U of M Crookston Senior Austin Lien Ready to Graduate and Go Back for More


Austin Lien at work in the greenhouse.

Originally, Senior Austin Lien thought he would spend his days soaring above the field, but his interest in ag-related research is going to keep him much closer to the ground.

Lien grew up in Fisher, Minn., and attended the University of Minnesota Crookston first as a post-secondary enrollment option student. After graduating from Fisher High School, he headed to Duluth to work on a two-year degree in aviation. However, Lien would change his path and finish his associate degree in liberal arts and return to Crookston for a bachelor’s degree. Classes in the sciences, like botany and plant pathology, took him into the lab and introduced him to what he really likes to do—research.

He began working with Assistant Professor Ashok Chanda and Research Fellow Jason Brantner in the Northwest Research and Outreach Center (NWROC) in October 2014 on sugar beet research. An opportunity for an internship at Cornell University in New York was brought to his attention by Assistant Professor Kristie Walker and his advisor Rob Proulx in the Agriculture and Natural Resources Department. Lien was one of 20 selected from the 80 applicants for the research internship.

One of the first days he was at Cornell, he found himself hoeing table beets. “I left the farm here only to go and hoe beets in New York,” he smiles. But, his internship would require more than weeding, Lien would study effective management of plant-parasitic nematodes. To say he enjoyed his time at Cornell is an understatement. “My summer in New York was probably my best summer yet,” he continues.

When he returned to campus for fall semester, he also returned to the NWROC. In the final weeks of the semester, he presented his research work with the Research Center during a student/faculty research day that took place during Thursday Commons. Lien shared results from his study of the effect of spent lime, a by-product of the sugar refining process, when applied to the soil and the result on root rot in the production of sugar beets.

All this research has solidified the future for Lien. He will graduate at the end of the semester and head to Colorado for a semester off and a chance to snowboard and work on the mountain. “Before he goes, his applications to graduate school will be complete and he will be waiting to hear from them as he makes decisions on his future in the study of plant pathology.

Austin Lien prepares soil for the autoclave.

Austin Lien prepares soil for the autoclave.

Lien has worked since he was thirteen years old in a range of jobs including dishwashing, bee keeping, as snowboard instructor, and in a greenhouse. The jobs kept him grounded and taught him the value of work. It also seems to have carried over to the classroom where he would much work in the lab to learn about a topic rather than read about it. He has particularly enjoyed classes from Lecturer Ranjit Riar, Ph.D. “I like what Ranjit brought to the classroom,” Lien says. “He has a lot of worldwide experience in agriculture and his expectations were high for his students. I enjoyed his classes and he was the one who told me about the opportunity at the NWROC.”

When he finds time or rather as he makes time, Lien enjoys playing piano and guitar. Associate Professor George French encouraged him to finish his minor in music, which Lien decided to do. “I like to play and I sing in the choir,” he says. “I find it a great way to de-stress and I think music helps me observe things differently.”

While Lien is in his final days at the U of M Crookston, he is on secure footing for the steps he will take ahead, and it seems he will be soaring above the rest of the field and in no need of a plane to do it.

Posted in Higher Education, Agriculture and Natural Resources Department, Students, Science | Comments Off on U of M Crookston Senior Austin Lien Ready to Graduate and Go Back for More

Coding for a Future: Senior Timilehin Adeniyi Finds a Niche in Software Engineering

adeniyi_t_classroom (1)

Senior Tim Adeniyi in the classroom.

When Senior Timilehin “Tim” Adeniyi was around ten years old, he moved from his home in Nigeria to New York City. As a child, like so many children, he loved to play computer games, but after the move to the United States, his access to a computer was limited. While he roamed more freely in Nigeria, in NYC as a boy, his focus was on school, homework, and sleep.

When he was a junior in high school, he got a computer and his interest in gaming returned. When he graduated, he knew he would major in software engineering or in his other passion, aviation. “I also considered the military and perhaps eventually I would become a commercial pilot,” Adeniyi says. “But gradually, my interest in programming replaced my desire to become a pilot.”


Adeniyi in the software engineering lab in Dowell Hall.

