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Nine more faculty hired through cluster hiring effort
A hearty welcome to the nine new faculty members who are joining the college as a result of the first round of cluster hiring. Here’s a rundown of our new colleagues, where they are coming from, the cluster under which they were hired and when they will start:
Ecology greats Gorham, Davis and Wright honored
U of M scientists Eville Gorham, Margaret Davis and Herb Wright, now retired, were recognized at the Ecology Society of America (ESA) annual meeting August 6 in Minneapolis. All three conducted groundbreaking ecology research during the 1960s, ’70s and ’80s that laid the groundwork for current research on climate change, the theme of this year’s ESA meeting. EEB faculty members Jeannine Cavender-Bares, Jacques Finlay, Jon Foley and Sarah Hobbie also presented at the society’s annual meeting.
As of July 1, accounting staff from EEB, Plant Biology and BTI have been restructured under the College Finance office umbrella. Ellie Lombardi (EEB/PBio) and Kerry-Ann Hamilton-Rose (BTI) are now located in 128 Snyder Hall. Launa Shun (EEB) is now located in 124C Snyder and Lori Nicol (PBio) is now in 124D. Their phone numbers and email addresses remain the same, the only changes are their new location and supervisor, Juli Pelletier. The accounting contact you had at the end of June is still your same accounting contact now. We will be streamlining some processes and identifying areas where cross-training can occur. The goal is to provide better services more efficiently. Affected departments in St Paul will be notified of those changes in processes as they occur.
Also of interest…
Human enzyme linked to several forms of cancer
Nature Genetics | 7.14.13
Reuben Harris (BMBB) and his lab discovered that a human antiviral enzyme causes DNA mutations that lead to several forms of cancer. The discovery follows his team’s earlier finding that the enzyme, called APOBEC3B, is responsible for more than half of breast cancer cases. The previous study was published in Nature in February. APOBEC3B is part of a family of antiviral proteins that Harris has studied for more than a decade. His effort to understand how these proteins work has led to these surprising discoveries that APOBEC3B is a broadly important cancer mutagen.
New crop plant could change agriculture in Minnesota
The Plant Journal | 8.12.13
A humble weed called pennycress may be poised to provide significant economic and environmental benefits to farmers in Minnesota and other states with cold winters. The plant, which grows wild in Minnesota, has potential as a ground cover that could be planted after harvest and grow early in spring to prevent soil erosion caused by rain, which pollutes waterways. And oils in pennycress seeds could potentially be used to make biofuels. Plant biological sciences graduate student Kevin Dorn, who is advised by David Marks (PBIO), has identified all of the estimated 33,873 genes in the pennycress genome, which is a huge step towards selecting genes for traits that will realize the plant’s agricultural potential. Don Wyse, professor of agronomy and plant genetics in the College of Food Agricultural and Natural Resource Sciences, also contributed to the project.
Female frogs prefer males who can multitask
Animal Behaviour | 8.13
From frogs to humans, selecting a mate is complicated. Females of many species judge suitors based on indicators of health or parenting potential. But it can be difficult for males to demonstrate all of these qualities at the same time. In a study of gray tree frogs, a team of researchers in Professor Mark Bee’s (EEB) lab learned that females prefer males whose calls reflect the ability to multitask well. In this species (Hyla chrysoscelis), males produce “trilled” mating calls that consist of a string of pulses. Typical calls range in duration from 20-40 pulses per call delivered several times a minute. Males face a trade-off between call duration and call rate but females prefer calls that are both longer and more frequent, which is challenging for males. Lead author is Jessica Ward, a postdoctoral researcher in Bee’s lab and adjunct faculty in the Department of Fisheries, Wildlife and Conservation Biology.
Genomics project expands knowledge of primate evolution
Nature | 7.3.13
Michael Wilson (EEB/Anthropology) was part of an international team of researchers that published genomes of six great ape species – including gorillas, chimpanzees, orangutans and humans – from across Africa and Southeast Asia. The study confirms the major evolutionary relationships found in previous studies and provides additional detail for population histories within species, such as response to climate change. One finding was that humans have unusually low genetic diversity compared to other ape species, which is consistent with the relatively recent assertion that we originated in Africa 150,000 to 200,000 years ago. Low genetic diversity indicates a population bottleneck at some point in the distant past. This comprehensive catalog of ape genetic diversity provides a framework for understanding evolution and a resource for managing wild and captive populations of apes. Researchers at the University of Barcelona led the team.
