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CBS News - April 2004

Be part of the College of Biological Sciences community

I’d like to thank all of you who attended the recent All-College Meeting. As CBS continues to grow, it’s important for us to take advantage of opportunities to understand our shared goals and to maintain our sense of community. For those of you who were unable to attend, hand-outs on the CBS Compact, a plan for new facilities, curriculum review, and the budget are posted on the website. I hope you will be able to attend the next All-College Meeting, which is scheduled for May 18.

Meanwhile, there are two other community events you won’t want to miss: the CBS Spring Forum on Friday, April 16 and the CBS Year-End Picnic on Friday, May 6. [See details below.]

At the CBS Forum, Jim Cotner, limnologist in the Department of Ecology, Evolution, and Behavior will talk about his research on the role of microbes in regulating carbon and nutrient cycles in lakes and oceans. His work shows how microbes can affect global ecosystems. CBS Forum is held once a semester to help us all learn about outstanding research in different areas of biology.

This will be the third annual CBS Year-End Picnic, which gets bigger and better every year. Last year, more than 600 faculty, staff, and students attended. It’s a great way to celebrate the end of the academic year and to connect with colleagues. I will once again be grilling burgers, alongside the associate deans, department heads, and directors.

Spring means awards as well as picnics. Congratulations to Mike Sadowsky and Nevin Young, who have been named Distinguished McKnight University Professors. Both Mike and Nevin have joint appointments in CBS and COAFES. They join a list of past CBS recipients that includes David Bernlohr, Larry Wackett, Bianca Conti-Fine, David Tilman, Craig Packer, and Anne Pusey. The number of these awards given within CBS says a lot about the quality of our faculty.

I’m also proud to report that three CBS undergraduates have received national recognition. Maya Babu, a CBS junior majoring in neuroscience received a Truman Scholarship and Marylyssa Bann, also a neuroscience major, received a Goldwater Scholarship. Joe Foley, a freshman majoring in plant biology, received a Summer Undergraduate Research Fellowship from the American Society of Plant Biologists. All are highly competitive scholarships that carry substantial financial awards. You can read more about these students and their scholarships below.

I hope to see you at the Forum and the Picnic.

Bob Elde, Dean



CBS Spring Forum “The Earth’s Alchemists:

Microbial regulation of carbon and nutrient cycling in lakes and oceans”
Join CBS faculty, staff, and students at the CBS Spring Forum on Friday, April 16 from 3 to 4 p.m. in room 105 the Cargill Building for Microbial and Plant Genomics. James Cotner, associate professor of ecology, evolution, and behavior will present a talk titled “The Earth’s Alchemists: Microbial regulation of carbon and nutrient cycling in lakes and oceans."

Cotner is Moos Professor of Limnology in the Department of Ecology, Evolution, and Behavior. His research focuses on the role of heterotrophic bacteria in biogeochemical cycles in varied aquatic ecosystems, including pelagic and benthic, freshwater and marine, lotic and lentic, and natural and human-impacted systems.

CBS Forum is a community-building event held once each semester to showcase outstanding research from departments and explore opportunities for interdisciplinary collaboration.

CBS Year-End Picnic

You are invited to the CBS Year-End Picnic on Friday, May 7, from 12 noon to 2 p.m. on the lawn in front of Snyder Hall and Gortner Laboratories. Enjoy free burgers & veggie burgers, grilled and served by deans, department heads, and directors, music, prizes, and more. Attention graduating seniors: come get your graduation gift from CBS and be in the senior class photo, which will be taken at 1 p.m.

Pick up your free tickets in department offices, the Dean’s Office, or Student Services by April 30. If you would like to volunteer to help at the picnic, contact CBS Alumni Relations,

2004 Distinguished McKnight University Professors

Michael Sadowsky and Nevin Young are among five faculty named Distinguished McKnight University Professors for 2004. Recipients hold the title for as long as they remain at the University of Minnesota and receive $100,000 over five years. Sadowsky, professor of soil, water, and climate and Biotechnology Institute member, was chosen for research achievements in environmental microbiology, including genomics of microbial degradation of environmental pollutants, and for contributions to research on nitrogen fixation, microbial ecology of bacteria in soils and water, and understanding how global change influences microbial processes in soil. Young, professor of plant pathology and plant biology, was selected for his achievements in legume genomics and bioinformatics. His research on gene discovery and genome mapping provides useful applications in agriculture by defining genes that affect plant disease resistance, seed quality, and responses to environmental stresses. He is leading the international effort to sequence the first legume genome.

