Big Event lets students thank community

Organizers of North Dakota State University’s largest single-day, student-organized service event are hoping this year to send more than 1,000 volunteers into the community.

The BIG Event has NDSU students, alumni, faculty and staff performing indoor and outdoor chores for nonprofit organizations and individuals at about 100 sites in Fargo-Moorhead. It is scheduled for Thursday, April 24.

“We’re trying to get as many volunteers as we can as a thank you to the community for all of their support and for everything they do for us throughout the year,” said junior Allie Dhuyvetter, the event’s coordinator at the NDSU Volunteer Network.

The BIG Event was first established by Texas A&M University in 1982 by a former student body president. It has become the largest student-organized volunteer event in the country.

NDSU’s BIG Event will send out volunteers individually and in groups in two-hour shifts throughout the day on April 24.

The Volunteer Network will match individuals and groups to nonprofit organizations or private homes based on the number of volunteers needed for each project.

Projects include raking leaves, painting, window washing, gardening and yard work. Nonprofits many times create projects for NDSU BIG Event volunteers.

“The BIG Event is probably one of the more fun days for me at the shelter,” said Steve Anderson, donations coordinator at Churches United for the Homeless. “It’s nice to see the number of students volunteering their time to help out charities. A day of volunteers helps the shelter catch up with donations and gives the community a chance to select clothes that would not have been available without the help of the volunteers.”

Dhuyvetter said the response to The BIG Event has been outstanding since it began in 2009. The number of volunteers increased each year, hitting an all-time high of more than 800 a year ago.

The tagline for the event sums up its spirit: One big day. One big thanks.

“I think it’s a very important and really cool event,” Dhuyvetter said. “The stories you hear are always so wonderful. And everyone looks like they are having so much fun. That’s what this is all about. You can have a lot of fun while helping the community.”

Volunteers can sign up for a specific two-hour time slot at  Volunteer check-in on April 24 is scheduled for 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. in the Memorial Union Ballroom.

The BIG Event is sponsored by the NDSU Alumni Association, NDSU Student Government and the Volunteer Network.

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Nobel Prize-winning chemist to speak at NDSU lecture series

Nobel Prize-winning chemist Dudley Herschbach is scheduled to present “Electrospray Wings for Molecular Elephants” on Wednesday, April 23, at 7 p.m. at the Fargo Theatre. The event, which is free and open to the public, is part of the NDSU College of Science and Mathematics’ Community Lectureship Series.

Herschbach is the Frank B. Baird Jr. professor of science emeritus at Harvard University’s Department of Chemistry and Chemical Biology. He received the Nobel Prize in chemistry in 1986.

His talk will celebrate the career of fellow prizewinner John Fenn, creator of a revolutionary electrospray ionization method. Fenn’s expertise in jet propulsion and supersonic molecular flow led him to try a project many researchers considered impossible: develop a means to weigh, via mass spectroscopy, individual proteins or other macromolecules.

“In instruments, such as mass spectrometers, that measure the mass of molecules, it is important to get molecules ionized and into the gas phase,” said Greg Cook, NDSU professor and chair of chemistry and biochemistry. “This is extremely difficult with super large molecules like proteins as they don’t vaporize.”

Fenn developed an electrospray method that produces intact ions of very large molecules without fragmentation, enabling mass spectroscopy of remarkably high resolution and sensitivity.

“In essence, it ‘gives wings to elephants’ and makes them fly in the gas phase,” Cook said, referring to the talk’s title. “He is able to do this without blowing the ‘elephants’ apart.”

The method, related to the technique used to paint automobiles, enormously impacted the pharmaceutical industry, molecular biology and forensic analysis.

In 2002, Fenn received the Nobel Prize at age 85. Most of his electrospray work came after he was required to retire. Fenn died in 2010.

The event is sponsored by the NDSU College of Science and Mathematics.

