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CBS News - March 2013

college news | research news | people | events



Sue Wick receives Morse-Alumni Award

Sue Wick (PBIO) has been selected to receive the University’s Horace T. Morse-University of Minnesota Alumni Association Award for Outstanding Contributions to Undergraduate Education.The annual award is given to a select group of teachers who reflect the University's emphasis on the importance of high quality undergraduate education. In addition to teaching Foundations of Biology and other courses, she conducts research on how students learn biology and what classroom practices best prepare students for future careers in biology. Wick has been with the College of Biological Sciences since 1985.

Operational excellence at CBS

Operational excellence is one of the top priorities of President Kaler's administration. CBS has made a number of moves over the past year to boost efficiency and make the most of existing resources. The college combined the communications and development teams under the umbrella of a single advancement team in the fall, and moved the communications staff from 128 Snyder Hall to 220 BioSci (next door to the development office) this month.

In addition the college’s IT function was recently highlighted as an example of operational excellence in a UMNews story, which described steps the group has taken to increase efficiency and shift focus away from help desk support toward academic technology. President Kaler cited CBS IT as “a great example of a college leading operational excellence” on his Twitter feed.

Finally, CBS will also centralize St. Paul campus accounting/finance functions effective July 1 in 128 Snyder Hall. Please send questions regarding the finance move to Andrea Backes ( or Tami Jauert (

Resources available to help researchers prepare for media interviews

CBS faculty and staff are often called upon to talk to the media about their own research or to comment on a discovery in their field. If you get a call and want help preparing, you can check out these guidelines or contact Peggy Rinard ( for assistance. CBS Communications and the University News Service offer media training to individuals and groups upon request. Here are some general tips to help you plan for an interview.

  • Identify two or three key points you want to make.
  • Be concise, conversational and make connections. Avoid scientific jargon and focus on what your research means to your audience.
  • If you can’t answer a question, just say “I’m not sure, but I’ll try to get that information for you.” Never refuse to comment, and don’t make “off the record” comments.
  • Respect deadlines. Ask the reporter for his/her deadline and help him/her meet it.

Help us update the CBS Experts Directory

From molecules to ecosystems, CBS faculty expertise covers a broad range of topics that are often in the news. The CBS Experts Directory captures areas of potential interest to the media and the public. If you are a researcher, please take a look at the directory and let us know if you would like to update or add a listing. The University News Service and the media use the directory to locate sources for media stories. Send your update to Peggy Rinard (

Do you have a lab website?

The college is in the process of creating a master list of faculty lab websites. Please take a moment to let us know where we can find your lab online.

CBS Picnic call for volunteers

This year’s CBS Picnic will take place May 3 outside McNamara Alumni Center. Interested in volunteering? Contact Tannica Jacobson (


Fences make good neighbors for African lions and humans

Ecology Letters |  3.5.13

Conservationists have long opposed fencing in endangered wildlife, but Craig Packer (EEB) now says fences offer the best hope for saving lions, elephants and other endangered wildlife in Africa and for protecting humans from lion attacks. In recent years, the encroachment of human civilization on lion habitats has made it challenging to protect lions from humans and vice versa. And while fencing in habitats is costly, it’s actually more effective and economical than maintaining lion populations in open reserves. Learn more about Packer's findings.

Watching maturation of a protein by post-translational modification

Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences | 3.4.13

Carrie Wilmot (BMBB) and colleagues have published a paper entitled "A Di-radical Intermediate within the Context of Tryptophan Tryptophylquinone Biosynthesis" in the March 4 issue of Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. Using X-ray cystallography, the team was able to watch the individual chemical steps that occur during the progressive modification of two amino acids within an enzyme. This creates a cofactor that enables a group of bacteria to grow solely on methylamine, which has a chemically challenging metabolism. The resulting "movie" was then confirmed in solution by mass spectrometry. Erik Yukl, a postdoctoral fellow in Wilmot’s lab, was lead author.

CBS in the news

To see these and more CBS media stories, go to MediaWatch.

