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News, features and events from the College of Biological Sciences


Sehoya Cotner recognized with top honor from the National Association of Biology Teachers for her excellence as an educator.

Sehoya Cotner (BTL) received the National Association of Biology Teachers’ University Biology Teaching Award. The award goes to an outstanding biology educator who demonstrates creativity and innovation in an undergraduate course.

“This is a major accomplishment” says Randy Moore (BTL), who nominated Cotner for the award. “It’s easily the equivalent of receiving a major grant. The National Association of Biology Teachers is the country’s largest professional organization of biology teachers, and they recognize only one teacher per year with this award. This year, they chose Sehoya as their best biology teacher. That’s impressive, and she is, too.”

Synthetic organic chemist Kate Adamala develops cell-mimicking systems with just the right amount of complexity.

Kate Adamala

It’s not easy being a cellular biologist. Try to study molecules and what they do in an intact cell, and you end up with so many variables and cascades of interaction that it’s impossible to figure out what’s going on. But take the cell apart to try to understand the roles of individual components in making its internal clockwork tick, and you end up with bits and pieces that don’t work as they do when intertwined within a living system.

The evolutionary biologist received an honorary doctorate at a formal ceremony at the University of Jyväskylä in August.

honorary doctorate ceremony

This Grand Challenges in Biology research team looks to develop a clearer picture of sex chromosome evolution, key to a better understanding of chromosomal disorders.

Brandvain, Zarkower, Blackmon
From left: Yaniv Brandvain, David Zarkower, Heath Blackmon

Third in a four-part series on the first round of research projects funded through the College of Biological Sciences' Grand Challenges in Biology Postdoctoral Program.

It all started with beetles. As a graduate student considering the invertebrates’ chromosomes, Heath Blackmon observed that the insects drop their Y chromosomes on a fairly regular basis. But why? Now a post-doctoral researcher in the College of Biological Sciences, he spotted an opportunity to investigate a question with very real consequences for humans with chromosomal disorders such as Turner's and Klinefelter syndromes.

This postdoctoral associate in the Department of Biology Teaching and Learning came full circle back to the Twin Cities.

Max Kramer

You grew up in St. Paul. Where did you get your undergraduate and graduate degrees?

I received my undergraduate BA from Lewis and Clark College in Portland, OR, and my Ph.D. from New York University in New York City.

What do you miss most about Oregon and New York?

I miss the Cascade Mountains in Oregon and New York's egg-on-a-roll sandwiches from the corner stores. 

Why did you choose to pursue your postdoctoral work at CBS?

I came to the University because of the Department of Biology Teaching and Learning (BTL). It is rare to find a specific department dedicated to biology education, my primary interest. They (we!) are pushing the undergraduate experience to a really, really excited to be a part of that mission.

Dan VoytasDan Voytas, professor in the Department of Genetics, Cell Biology and Development, and director of the Center for Genome Engineering, has been profiled in the most recent issue of Science. Dan is doing incredible work in advancing gene editing in plants. He is aptly described as a world leader in plant engineering, and we are thrilled to see Dan's contributions to the field recognized by a top journal.

Posted in: CBS Connect, Faculty, GCD
The ecology research station fosters a broader conversation about science and culture with a summer youth camp and an indigenous research symposium.
Students participate in Gida camp


With its open prairies, leafy groves and evergreen forests, Cedar Creek Ecosystem Science Reserve is an ideal site for long-term ecology research. It’s also uniquely positioned to engage in a very different kind of work bridging science and culture. This summer, Cedar Creek hosted a science camp and a symposium designed to engage indigenous communities and create a dialogue about the multi-faceted history of the land.

Richard C. Thompson, professor of marine biology at Plymouth University will present at the Covestro Lectureship in Sustainability.

Plastic debris in ocean

Tuesday, October 11, 2016 • 7 p.m.
100 Bell Museum Auditorium

Free admission with registration at

Marine debris is a growing environmental problem. It is widely distributed at the sea surface, on the sea bed, and on shorelines. About 75 percent of this litter is plastic. Nearly 700 species are known to encounter marine litter, with many reports of physical harm resulting from entanglement in and ingestion of plastic debris.

2016 DBC Symposium | The View Ahead: New Approaches in Developmental Biology

Monday, September 26, 2016 • Coffman Memorial Union

Featured speakers include:

Benjamin Garcia, University of Pennsylvania • Laura Johnston, Columbia University • Stanley Qi, Stanford University • John Postlethwait, University of Oregon • Rahul Satija, New York University • Edgar Spalding, University of Wisconsin

Banquet speaker:

Kat Hadjantonakis, Sloan Kettering Institute


DBC Symposium Flyer

Kennedy Lab embarks on a new Norwegian collaboration to study the relationship between rotting fungus and carbon cycling on a global scale.
The process of sequestering atmospheric carbon is no simple task. Yet as global warming continues to take center stage in many fields of biological study, it is becoming increasingly important for humans to understand more precisely how carbon moves between land and air. Lurking beneath the soil lies an unsuspecting — and quite dead — carbon emissions candidate. In a new collaboration with the University of Olso (UiO) and the Norwegian University of Life Sciences (NMBU), the Kennedy lab will unearth new knowledge of how fungal necromass affects carbon cycling.
Everyone is familiar with fungal fruiting bodies — i.e. mushrooms as they appear above ground.