For more information and special accommodation needs, contact Keri Drinka at 701-231-6131 or

NDSU is recognized as one of the nation’s top 108 public and private universities by the Carnegie Commission on Higher Education

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Students develop healthy, corn-based hummus

Dwight Anderson, a senior majoring in zoology from Hankinson, N.D.; Tyler Lewandowski, a senior majoring in zoology from Foley, Minn.; and Lukshman Ekanayake, a graduate student in cereal science from Kurunegala, Sri Lanka, developed a hummus recipe that primarily uses corn flour and lentils, which are both produced in North Dakota.

Sometimes a good recipe can be great for the pocketbook. Just ask three NDSU students who developed a tasty, healthy food product that took the $5,000 top prize in the corn category of the recent Innovation Challenge ’14.

The competition highlighted outstanding, innovative work by NDSU students, and was the showcase event of the fifth annual Innovation Week held on campus March 3-7.

The winning project, called “Hum-HealthyPlus,” had a goal to provide nutritional, cost-effective hummus for customers who consume gluten-free products.

Dwight Anderson, a senior majoring in zoology from Hankinson, N.D.; Tyler Lewandowski, a senior majoring in zoology from Foley, Minn.; and Lukshman Ekanayake, a graduate student in cereal science from Kurunegala, Sri Lanka, developed the recipe that primarily uses corn flour and lentils, which are both produced in North Dakota.

“Since all three of us are pursuing careers in the health field we wanted to develop a product that would help combat one of the biggest health issues –obesity – facing our country today,” Anderson said. “It also was very pleasing for me personally to develop a product that used locally grown crops since my father farms in this area and grows corn.”

The team found that coming up with the right combination of ingredients was not an easy process. It took time, effort and a lot of tasting.

“It was really interesting to see how slight ratio changes could make huge differences in the taste and texture of the product,” explained Lewandowski. “Deciding to make it a corn-based product was an epiphany that really worked out for us.”

The team used different types of lentils prepared in a variety of ways, and tried different proportions with corn and flax seed. “There were many times we only tasted the product once before throwing it away and starting over,” Anderson said of the development process. “We finally had a product that tasted good.”

As they worked, the students learned from the experience, which is a major aim of the annual Innovation Challenge.

“The competition gave me a greater understanding and appreciation of all the time and issues that need to be addressed when trying to turn a new idea into a reality,” Lewandowski said.

Supported by the North Dakota Corn Council, the corn track of the Innovation Challenge is intended to give a platform for creative ideas for new corn-based products. This was the second year for the corn track in the competition.

“Consumers today are much more health conscious and gluten-free products are more popular than ever. It’s outstanding to have a team address so many different emerging trends and innovations in one project – gluten-free, healthy and cost effective,” said Chuck Hoge, interim executive director of the NDSU Research and Technology Park, noting the Corn Council also participates in advisory committee meetings to shape the focus of the Innovation Week events. “All of the hummus ingredients are abundantly found in North Dakota, so their use would stimulate demand in our local economy.”

Meantime, team members hope their efforts will develop into a commercial enterprise, with their recipe eventually reaching consumers.

“It was a challenge, as well as a great opportunity, for us to leverage innovative thinking and experiences into the successful development of healthy and tasty corn-based hummus,” Ekanayake said. “It’s a proud feeling to be in the Bison family and on the winning team of the Innovation Challenge.”

The Hum-HealthyPlus” team was advised by Dil Thavarajah, assistant professor in the School of Food Systems.

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Statistical predictions shine during NCAA tournaments

The national basketball champions have been crowned and the numbers tell a fascinating story.

Students and faculty in NDSU’s statistics department used a variety of statistical techniques to predict the outcome of the recently-completed NCAA men’s and women’s basketball tournaments. University of Connecticut teams won each event.

Their predictions were right more often than they were wrong – quite an accomplishment considering the tournaments were rife with upsets and tight games.

“We correctly predicted 62.6 percent of the men’s games and 76.2 percent of the women’s games,” said Rhonda Magel, department chair, noting the team correctly picked the women’s champion, runner-up and final four. “The surprising thing about the women’s tournament is that we were able to predict Maryland would get into the Final Four, as well as Stanford. UConn and Notre Dame were not really a surprise.”