  • Craig Packer’s Ecology Letters article advocating construction of fences around lion reserves in Africa to protect both humans and lions was covered by Science, Scientific American, ABC Science, NBC News, BBC News, Science Daily and Red Orbit. Newsweek picked up “Snapshot Serengeti,” which has joined Zooniverse to enlist help from citizen scientists to classify candid snapshots of African wildlife. Packer and graduate student Ali Swanson (EEB) headed up this effort.
  • Marlene Zuk’s new book, “Paleofantasy: What Evolution Really Tells Us About Sex, Diet and How We Live” was featured in the Chronicle of Higher Education, Nature, Salon, The Globe and Mail, Wall Street Journal, Toronto Star and Los Angeles Review of Books. 


Lisa Novack and Meaghan Stein (Student Services) presented a session titled: “Exploring the strengths and needs of introverted students” at the John Tate Academic Advising Conference March 14. Katie Russell also presented a session on “Preparing for the worst: Information and resources in the event of a violent incident on campus.”

CBS student Jeremy Kudrna was the only undergraduate to present a poster at the Lilly Conference on College and University Teaching and Learning, hosted by the University of North Carolina, Greensboro in February. Kudrna’s poster was titled “Evidence-Based Learning: What is the Role of “Need for Cognition” in Introductory Biology Students’ Acceptance of Anthropogenic Climate Change and Evolution. Deena Wassenberg and Sehoya Cotner, teaching faculty in The Biology Program, helped him prepare for the conference. His trip was funded by the Undergraduate Research Opportunities Program (UROP).


March 28

CBS Student Services + Biology Program Open House
On December 20, CBS Student Services moved into a newly redesigned, shared space with the CBS Biology Program office in MCB 3-104. Come see our new location and connect with CBS Student Services and Biology Program staff at our open house.
MCB 3-104 | East Bank | 11 a.m.

April 6

Classes Without Quizzes

CFANS, in collaboration with CBS, will host this half-day event for alumni, faculty, staff and friends. Mike Sadowsky (BTI) will give this year’s keynote address about the Minnesota Mississippi Metagenome Project (M3P). Topics of other  “classes” include beer and hops, genome sequencing, dairy robots, biomimicry, amazing plant molecules, Emerald Ash Borer, healthy soils and teaching kids to spend money wisely. Register online.

April 10

College of Brewological Sciences alumni event

Join the Biological Sciences Alumni Society and CBS alumni for an evening of biology, beer and fun at Harriet Brewery. Tap into conversation with CBS alumni. Belly up to the bar and grab some grub. Socialize with some stout. Soak up the atmosphere on a brewery tour. Learn more about the biology of your brew from our resident beer-ologist, Professor Jim Cotner. Enroll today!

Harriet Brewing | 3036 Minnehaha Ave, Minneapolis | 5:30-8 p.m. | Register online

April 18

University Imaging Centers Open House

Join the University Imaging Centers for ongoing demonstrations on existing equipment, including wide-field and confocal microscopes, whole animal and plant imaging as well as scanning and transmission electron microscopy. This will also be a great opportunity to to learn more about Minneapolis campus imaging resources in Jackson Hall and the new Cardio Cancer Research Building.

23 Snyder Hall | St. Paul | 9:30 a.m.-5 p.m. | More information

April 19

2013 UMAA Annual Celebration

Celebrate the University of Minnesota, network with alumni and friends, sample Minnesota wine and U of M cheese, and enjoy dinner and student performances.

McNamara Alumni Center | East Bank | Register

May 3

CBS Picnic

Come enjoy a free lunch in the company of CBS faculty, staff and students at the annual year-end picnic. Registration opens soon!

Outside McNamara Alumni Center | East Bank | 11 a.m. - 1 p.m.

May 18

CBS undergraduate commencement ceremony

Kerri Miller, a Minnesota Public Radio host and award-winning journalist, will speak at this year’s undergraduate commencement.

Mariucci Arena | East Bank | 7:30 p.m.