College Recognizes Outstanding Postdocs

October 06, 2017

Awards given for research, teaching, outreach and service.

The College hosted the inaugural CBS Postdoc Appreciation Celebration September 21. Postdocs received awards for research, teaching, outreach and service. The recipients are:

CBS Postdoctoral Award for Teaching and Mentoring — Neal Jahren (BTL/EEB)

Neal Jahren serves as a mentor to undergraduates in the Travisano lab and for the Pseudomonas experimental evolution research sections of the Foundations of Biology courses. Catherine Kirkpatrick, who nominated Jahren for the award, said: “Neal has repeatedly demonstrated his enthusiasm for teaching and his thoughtfulness about how best to help a diverse set of CBS students carry out their own research projects.”

CBS Postdoctoral Award for Impactful Research — Lauren Sullivan (EEB)

Lauren Sullivan studies the factors that influence plant reproduction and dispersal, and the consequences that these characteristics have for population and community dynamics. Allison Shaw, who nominated Sullivan for the award, said: “In summary, during Lauren's 2.5 years as a postdoctoral researcher in EEB, she has conducted and published theoretical work with broad ecological implications, landed a large grant, and is conducting empirical work that will likely influence both local Minnesota land management and our understanding of plant population ecology generally.”

CBS Postdoctoral Award for Impactful Research — Honorable mentions: Liana Burghardt (PMB) and Jiwei Zhang (PMB)

Liana Burghardt developed a new way to assay bacterial fitness and identify the genetic basis of variation among bacterial strains of a single species among other achievements. Jiwei Zhang made deep contributions to the field of fungal genetics and biology through his studies of wood decay mechanisms of brown rot fungus in the Schilling lab.

CBS postdoctoral award for Service to the Community — Maureen Quin (BMBB)

Maureen Quin has been a leader and champion for postdocs, and many of the postdoc initiatives in CBS. She created the BTI MicrobeTech seminar series where professionals mainly outside academia talk about their career paths. Nominator Claudia Schmidt-Dannert said: “Maureen has and continues to play a central role in building a postdoctoral community in CBS and at the University of Minnesota. She has been active in the U of M’s PDA and organized the recent CBS postdoctoral symposium. In CBS, she is representing the postdocs as a member of the CBS leadership council.”

CBS postdoctoral award for Outreach and Communication — Ryan Briscoe Runquist (PMB)

Ryan Briscoe Runquist is a founding member of Market Science, which connects researchers with the public at farmers markets and fairs. This endeavor has become a signature outreach program in CBS and the University reaching over 7,000 citizens in the last two years. This makes it one of the largest scientific outreach programs currently running in Minnesota. Nominator David Moeller said: “The scope of the program has grown over the last several years, in large part due to Ryan’s efforts to engage rural Minnesota communities. It is important to note that Ryan is not only instrumental in the coordination of the program (an immense undertaking), but regularly staffs the Market Science booth and trains other researchers in effective outreach communication.”