CBS students win top national scholarships

Maya Babu, a CBS junior majoring in neuroscience, is one of two University of Minnesota students who received a Truman Scholarship. An honors student, Maya coordinates the University Promise Alliance, a student-driven organization that aims to mobilize students to work on the needs of children and youth who live near campus. She is involved with many other groups that work with youth and volunteerism, and she plans to pursue medical and law degrees to prepare for a career in mental health policy. Maya will receive $26,000 for her senior year and for her graduate education.

Maralyssa Bann is one of three students from the U of M-Twin Cities to receive the prestigious Barry M. Goldwater Scholarship. A graduate of Eden Prairie High School, Maralyssa is pursuing a bachelor of science degree in neuroscience and is a sophomore in the CBS honors program. She plans to become a practicing neurologist, combining laboratory and clinical research to develop treatments for Alzheimer's disease. Goldwater Scholars receive up to $7,500 per year for two years.

Joseph Foley is one of eight students in the United States to receive a Summer Undergraduate Research Fellowship from the American Society of Plant Biologists. Joe is a graduate of Mounds View High School and, as a freshman in the CBS Honors Program, is carrying out a research project in Carolyn Silflow's laboratory in the Department of Plant Biology. The Fellowship provides a stipend of $3,000 plus supplies and a travel grant that allows participants to present their research at the annual ASPB meeting.

18th Annual Life Sciences Undergraduate Research Symposium

18th Annual Life Sciences Undergraduate Research Symposium will be held on Wednesday, April 28 in the Great Hall at Coffman Student Union. The program includes oral presentations from 1:30 to 2:00 p.m., a poster session from 2:00 to 4:30 p.m., with reception and awards program following. For a sneak preview of this year's abstracts, visit the symposium website (after April 22). Stop by for any part of the program to show your support for undergraduate research. The symposium and reception are free and open to the public.

Otto Hill Fund provides professional development support

CBS faculty and staff are encouraged to apply for professional development grants provided by a fund established by CBS alumnus Dr. Otto Hill. Money may be used for conferences, meetings, workshops, or to purchase a first-time membership in a professional organization, or a first-time subscription to a professional journal. The purpose is to enhance the employee’s role in the college.

Eligibility: All CBS non-student employees with at least 75 percent time appointments are eligible to apply. Faculty may apply for professional development activities that are not discipline based, e.g., a conference on advising undergraduates would be eligible for funding; however, a meeting or conference on development biology would not. Maximum award is $450 per recipient per year.

Application: Submit to Jeff Thomas, CBS Dean’s Office, 123 Snyder Hall.

Online access to Journal Citation Reports

University Libraries now offers online access to Journal Citation Reports, a database that provides impact factors for more than 8,400 journals from the sciences, technology and the social sciences.

To access Journal Citation Reports, follow these instructions:

    Start from the Libraries' home page at
    Click on the link for "Indexes"
    Click on the letter "J"
    Click on the link for "Journal Citation Reports"
    Provide your University Internet ID and password

Users may search for a specific journal to find its impact factor, or select a subject area, such as biology, and see a list of related journals with their corresponding impact factors.

Safety reminder: No sandals in labs
Ah... spring has arrived. So have sandals. Jane Phillips, College Safety Office, reminds everyone that sandals are not safe attire for working in laboratories with hazardous chemicals or conditions.


Brave New World of Intellectual Property

The rise of the Internet and the growth of biotechnology have challenged many of our ideas about intellectual property and our rules for protecting it. At this handy index to intellectual property publications from the National Academies, experts wrestle with the ramifications of these developments for research and society. Topics covered by the more than 60 reports, books, and other documents range from copyright protection for software to the furor-inducing 1999 Shelby amendment, which requires researchers to disclose data used to formulate federal regulations.

No More Paper Chase

Aimed at streamlining the grants process, is a new central listing of available awards from all 26 federal agencies that dole out money for research and other programs. The site will eventually allow you to download an application and submit the completed package online, using free software. So far, five agencies have posted applications for selected grants, including the Department of Health and Human Services and the Department of Energy.

US postdocs:  Young, gifted ... and broke

At the turn of the millennium, the US National Academies put the spotlight on the miserable pay and conditions experienced by most US postdocs. Things are now starting to change, but slowly.

Low pay, a lack of benefits, inadequate recognition and poor career guidance. This, according to an influential report released in 2000 by the US National Academies, is the lot of postdocs working in the United States. Across the country, more than 50,000 scientists and engineers make up this part of the workforce, existing at that indefinite stage of continued training between earning a Ph.D. and gaining a permanent academic position.