While not as successful predicting the men’s tournament, Magel still seemed pleased with the result. “The men’s games were all really close this year. We did not predict Kentucky or UConn for the final,” she said. “We felt we did fairly well considering how some games were decided by only one or two points, or went into overtime.”

Magel and Gang Shen, assistant professor of statistics, worked with students Yingfei Mu, Bryan Rask and Wenting Wang to complete brackets for the tournaments.

In addition, they used an equation throughout the men’s games, keeping track of several differences between the two competing teams: number of free throw attempts, assists, defensive rebounds and turnovers.

As Magel explains the calculation, for each extra turnover, the opposing team will end up with an average of 1.6 more points. For each extra defensive rebound, the team will gain an average of 1.49 more points. One assist more than the opposing team will increase the team’s score an average of one-half point.

“In the final game, our equation ended up with a point spread of 6.63 in favor of UConn and the actual point spread was six,” Magel said. “For the NDSU and San Diego State game, our equation ended up with a point spread of 16.4 in favor of San Diego State and the actual point spread was 19. For the Elite Eight and Final Four games, the equation gave very close values to the actual point spreads.”

NDSU is recognized as one of the nation’s top 108 public and private universities by the Carnegie Commission on Higher Education.

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Mayo Clinic biomechanics expert to speak at NDSU


A Mayo Clinic expert in biomechanics is scheduled to present at NDSU as part of the College of Engineering’s Distinguished Lecture Series.

Kenton R. Kaufman, W. Hall Wendel Jr. musculoskeletal research professor, professor of biomedical engineering and director of the Biomechanics and Motion Analysis Laboratory at Mayo Clinic, will present “Braces, bones, bioengineering and billiards” on Tuesday, April 22 at 1 p.m. in the Memorial Union Rose room.

The presentation will showcase the challenges biomedical engineers are called upon to solve. Learn how bioengineers help technologically sophisticated clinicians as part of a multidisciplinary team solving disease conditions that have existed for generations. Bioengineers use their skills and training to aid in diagnosis, treatment and outcome assessment of patients.

The job field for biomedical engineers is growing dramatically, according to Kaufman. “The spectrum of opportunities that exist at the intersection of biology, medicine and engineering are enormous,” he said.

Kaufman’s primary area of research is musculoskeletal rehabilitation science. He and his colleagues develop mobility aids, seek ways to improve health and performance through exercise and work on the development of new techniques to improve patient care. His current research includes improving the rehabilitation of Wounded Warriors, developing advanced prosthetics and orthotics and developing methods for field-based monitoring of human movement. Kaufman also devotes time to direct patient care.

Kaufman also is professor of biomedical engineering and a consultant in the orthopedic surgery, physiology and biomedical engineering departments at Mayo Clinic. He is a registered professional engineer.

Kaufman earned bachelor’s and master’s degrees in agricultural engineering from South Dakota State University and a doctorate in engineering from NDSU. He has had research funding totaling more than $40 million, has published more than 190 scientific peer-reviewed papers and holds five U.S. patents and one international patent.

Kaufman is a past president of the American Society of Biomechanics and the Gait and Clinical Movement Analysis Society. He is a fellow in the American Institute for Medical and Biological Engineering and the American Society of Biomechanics.

The presentation is open to the public. For more information, contact Nancy Rossland at 701-231-7994 or

NDSU is recognized as one of the nation’s top 108 public and private universities by the Carnegie Commission on Higher Education.

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800 Cafe to celebrate arrival of spring

NDSU dietetic students are planning to celebrate the arrival of spring with a fresh and flavorful meal at 800 Café on Thursday, April 24. 

Seating will be from 11 a.m. to 12:15 p.m. in room 312 of the Katherine K. Burgum Family Life Center. Cost is $8 and tickets for a group of four can be purchased for $30. Other healthy lunches will be served each Thursday through May 8 at the same time at 800 Café.

The April 24 meal will start with a fresh garden salad with homemade poppy seed dressing. The main entrée will include rosemary almond-crusted pork loin with parsley buttered red potatoes and steamed asparagus.

