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Thursday, December 1, 2016

Get To Know LATIS’s Chris Scherr

Name: Chris Scherr

Where did you go to college? University of Minnesota

When did you start working at UMN? 1998 as a student worker for CLA-Net.

What is your current job title? System Engineer working on the Windows Server Administration

What brought you to your current job?  Gradual change in job duties as opportunities presented themselves over the years.  I started as a part-time student worker, getting started in a web support role over time that moved towards hardware and desktop support.  A bit later I was hired on full-time as a computer technician and later asked to take on a desktop management and file management role.  I most recently moved into system administration.  

What is your favorite aspect of your job? A few:  Being challenged with a wide variety issues and problems with the flexibility to work and solve an issue in my own way.  I also enjoy seeing small glimpses of the many types of research going on in the college.  While I am not directly involved in the collection of data or analysis, hearing about the kind of research going on in the college is always draws interest and some excitement.  
What is your favorite place on campus?  The river because it always brings back fond memories.  From climbing the steep embankment as a kid to playing sports on the flats as a student.  While I did not grow up here, our family visited two to three times a year for my brother’s medical appointments, usually staying at the Days Inn on University.  When I came here as a student, I was very familiar with the superblock area.  

What was your worst or most unusual job? I tried selling Kirby Vacuum Cleaners one summer as a teen, and quickly discovered a salesman’s life was not in my future.  Looking back it is rather funny as I still recall trying to memorize the selling points and practicing my spiel.  I’m sure some the handful of the people who I presented demos to were probably entertained as well.  Watching a kid stumble over his words as I unwittingly cleaned their house.

People may be surprised to know:  That where I work, Blegen 24/25,  can facilitate drop ins/visitors. Stop by sometime.

Tuesday, November 1, 2016

Get To Know LATIS’s Andrew Sell

Name: Andy Sell

Where did you go to college? Bachelors in Marketing from UMN, M.B.A. - Carlson School of Management

When did you start working at UMN? 2008

What is your current job title and what do you do?
Research Project Designer. I have significant experience with survey methodology, web design, and quantitative social science research methods.

What is your favorite aspect of your job? Working with so many different researchers throughout the college on a diverse range of fascinating research projects. I’m always learning new things.
What is your favorite accomplishment at the U, so far? Getting empirical research I conducted with my colleagues published in a peer-reviewed journal and having the opportunity to present it at an international conference.

Before working at the U, what was your worst or most unusual job? My toughest job was growing up on a fruit/vegetable farm that sold produce around the Twin Cities. It was hard work and not fun much as a kid. However, it taught me a lot and now I definitely appreciate how good I have it at my current job!

Where is your favorite place on campus?  So many places! My favorite place to go is along the Mississippi River near the Bohemian Flats to watch the river and wildlife. But seeing how that’s not technically campus, one of my favorite places on campus is Northrop Mall with all of its stately, old growth trees, and student activity. I also need to give a shout out to the Nash Gallery at the West Bank Arts Quarter - a wonderful art gallery and it’s free!

Before I die, I would like to: Keep on livin’

Monday, September 26, 2016

Get To Know LATIS’s Pernu Menheer

Name: Pernu Menheer

Your hometown and the first place you lived after leaving your hometown? I was raised in Oak Park, IL, I went away to school at the University of Illinois in Champaign, IL. Besides college, the next place outside my hometown I lived was in St. Paul, MN.

Where did you go to college? University of Illinois, Champaign, IL. I graduated with a B.A in Political Science
When did you start working at UMN? 1993

What is your current job title and what do you do? Research Support Programmer, LATIS, College of Liberal Arts. I work closely with faculty and graduate researchers get what they are trying to do and use programming tools to turn those ideas into research projects.

What is your favorite aspect of your job?
Working with researchers, learning from them, and making contributions to their work.

What is your favorite accomplishment at the U, so far?  Coding game theory projects and seeing them run in the lab as well as restoring various CLA servers after they went down.