Adeniyi, a software engineering major, enjoys learning on his own. “I learn better on my own and programming is something I have spent time in the classroom but also on my own to learn,” he says. “I also like the chance to apply it to real world applications.”

Thus far, his favorite class has been database management. Adeniyi likes the way databases are joined to other programs and interact by with a table to pull data. In summer 2015, he was involved in an internship with Crookston City Hall. “It was another great learning experience for me,” he says. “I assisted Phil Barton, the city information technology director and gained experience with servers.”

He learned to code using the programming language, Python, to write code that improves the communication between platforms.  He also helped with wiring phones and helped with a switch over to wireless phone connections in one of the city departments.

Adeniyi is one of the familiar faces working in the Help Desk on campus and he uses his expertise to trouble shoot and help students, faculty, and staff solve computer issues.

When Adeniyi was in junior high school, he was required to volunteer. He volunteered at his middle school taking inventory, cleaning, tutoring, and assisting a teacher. It set him up to continue to volunteer after high school, and it is one of reasons he is involved on campus in a number of roles.


Senior Tim Adeniyi with Chancellor Fred Wood

As a member of Alpha Lambda Delta, he has assisted with the annual Pi Run 5K and 10K races and serves as a Crookston Student Association representative for the club. He helps with special events as a member of the Honors Program and is a community advisor in Residential Life. In his free time, you can find him in the gym or playing intramural soccer, basketball, or volleyball.

“In many ways, Crookston reminds me of my hometown in Nigeria,” Adeniyi says. “It is a small town that feels much like my childhood home.”

Along with classes, work, and volunteering, Adeniyi is busy with the job search–working on resumes and filling out applications. “I will go where the job is,” he says. I am fine living in a smaller town or a larger city, I am used to both. The important thing is finding a job that fits me.”

Posted in Higher Education, Students, Science and Technology Department | Comments Off on Coding for a Future: Senior Timilehin Adeniyi Finds a Niche in Software Engineering

December Concerts Celebrate the Holidays and the Music of Minnesota at the U of M Crookston

Two December concerts are slated at the University of Minnesota Crookston in support of the Crookston High School Band. A holiday jazz band concert and a community band concert will put you in the holiday mood as well as celebrate the great State of Minnesota.

On Thursday, December 10, the “Jingle Jazz Concert” will be held at 7:30 p.m. in Kiehle Auditorium. The UMC Jazz Band will perform classic holiday selections with a jazz influence to put you in the holiday spirit.

On Sunday, December 13, the UMC Community Band will bring the “Music of Minnesota” to the stage during a performance at 3 p.m. in Kiehle Auditorium. The music written about Minnesota, with a Minnesota heritage, written by Minnesotans, and performed by Minnesotans will be the focus along with several holiday selections.

In the spirit of the holiday season, both concerts are free to the public, but free will donations will be accepted, with all proceeds going to benefit the Crookston High School Band for the purchase of new uniforms. Both performances are under the direction of TJ Chapman.

Posted in Higher Education, Music and theater, Liberal Arts and Education Department, Faculty, Students, Event, Events | Comments Off on December Concerts Celebrate the Holidays and the Music of Minnesota at the U of M Crookston

One-act Opera “Amahl and the Night Visitors” to be Performed Wednesday through Friday, December 2-4, 2015, at the U of M Crookston; Performances nightly at 7:30 p.m. in Kiehle Auditorium

Amahl and the Night Visitors posterThe University of Minnesota Crookston Music-Theater Department will present the one-act opera “Amahl and the Night Visitors” on Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday, December 2, 3, and 4 at 7:30 p.m. nightly in Kiehle Auditorium. Admission to this one-show is $5 for adults and $3 for students and children.  U of M Crookston students are admitted free with their U-card.  For more information, contact George French, Director of Music/Theater, at 218-281-8266.

The story revolves around a poor, disabled boy named Amahl and his widowed mother who decide the only way to survive is to go begging from door to door.  Amahl answers a knock on the door and there stands the three kings following the star who have stopped for rest.  The shepherds come down from the hills to bring food and gifts as Amahl’s mother has “nothing to offer them.”  They sing and dance for them before the kings need to leave. But, before they leave, a miracle occurs and Amahl follows the kings as they search for the new born child.

