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CBS News - April 2006


Science and Engineering Task Force Report

As you know, recommendations from the Science and Engineering Task Force are among the recent round of strategic positioning reports presented to the University community for review.

The task force was asked to explore how advances in biological sciences will transform physical sciences, engineering, biomedical research, agriculture, and environmental sciences and how to strengthen connections between biology and these areas.

The task force concluded that the current organizational structure for science and engineering is ideally suited for increasing collaboration and made no suggestions to change the structure or CBS or IT.

Here's a very brief summary of their recommendations to the University:

  • Seek funding (in partnership with the state and industry) for a Science and Technology Interdisciplinary Research (STIR) Institute
  • Strengthen research collaborations among CBS, IT, and the AHC with a focus on three intercollegiate areas: materials, energy, and environmental genomics.
  • Maintain strong traditional disciplines while strengthening interdisciplinary activities, especially between medicine and engineering, through graduate education and research teams.
  • Continue to build multi-user facilities that enhance the infrastructure for science and engineering research.
  • Increase research capacity through collaborative research and by securing training grants, especially at the interface of biology and engineering.
  • Integrate biology and engineering by creating an undergraduate major in biological engineering that is jointly administered by CBS and IT.
  • Strengthen the role of the Office of the Vice President for Research in planning for interdisciplinary research initiatives.

I am very pleased with the recommendations. They confirm that biology plays a key role in many other fields and that CBS is well positioned to help other units at the University use new tools and knowledge in the biological sciences to further their own goals.

My thanks go to the task force for their outstanding work. Co-chairs were Claudia Neuhauser, HHMI professor and head of Ecology, Evolution, and Behavior; David Bernlohr, McKnight Professor and head of Biochemistry, Molecular Biology, and Biophysics; and Frank Bates, McKnight Professor and head, Chemical Engineering and Materials Science. Members from the CBS community included Mike Sadowsky, professor, Biotechnology Institute; and Marc Von Keitz, associate director, Biotechnology Institute.

I encourage you to join the task force at the April 21 town hall meeting to review and discuss the recommendations. The University invites comments through April 30.

Bob Elde


Get your ticket for the CBS year-end picnic!

The annual CBS picnic will be held on Friday, May 5, from 12 " 2 p.m. on the lawn in front of Gortner Laboratories and Snyder Halls. CBS students, faculty, and staff are invited to enjoy a free meal grilled by CBS deans, department heads, and faculty members. Free tickets are available in each CBS department office, the Dean"s office, and CBS student services, from April 6 through April 28. Volunteers are still needed, contact Jean Marie Lindquist at or 612-625-7705.

Preliminary academic task force reports now available

A new group of recommendations from 11 strategic positioning task forces have been posted online for review and comment through April 30. Go to to read the reports, which include the following.

  • Science & Engineering task force recommendations focus on strengthening research collaborations among colleges, increasing interdisciplinary activity, continuing efforts to establish and support research facilities, and increasing research training. The task force also recommends creating an undergraduate minor in biological engineering.
  • Research Infrastructure task force recommendations focus on forming various groups to provide input, evaluation, and decisions for building planning and supporting and monitoring group labs. The task force also recommends organizing a focused study in the arts and humanities to identify opportunities for scholarships, as well as pursuing funding for major capital investments in areas of research strengths.
  • Collaborative Research task force recommendations focus on enhancing the value of collaboration, developing more opportunities for researchers, and recognizing and developing leadership. The task force also focuses on identifying projects based on researchers" creativity and commitment, and providing support with ample resources.

The Science and Engineering Task Force encourages CBS faculty, staff, and students to attend a town hall meeting on Friday, April 21 to review and discuss their recommendations. Claudia Neuhauser (EEB) and David Bernlohr (BMBB) are co-chairs of this task force along with Frank Bates (Institute of Technology). The meeting will be held from 3:30-5:30 p.m. in Room 105, Cargill Building.

Neuhauser named Howard Hughes Medical Institute Professor

Claudia Neuhauser, professor and head of ecology, evolution, and behavior, has been named a Howard Hughes Medical Institute Professor. The title carries $1 million grant for biology education. Neuhauser will use the funds to increase math proficiency of CBS undergraduates, particularly their ability to use statistics to solve biological and environmental problems.

HHMI selected 20 scientists from 18 universities nationwide who provide innovative leadership in teaching as well as research. Neuhauser, a mathematician who studies connections between spatial structure and community dynamics within ecosystems, has published a textbook on calculus for biology students. Last summer she was was awarded a $2.8 million grant from the National Science Foundation for a training program that brings ecology, civil engineering, and computer science graduate students together to address environmental issues.

Fore more information about the grant, go to

CBS undergraduate receives Beckman Scholars Award

Naomi Kreamer, an undergraduate biochemistry major received the highly competitive Beckman Scholars Award for 2006-2007. The award provides $6,000 for each of two 10-week summer sessions of full-time research and $4,000 for part-time research during the academic year. The award also provides generous support for travel and supplies. Kreamer works in the laboratory of Larry Wackett, where she is studying bacterial flavoproteins. She will use some of the award for collaborative research at the University of California, San Francisco. The Beckman Foundation makes grants to program-related, non-profit research institutions to promote research in chemistry and the life sciences.

