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CBS News - September 2011

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College News

Campus “crawl” comes to CBS September 19

President Eric Kaler will visit all three Twin Cities campuses over the course of a two-day “campus crawl” September 19 and 21 to kick off Inauguration Week. He will make scheduled visits to collegiate units starting on the St. Paul campus.

Kaler will spend a half hour at a mini poster session that will feature a sampling of CBS research on topics. Clarence Lehman (EEB) will discuss David Tilman’s findings on biodiversity and carbon-negative biofuel. Larry Wackett (BMBB/BTI) will explain his research using enzymes for renewable energy and other applications. Jeff Gralnick (Microbiology/BTI) will talk about his research on microbial life in the deep terrestrial biosphere. Claudia Schmidt-Dannert (BMBB/BTI) will highlight her work on synthetic biology. Dan Voytas (GCD/Center for Genome Engineering) will talk about gene editing. Graduate students in the lab of Reuben Harris (BMBB) will present research on the use of mutations to combat HIV. And Nathan Springer (PBIO) will discuss his work on epigenetics.

An inauguration ceremony for Kaler will be held September 22 at Ted Mann Concert Hall. CBS undergraduates Mae Kindler (Biology) and Matt Tracy (Neuroscience) are among more than a dozen U of M students chosen to cover Kaler's inauguration week activities as social media ambassadors. 

Research News

Study finds speedier microtubule self-assembly kinetics

Cell | 8.19.11

A research team led by Melissa Gardner (GCD) found that microtubule assembly kinetics are 10-fold more rapid than previously estimated. Computational modeling combined with in vitro and in vivo studies using high-resolution microscopy show that tubulin addition and loss rates from the microtubule tip are nearly equal at all tubulin concentrations and provide evidence that the microtubule tip structure shifts from a blunt shape to a relatively tapered point as free tubulin concentrations increase. These findings impact our understanding of how microtubule regulatory proteins and drugs such as the chemotherapeutic drug taxol influence microtubule growth. Read the study.

Climate Tracker website and online tool launches

A new website and climate simulation tool have launched as part of a project to understand how weather translates into climate. Peter Reich (CFANS) managed the project, which included co-investigators Clarence Lehman (EEB), Don Wyse (CFANS), Lee Frelich (CFANS) and meteorologist Mark Seeley, The website features historic data from weather stations along with the Climate Tracker tool, which uses that data to show the movement of climate in the past and its likely movement in the future. Check out the website.

People

Sehoya Cotner and Randy Moore (Biology Program) co-authored a new book geared toward a general audience and designed to answer critics of evolution with evidence beyond what is found in typical textbooks. Arguing for Evolution: An Encyclopedia for Understanding Science was released by Greenwood Press in August. 

Robert Zink (EEB/Bell Museum of Natural History) gave lectures in Taiwan in August at the Taiwan Normal University in Taipei, the Museum of Natural Science in Taichung and the Endangered Species Institute in JiJi.

Dan Voytas’ (GCD/Center for Genome Engineering) research was featured in recent articles about growing interest in the gene-editing market (Nature Medicine) and competition among gene-editing techniques (Nature Biotechnology). 

Larry Wackett (BMBB/BTI) gave a keynote lecture at the American Chemical Society national meeting in Denver at the end of August. His talk was titled: “Enzyme mechanisms and pathways for the microbial degradation of organic pollutants.”

Michael Wilson (EEB/Anthropology) was recently featured in a radio piece by Public Radio International's The World about the evolutionary roots of xenophobia.

Jon Foley (EEB/Institute on the Environment) gave a talk titled “The Other Inconvenient Truth: How Agriculture Is Changing the Face of This Planet” at TEDxTC in June.

CBS freshman Mary Zahurones was selected as the 58th Princess Kay of the Milky Way this summer at the Minnesota State Fair. She will serve as a goodwill ambassador for the state's dairy industry over the coming year. Seven of the 12 princesses selected are U of M students. Zahurones is majoring in biology and hopes to attend medical school.

Jacob Jungers, a graduate student in the conservation biology program advised by Clarence Lehman (EEB), was awarded his department's gradute student of the year award.

Events

September 16

Welcome Back BBQ

Faculty and staff are invited to attend the CBS Student Board’s annual Welcome Back BBQ, which will be held at East River Flats (behind Coffman) starting at 5:30 p.m.

October 12

Uncovering the past, charting the future: The rise of women in science

History of science expert Sally Gregory Kohlstedt will deliver the annual Ada Comstock Distinguished Women Scholars Lecture. Kohlstedt will explore a number of questions including: Has feminism changed science practice? Do women select distinct career paths? Are women’s science ambitions and abilities allowed to flourish today? What do current practices mean for the future? RSVP for the lecture.

Humphrey School of Public Affairs | Cowles Auditorium | 4 p.m.