Cast members include:

Amahl played by Georgie French, Crookston, Minn.; Mother played by Heidi Shol, a sophomore environmental science major from Crookston, Minn.; King played by Eli LaCoursiere, a post-secondary enrollment student from Red Lake Falls, Minn.; King played by Shane Boehne,  a freshman natural resources major from Henderson, Minn.;  King played by David Melichar, a sophomore elementary education major from Richfield, Minn.

Posted in Higher Education, Music and theater, Event, Events | Comments Off on One-act Opera “Amahl and the Night Visitors” to be Performed Wednesday through Friday, December 2-4, 2015, at the U of M Crookston; Performances nightly at 7:30 p.m. in Kiehle Auditorium

Participate in Give to the Max Day on Thursday, November 12, to benefit UM Crookston through Matching Gift Program

breen_givetothemax2Give to the Max Day is Thursday, November 12, 2015, and with it comes the opportunity to support students at the University of Minnesota Crookston. Give to the Max Day, Minnesota’s online 24-hour “giveathon,” is all new on the Crookston Campus this year because of a $3,000 match provided by the Lawrence Breen Matching Gift Fund.

To give, go to https://crowdfund.umn.edu/ConsiderCrookston. All gifts given through this site are eligible for $50,000 in prizes for University groups, including the University of Minnesota Crookston.

Your gift gives Crookston a chance to win a Grand Prize, All-Day Prize, or a Social Media Prize. To learn how your gift could benefit the campus, visit https://give.umn.edu/GTMD2015.

The Lawrence Breen Matching Gift Fund was designated for the purpose of encouraging gifts by offering a match. Breen grew up in Argyle, Minnesota, and graduated from the Northwest School of Agriculture in 1945. It is through his generosity and in his memory that gifts given on Give to the Max Day to the Crookston campus will have the opportunity to be matched. Sadly, Breen passed away in September 2015.

For more information on Give to the Max Day, contact the Office of Development & Alumni Relations at 218-281-8401.

Posted in Alumni, Development, Event, Students | Tagged , | Comments Off on Participate in Give to the Max Day on Thursday, November 12, to benefit UM Crookston through Matching Gift Program

Senior Kathryn Sheetz Focused on Great Finish

If Kathryn Sheetz, a health sciences major from Grand Rapids, Minn., could be summed in a single sentence, it would be this: “Actions will speak louder than words.” The senior radiates a kind of quiet confidence that seems to course through everything she does. And, she does a lot.

Kathryn Sheetz in the lab

Kathryn Sheetz at work in the lab.

Initially, Sheetz came to Crookston to play Golden Eagle Golf and she has been a high profile member of the team since she was a freshman. Along with being a student-athlete, she has taken on leadership roles serving on the executive boards of four of the six clubs she belongs to. Her calendar is filled to capacity but never at the neglect of what matters most to her—academics.

Sheetz has been a part of research projects in the classroom and outside as well. Two years ago she began as a lab assistant working on sugarbeet research with Jason Brantner, a research fellow at the Northwest Research and Outreach Center (NWROC).  “Working on the research with Jason has been a great experience for me and probably the best job I have had yet,” Sheetz states. “As lab assistant, I have been involved in sugarbeet stand counts, entering data, and soil DNA extractions for example. It has been great for me to have a job that is science-related.“I came to Crookston because of golf, but interesting classes and awesome professors became a reason to stay,” Sheetz says. “I also saw undergraduate research as an important reason for me to choose this campus and research certainly has

played a big role in my life as a student.”

“Working at the NWROC has taken me out of my field and broadened my understanding of scientific study,” she continues. “As I move into a professional career in pharmacy, I have a greater understanding of how research in the plant world could affect the development of pharmaceuticals in the health field.”

One of the highlights of her college golf career happened as a sophomore when she shot a hole-in-one with her parents present at Tartan Park in Lake Elmo, Minn.

In her academic career, one of the pivotal moments took place in organic chemistry. “As a group project we were to attempt to synthesize new antibiotics,” she explains. “Our project failed but it inspired in me the desire to keep trying over and over again. I believe it was that failed project that actually confirmed my future and helped me set my goal to become a pharmacist.”

Ashok, Brantner, Sheetz in the NWROC lab.