Before working at the U, what was your worst or most unusual job?
Worst: Working as a facer at a grocery store in Chicago - quit that job in less than a week. (I already had another full-time time)  I did not like being in the freezer section.

Where is your favorite place on campus?  I really like the courtyard behind Anderson Hall in the summer time. I used to do qigong there when I had an office in Anderson Hall.

Before I die, I would like to: Help more people.

Tuesday, August 9, 2016

LATIS Establishes Servers Maintenance Schedule Beginning Labor Day

LATIS is establishing a more regular and frequent schedule for performing maintenance on
Linux systems. Beginning Monday, September 5th (Labor Day), we will reboot systems as needed on the first Monday of the month between 5:00 a.m. and 6:00 a.m.

A reminder of this monthly window will be posted at z.umn.edu/claresearchcomputing and added to the login message you see when connecting to the servers via SSH. Additional background on the servers and a FAQ is available at the end of this email.

If you have any questions, please contact us at help@umn.edu.

Carla, Chris, David, Eric, Joel, Judy, and Peter
LATIS Research Computing and Engineering Team and Psychology IT


Historically, LATIS patched servers quarterly by announcing a system maintenance window, usually held on a weekend morning. While this worked well enough, its frequency was not ideal  and required additional weekend work by system engineers.

We’ve now established automated patching and can schedule servers to reboot at a time when the disruption is less likely to affect normal working hours.


Which systems will be impacted by this change in practice?

  • Linux terminal server (LTS)
  • Research and compute servers (e.g. compute.cla.umn.edu, BLiSS servers)
  • Unix-based file servers (“pkg” directories, clio, thalia)
  • Database and web servers

What if I’m running a process that overlaps with the maintenance window?

Servers will be rebooted, so any running processes will be terminated. If you have a long- running process that will be interrupted by a maintenance window, please use checkpointing to ensure your job can pick up where it left off.

Will any systems remain active during the maintenance window?

A given server will only be rebooted if software patches have made a reboot necessary. So while not every server will reboot every time, many of them will, and you should expect that all servers will be unavailable.

What about Windows systems?

Windows systems such as wts.umn.edu will keep their existing weekly maintenance window of Friday mornings from midnight to 1:00 a.m.  

Will this be the only maintenance window needed for LATIS systems?

This new window accommodates most maintenance needs, but there will still be downtimes for unplanned outages, maintenance that cannot be performed during the regular window, or maintenance of other systems to which our systems are dependent. Whenever possible, we will send a notification in advance of any work that falls outside the regular maintenance window.

Will I be notified prior to each month’s maintenance window?

This is the only scheduled notification planned for the regular maintenance windows. As noted above, we will update the login message on our servers to include a reminder of the regularly scheduled maintenance.

Monday, May 16, 2016

Get to Know LATIS's Thomas Lindsay

Name: Thomas A. Lindsay

Where did you go to college?
- M.A., History (modern European social history), University of Minnesota, 2003.
- B.A., History and Music, Lawrence University, 1999.
- I passed prelims for a Ph.D. in European History in 2005 but did not complete the dissertation and am among the ranks of the permanent  ABD (all but dissertation).

When did you start working at UMN? August 1999

What is your current job title? Research Coordinator, LATIS, College of Liberal Arts

Describe your specialty in LATIS. 
I work with faculty and collegiate leadership to design and maintain research support services that meet the college’s current and expected needs.  I manage the primary research support staff, and I work directly with researchers to develop and implement their projects.

What is your favorite aspect of your job? 
I love the diversity of research questions our faculty and students study, and it’s really fun to get to engage in such a broad range of quality research.  I know the work they’re doing makes the world a better place, and supporting that work means that I also get to help improve our world.

