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Checking in with Dean Forbes - April 2017

A monthly Q&A With College of Biological Sciences Dean Valery Forbes.

What are you most excited about at the moment?

I am thrilled about the wave of recognition for our outstanding faculty. Just in the past few weeks, Reuben Harris was named a Distinguished McKnight University Professor, George Weiblen received the President’s Community-Engaged Scholar Award, and Perry Hackett and Mikael Elias were recognized for innovative research. Perry received the university’s Impact Award and Mikael received the Early Innovator Award. I am reminded once again what incredible talent we have in this college. Congratulations Reuben, George, Perry and Mikael.

What are you most looking forward to in the coming weeks?

We just wrapped up the spring Petri Dish series, and there are so many interesting events yet to come this month including a talk by award-winning author Dan Egan drawing from his book The Death and Life of the Great Lakes (part of the Freshwater Society's Moos Family Lecture Series), the CBS Postdoc Symposium, and a talk on visual storytelling with the Field Museum's Greg Mercer. Cedar Creek is hosting several events including volunteer training for the Red-Headed Woodpecker Recovery Project. Students in our Foundations of Biology courses will hold poster sessions later this month. But I am especially looking forward to SciSpark 2017, an event the college hosts each year on the St. Paul campus in collaboration with CFANS, the Institute on the Environment and the Bell Museum of Natural History. SciSpark draws hundreds of alumni, students, faculty and members of the public together for an evening of lightning science talks by women scientists working across a variety of disciplines touching the biological sciences in some way. It’s lots of fun and another way we are working to share the science that happens here on campus with a broader audience.

What do you want to make sure the CBS community knows right now?

State support is essential for this university and for this college. We depend on it for a range of things from funding activities relating to our core mission, to growing promising areas of research through initiatives such as MnDRIVE, to creating and sustaining programs that contribute to student success. The university presented its 2018-19 budget request to the Minnesota Legislature earlier this year. The legislature has indicated that it intends to fund only about 20 percent of that request. I encourage you all to contact your legislators to ask that they increase funding. As the land-grant university in Minnesota, we create tremendous value for the state through research, education and outreach activities. A precipitous drop in funding will undermine our ability to do that work.

Anything else on your mind?

The March for Science will take place in Washington, D.C. and cities across the country, including here in St. Paul, April 22. A number of faculty, students and staff have expressed interest in a coordinated presence at the march. The CBS Student Board has stepped up to organize meeting points on campus and at the capitol for those who would like to take part with other members of CBS and the broader university community. While opinions about the march and its objectives vary, I think many will agree that communicating the value of science is a worthwhile endeavor. The March for Science is an opportunity to do that, which is why I support the Student Board’s efforts to engage in this vital form of speech. Those interested in joining members of the CBS Student Board and the CBS community at the march will find details here.

April, 2017