Assistant Professor Ashok Chanda, Research Fellow Jason Brantner, and Senior Kathryn Sheetz at work in the NWROC lab.

Her interest in chemistry was sparked much earlier as a high school student in Mrs. Melissa Ewen’s class at Grand Rapids High School. “Mrs. Ewen is the original reason I fell in love with chemistry and it is her teaching that really made a difference in the direction I would take in college,” Sheetz reflects.

Sheetz is determined to focus on her senior year on campus by participating in activities and being a contributing member of the Honors Program, Alpha Lambda Delta, National Society for Leadership and Success (NSLS), Student Athletic Advisory Committee (SAAC), the Newman Club, Fellowship of Christian Athletes (FCA), and Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM).

“I want to be able to experience my final year and give back to the clubs and organizations I am a part of,” Sheetz says.

A conversation with her advisor Associate Professor Brian Dingmann helped Sheetz clarify her goals and confirmed her decision to take a year off, apply for pharmacy school, and work as a pharmacy tech. “It will give me a chance to gain some valuable experience and allow me to do my best on the graduate school applications,” she says.

When she looks back, Sheetz recalls having teachers that helped reassure her she had chosen the right major. “I have so many to thank, but a few who stand out are Assistant Professor Tim Dudley, associate professors Katy Nannenga, Brian Dingmann who all teach in the sciences, and Assistant Professor Marcella Melby who taught my calculus class,” Sheetz notes.

“I knew that I was building a great foundation in the sciences and that the Crookston campus was where I belonged. When it’s right, you know it.”

Posted in Higher Education, Students, Science, Science and Technology Department | Comments Off on Senior Kathryn Sheetz Focused on Great Finish

Alumni Recognized for Achievement at Alumni Awards Celebration

Alumni Awards Group_crop

Left to right: Justin Schrieber, Jason Lindquist, Gary Wagner, Stephanie Helgeson. Front row: Chancellor Fred Wood, Jim Landry (accepting for Bob Landry), Ryan Bakken, and Angela Sandell.

The 2015 Alumni Awards Celebration was held on Friday, October 9, 2015 in Bede Ballroom with a social, program, and awards presentation. Outstanding alumni honored this year were Ryan Bakken ex. 1970; Stephanie Helgeson ex. 1991; and Angela (Foss) Sundell 1988; Gary Wagner 1975.  Inducted into the Athletic Hall of Fame were Bob Landry 1983, hockey (posthumously); Jason Lindquist 1998, football; and Justin Schreiber 2004, football.

For the first time in history, the Office of Development and Alumni Relations will present a young alumni award to recognize the achievement of alumni who have graduated within the past 15 years.  This year’s recipient is Wemimo Abbey 2013, business management graduate from Lagos, Nigeria.  In honor of its first recipient, the young alumni award has been officially named the “Abbey.”

Biographical Information on Award Recipients

Abbey Award


Wemimo Abbey with Chancellor Fred Wood

Wemimo Abbey 2013 is the founder and chief executive officer of Clean Water for Everyone (CWFE), an organization that provides access to affordable water supply in developing countries. CWFE has provided access to clean water to over 25,000 people in Ghana, Nepal, Nigeria and Zimbabwe. Abbey has presented the global water and sanitation crisis at the United Nations, the Clinton Global Initiative and appeared on television to raise awareness for the cause. He is a recipient of the 2014 Face2Face Africa Young African Committed to Excellence award, New York University (NYU) Presidential Service award, and the NYU Wagner Dean Scholarship.

Outstanding Alumni

Ryan Bakken 1970 worked as sportswriter, sports editor, state editor, city editor and news reporter for the Grand Forks Herald prior to his retirement. His stories have been published in Sports Illustrated and Newsweek plus his freelance work has been published in the Chicago Tribune and LA Times, and others. A decorated sports writer, Bakken was inducted into the North Dakota Sportscasters and Sportswriters Association Hall of Fame. He was also the recipient of the Award of Merit from the North Dakota High School Coaches Association and was named North Dakota Sports Writer of the Year three times.