The final course is a berry tiramisu cake garnished with berry sauce and lemon zest.

The 800 Café is operated by NDSU dietetic students in their junior and senior year. The restaurant serves recipes made from scratch in a full-service dining room. It also serves as a test kitchen for recipe improvement and provides nutrient analysis for consumer-provided nutrition information.

Each meal served is fewer than 800 calories.

Make reservations by contacting or 701-231-7487. Walk-ins are welcome, but seating is limited. Parking is available in the campus visitor lot.

Information on other meals can be found

NDSU is recognized as one of the nation’s top 108 public and private universities by the Carnegie Commission on Higher Education.

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Presentation to explore violent anime characters


The violent world of anime for men will be examined in an upcoming talk by Betsy Birmingham, associate professor of English and associate dean of arts, humanities and social sciences. Anime is the term used for Japanese productions that use hand-drawn or computer animation art.

Birmingham’s talk, “Anime’s Dangerous Innocents: Millennial Anxieties, Gender Crises and the Shojo Body as a Weapon,” is scheduled for Wednesday, April 16, at 4 p.m. in the Main Library Weber Reading room.

“Anime is a big part of the Japanese television industry. The shows I’m talking about portray girls who are very violent; they are created for late teen boys and adult men,” Birmingham explained. “Some scholars say these are powerful girls, but I’m suggesting these girls are manipulated to be violent, but that’s not the same as powerful.”

The presentation will show clips from several anime series that feature exceptionally dangerous schoolgirls such as Saikano, GunSlinger Girl and Black Cat. According to Birmingham, the characters may signify male fears and anxieties about the newly found cultural and economic power of girls in modern Japanese culture.“I’m interested why, in our contemporary cultural context, we are developing many examples of girls who are violent in the service of men. These are not empowered girls at all, but they represent an anxiety a male audience is having with women’s changing roles in society,” she said.

Birmingham said by examining the Japanese anime programs, perhaps more analysis will arise of programs being produced in America. “We can see the same type of thing happening in our own media – they just look a little different,” she said.

NDSU is recognized as one of the nation’s top 108 public and private universities by the Carnegie Commission on Higher Education.

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Award-winning Native American writer to visit NDSU

An award-winning and internationally acclaimed Minnesota-born Anishinaabe novelist, poet, historian and screenwriter is scheduled to visit North Dakota State University on Monday, April 28.

Award-winning Native American writer Gerald Vizenor is scheduled to visit NDSU on Monday, April 28.

Gerald Vizenor, professor emeritus at the University of California, Berkley, will read selections from his new novel “Blue Ravens” at 3 p.m. in Beckwith Recital Hall. A book signing and reception will follow.

“Blue Ravens” is the story of two young Anishinaabe men from Minnesota’s White Earth Reservation drafted into the U.S. Army during World War I. The book commemorates the lives of two of Vizenor’s White Earth uncles who died in combat. 

Vizenor, the principal author of the newly approved constitution of the White Earth Nation, has explored the history of Native peoples in many genres, including the novel “The Heirs of Columbus”, the poem “Bear Island: The War at Sugar Point” and the experimental history “The People Named the Chippewa.” 

He recently retired as Distinguished Professor American Studies at the University of New Mexico. Vizenor previously created the American Indian Studies program at Bemidji State University. 

He is the founding editor of the University of Oklahoma Press American Indian Literature and Critical Studies Series and the University of Nebraska Press Native Storiers Series.

The author of more than 30 books, Vizenor is the recipient of the Minnesota Historical Society’s Lindbergh Prize, as well as the American Book Award, Fiction Collective II Prize, Western Literature Association’s Distinguished Achievement Award and a Film in the Cities Award. 

Vizenor’s visit is sponsored by the NDSU Office of the Provost; College of Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences; Department of English; College of Human Development and Education; Graduate School of Interdisciplinary Studies; College of Pharmacy, Nursing and Allied Sciences; College of Science and Mathematics; Department of History, Philosophy, and Religion; Department of Modern Languages; Department of Sociology and Anthropology. 