Robert Sterner and Jacques Finlay received a $375,931 National Science Foundation award to study "The Nitrifying of Lake Superior and Its Intersections with the P and Fe Cycles." Sterner is professor of ecology, evolution, and behavior; Finlay is assistant professor.

Joe McFadden, assistant professor of ecology, evolution, and behavior received a three-year NASA faculty Early-Career Competition award for $356,707 for a project to study carbon and water cycles in urban/suburban ecosystems.

Jeannine Cavender-Bares, assistant professor of ecology, evolution, and behavior, was selected as one of two nominees from the University of Minnesota for the 2004 David and Lucile Packard Fellowships for Science and Engineering competition. Fellowships will be announced in May. Two CBS faculty, Claudia Schmidt-Dannert and George Weiblen, are Packard fellows.

Elizabeth Lonsdorf, former graduate student in the Department of Ecology, Evolution, and Behavior, is first author of an article on Sex Differences in Chimpanzee Learning published in the April 15 issue of Nature. The study shows that female and male chimps both learn from their mothers how to insert sticks into termite mounds and pull out tasty termite snacks, but that females learn earlier. Gender differences in learning this skill compare to differences in human girls and boys acquiring fine motor skills, such as writing. Go to to read the complete article. Anne Pusey was Lonsdorf's advisor.

James Cotner, associate professor of ecology, evolution, and behavior, has been awarded a two-year, $75,640 U.S. Department of Commerce grant to study "Salinity, Nutrients, and Food Webs in Florida Bay."

William Shawlot, assistant professor of genetics, cell biology, and development, is a co-author of “Nodal antagonists regulate migration of the visceral endoderm along the future anteroposterior axis of the mouse embryo,” published in the March 25 issue of Nature [428: 387-392].

George Weiblen, assistant professor of plant biology, received $16,000 from the National Science Foundation for a scientific exchange between the US and the Czech Republic,“Beta-diversity of caterpillars (Lepidoptera) in tropical rainforests: testing predictions of host specificity. "

Craig Packer, professor of ecology, evolution, and behavior, received a National Science Foundation award of $90,000 for “Long-term Studies of African Lions.”

Colleen McLinn, EEB graduate student, received an Animal Behavior Society Student Research Grant of $1,000 and the Charles and Dorothy Andrew Bird Award from the University of Minnesota Chapter of Sigma Xi, which includes a $1,000 prize and one year of membership in the society. Colleen is advised by David Stephens.

Jen White, EEB graduate student, was awarded a Torske Klubben Fellowship for 2004-05. The Torske Klubben, founded in 1933, awards fellowships to Minnesota resident graduate students who are interested in connections with Norway and its culture. The fellowship carries a stipend. Jen is advised by David Andow, professor of entomology.

CBS students Holly Hofstad and Gabriella Monsalv have been named recipients of the 2004 President’s Student Leadership and Service Award for exceptional leadership and service to the University and surrounding community. President Bruininks will present the awards at a banquet on May 3.

Two juniors from Andover High School are seeking a summer research opportunity with CBS faculty. Ashley and Manal are 4.0 students, members of the National Honor Society, active as volunteers in their community, and have a strong interest in medical research. If you are interested in mentoring these students in your lab during summer 2004, please contact Sarah Corrigan at References and contact information are available upon request.


April 16, 2004
Spring CBS Forum
"The Earth's Alchemists: Microbial regulation of carbon and nutrient cycling in lakes and oceans"
James Cotner, Moos Professor of Limnology
3:00-4:00 p.m.
Cargill Building for Microbial and Plant Genomics
1500 Gortner Avenue, St. Paul Campus
Contact: 625-5700

April 21
The Future of Food
Public discussion about the ethical, scientific, economic, and ecological issues related to biotech crops and animals.
7:00 p.m.
Coffman Union Theater
Moderator: Dan Philippon, Program in Agricultural, Food, and Environmental Ethics
Panelists: Anne Kapuscinski, Philip Regal, Vernon Ruttan, David Somers

April 28
Life Sciences Undergraduate Research Symposium
1:30 - 6:00 pm Coffman, Great Hall
Sponsored By: CBS Honors Program
Contact: Rogene Schnell, 612-624-3481

Closes May 2
Contemporary Art Explores Human Genomics
Weisman Art Museum
333 East River Road

May 7
CBS Year-End Picnic
12:00 - 2:00 p.m.
Snyder Hall Lawn
Sponsored by: College of Biological Sciences
Contact: CBS Alumni Relations phone: 612.624.4770

May 15
CBS Commencement
7:30 p.m.
Northrop Auditorium
Sponsored by: College of Biological Sciences
Contact: CBS Student Services phone: 612.624.9717