Gary Wagner 1975 is the owner and operator of AWG Farms, Inc., farming some 4,600 acres of corn, soybeans, spring wheat, sugarbeets, and sunflowers. He teaches in the Agriculture and Natural Resources Department on topics related to precision farming and is a recognized expert on the subject speaking both nationally and internationally. Wagner serves on the Farmers Business Network Advisory Board, is a member of the West Polk County Soil and Water Conservation Board, and a member of the Sugarbeet Research and Education Board, serving for three years as its president.

Angela (Foss) Sundell 1988 is employed by Paradigm Reporting & Captioning, Inc., in Minneapolis, Minn., one of the country’s most highly credentialed court reporting teams. She provides Communication Access Realtime Translation and captioning services for people who are deaf or hard of hearing. Sundell was named the 2009 Minnesota Association of Verbatim Reporters & Captioners Volunteer of the Year. She is a member of the National Court Reporter Association and served the Hopkins Public Schools as a member of their Special Education Advisory Committee and Legislative Action Coalition.

Stephanie Helgeson ex. 1991 has been the athletic director for the University of Minnesota Crookston Golden Eagles since 2003. She is responsible for all aspects of men’s and women’s intercollegiate athletics which includes 11 sports, along with intramurals, the fitness center, budget management, program policy and development, and fundraising functions. Her leadership at the NCAA Division II level and as a member of the Northern Sun Intercollegiate Conference (NSIC) emphasizes academic excellence and the development of student athletes as leaders. She is a member of the National Association for Collegiate Women Athletic Administration and was a 2008 recipient of the Torch & Shield Award.

Athletic Hall of Fame

Bob Landry 1983 was an All-American for the Trojan Hockey Team during their 1982-83 season. Under his leadership, the team took home the conference, state, and regional titles, and then went on to Lake Placid, New York, finishing second in the National Junior College Hockey Tournament. Landry worked as a news photographer for the Fox Station in Salt Lake City, Utah, and for CNN in Los Angeles, Calif. He won an Emmy for his work on The Osbournes in 2002 and was a nominee in 2005 for his work on the reality show, The Contender. It is with sadness that we recognize Landry who passed away in August 2012.

Jason Lindquist 1998 was captain of the 1997 Golden Eagle Football Team.  As a linebacker and punter, he was named a First-Team All-American in the National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics (NAIA). He helped lead the team to a 7-3 overall record and their first-ever appearance in the NAIA playoffs. Lindquist holds the record for most solo tackles in a game in program history. In 1998, he was named Student-Athlete of the Year along with teammate Mark Olsonawski. Lindquist is the co-owner of Grant County Lumber in Elbow Lake, Minn.

Justin Schreiber 2004 was a three-year captain and starting quarterback for the Golden Eagles and a three-time all-conference honorable mention selection as well. He holds first place in the history books with 645 career pass attempts and 284 career completions and holds the record for career touchdowns and career passing yards with 3,520. Schreiber got his coaching start at the U of M Crookston. He served as a student assistant quarterback’s coach for the 2003 season. He was offensive coordinator at Fort Hays State University for 4 years and is currently director of sales for Country Inn & Suites By Carlson in the Fargo, N.D., area.

Posted in Uncategorized | Comments Off on Alumni Recognized for Achievement at Alumni Awards Celebration

Homecoming Royalty Crowned at U of M Crookston


In the photo, back row, left to right: Stan Harvey, Austin Strukel, Keith Yorek, Kevin Larson. Middle row: Trina Weisel, Alexis Khoshaba, Kristi Larson, Tareyn Stomberg. Seated, left to right: Queen Karcyn Pleune and King Brett Carlson

Homecoming royalty were crowned during coronation on Tuesday, October 6, 2015, at the University of Minnesota Crookston. Crowned were Queen Karcyn Pleune, a senior, equine science major, from Borup, Minn., and King Brett Carlson, a senior, natural resources management major, from Deer River, Minn.

Homecoming royalty also included Alexis Khoshaba, a senior, sport and recreation management major from Vancouver, B.C., Canada; Stan Harvey, a junior, ag business management major, from Long Prairie, Minn.; Kristi Larson, a senior, sport and recreation management major, from New Ulm, Minn.; Austin Strukel, a senior, business management major, from Virginia, Minn.; Keith Yorek, a senior, animal science major, from Little Falls, Minn.; Trina Weisel, a junior, elementary education major, from Alexandria, Minn.; Kevin Larson, a senior, sport and recreation management major, from New Ulm, Minn.; and Traeyn Stomberg, a junior, animal science and ag business double major, from Menahga, Minn.