NDSU is recognized as one of the nation’s top 108 public and private universities by the Carnegie Commission on Higher Education.

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Doctoral student produces model of waterborne pathogen

Recent NDSU graduate Ebot Tabe has created a first-of-its-kind model to help find a treatment for a deadly waterborne pathogen.

A recent NDSU graduate has made a breakthrough that could help save the lives of millions of children in underdeveloped countries.

Ebot Tabe produced a first-of-its-kind model of waterborne parasite Cryptosporidium parvum’s motility that eventually could play a role in ending an alarming global rate of sickness and death from diarrheal disease. Tabe, who earned adoctorate in molecular pathogenesis in August, recently began NIH Biodefense and Emerging Disease infection training at the New York State Department of Health’s Wadsworth Center.

“Cryptosporidium has been one of those pathogens classified as a neglected tropical parasite,” Tabe said. “Not a lot of attention has been put on studying the mechanisms. But this is a serious problem that needs a remedy.”

A majority of water-related deaths occur in underdeveloped countries and are largely due to lack of safe drinking water and sanitation, and poorer overall health, hygiene and nutrition, according to a recent UNICEF study. In the United States, the parasite is found mostly in tainted swimming pools.

Cryptosporidium is one of the leading causes of child death from severe diarrheal disease in developing countries. Diarrheal disease is responsible for more deaths each year worldwide than malaria and AIDS combined.

And there is no consistently effective treatment.

The effects of Cryptosporidium are generally non-lethal to people who have strong immune systems. People who have compromised immune systems, such as cancer and AIDS patients, are at a much greater risk of death when they come into contact with the parasite.

“A very recent study that looked at the causes of severe diarrheal disease in children in South Asia and sub-Saharan Africa found that Cryptosporidium was second only to Rotavirus,” said John McEvoy, NDSU associate professor of veterinary science and microbiology. “It’s the major cause of death in toddlers in those countries from diarrheal disease.”

Attacking the parasite

Working in conjunction with McEvoy and Sinisa Urban, associate professor of microbiology and genetics at Johns Hopkins School of Medicine, Tabe looked at Cryptosporidium at a molecular level.

Tabe studied the mechanics of the parasite’s motility in the early stage of its lifecycle. Cryptosporidium is most vulnerable in its early stages, McEvoy said. Slowing down the parasite’s replication process in the early stages would greatly reduce the impact of the disease.

Tabe’s research resulted in a new model that shows how proteins in Cryptosporidium react and work together to achieve motility at the time of invasion.

“The goal is that this eventually helps identify new weak points and targets for new medications or maybe vaccines,” Tabe said. “There is still much more work to be done. But it’s only when you understand how these things interact that you can understand how you can build inhibitors to block the action.”

McEvoy said Tabe’s study created an important new marker that will help researchers better understand Cryptosporidium’s vulnerabilities.

“Most studies to date have focused on individual proteins during invasion,” McEvoy said. “Ebot’s research provides the framework to understand how these proteins work together.”

Tabe’s research was supported by National Institutes of Health grant P20 RR015566 from the National Center for Research Resources, and National Institute of Food and Agriculture grant 2008-35102-19260.

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TRIO Day to honor supporters, mark 25th year of McNair Scholars at NDSU

NDSU is preparing to mark its 25th year hosting the McNair Scholars Program as part of its annual TRIO Day celebration. An awards banquet is scheduled Wednesday, April 16, in the Memorial Union Ballroom.

TRIO Programs prepare students for successful entry, retention and completion of post-secondary education. The programs identify income-eligible and first-generation college students who show potential for success and provide them with encouragement, support and assistance. NDSU has hosted TRIO Programs since 1967.

In addition, during 2012 NDSU expanded its support with a state-funded Veterans Educational Training Program offered to North Dakota veterans interested in post-secondary education. The program is open to all veterans regardless of income or educational status.

“The NDSU community will gather on this day to celebrate, reflect and act on our commitment to access to higher education by disadvantaged students,” said Aida Martinez-Freeman, TRIO programs director.

