The University of North Dakota holds a formal banquet each year, called “Founders Day,” at which it recognizes faculty and staff for an assortment of reasons. There are competitive awards for faculty excellence as well as a brief acknowledgement of anyone who is retiring from or has served the university for 25 years.
I will reach my 25 year anniversary in June, during the current academic year, so I received an invitation to this year’s festivities. In November, I was contacted by Brenda Haugen, who conducted an interview, then wrote up a brief history which was printed in the program. In January, Jackie Lorentz scheduled a photography session with me, and used the formal portrait for the program as well.
On February 28th, the University held its Founders Day banquet. Sue and I were treated to a prime rib dinner and I was invited on stage to receive a handshake from Dr. Robert Kelley, the President of the University. It was a fun evening and the University of North Dakota did a great job of making me feel appreciated and special!
Interview with James Lindlauf
Not long after graduating from North Dakota State University in Fargo with a degree in Animal Nutrition, Jim Lindlauf found a good fit in a new job created at the Human Nutrition Research Center at the University of North Dakota.
“I was the animal diet coordinator,” he explained. “It was a brand new position.”
That was nearly 25 years ago, in the summer of 1988. At that time, the lab prepared hundreds of diets a year. Lindlauf coordinated the diet preparation as well as the analysis and quality control.
“It fit perfectly into what I was looking at doing,” he said.
A native of Velva, N.D., Lindlauf has really found his niche at the nutrition lab. “I really like the job,” he said.
That job stayed pretty much unchanged for about 20 years. Then his boss, the woman who had hired him all those years ago, Denice Schafer, became ill and passed away. Lindlauf was able to help step in and take over her responsibilities. He’s now the animal facility manager.
Lindlauf works mostly with rats and mice. For the first 20 years of his career, the lab’s focus was trace mineral research.
“We were the world leader in iron, zinc, copper and stuff like that” he said. “Then, during the Bush administration, there wasn’t a need for that anymore, so they were going to close us down. Then our senators got involved and got our focus changed to obesity research. There is a large need for that now with the American population as it is, so that has been our focus for the last few years. So now instead of making our rats and mice trace mineral deficient, we’re making them obese.”
Lindlauf has seen many other changes at the nutrition lab through the years. The biggest perhaps, is in technology. Today there are better computers, wirelessly connected, and more advanced tools. Among those tools is a new MRI that tells researchers an animal’s grams of fat and grams of lean body mass. Twenty years ago, an animal would have to be killed so researchers could determine those measurements. Now, with the MRI machine, they can take the measurements noninvasively and the animal can continue on in the experiment.
Lindlauf said the lab has about 10 experiments going on at any one time. He makes sure the animals are cared for, that their diets are prepared and fed to them, and that all the necessary data is collected – everything from the animal’s weight to how much it eats. For his staff of three, Lindlauf is the contact person between his people and the scientists. The scientists hand him a protocol for an animal experiment, and he makes sure the experiment gets done the way the scientists want it done and then presents them with all the data. “So it’s kind of a full-service department,” Lindlauf said.
And that service has been rewarded. Lindlauf worked closely with Dr. Phil Reeves to develop a diet for rodents. Their work was published by the American Institute of Nutrition in 1993, and continues to be the standard in the industry. In fact, their work is the most cited research paper in all of nutrition.
“I like to think I had a big role in it,” Lindlauf said. That was a real big achievement for our center.
Outside of work, Lindlauf enjoys writing, running, and Bison football. He likes writing about his childhood and current life, particularly on his blog “Father Knows Last.” He’s also been running for about 5 years. He ran his fifth marathon last fall. A member of the Red River Runners Club, Lindlauf said he particularly enjoys working with beginners. For a number of years he also taught Sunday School.
Lindlauf enjoys spending time with his family. His wife of 27 years, Sue, works at the Grand Forks Herald. Their son, Carl, turned 17 on New Year’s Day and is a junior at Central High School.