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CBS News - April 2007

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Show your support for undergraduate research

Next week, 155 undergraduate students from across the university—99 of them from CBS—will present posters and stand by their work, literally, fielding questions and explaining their processes and conclusions at the 2007 Undergraduate Symposium.

The symposium offers a microcosm of the interesting and meaningful work being done every day here at the University of Minnesota. Undergraduates from a wide range of disciplines from art history to astronomy have a chance to highlight their contribution to research in their field. For CBS students, the symposium is a chance to show off biology-related research that’s relevant, timely and underscores their participation in the creation of knowledge with the guidance of CBS faculty mentors even at the undergraduate level.

CBS students bring that breadth of CBS research to life with projects that run the gamut with topics relating to ecology, disease, genetics and much more. Projects by CBS undergraduates present vivid examples of the wide range of research that’s happening at the College. James Koll will present a study of alpha male chimpanzee behavior. Natalie Braun will offer her observations about autism. David Hernandez will share his findings relating to neurogenesis. And that’s just three of nearly 100 research projects from CBS students at this year’s event.

For many students, the presentations are the culmination of months of research; an achievement well worth celebrating. That’s why it’s so important for faculty, staff and alumni, as well as other students, to see their conclusions and support their efforts. As you know, research is an integral part of their education at the College of Biological Sciences and these presentations represent hands-on, inquiry-based learning at work. They also represent the many hours CBS faculty spend supporting and inspiring students in their research efforts. The presentations are a tribute to their commitment, too.

So consider making your way to Coffman Union on April 18. Have a look at the poster presentations. Ask challenging questions that stretch our students’ intellects and fuel their curiosity. I think you’ll be impressed with their creativity and intelligence.

Bob Elde, Dean
College of Biological Sciences


CBS students exhibit work at undergraduate symposium

Undergraduate students take a turn in the spotlight at the 2007 Undergraduate Symposium. CBS students’ creativity and scholarship will be on display as they present the results of independent research projects at the annual event April 18 at Coffman Memorial Union. It’s an opportunity to talk with students about their projects and observe the level of their understanding, innovation and passion for science.

Students raise $6,000 for autism initiative

The Neuroscience Club raised $6,000 at last month’s 5K Run for Research—the funds were matched by donors Alfred and Ingrid Harrison—for an autism initiative being launched by Scott Selleck (GCD), director of the Developmental Biology Center, and two other faculty members. Selleck and the initiative’s other organizers plan to use the money to provide more medical care for patients with autism and fund basic research on the causes of the disease as well as clinical treatments.

CBS Year-End Picnic

Come for the camaraderie, stay for the free food, music and door prizes. The CBS year-end picnic is almost here.

Share your biology expertise

Are humans still evolving? How can we capture and reuse heat generated by global warming? How far can the human eye see? CBS faculty are invited to answer one of these or any of dozens of unanswered biology-related Driven to Discover questions, contact CBS Communications Director Peggy Rinard for more information. Or just submit your answer directly to her. The length: 150-300 words. Style: informal.


Primate behavior linked to human morality

A New York Times report describes a growing consensus among scientists, led by Emory University primatologist Franz de Waal, who see the roots of human morality in the social constraints observed by monkeys and chimpanzees. While de Waal does not suggest that chimpanzees possess morality, he does argue that human morality is made possible by the emotional foundation for interaction present in chimpanzee and monkey societies.

CBS professor joins blogger ranks


R. Ford Denison (EEB) has launched a weekly evolution-themed blog titled “This Week in Evolution” that highlights new developments in the field. Denison offers detailed discussion of recent scientific papers published in peer-reviewed journals. Topics to date have included evolutionary trade-offs, experimental evolution, splitting species, the evolution of color vision and selfish genes.



A research paper by graduate student Shinseog Kim (BMBB), a research assistant in David Zarkower’s lab, was published in March in the online journal PLoS Genetics. The paper, titled “A mammal-specific Doublesex homolog associates with male sex chromatin and is required for male meiosis,” explores the expression of a specific gene in the male germ cell. The study involved a cross-departmental collaboration with Vivian Bardwell's lab in the Department of Genetics, Cell Biology and Development, as well as with researchers at Middlebury College and Harvard Medical School.



CBS undergraduates Susan Rashid, Christie Berkseth, Kenneth Dodd and Clint Been are among a select group of students from across the University to receive a 2007 President’s Student Leadership Award.

Graduate student Karl Gruber (EEB) received a Dayton Research Fellowship in support of his research on the evolution of the sex determination gene in corbiculate bees.

Undergraduate teaching assistant Gema S. Adeva has been chosen to participate in the medical delegation of the 2007 International Scholar Laureate Program. Adeva will have the opportunity to work with medical leaders, researchers and practitioners in Australia, China, India or South Africa.