Active learning classrooms boost performance
Journal of College Science Teaching | July/August 2013
Students in active learning classrooms do better than their peers in large, lecture-based classes, according to a study led by Sehoya Cotner (Biology Program). Cotner and colleagues made comparisons using the same syllabus, coarse goals, exams and instructor. Using ACT scores as predictive, they found that students in the active learning classes outperformed expectations while those in traditional classes did not. Based on the findings, they recommend active-learning classrooms for teaching science. But since many schools may not have resources to make the conversion, they offer strategies for applying what they have learned in traditional classrooms.
Research funding opportunities + awards
CBS research in the news
Ruth Shaw (EEB) has been named the new editor-in-chief of Evolution. Shaw’s research interests include evolutionary quantitative genetics and plant population biology.
Stephen Polasky (EEB | CFANS) has been named a Regents Professor by the Board of Regents. The designation is the highest level of recognition given to faculty by the University. Polasky’s research combines natural and social science, and specifically ecology and economics to better understand the dynamics of social-ecological systems.
Retired biochemistry professor Vic Bloomfield’s photographs of the art scene in Minnesota in the early 1970s are the subject of an exhibition at the Minnesota Museum of American Art opening August 15.
Mark Bee (EEB) participated in a special World Listening Day event in the Minneapolis Sculpture Garden at the Walker Art Center July 18. He offered those in attendance the opportunity to test the recognition factor of popular songs that have been reinterpreted through the hearing apparatus of a fish, a cricket, or a frog. Check out photos from the event.
Abby Conover has joined CBS as coordinator of undergraduate initiatives. She manages Nature of Life, the Guilds, and Common Time, and work on programming efforts for our incoming transfer students. Abby previously worked in CLA as an academic adviser and as an advisor and program administrator at Stanford University’s Haas Center for Public Service.
Michael Waltonen has joined CBS-IT as the assistant director of IT. Michael has been at the University for nearly 14 years and has an M.S. in technology management. He supervises the daily operations of CBS-IT and assists in efforts to expand service offerings in teaching and research support.
The 2013-14 Faculty Senate and CBS Election results are in …
Creativity in learning and education
Brad Hokanson (College of Design) will use lessons learned from teaching and research in the field of creativity to help educators become more creative and develop strategies to help their students also become more creative.
10 McNeal Hall | St. Paul | 9 a.m.-noon | Register
Evidence-based teaching in introductory biology
Scott Freeman (University of Washington) discusses how evidence-based course designs can increase student achievement and reduce the achievement gap.
402 Walter | East Bank | 1-2 p.m.
Ale + Apps
Graduate students are invited to an afternoon of trivia, prizes, food, and drinks by Dean Bob Elde (CBS) and Associate Vice President for Research Tucker LeBien (AHC). Registration opens soon!
Blarney Irish Pub | East Bank (Dinkytown) | 5-6:30 p.m.
Bio-diversity brown bag with Marlene Zuk
Professor Marlene Zuk will lead off a series on the intersection of gender, race and LGBTQ identities with the sciences with a discussion about her research on gender in the sciences. Professor Sehoya Cotner (October 11) and post-doctoral researcher Jeremy Yoder (November 1) will lead discussions on the East Bank campus.
IonE's Commons (R-350 VoTech) | St. Paul campus | noon-1 p.m. | More information
2014 Capital Request to legislature
In October, the Board of Regents will vote on projects for which they will request state funding during the 2014 legislative session. Learn more about the six projects that will be considered. More information
Web-style guide and Drupal how-to now available
CBS Communications has made available a web-style and Drupal how-to guide. Learn more about best practices for your department or lab website, how to add images, links and uploads to your page, and more!
Nominate an outstanding postdoctoral ScholarThe Postdoctoral Association is seeking nominations for two $500 awards for the 2013 Outstanding Postdoctoral Scholar. Details and nomination instructions