrough’ category, the most competitive within the Cyber-Physical Systems program,” Kavasseri said.

The electric power grid often experiences disturbances that are routinely controlled, managed or eliminated by system protection measures. Despite this, the grid sometimes experiences disruptive events that can catapult the system toward a blackout. Swiftly arresting such blackouts has remained elusive so far, according to the researchers.

Using wide-area measurements, estimation and computation, WARP would allow protective devices to be supervised and endow them with “look-ahead” capabilities for judicious operation. The project would pro-vision the electric grid with the capacity to auto-correct and bounce back from problems. It is intended to curtail the size, scale and progression of blackouts and improve the robustness and resilience of the electric grid, which the researchers describe as the nation’s most critical infrastructure.

The NSF award number is 1544621 and the abstract can be found here.

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Commencement speaker to encourage graduates to keep pushing themselves

NDSU senior Richard Schrom was one of two students chosen to deliver a message to his classmates on graduation day. His commencement address will encourage graduates to keep pushing themselves to achieve.

NDSU senior Richard Schrom was one of two students chosen to deliver a message to his classmates on graduation day. His commencement address will encourage graduates to keep pushing themselves to achieve.

Richard Schrom has been selected to address his class at North Dakota State University’s winter commencement ceremonies scheduled for Friday, Dec.18. Schrom, who grew up in Little Canada, Minnesota, will address his fellow students and sing a solo during the 10 a.m. and 2 p.m. events.

“I was ecstatic to be selected as speaker; there’s no doubt about it,” said Schrom, who will receive his Bachelor of Music in vocal music education. “And I get to sing, too. I get to show off what I actually do.”

Schrom will urge his classmates to continue pushing themselves while searching for improvement and success in their endeavors. “Sometimes when students graduate, they have almost a sugar high that soon wears off – they don’t work as hard anymore. I’ll urge them not to let mediocrity become the new high standard,” he said.

Schrom was first introduced to the NDSU School of Music through Dean Jilek, his former music teacher at Roseville Area High School. Jilek earned his master’s degree at NDSU.

“As a high school junior, I came to NDSU to hear the Madrigal Singers, and I was hooked right away.”

Schrom has experienced many successes during his time at NDSU. He has performed in more than 80 concerts with the NDSU Concert Choir, Madrigal Singers and Bison Arts Singers. He has consistently placed highly in the Minnesota and North Dakota National Association of Teachers of Singing Student Auditions, and was a semifinalist in the association’s national YouTube performances. He also was secretary of the NDSU chapter of the Student College Music Society.

“NDSU absolutely has impacted my life,” he said. “I’ve had lots of one-on-one feedback with faculty, and I’ve had an environment at NDSU where I can learn and pursue my passion in music.”

A highlight of Schrom’s collegiate experience came last spring when the NDSU Concert Choir traveled to Iceland and Scotland for a series of performances. “It was definitely a highlight to have the chance to sing overseas and view other parts of the world,” Schrom said. “It was fun to see and learn the history of some of the music we sing.”

Schrom’s next step is to share his talents with aspiring students. He plans to begin teaching high school music classes next fall, and eventually pursue his master’s degree and doctorate in choral conducting.

Get the new NDSU app to read more about Schrom as he tells about his favorite hangout, shortcut, place to eat and other good things at NDSU. The app is available for free for iOS and Android phones.

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Commencement speaker to talk about overcoming challenges

NDSU senior Jackie Wrage was one of two students chosen to deliver a message to her classmates on graduation day. The theme of her commencement address is overcoming challenges.

NDSU senior Jackie Wrage was one of two students chosen to deliver a message to her classmates on graduation day. The theme of her commencement address is overcoming challenges.

Jackie Wrage, who is about to graduate, surprised herself with all she accomplished during her time at NDSU.

“When I arrived here as a freshman, I didn’t think I could accomplish anything spectacular. Throughout the years, however, NDSU has helped me gain confidence in myself,” she said. “I have met many people who have impacted my life.”

And she has accomplished spectacular things, including earning a prestigious Fulbright grant to conduct research in South America.

Wrage was selected to deliver a message to the graduates at NDSU’s winter commencement ceremonies on Friday, Dec. 18, in Festival Concert Hall. Wrage, who grew up in Gwinner, North Dakota, will address her fellow students during the noon and 4 p.m. events.

The theme of her address is overcoming challenges, specifically gender inequality. “In the past, women haven’t been provided equal opportunity for education. Fast forward to 2015 and the challenge is to provide equal opportunity to women in developing countries,” said Wrage, who will receive her Bachelor of Science in geology.

Wrage is an outstanding student and researcher. She earned the Allan C. Ashworth Scholarship, which recognizes the NDSU geology senior with the highest academic standing. She also earned a Fulbright grant to study at the University of Chile in Santiago. She will help with geothermal energy research focusing on areas around two volcanoes in southern South America. She’ll leave for Chile in March for an eight-month stay.

During her time at NDSU, Wrage also worked with the NDSU Wet Ecosystem Research Group and conducted her own research project on nanoparticle-treated wheat plants.

“I enjoyed being a part of the NDSU geology department. The faculty members are very approachable and helped me realize my potential. My adviser, associate professor Bernhardt Saini-Eidukat, was especially helpful and inspiring during my time here,” Wrage said. “The department is very close-knit, and I’ve made many close friends. Going through classes with people you know and trust makes it much more manageable and fun; having supportive people who are passionate about the same thing is very rewarding.”

Wrage was active in several organizations, including the College of Science and Mathematics Ambassadors, Geology Club and Chemistry Club.

She plans to pursue a graduate degree in geochemistry and mineralogy.

Get the new NDSU app to read more about Wrage as she shares some of her favorite memories, places, classes and events at NDSU. The app is available for free for iOS and Android phones.

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