What is your favorite accomplishment at the U, so far? 
No good researcher could answer this question without considering the effect of recency bias, but our recent development of data management services to support the whole research lifecycle, and our introduction of mixed-methods research support services have substantially improved both the depth and the breadth of assistance we can offer researchers across the College.  These set us up to help more researchers be competitive on a broader range of grants and publication opportunities than before.

Your hometown and the first place you lived after leaving? 
I grew up in the Saint Louis, MO area.  I went to Appleton, WI for college, and my first winter there happened to be one of the coldest on record, but none of the locals would admit that it was any worse than usual.  That winter I was always cold, and the last snow was still on the ground at graduation.  I went back to Saint Louis for the summer and spent as much time as possible out in the extreme heat, giving myself a nasty sunburn in the process.  When the next winter was much milder, I decided I liked the north, and after four years of college I chose to stay in the north largely because of the winters.  I just needed a long period of acclimation.

What was your worst or most unusual job?
During college I spent a summer waiting tables at a new upscale harborfront restaurant in a rich touristy town in Wisconsin.  The owner was a bit like Rodney Dangerfield’s character in Caddyshack though, and his wealthy boating buddies filled the restaurant most nights.  Over the course of the summer it became less and less upscale until, by the end of the summer, it was a harbor bar.  The tips were lousy and I went back to school in the fall with less money than I’d had at the beginning.  On the positive side, it was good inspiration to finish my degree.

People may be surprised to know: 
For my undergraduate degree, besides my history major, I completed a major in music with an emphasis on music history.  I gave my senior lecture on the high classical piobaireachd music of the Highland Bagpipes outside, in full Scottish dress, with a piper from the Appleton Police Department as my demonstrator.  Though few people noticed the announcement of the lecture, the introduction my piper gave got me a very large audience, including the college president.

Friday, April 15, 2016

Get To Know LATIS’s Alicia Hofelich Mohr

Name: Alicia Hofelich Mohr, Ph.D.

Where did you go to college?
Ph.D., Psychology (Cognition & Cognitive Neuroscience focus), University of Michigan
M.A., Statistics, University of Michigan
B.A., Psychology (minors in Biochemistry, Neuroscience), Hope College

When did you start working at UMN? June 2013

What is your current job title and what do you do? Research Data Manager, LATIS, College of Liberal Arts. I help people take better care of their research data.

What brought you to your current job? Throughout all of my experiences and various interests, I always had a deep love of the research process - collecting, analyzing, and thinking about data - above and beyond the content I studied. Even when I was teaching, the most exciting moments for me were when I got to cover or help students with research. When I saw the opportunity to think about data management and analysis full time (even though I had never been to Minnesota), I jumped on it.

What is your favorite aspect of your job? I love working with researchers and learning about their studies - there is so much wonderful work happening in this college. It’s exciting to get to think about different questions, methods, and data everyday.

What was your worst or most unusual job?I worked at a grocery store deli counter one summer during college. The meat slicing and potato salad scooping was ok, but the worst part was having to clean the deep fryer after a day of making fried chicken. I also came home covered in and smelling like meat.

People may be surprised to know: I used to play flute semi-professionally. I’ve played for weddings, in paid professional groups, in churches, and in several orchestras and bands in the Ann Arbor area. I was principal flutist of the Michigan Honors Orchestra my senior year of high school, and briefly considered pursuing music as a career.

Reproducible Research in R

Wednesday, April 27
2:30 - 4:30 p.m.
Bruininks Hall 144

Alicia Hofelich Mohr, Ph.D., Research Data Manager, LATIS
Alison Link, Educational Technologies Consultant, LATIS
David Olsen, System Engineer, LATIS

R is a powerful tool for statistical analysis and reproducible research. This workshop explores strategies for creating reproducible code using R, including how to use versioning tools in RStudio and how to integrate analysis with interpretation using R Markdown. Prior experience using R is helpful.

