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CBS News - February 2004

Dean's Comments

Taking Care of What We Have - The University’s 2004 Legislative Request

When the 2004 session of the Minnesota Legislature began earlier this month, a window of opportunity opened. Before it closes when the session ends in May, the University will make every effort to persuade state lawmakers to support its full request of $155 million. They need your help.

The request is a modest one that reflects state budget woes and public concern about tax increases. The largest share, $90 million, is for Higher Education Asset Preservation and Replacement (HEAPR) funds to make needed health and safety improvements, utility upgrades, and building system improvements for more than 100 projects on the Twin Cities, Duluth, Morris, and Crookston campuses, and at research centers and stations throughout the state.

Even so, it won’t be easy. As you may know, Governor Pawlenty has recommended only $38 million of the HEAPR request and half of the University’s total request. As you read this, Senate and House committees are preparing their recommendations. That’s why it’s so important to get involved now.
Here are some things you can do.

Attend the U of M Lobby Day at the Capitol
On February 18 advocates will gather for U of M Lobby Day at the Capitol. This event provides a new opportunity for students, alumni, faculty, staff, and community supporters to show their support for the U.

Volunteer for CBS Calling Night
On February 24 CBS and COAFES faculty and staff will team up to call members of the legislative network and urge them to contact their legislators. Dinner and training will be provided. To sign up, contact CBS Alumni Relations, or 612-624-4770.

Write a personal note to your legislator
This is a simple but very effective way you can help. Legislators tell us that they take calls and letters from constituents very seriously, especially personal stories.

CBS appreciates the State’s support for biological sciences initiatives and facilities. But even as we work with lawmakers to create the future, we need to encourage them to preserve what we have. It’s a simple and necessary investment that will save money in the long run and build pride in one of Minnesota’s most valuable resources.

Bob Elde, Dean
College of Biological Sciences


Governor announces bioscience priorities
Governor Tim Pawlenty announced earlier this month that his bonding proposal will include $20 million for a joint University of Minnesota-Mayo Clinic bioscience facility and $15 million in development grants for Bioscience Zones in St. Paul, Minneapolis, and Rochester. Pawlenty also recommended raising the tax exemption cap in the Bioscience Zones from $1 million to $2 million. His plan contains a number of recommended policy initiatives to encourage the growth of bioscience industry in Minnesota.

BioSci 101 for Legislators
Dean Elde gave a crash course in functional genomics at “BioSci 101 for Legislators,” held February 4 at the Minnesota History Center. About 140 legislators and staff members attended the event, which also featured presentations by biotech companies as well as an overview of how other states are investing in bioscience and what Minnesota needs to do to be competitive. At a reception following the program, Governor Tim Pawlenty talked about the importance of growing

Minnesota’s biotechnology industry.
U and Science Museum partner on renewable energy ‘Prairie Maze’
The Initiative for Renewable Energy and the Environment (IREE) has awarded a $125,000 grant for the Science Museum of Minnesota Prairie Maze: a demonstration project on renewable energy and the environment. As part of the Science Museum’s new “Big Backyard” outdoor exhibit area, the Prairie Maze will be a working, interactive exhibit that will show museum visitors how plants can be used as fuel and how ecosystems provide clean water and air. Biomass from the Prairie Maze will be used by an adjacent heat and power plant. The exhibit is scheduled to open this June. Leads on the grant are David Tilman, Regents Professor of Ecology; Steve Polasky, professor of applied economics and of ecology, evolution, and behavior; Don Wyse, agronomy and plant genetics; and Patrick Hamilton, Director of Earth-system and Environmental Sciences, Science Museum of Minnesota

Curriculum Task Force Update
The Curriculum Task Force, convened by Associate Dean Robin Wright this fall, is currently meeting with students, leaders of other colleges and departments at the University of Minnesota, and national leaders in biology to gain input on trends and input on the direction of undergraduate biology education. Most recently the task force met with a panel of outstanding CBS students to discuss their experiences and ideas for structuring the curriculum. Discussion is underway regarding the structure of the first two years of the undergraduate program and how to best serve all students who enroll in introductory biology courses.

The task force presented proposed learning outcomes for graduates at the All College Meeting in December. The task force welcomes comments and suggestions at

CBS Career and Internship Fair
CBS' Life Science Career and Internship Fair will take place on February 27, 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. in McNamara Alumni Center. Emphasis will be on biotechnology careers because of environmental and health sciences career fairs held earlier.

Biodiversity 911: Saving Life on Earth
The work of David Tilman, Regents Professor of Ecology, and David McLaughlin, Professor of Plant Biology is featured in “Biodiversity 911: Saving Life on Earth,” a traveling exhibit that opened at the Bell Museum on January 31. The interactive exhibit, which was developed by the World Wildlife Fund, helps visitors understand what biodiversity is, why it's declining, and how we can help to protect it. Continues through May 2. For more information, go to

Microbial and Plant Genomics seminar series
The Center for Microbial and Plant Genomics is hosting a seminar series in the Cargill Building on alternate Wednesdays through the end of May. On Wednesday, February 18, Jane Glazebrook will talk about her research. Speakers for upcoming seminars include Jonathan Kahn, Sagarika Kanjilal, Vivek Kapur, Fumi Katagiri, Dan O’Sullivan, Phil Pardey, and Ron Phillips. All seminars are from 12 noon to 1 p.m. in 105 Cargill.


Doubling of the NIH budget – where did the money go?
Chronicle of Higher Education
The National Institutes of Health budget has doubled over the past five years. Where is the money going and what is it buying? Charts show top 10 NIH funding recipients, how other colleges and universities fared.

Mathematics and biology
Science, online collections
In a special collection of articles published beginning 6 February 2003, Science Magazine and its online companion sites team up to explore one of the hottest interdisciplinary collaborations in science today: the interface between mathematics and biology. In Science, News, Viewpoint, and Review articles cover how mathematics and computation are informing biology on a wide variety of fronts, the need for incorporating quantitative approaches into bioscience curricula, and some of the uses -- and abuses -- of mathematical models for biological systems.

New jobs in systems biology:
Now that you’ve taken it apart, can you put it back together?
Many biologists were lured into research by the promise that, one day, they would understand how an organism worked. Over the years, they have broken cells down into their constituent parts, identifying genes and proteins and their interactions. Systems biology aims to put the organism back together again from these newly identified parts, and to predict its behavior in nearly any situation.


, former graduate student of David Stephens, EEB, published a paper titled “The selfish nature of generosity: harassment and food sharing in primates” in the Proceedings of the Royal Society of London. His finding, that chimpanzees are more likely to share food when harassed, was also reported in Nature Science Update, a feature of the journal Nature (Jeffrey Stevens

, Medical School, neuroscience, was awarded a 2004-06 McKnight Land-Grant Professorship for his study of dynamics of information processing, from brains to behavior.David Redish

, EEB graduate students, have won Alexander P. and Lydia Anderson Fellowships.The Graduate School awards these endowed fellowships in a University-wide competition for basic research in the plant or animal sciences. John Pastor, UM Duluth, is Hodgson’s advisor and Jim Cotner, EEB, is Stets’ advisor.Ted Stets and Angie Hodgson Stevens, who is now at Harvard University, carried out the study while at the University of Minnesota