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CBS News - July 2007

News | People | Events


CBS faculty awarded Discovery Grants for biofuels research

The Institute on the Environment has awarded $2.7 million in grants to 10 intercollegiate teams of researchers for developing next generation biofuels. CBS PIs and Co-PIs include Daniel Bond, Jeffrey Gralnick, Marc von Keitz (BTI) Romas Kazlauskas, Claudia Schmidt-Dannert, Larry Wackett (BMBB) Sue Gibson, Jane Glazebrook, Fumi Katagiri and Nathan Springer (Plant Biology).

The collaborative projects involve 30 faculty from 12 departments within the College of Biological Sciences, College of Food, Agricultural and Natural Resource Sciences, Institute of Technology and the Medical School. The two-year grants, which range from $126,000 to $350,000, will advance research initiated by the Initiative for Renewable Energy and the Environment.

The diverse group of research projects includes:

  • increasing efficiency of biomass conversion
  • using bacteria to store energy, produce biofuel and convert light-energy
  • creating a Minnesota Biofuels Database and a metagenomic library of biomass-converting enzymes

For a full listing of projects and researchers, go to:

A new chapter for Cedar Creek

It’s official. Cedar Creek Natural History Area has a new name: Cedar Creek Ecosystem Science Reserve. The new name reflects Cedar Creek’s critical role as a home to high-impact ecosystem science research at the University of Minnesota. A new building, which houses dry labs, faculty and staff offices, meeting rooms and meeting space, has been named the Lindeman Research and Discovery Center in honor of ecology pioneer Ray Lindeman. The new center will give a boost to Cedar Creek’s research, education and public outreach efforts.

Dean Elde named to Pawlenty’s energy board

CBS Dean Robert Elde has been appointed by Gov. Pawlenty to the newly formed NextGen Energy Board, which will provide recommendations to the legislature and the governor about how the state can most efficiently achieve energy independence.

Cargill funds study by BTI faculty

Daniel Bond and Jeffrey Gralnick (both BTI) have received a $100,000 award from the Cargill Higher Education Partnership Initiative to collaborate on a microbial biocatalysis study. “The central aim of this proposal is to combine metabolic and electrical engineering to allow bacterial strains attached to electrode surfaces to overcome key limitations in biocatalysis and bioprocessing,” says Bond, adding “understanding the linkages between the internal and external electrical wiring of microorganisms will provide powerful tools for the future of green chemistry.”

Tilman advises Chinese university on sustainable agriculture

David Tilman was appointed an honorary professor of China Agricultural University—the highest honor given by the university—at a ceremony in late June. “I truly feel honored,” says Tilman. “The research group here is doing important work on ways to sustain and increase food production while increasing environmental quality. I am delighted to help advise this effort.”

Microbiology Department hosts seminar for young scholars

Sixty-seven gifted young scholars ages 5-14 participated in “Discover the World of Microbes” late last month. Nearly a dozen graduate student and post-doc volunteers from the Microbiology, Immunology and Cancer Biology Program led interactive talks and answered numerous questions during a day of labs, lectures and demonstrations on general, environmental and medical microbiology.


Graduate fellow Noelle Beckman (EEB), along with advisor Helene Muller-Landau, published an article in the May 2007 issue of Biotropica on “Differential effects of hunting on pre-dispersal seed predation and primary and secondary seed removal of two Neotropical tree species.”

Graduate student Meggan Craft (EEB) was awarded an NSF Dissertation Research grant for “Predicting Viral Dynamics in Serengeti Carnivores.” Meggan is advised by Craig Packer.

WCCO news recently interviewed Biology Program instructor Bruce Fall about a “Curiosity Camp” on birding that he led at the Minnesota Landscape Arboretum.

Cindy Lawson was promoted to executive assistant for the CBS dean’s office. She previously served as receptionist and office specialist.

Michael Wilson joins the Department of Ecology, Evolution and Behavior as an assistant professor with a dual appointment in CLA’s Department of Anthropology. Wilson, a former EEB post-doctoral fellow, spent several years in Tanzania as director of field research for the Jane Goodall Institute’s Gombe Stream Research Centre.

This year’s Molecular, Cellular, Developmental Biology & Genetics student award and fellowship winners include: Laura Diaz-Martinez, Graduate School’s University-wide “Best Dissertation Award” in the Biological & Life Sciences; Anna Selmecki, Minnesota Medical Foundation Bacaner Award; Veronica Descotte, Graduate School Doctoral Dissertation Fellowship; Katie Dick, Graduate School Doctoral Dissertation Fellowship; Julia Halter, American Heart Association Predoctoral Fellowship; Andrea Leclere, Mary Dempsey Endowed Fellowship for Women in Biochemistry; Damaris Lorenzo, Ruth L. Kirschstein NIH Predoctoral Fellowship; Clint Matson, NSF Graduate Research Predoctoral Fellowship; Kristy VanderWaal, American Heart Association Predoctoral Fellowship


Magee Symposium

WHEN: Thursday, August 2 | 8 a.m. – 8 p.m.
WHERE: Mayo Auditorium and Campus Club | East Bank campus

This day-long event includes a symposium from 8 a.m.-3 p.m. featuring seven speakers including Nobel Laureate Sir Paul Nurse who will receive an honorary degree at 1:30 p.m. and then deliver a talk about “The Great Ideas of Biology.” There will be a departmental reception from 3-5 p.m. in the Mayo Auditorium and an evening banquet at the Campus Club.

Please RSVP to Sue Knoblauch at or 612-624-7470 by July 25 if attending the banquet. Banquet tickets: $25 per person.

Biofuels: Breaking the Barriers for Biomass Conversion—Challenges and Opportunities

WHEN: Wednesday, September 19 | noon-3:30 p.m.
WHERE: NorthStar Ballroom | St. Paul Student Center

How can we unlock the potential that is bound up in biomass? Can we do it economically at an appropriate scale? Two world-renowned guest experts, Charlie Wyman (UC-Riverside) and Prof. Simon Harvey (Chalmers University, Sweden), will share their perspectives on technical challenges and potential opportunities, then answer questions in a panel discussion with U of M Department of Bioproducts and Biosystems Engineering professors Simo Sarkanen and Roger Ruan.