The Michigan Difference

{ Creativity & Innovation }


Nearly 24,000 people streamed into the new University of Michigan Museum of Art (UMMA) to celebrate its reopening—an overwhelmingly positive public response that capped a nearly three-year expansion and restoration project. The opening-week festivities began on Tuesday, March 24 with a student preview and culminated on Sunday with a 24-hour community open house.

With the addition of the 53,000-square-foot Maxine and Stuart Frankel and the Frankel Family Wing and the restoration of historic Alumni Memorial Hall, UMMA ushers in a new era—a reimagining of the art museum as a new “town square” for the 21st century. Enhancements such as expanded open hours; meeting spaces for campus and community organizations; new programs in music, dance, film, and the spoken word; a new museum store; and new areas to relax all seek to place the arts at the center of public life.

The $41.9 million transformation features dramatic new galleries highlighting pieces drawn from the museum’s collections of more than 18,000 works, soaring special exhibition spaces, and “open storage” displays. The majority of financing for expansion and restoration, which broke ground in the fall of 2006, was provided by private donors.

Creativity &Innovation
One of the finest university art museums in the country, UMMA's holdings represent 150 years of art collecting.

Creativity & InnovationU-M SPINOFF COMPANY Lycera Corp. will receive $36 million of venture capital financing. The company develops small molecule drugs for treating autoimmune diseases. Gary Glick (right), Lycera founder and chief scientific officer, is the Werner E. Bachman Professor of Chemistry.

A SENSOR BUILT by U-M engineers, technicians, and students enabled the first observations of Mercury’s surface and atmospheric composition. The Fast Imaging Plasma Spectrometer is a soda can-sized instrument on board the MESSENGER spacecraft, which performed the first of three flybys in January.

FOUR DOCTORAL STUDENTS, winners of this year’s Michigan Memorial Phoenix Energy Institute–Rackham Energy Fellowships, will receive two years of funding to pursue multi-disciplinary research in energy innovation. They are: Richard Chen, Steven Edmund, Bong Gi Kim, and Cameron Weimar.

Creativity & InnovationWHEN U-M UNVEILED the Undergraduate Research Opportunity Program in 1989 it sponsored 14 projects. When the program celebrated its 20th anniversary in April, it boasted more than 1,000 students and 600 faculty researchers, making it one of the university’s largest undergraduate research programs.

U-M RESEARCHERS Ivan Maillard and Yi Zhang shared a $450,000 Innovation Award from the Damon Runyon Cancer Research Foundation. Maillard and Zhang will look for novel ways to make bone marrow transplants safer and more widely available. They were among four 2009 winners selected from 198 applicants.

U-M PHYSICISTS PLAYED a leading role in the discovery of a new particle, the Omega b baryon, which could help explain how matter was formed in the universe. The heavy particle is scarce today, but scientists believe it was abundant soon after the Big Bang.

U-M SCIENTISTS USED two continuous wave lasers to create the building block of future quantum computing technology. Their research demonstrated that a quantum bit, or qubit, could be stabilized, thus achieving the fundamental step toward programming it.

IN SEPTEMBER, U-M scientists began a phase 1 clinical trial for the treatment of cancer-related pain. The technique, which uses a novel gene transfer vector injected into the skin, may hold promise for treating other types of chronic pain, including pain from nerve damage caused by diabetes.

A CONCRETE MATERIAL developed at U-M can heal itself when it cracks with just water and carbon dioxide. Test samples recovered their original strength after being subjected to a tensile strain that would catastrophically fracture traditional concrete.

U-M INTENSIFIED its efforts to help Michigan’s economy with the creation of a new Innovation Economy website: The site raises the visibility of U-M’s economic development activities, encourages tech transfer and entrepreneurial ventures, and gives potential business partners information about U-M resources.

Creativity & InnovationMORE THAN 50 ALUMNI returned to Hill Auditorium on March 25 to perform in a sold-out concert celebrating the 25th anniversary of U-M’s musical theatre program. The event featured distinguished graduates and current students performing selections from Broadway hits and past productions.

BY USING ULTRAFAST laser pulses to slice off pieces of chromosomes and observe how they behave, U-M biomedical engineers have gained pivotal insights into mitosis, the process of cell division. Their findings could help scientists better understand genetic diseases, aging, and cancer.

U-M AND GENERAL MOTORS announced in May the formation of the Institute of Automotive Research and Education, which will research clean and efficient vehicle technologies. Earlier in the year, GM and U-M established the Advanced Battery Coalition for Drivetrains, which will develop advanced batteries for electric vehicles.

ENGINEERING PROFESSOR Mark Burns’ “lab on a chip” kit has been named one of The Scientist magazine’s top 10 innovations of 2008. The 16-piece set cuts costs and production time from days to minutes, thus making the technology more readily available to the wider scientific community.

OVER 1,000 MEMBERS of the U-M community put forth ideas for new businesses, inventions, and nonprofit groups in a contest named after its goal: 1,000 Pitches. The student group MPowered Entrepreneurship and the College of Engineering’s Center for Entrepreneurship organized the contest.

AMONG THE 13 NEW business startups U-M licensed last year are companies offering treatments and diagnostics for diseases. Others help produce next-generation vehicle batteries and semiconductor chips. Over the last five years, U-M helped launch 49 startups of which 70 percent are located in Michigan.

U-M RESEARCHERS HAVE a plan that could save up to 75 percent of the energy that power-hungry computer data centers consume. The approach includes PowerNap, a program to put idle servers to sleep, and RAILS, a high-efficiency power supply system.

U-M SCIENTISTS ARE using a $2 million grant from the National Science Foundation to explore plug-in hybrid electric vehicles that, when not in use, return excess electricity to the grid. The concept, called vehicle-to-grid integration, is part of a larger effort to improve transportation and electric power infrastructures.

Creativity & InnovationENGINEERING PROFESSOR Michael Bernitsas (right) has created a machine called VIVACE that can turn slow-moving water currents into a new, reliable, and affordable alternative energy source. A pilot device will be installed in the Detroit River in 2010.

TO HELP STUDENTS battle the increasing costs of textbooks, U-M has developed UBooks, an online tool aimed at making it easier for students to buy and sell used books. In addition, the system sends faculty selections automatically to local booksellers.

IN JUNE, THE Department of Dance presented “Dancing at 100,” a series of performances and events in recognition of its century-long commitment to teaching and perpetuating the art of dance.

U-M ASTRONOMERS contributed to an international study that gives new insights into the workings of jets produced by supermassive black holes. The findings will help explain the physical processes going on in these remote objects, which have been very difficult to observe.

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