You are here

Checking In With Dean Forbes | Summer 2017

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

What are you most excited about at the moment?

Last month, I announced the appointment of Jonathan Schilling as the next director of our Itasca Biological Station and Laboratories. Jonathan starts in January 2018. I am looking forward to the exciting developments to come as Jonathan and his team expand research opportunities, continue to evolve field biology education programming and increase engagement with the surrounding community. I’m also excited about the research being undertaken by the newest cohort of Grand Challenges postdocs. You can read about their projects here. The program, now in its third year, has yielded some really outstanding collaborations and served as a catalyst for cross-disciplinary research.

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

Next week I will attend the Ecological Society of America conference in Portland, OR where I will present a paper on “Linking Management, Biodiversity, and Ecosystem Services via Mechanistic Models.” The conference brings together thousands of ecologists from all over the world, so it’s a great chance to connect with colleagues and hear about the latest scientific developments in the field.

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

This fall is going to be eventful! Cedar Creek Ecosystem Science Reserve celebrates its 75th anniversary September 9 with an afternoon of tours and activities. The CBS Conservatory opens its doors for a special event called Cocktails at the Conservatory September 22. The Petri Dish series returns October 4 with a conversation on feeding a world population on track to reach 10 billion by 2050. The Department of Ecology, Evolution and Behavior marks its 50th anniversary with a symposium and an evening of lightning talks highlighting the influence of EEB greats such as Margaret Davis and Eville Gorham October 26 and 27. There’s so much to look forward to. I hope you will make plans to participate.

Anything else on your mind?

I spent three sessions at Nature of Life this year and had a wonderful time! Meeting our incoming students in such an inspiring setting and observing their potential to learn and achieve great things never gets old. It’s also a great opportunity to shape students’ expectations and help them develop a framework for thinking about what it means to be a scientist. To that end, this summer I introduced a new module on communicating science. I asked students to become translators. They read scientific papers by CBS faculty members and worked together to come up with concise explanations of the research and its implications. I focused on this topic because it’s become increasingly clear that we all need to be able to talk about what we do and explain why it is essential.


August, 2017