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Physics faculty member receives Heartland Pride Award

Published: 12 October 2011

Alexander Wagner, associate professor of physics, received the Heartland Pride Award from the Fargo-Moorhead Convention and Visitors Bureau at its annual meeting Sept. 27. Wagner organized the Discrete Simulation of Fluid Dynamics 20th International Conference held in Fargo Aug. 8-12, with participants from more than 14 countries.

According to people attending the international conference, Fargo compared favorably to Rome and Beijing, the previous conference sites. The international conference included leaders in the fields of physics, mathematics and engineering. Wagner said international attendees appreciated the scientific discussion, as well as the Fargo setting.

“The location of Barry Hall was wonderful and an Oxford Don compared it favorably to a new mathematics building at the University of Cambridge in the United Kingdom. Participants loved the downtown location which they explored with bicycles we rented from Great Northern Cycles,” Wagner said.

Conference attendees also enjoyed the Minnesota State University Moorhead Regional Science Center at Buffalo River State Park for an event that included tipis provided by Malcolm Butler, NDSU professor of biological sciences. They served as a backdrop for a Native American flute performance by noted musician Keith Bear, and a presentation on the Dakota Prison Letters by Clifford Canku, NDSU assistant professor of English.

By the end of the conference, a participant from France told Wagner, “You know, at the beginning of the conference I told you that I liked your town. Now at the end I have to tell you that I really like it. It has such a wonderful relaxing atmosphere to it.”

According to Wagner, support from the NDSU physics department and local businesses made the event successful. Participants from Italy, India, France, China, Japan, United Kingdom, South Korea, Germany and Spain, as well as other countries, enjoyed their NDSU experience.

In his acceptance speech for the Heartland Pride Award, Wagner told the audience that others had different perceptions of Fargo when he came to NDSU.

“When I moved to Fargo nine years ago from Edinburgh, Scotland, my American friends told me: ‘Why do you want to go there? We came to visit you in Scotland, but I don't think we would ever want to go there.’ And, except for family, there have been no visitors from the U.S. From Europeans, however, the reaction was quite different. A typical reaction would be ‘Fargo, that sounds exciting.’ North Dakota is viewed as one of the last frontiers in the U.S. I continue to marvel at this most precious of resources that is so abundant in North Dakota: space.”

Wagner also encouraged individuals attending the Convention and Visitors Bureau annual meeting to “embrace the more relaxed and friendly atmosphere that makes the Fargo-Moorhead area so different.”

A featured speaker at the event noted Wagner’s observations in his blog at

The Fargo-Moorhead Convention and Visitors Bureau awarded another NDSU professor the Heartland Pride Award in 2006. Jeffrey Clark, professor of sociology and anthropology, received the award as conference organizer for bringing an international conference for computer applications and quantitative methods in archaeology to Fargo.

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North Dakota State University
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Last Updated: Sunday, August 25, 2013