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CBS News - December 2004

 

Happy holidays to everyone at CBS

I would like to wish you happy holidays and to thank you for the work you’ve done for the College of Biological Sciences this year. In spite of resource challenges, CBS just seems to get better every year. I attribute that to your positive spirit and dedication to our students and the important work that we do.

There has been a lot of good news this fall. We completed fundraising for University Enterprise Laboratories and began renovation of the building, which houses business support offices and wet lab space for biotech start-up companies. We celebrated the first year of the Initiative for Renewable Energy and the Environment. We made substantial progress towards realizing plans to build a new education, research, and outreach facility at Cedar Creek Natural History Area. And we recruited Huber Warner, from the National Institutes of Health, as our new associate dean for research.


But 2005 will be another challenging year financially. The forecast of a $1 billion budget shortfall for Minnesota next year combined with public reluctance to support new taxes does not bode well for the University’s budget request. That’s why it will be more important than ever for you to contact your legislator during the upcoming session. I urge you to attend the University’s Legislative Briefing on January 27 to learn how you can help. For details about this event, go to http://www1.umn.edu/groots/index.php The website also provides information about how to contact your legislator.

If you’re looking for a year-end tax deduction, please consider a gift to a CBS scholarship fund. No one knows better than CBS faculty and staff just how qualified our students are and how much scholarships and fellowships mean to them as tuition continues to climb.

If you would like to learn more about specific scholarships and fellowships, go to cbs.umn.edu/main/resources/alumni/7e_alumgiving.html. Ames Sheldon, Director of Development, would be more than happy to answer any questions you have. You can contact her at 624-9460 or sheld057@umn.edu.

Again, I am grateful to each of you for everything you have done this past year on behalf of the College of Biological Sciences. And I look forward to working with you in the coming year.

I hope you can join me at the CBS holiday open house, which is from 1 to 3 p.m. on Thursday, December 16.

Bob Elde

Dean, College of Biological Sciences

 

Huber Warner named associate dean for research
Huber R. Warner, Ph.D. has been named associate dean for research at the College of Biological Sciences effective June 1, 2005. His role will be to lead research initiatives and graduate programs and will help implement CBS’ vision and strategic objectives. Warner, formerly a CBS biochemistry professor, left the University a number of years ago to join the National Institutes of Health, where he has held several executive positions for the National Institute of Aging. For the past five years he has been associate director for the Biology of Aging Program, where he developed new research programs and managed $150 million a year in grants and contracts for research on cell structure and function, genetics, metabolic regulation, cardiovascular biology, endocrinology, immunology, musculoskeletal biology, and physiology.

Minnesota Legislature convenes on January 4, 2005—
The U will present biennial budget and bonding requests
On January 4, 2005, the Minnesota Legislature—with 25 newly elected representatives joining its ranks—will convene its biennial session. Legislators will consider two important requests from the University: the 2006-07 biennial budget request and the 2004 capital bonding request, which the legislature failed to pass in the last session.

The biennial request, a proposed 50-50 partnership with the state, calls for $42 million in new state support for each of the next two years. The University will fund its share through a 5.5 percent tuition increase and a $15 million internal reallocation each year. The U would use new state funding to invest in academic initiatives in the biosciences; programs to attract and retain talented faculty, students, and staff; and to sustain the U's research and technology infrastructure. The University investments will be used for increases in faculty and staff compensation and small academic investments in operations, operating costs, debt, and leases.

The University will present an updated capital request based on inflationary guidelines outlined by the state. The request calls for $192.1 million—about $8 million more than the 2004 proposal—with a state commitment of $158.1 million (The U would fund the remainder.) The request, which has four components, focuses primarily on the renovation of older buildings.

To learn more about the University's biennial and capital budget requests, see http://www1.umn.edu/urelate/govrel/ For information on how you can advocate for the U, see http://www1.umn.edu/groots/index.php.

Dean Elde visits CBS interns at northern Minnesota schools
Dean Elde visited CBS undergrads interning at six northern Minnesota K-12 schools in November. The students are participating in Science Education Program for Greater Minnesota (SEPGM), which seeks to recruit undergraduates in science to consider science education as a career. The program anticipates that these students could eventually serve as replacements for retiring teachers at schools in rural communities. Each student is paired with a teacher who serves as a mentor for the semester-long internship. The program, which is funded by a grant from the Howard Hughes Medical Institute, is a collaboration of CBS, the College of Education and Human Development, and several school districts in northwestern Minnesota. Itasca Biological Station and Laboratory serves as a regional gathering place for meetings and teacher training programs. “There is a critical need for us to partner with K-12 schools to provide science teachers,” Elde says. “Each of us at CBS came to science because of a great teacher we had in middle or high school. That’s why we care about making sure great teachers will be there for future generations of scientists.”

$2M Mass Spectrometry and Proteomics (MSP) Initiative announced
The University has announced the new Mass Spectrometry and Proteomics (MSP) Initiative, which is sponsored by the offices of the Senior Vice President for Health Sciences and the Vice President for Research. The MSP initiative is a four-year, $2 million program that provides expanded opportunities for faculty to use mass spectrometry and proteomics in basic, translational, and clinical research. Training programs and staff support will be offered to help faculty use proteomic technology to initiate, develop, and expand research projects. Watch for more information about this initiative.

Office of Business Development opens
The Office of Business Development is now open for business in the University Enterprise Laboratories building, located at 1000 Westgate Dr. in St. Paul. Staff will work to increase the number of successful start-up companies based on university research. Doug Johnson, Carlson School of Management, is director; Dick Sommerstad is assistant director. For more info about OBD’s services and how to access them, go to http://www.obd.umn.edu/.

Visit the new online CBS calendar
The College of Biological Sciences has a new online calendar.