Posted in Events | Comments Off on Homecoming Royalty Crowned at U of M Crookston

Miss America 2006 Tara Conner to Speak Wed., Oct. 21, 2015, at 7 p.m. in Kiehle Auditorium at the U of M Crookston

Conner’s visit highlights National Collegiate Alcohol Awareness Week, Oct. 19-23

Tara Conner was crowned Miss America in April 2006 and began traveling the country tara conner_smalland the world. By December of that same year, Connor was sent to Caron Treatment Center when she tested positive for cocaine. Her struggle and how she achieved sobriety will be the topic of a presentation on Wednesday, October 21, 2015, at the University of Minnesota Crookston. Conner will speak at 7 p.m. in Kiehle Auditorium and highlights National Collegiate Alcohol Awareness Week on the Crookston campus. The event is free and open to the public; no parking permits required.

After Conner’s very public struggle with addiction, she became a public advocacy consultant for the Caron Treatment Centers. She has shared her experience with audiences all over the United States in order to raise awareness that addiction is a disease, and that many people who have struggled with this disease can go on to lead healthy, productive lives in recovery. For more on Conner, visit http://taraconner.net.

Conner’s visit to the U of M Crookston is sponsored by RiverView Health Recovery Center, Crookston Police Auxiliary Association, and several groups on the Crookston campus including the Chancellor’s Office; Residential Life; Alcohol, Tobacco, and Other Drugs (ATOD); Student Programming and Activities for Campus Entertainment (SPACE); the Honors Program; and Career and Counseling Services.


National Collegiate Alcohol Awareness Week (NCAAW) is recognized during the third full week of October.  Colleges and universities across the country sponsor programming, educational events, and social activities aimed at raising awareness of alcohol related issues on college campuses.

Posted in Events | Comments Off on Miss America 2006 Tara Conner to Speak Wed., Oct. 21, 2015, at 7 p.m. in Kiehle Auditorium at the U of M Crookston

Baseball Great Darryl Strawberry to Speak on Wednesday, September 23, 2015, at 7 p.m. in Kiehle Auditorium at U of M Crookston

Four-time World Series Champion and cancer survivor, Darryl Strawberry will be

Darryl Strawberry attends a premiere for 'Friends With Benefits' at the Ziegfeld Theatre on Monday, July 18, 2011 in New York. (AP Photo/Evan Agostini)

Darryl Strawberry

speaking at the University of Minnesota Crookston on Wednesday, Sept. 23, 2015. The event, held at 7 p.m. in Kiehle Auditorium, is free and everyone is welcome. A book signing will follow his presentation and a limited number of books authored by Strawberry will be available for purchase. No parking will be required.

Strawberry, a baseball star during the 1980s and 1990s, is described as a legend by many who have been dazzled by the dynamics of his game, the power he possessed at the plate, and the story of redemption that continues to bring hope to so many lives. He is the founder of the Darryl Strawberry Foundation, and with wife, Tracy, founded Strawberry Ministries in 2011. He founded the Darryl Strawberry Recovery Center for athletes with addiction problems in 2014. His visit is a part of a Recovery Month observance in September.


Strawberry played for the New York Mets, the Los Angeles Dodgers, San Francisco Giants, and the New York Yankees. He also played for the St. Paul Saints before leaving baseball in 1999. He was National League Rookie of the Year in 1983 and holds New York Mets’ records for most runs (662), most home runs (252), and most runs batted in (733).

He has earned the legendary nicknames and phrases of one of the most feared homerun hitters in the game of baseball, Straw’s Sweet Swing, Strawberry’s Field Forever and The Legendary Straw Man. To learn more about Strawberry, visit www.strawberryministries.org.

Recovery Month is a national observance each September that spreads the positive message that chemical dependency treatment is effective and people can and do recover.

Posted in Events | Comments Off on Baseball Great Darryl Strawberry to Speak on Wednesday, September 23, 2015, at 7 p.m. in Kiehle Auditorium at U of M Crookston