McNair Scholars Program
The Ronald E. McNair Postbaccalaureate Achievement Program encourages and prepares first-generation, income-eligible and underrepresented students for doctoral study. The program provides research opportunities and faculty mentoring. NDSU was one of the inaugural universities to host the program.

To mark the 25-year milestone, NDSU hosted Ronald E. McNair’s brother, Carl, who shared a motivational message with the campus community in February. Ronald McNair became the second African-American in space while serving as a NASA mission specialist in 1984. He died aboard the Challenger Space Shuttle in January 1986.

At TRIO Day, current McNair Scholars will share their research with a poster presentation starting at 5:30 p.m.

Mary Wire, who graduated from NDSU in 1994 with a Doctor of Pharmacy, will receive the McNair Achiever Award. Wire leads the clinical pharmacology group at GlaxoSmithKline.

Veterans Education Training
Veterans Education Training helps prepare veterans for post-secondary education. Veterans can take free online preparatory courses and receive assistance as they prepare to attend a college or university in North Dakota. The courses are available online and at classrooms at NDSU and the University of North Dakota.

Two students are slated to receive Veterans Education Training Achievement Awards. Steve Bateman is a sophomore majoring in pre-pharmacy at NDSU. He served as a combat medic in the U.S. Army for five years.

Eriverto “Eddie” Vargas is on pace to earn a bachelor’s degree in political science from the University of North Dakota in May. He served in the U.S. Army as a chemical operations specialist from 2002-06.

Upward Bound
Upward Bound is an intensive intervention program that prepares students for higher education through various enrichment courses.

Sarah Zozimo, a junior majoring in zoology, will be named the Upward Bound Achiever. She spent three years in the program while at South High School in Fargo. Zozimo is a certified nurse assistant at Touchmark at Harwood Groves in Fargo and plans to attend medical school.

“You will grow from all of your experience,” Zozimo advises Upward Bound students. “Because of this, you can conquer your dreams.”

Shanda Hakk, family strengthening specialist for New American Programs at Lutheran Social Services of North Dakota, will receive the Upward Bound Booster Award. Hakk previously was youth development director at CHARISM and earned a master’s degree in social work in 2007 from UND.

Fargo South High School also will be recognized for its support of Upward Bound. Special recognition goes toward administration, the counseling department and English language learner teachers.

Student Support Services
Student Support Services programs help income-eligible and first-generation students to successfully begin and stay in college. Participants receive tutoring, counseling and remedial instruction to achieve their goals of college completion.

Andrew Puckett will be named Student Support Services Achiever for 2014. Puckett, BS ’13, emergency management, benefitted from the support of Student Support Services and in 2011 began tutoring students. He emceed the 2013 TRIO Day events.

Brigit Sprenger, BS ’01, university studies, will receive the Outstanding Leadership Award. She has been financial aid administrator in Student Financial Services since 2000. Previously she served as student assistant in the same office. Sprenger serves as treasurer for the Davenport Lions Club and Sunday school coordinator for Canaan Moravian Church.

Friend of TRIO Award
The Friend of TRIO Award is presented to entities or individuals who have shown extraordinary support for TRIO programs. Recipients are Raghav Kapoor and Amrita Ganatra. Kapoor, BS ’09, computer engineering, came to NDSU from his native India via an exchange program. He became involved with TRIO when he started working as a tutor in Student Support Services in 2009. Kapoor also worked as a graduate assistant for Student Support Services and assisted the veteran program in grant research and curriculum development.

Ganatra, BS ’11, biotechnology, is a graduate assistant in Student Support Services. She is pursuing a graduate degree in comprehensive science education at NDSU. Her goal upon graduation is to return to her native India to participate in the Teach India fellowship program, which places teachers in under-resourced and low-income schools.

The TRIO Day awards dinner also will feature a POW/MIA honors table to honor military members who are war prisoners or missing in action.

More than 2,800 TRIO programs at colleges, universities and community agencies across the nation serve approximately 790,000 young people and adults.

NDSU is recognized as one of the nation’s top 108 public and private universities by the Carnegie Commission on Higher Education.

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