April is always an incredibly busy time for all as momentum builds toward the culminating event of the year, commencement. This year, I’m pleased to announce that Plant and Microbial Biology Professor George Weiblen will be our speaker. George has achieved so much as a scholar but also in the areas of conservation and community engagement. He will no doubt serve as an inspiration for our soon-to-be graduates.
Diversifying our faculty
We successfully recruited our first President’s Postdoctoral Fellow, an innovative program that places highly qualified postdocs in positions at partner institutions including the University of Minnesota. The program is designed to provide a pathway to a tenure-track position for promising postdocs such Mingzi Xu, who will start working with the Zuk lab in Ecology, Evolution and Behavior this fall. We hope this is the first of many fellows recruited through the program. Creating an endowment to fund new fellows is one of our fundraising priorities set out in our Campaign for the College of Biological Sciences, so we are working to attract philanthropic support to sustain this effort over time.
Understanding our budget
This month in my meetings with department faculty I am sharing an overview of our budget and providing context about where funding comes from and how it is allocated. As I’ve said before, I believe strongly in transparency where the budgeting process is concerned so I am hopeful that these conversations shine a light on a complicated topic.
Our awesome undergraduates
We are fortunate to have such motivated undergraduates in this College. They excel at academics to be sure, but I am continually impressed by their commitment to using their science to do good in the world. Case in point, a team of CBS students received gold in the Institute on the Environment’s Acara Challenge, an annual competition to fund students that are developing solutions to address social and/or environmental challenges. Amy Yi, Tessa Day and Diane Kazlauski started a project called MoyoMate to make blood pressure screening devices more accessible to residents of Kampala, Uganda where hypertension often goes undiagnosed.
Opportunities to engage
This month brings several opportunities to engage including Destination Discovery, a St. Paul campus open house, Micro & Mash, an event focusing on the biology of beer. This last is a special collaboration between several CBS faculty and two microbiology alums — Riley Seitz and Rose Picklo — who run the quality labs at Surly and Fair State Brewing, respectively. All of these events offer the CBS community an opportunity to engage in fun and accessible ways with science.