Google to add leading research libraries to databases
Google, the operator of the world's most popular Internet search service, announced today that it had entered into agreements with some of the nation's leading research libraries and Oxford University to begin converting their holdings into digital files that would be freely searchable over the Web. It may be only a step on a long road toward the long-predicted global virtual library. But the collaboration of Google and research institutions that also include Harvard, the University of Michigan, Stanford and the New York Public Library is a major stride in an ambitious Internet effort by various parties. The goal is to expand the Web beyond its current valuable, if eclectic, body of material and create a digital card catalog and searchable library for the world's books, scholarly papers and special collections.

Source

David Thomas, professor and head of structural biology and biophysics in BMBB, was named William F. Dietrich Professor in July, 2004. Full name of this endowed chair is the “William F. Dietrich Land Grant Chair in Fundamental Molecular/Cell Biology in the Basic Sciences.” Dietrich, who died in 1990, was former president and CEO of the Green Giant Company. The first holder of the Dietrich chair was Leonard Banaszak, who carried the title from May 1989 until July 2004, when he began a phased retirement.

In addition, Thomas has been elected Fellow of the Biophysical Society, which is the highest honor bestowed by this organization. He will accept the award at the society’s annual meeting next February in Long Beach.

David Redish, assistant professor of neuroscience, published an article in the December 10 issue of Science about a computational model of addiction he developed that can be used to make predictions about human behavior, animal behavior, and neurophysiology. By bringing addiction theory into a computational realm, researchers will be able to address key questions that will provide valuable insights into addictive behavior. The model was developed based on two hypotheses: that dopamine serves as a reward-error learning signal to produce temporal-difference learning in the normal brain, and that cocaine produces an increase in dopamine directly in phases. To read the article, go to http://www.sciencemag.org/cgi/content/abstract/sci;306/5703/1944

David Stephens, professor of ecology, evolution, and behavior, and colleagues have discovered what may be the evolutionary basis for impulsive behavior. Through experiments involving blue jays, they observed that this tendency evolved because in nature short-term small rewards (small morsels of food) actually provide more long-term benefits that waiting for bigger rewards. The work may help explain why many humans today find it hard to turn down an immediate reward—for example, food, money, sex, or euphoria—to wait for something better. The work was published in the December 7 issue of the Proceedings of the Royal Society (London). The full text of the article can be viewed here.

Robin Wright, associate dean for faculty and academic affairs, spoke about undergraduate biology curriculum at a November meeting of the National Academy of Sciences Board on Science Education. The title of her talk was “Scholarship of teaching and learning in undergraduate biology.”

Catherine Kirkpatrick, Brian Dimitroff, Jaime Rawson, and Scott Selleck, genetics, cell biology and development, published research findings in the October12 issue of Developmental Cell. Their paper, titled “Spatial Regulation of Wingless Morphogen Distribution and Signaling by Dally-like Protein,” investigates how a cell surface glycoprotein (a protein with attached sugar chains) influences the activity of signaling molecules. These signaling molecules, or morphogens, are critical for normal human development because they help to pattern cells and tissues; disruption of their activity can lead to a variety of disorders and diseases, including cancer.

Mervyn de Souza, Ph.D. biochemistry, has received the Alumni Service Award from the Board of Regents. He was recognized for his outstanding service as president of the Biological Sciences Alumni Society (BSAS). Mervyn, whose graduate advisor was Larry Wackett, professor and head of microbial biochemistry, is a principal scientist in Cargill’s Biotechnology Development Center. He uses microbial biotechnology to develop new and improved processes for food and bio-based materials.

Romas Kazlauskas, associate professor in BMBB and the Biotechnology Institute, received the Biocat 2004 prize for outstanding contributions to biocatalysis from the Scientific Advisory Committee for the International Congress on Biocatalysis 2004 in Hamburg, Germany Kazlauskas was one of three awardees. The other two are Bernhard Hauer, Vice-President for Research at BASF, a chemical company based in Germany, and Nicholas Turner, University of Manchester, UK.

Robin Wright, associate dean for faculty and academic affairs, was invited to speak at a meeting of the National Academy of Sciences Board on Science Education in November. The title of her presentation was “Scholarship of learning in undergraduate biology.”

Lanny Schmidt, Regents Professor of Chemical Engineering and Materials Science, has been named to the 2004 Scientific American 50 — Scientific American magazine's annual list recognizing outstanding acts of leadership in science and technology from the past year. Schmidt was cited for inventing the first reactor capable of producing hydrogen from a renewable fuel, namely ethanol from corn. The list of 50 winners appears in the magazine's December issue. Lanny is a leader of the Initiative for Renewable Energy and the Environment (IREE) hydrogen cluster and a member of the IREE working group.

Anna Petryk, GCD and pediatrics, and Rajaram Gopalakrishnan, oral sciences, received an AHC Faculty Research Development Grant for $204,741 to study the role of the twisted gastrulation gene in bone formation.

Ed Hoeffner, manager of the Kahlert Structural Biology Lab, and Teresa De la Mora-Rey, BMBB graduate student, have received the Advanced Certificate in Protein Crystallography with merit awards from Birkbeck College, University of London, England. Carrie Wilmot, assistant professor of biochemistry, molecular biology and biophysics, served as an ad-hoc tutor during the course.

Masamitsu Fukuyama, a postdoctoral fellow in Ann Rougvie’s lab in the Department of Genetics, Cell Biology, and Development, received a fellowship from the American Heart Association for his study of “Genetic dissection of PTEN/DAF-18 signaling pathways.”

Jim Cotner and Joe McFadden, ecology, evolution, and behavior, have been awarded a Grant-in-Aid of Research, Artistry, and Scholarship from the Graduate School.