Claudia Schmidt-Dannert (BMBB) received a one-year $74,398 grant for a U.S. Department of Defense project sponsored by Princeton University to develop programmed pathogen sense-and-destroy circuits.

The Campbell Foundation has awarded a research grant for $65,700 to Reuben Harris (BMBB) to study the impact of specific proteins on HIV drug resistance.

David Marks (PBIO) received a three-year $95,759 grant from the National Science Foundation through the Samuel Roberts Noble Foundation to study “Comparative genomics of secretory trichomes—biofactories for production of plant secondary metabolites.”

Larry Wackett (BTI) presented a lecture on the “Search for Superior Biofuels” at a Department of Energy’s Joint Genome Institute User Meeting last month in Northern California.

CBS undergraduate Christina Yi has received a Beckman Scholars Award, a prestigious scholarship for students in chemistry, biochemistry, and the biological and medical sciences. The $17,600 award funds education, research training and personal development over a period of two summers and one academic year.


Lee Lynd Seminar

WHEN: April 12 | 9–11 a.m.
WHERE: Cargill Building | St. Paul campus

Dartmouth professor Lee Lynd presents a scientific seminar titled “Microbial cellulose utilization: Fundamentals and biotechnology.”

Keeping Our Faculties IV

WHEN: April 12–14 (Dean Elde’s session – April 13 | 3:15-4:14 p.m.)
WHERE: Radisson University Hotel | Minneapolis

Dean Elde moderates a session on “The Dearth of Faculty of Color: Higher Education’s Shame” at this conference on recruiting, retaining and advancing faculty of color.

Science and Politics: The FDA Perspective

WHEN: April 12 | 12:15–1:30 p.m.
WHERE: Coffman Memorial Union Theater | East Bank campus

Listen to a lecture by the Food and Drug Administration’s Deputy Commissioner for Medical and Scientific Affairs Scott Gottlieb about the role of science in federal agency policymaking and recent controversies that have arisen in the FDA.

Animals of the Enchanted Isles: Photographs From the Galapagos

WHEN: Opens April 14 | Opening reception: April 12 | 7–9 p.m.
WHERE: Bell Museum of Natural History | East Bank campus

Photographer Stanley Leonard retraces some of Darwin’s footsteps in 50 photographs of the Galapagos Islands. He captures masked boobies courting, magnificent frigate birds displaying, giant tortoises quietly munching and other intimate details from the lives of Galapagos animals.

Freeman Lecture: Food or Fuel?

WHEN: April 17 | 10 a.m.–3:30 p.m. (Dean Elde’s address: 12:30–1:30 p.m.)
WHERE: Humphrey Institute | Cowles Auditorium | East Bank campus

CBS’ Dean Elde discusses the energy potential of prairie ecosystems during a luncheon address at this year’s Freeman Forum on “Food or Fuel: The Emerging Competition.” Register online by April 12.

2007 Undergraduate Symposium

WHEN: April 18 | 1–6:30 p.m.
WHERE: Coffman Memorial Union | East Bank campus

Celebrate the research, creativity and scholarship of undergraduates at the University of Minnesota at this annual event.

Global Focus: The New Environmentalists

WHEN: April 22 | 7 p.m.
WHERE: Bell Museum of Natural History | East Bank campus
TICKETS: $5–$7

Watch a series of short films from the Wild & Scenic Environmental Film Festival that highlight the work of grassroots environmental heroes from Kentucky to Kazakhstan.

What's a Good Bird Book?: A Panel Discussion

WHEN: April 27 | 7:30 p.m.
WHERE: Magers & Quinn Booksellers | Uptown Minneapolis

What makes for a great bird field guide? Discover what two birding experts—one of them CBS’ Bruce Fall—like and dislike about the many available bird books during this free, informal discussion. A related bird walk hosted by the Bell Museum of Natural History is planned for the following morning.

Managing Incidental Findings in Human Subjects Research:
From Imaging to Genomics

WHEN: May 1 | 8 a.m.–5 p.m.
WHERE: Humphrey Center | Cowles Auditorium | East Bank campus

What is the protocol when a clinical trial reveals an unexpected condition in a patient not related to the research variable? This conference, which features a roster of national speakers, will focus on developing standards to address the issue.


New Itasca scholarships available

Students interested in enrolling in courses at the Itasca Biological Station & Laboratories during the field biology summer session (May 24–June 26) can apply for one of two Denneth and Joan Dvergsten Itasca Summer Scholarships in the amount of $2,500 each. Application deadline is April 13.

BTI’s Urry breaks new ground

Read an article about Dan Urry’s innovative work on protein energy conversion and materials development.

Minnesota Cup entries due May 25

Aspiring entrepreneurs, your big break may be on its way. Submit your breakthrough business idea to the Minnesota Cup competition organized by the University of Minnesota and Wells Fargo. Winners receive professional support and advice to help launch their business.