North American barn swallows found in Siberia

Robert Zink (Ecology, Evolution, and Behavior) discovered that barn swallows of North American descent have been in Siberia for at least 500 years " before inhabitants starting building above-ground dwellings. This is unusual because barn swallows have adapted to building nests in man-made structures such as barns and bridges, and it is rare to find a barn swallow nesting in a tree crevice or cave. DNA analysis of the Siberian birds shows that they are more closely related to the North American barn swallows than to their Eurasion neighbors. The finding was published in the Proceedings of the Royal Society, London and reported in the NY Times on March 21. To read the NY Times article, go to

Center for Computational Genomics & Bioinformatics director named

John Crow has been named director at the Center for Computational Genomics & Bioinformatics (CCGB). The CCGB works with biomedical and biological investigators at the University of Minnesota to introduce and leverage bioinformatics technologies in their research, and to provide high-performance computing and analysis resources and professional software development teams. Crow has a Ph.D. in mathematics from Oregon State University. He has worked for Cray Research and Rockwell International.

Goodbye Medical Alley/MNBIO; Hello LifeScience Alley

The merger of Medical Alley and MNBIO has produced a new organization called LifeScience Alley that includes a broad spectrum of groups ranging from health-care organizations to seed and food companies. For more information about the new entity, go to

Postdoctoral Association holds monthly meetings

The Postdoctoral Association (PDA) is holding monthly meetings for post-doctorates and research associates to meet colleagues and learn about events of interest on campus. Next meeting is Friday, May 5 from 12 p.m. - 1 p.m. at Ford Hall Room B10.

Celebrate Beautiful U Day on the St. Paul Campus April 20

Listen to President Bruininks kickoff speech at 9 a.m. on the lawn near the bull statues, then at 11:30 a.m. a free lunch is provided for the University community at the St. Paul Student Center. Other events include the Sarita Wetland Revegitation Project from 1-3 p.m. and 5-7 p.m. at Sarita Wetlands, and stop by the table for the Perennial Guild Planting from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. at the St. Paul Student Center.

A tradition since 1997, Beautiful U Day combines hands-on beautification efforts with academic forums to celebrate the University's campuses across Minnesota and acknowledge the University community's responsibility to maintain its physical and natural resources. For more information and to volunteer, go to


Graduate students Alma de Anda and Becky Stark (Ecology, Evolution, and Behavior) received an honorable mention for their applications for a National Science foundation Graduate Research Fellowship. De Anda is advised by Karen Oberhauser, and Stark is advised by Jim Cotner.

CBS undergraduate students Amanda Hemmingsen, Paula Schumann, and Elizabeth Slagle will receive the President"s Student Leadership and Service Award from President Bruininks on May 1 at the President"s Awards Banquet. The award recognizes the accomplishments and contributions made by outstanding student leaders at the University of Minnesota.

Visit for more information on the awards process.


Jennifer King (Soil, Water, and Climate & EEB) will receive $570,000 over four years from the National Science Foundation for her project titled "Photodegradation of plant litter in grassland and ecosystems: A mechanism for uncoupling C and N biogeochemistry." The research will be conducted in Minnesota, Colorado, and New Mexico. Co-principal investigators are Sarah Hobbie (Ecology, Evolution, and Behavior) and Robert Sinsabaugh from the University of New Mexico. EEB graduate student Leslie Brandt was a key contributor to the proposal and will be conducting her dissertation research as part of this project.

Graduate student Will Ratcliff (Ecology, Evolution, and Behavior) received a National Science Foundation Graduate Research Fellowship. Ratcliff is advised by Ford Denison.


Emerging Issues in Soil and Water: Defining a Future Bioeconomy
April 19, 2:00 p.m. - 4:30 p.m.
Borlaug Hall, room 335

Bruce Dale, Michigan State University, will speak on "Biomass Supply and Biofuels: Some Perspectives" and Richard Cruse, Iowa State University, will discuss the "Future Bioeconomy and its Impact on Soil and Water Resources." For more information, contact Satish Gupta at

Science and Engineering Task Force Town Hall meeting

April 21, 3:30 p.m. - 5:30 p.m.
Cargill Building for Microbial and Plant Genomics, Room 105

Members of the Science and Engineering task force invite faculty, staff, and students to review and discuss preliminary recommendations. The meeting"is open to the public.

Innovations in Solar and Renewable Energy in Architecture:
Minnesota Architecture Transitions to a Renewable Future

April 25, 4:00 p.m. -5:30 p.m.
Rapson Hall Auditorium

Architect Thomas Speigelhalter, who specializes in solar and renewable energy in sustainable design, is guest lecturer for this Second Annual Earth Day Forum. Admission is free and no registration is required. For additional information please contact Mary Guzowski, 612-624-9017

Postdoctoral Association (PDA) monthly meeting
May 5, 12 p.m. " 1:00 p.m.
Ford Hall, room B10

Post-doctorates and research associates are invited to attend meetings to get to know their colleagues on campus and learn about events on campus that may be of interest."

Renewable Energy North of the Border
May 11, 8:30 a.m. - 3:30 p.m.
St. Paul Student Center, North Star Ballroom

Three panels of experts will discuss renewable energy issues in Canada. Register on-line at

CBS Imaging Center workshop
May 17-19, 2006
College of Biological Sciences Imaging Center
Registration deadline in May 3, 2006

This three-day tutorial provides hands-on experience in new techniques and instrumentation using microwave-assisted procedures for preparing cells and tissues for light and electron microscopy. Topics include in vivo labeling, principles of fixations for biological materials for histology, light and electron microscopy, immunohistochemistry, and in situ hybridization. Look for information and registration details at: or contact Mark Sanders at 612-624-3454 or

Transposition and Animal Biotechnology Conference
June 22-23
McNamara Alumni Center

The Arnold and Mabel Beckman Center for Transposon Research will host the 4th Annual International Conference on Transposition and Animal Biotechnology. For information go to or contact Tricia Conway at