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Checking in With Dean Forbes - November 2017

A regular Q&A with College of Biological Sciences Dean Valery Forbes.

What are you most excited about at the moment?
There’s lots going on as usual. Several of our faculty were part of projects funded by the latest round of Grand Challenges Research Awards. Six interdisciplinary teams each received two years of funding. CBS faculty are members of two of those teams. Larry Wackett and Will Harcombe are part of a project focusing on improving agroecological management. Sarah Hobbie and Stephen Polasky are members of a team focused on water and equity. I am also looking forward to Speaking Science: Communicating with Media, Funders, Policymakers, and the Public — a one-day conference in January organized by CBS, IonE, CSE and OVPR. The conference is designed to help faculty, postdocs and graduate students sharpen their ability to communicate their science to audiences beyond the academic community. As sponsors, we have a limited number of free tickets for faculty and students. If you are interested in attending, contact CBS Communications Director Stephanie Xenos (

What are you most looking forward to in the coming weeks?
Give to the Max Day is coming up and we’re raising $10,000 for a four-year scholarship. Those who work closely with our students know how very bright, motivated and deserving of support they are, which is why I am pledging $5,000 as a matching gift. I invite you to join me in making this scholarship a reality! You don’t have to wait until November 16 either. If you are interested in making a contribution, you can schedule your gift now at

On a personal note, I’m excited about the Society of Environmental Toxicology and Chemistry (SETAC) North American Conference in Minneapolis next week. About 1,800 ecotoxicologists from around the world will converge on the Minneapolis Conference Center to talk about the effects of chemical pollutants on the environment. My lab will be participating in full force, so we are busily preparing talks and posters at the moment.

What do you want to make sure the CBS community knows right now?
We just announced a new call for applicants for the Grand Challenges in Biology Postdoctoral Program. It’s a really excellent opportunity for postdocs interested in doing cross-disciplinary work to take on ambitious, big-picture research that draws from different areas of the biological sciences and beyond. Applications are due February 1. Please spread the word!

Anything else on your mind?
Everyone had a wonderful time at our annual recognition dinner a few weeks ago. The highlights for me were longtime donors and CBS alums Geri and Darby Nelson giving the keynote and John Anderson wrapping things up with a lively rendition of the Minnesota Rouser accompanied by a brass quintet and drumline, and a handful of students. You can watch videos and see photos here.


November, 2017