Goals of the workshop - participants will:
-  Learn best practices for doing reproducible research with R
-  Set up an RStudio project using Git and Packrat for version control and portability
-  Create a reproducible R Markdown report from an R script

- Bring a computer on which you have rights to install R packages
- Install RStudio before the workshop: https://www.rstudio.com/products/rstudio/#Desktop
- Install Git version control software before the workshop: https://git-scm.com/downloads

This is the third in a series of five Methods and Tools for Reproducible Research Workshops developed by LATIS and held February-June 2016. Interested parties can sign up for single or multiple workshops. A PDF of all workshop topics, dates, locations, and times is attached to this email. All faculty and graduate students are encouraged to attend. Please share as appropriate.

Monday, March 7, 2016

CLA-Wide IT Maintenance - Systems Not Available March 12-13th

March 12th and 13th
Saturday at 9:00 p.m. until Sunday at noon

Services Affected

  • Linux terminal server (LTS)
  • Research and compute servers (e.g. BLiSS)
  • Unix-based file servers (“pkg” directories, clio, thalia)
  • Active Directory file storage (home or “H” drive, shared or “S” drive, project folders)
  • Windows terminal server (WTS)

Services Not Affected

  • Database servers
  • Web servers
  • License servers (SPSS, Mathematica, et al.)
  • Print servers
  • Google Apps (Gmail, Google Drive, Google Sites)
  • z.umn.edu URL shortener

Work Being Performed

LATIS system engineers will be relocating several shared folders beginning Saturday evening at 9:00 p.m. Because this work affects a wide variety of departments and systems, it was not practical to schedule individual maintenance windows for affected folders.

Additionally, between 6:00 a.m. and noon on Sunday, the University’s storage team will be updating a storage service that many University units depend on, including CLA. (Additional information is available at http://systemstatus.umn.edu/; if you have access to Service Now, see CHG0038248.) Expect your home and shared drives to be unvailable during this period.
Can I work during the maintenance window?
Avoid using affected services during the maintenance window. While they may at times be available, they can and will be shut down without warning and may be unavailable for an extended period of time.
How do I find out more?
If you have any questions or concerns, please contact 612-301-4357 (1-HELP) or help@umn.edu.

Wednesday, March 2, 2016

Get To Know LATIS’s Michael Beckstrand

Name: Michael Beckstrand, Ph.D.

Education? Ph.D., Political Science, Syracuse University

When did you start working at UMN? July 2015

What is your current job title? Mixed-Methods Research Associate, LATIS, College of Liberal Arts

Your hometown and the first place you lived after leaving your hometown? I grew up in Elk River, Minnesota and attended undergraduate in Collegeville, Minnesota at St. John’s University. I then spent eight years in Syracuse, New York, where I appreciated that one could have hills simultaneously with lakes and woods, and that it is hard to decide between sunny and negative temperatures in Minnesota and the always-grey and always-snowing but only moderately cold winters in central New York.

Describe your specialty in LATIS. My speciality at LATIS is helping researchers to develop research projects that involve multiple components to work cohesively, or to look at their source materials with a different tool set. I also assist in using software to improve research processes that were traditionally done with paper and a highlighter. Substantively, my research has been on international organizations, non-governmental organizations and human rights advocacy.

What brought you to your current job? For the last few years of my doctoral program, I both taught research methodology and organized a professional development program for graduate students. Taking a position at a research university where I would be doing professional development and methodology teaching with graduate students and faculty seemed like a perfect fit. Bringing my family and I back to Minnesota was an added bonus.

What is your favorite aspect of your job? I particularly enjoy meeting with graduate students and faculty one-on-one and helping them work through challenges in conceptualizing and executing the analysis of their research materials.

What is your favorite place on campus?  My favorite place on campus has been the mall/quad in summer. Northrup and Coffman make excellent endpoints and the music Wednesday afternoons was quite pleasant.

Tell us something about yourself that people may not know. My wife and I are excited to have just welcomed our first child, Peter, in February. When he’s not eating--which seems like always--we’re spending far too much time taking pictures.