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CBS News - May 2004

Thank you for a another great year at the College of Biological Sciences

As another academic year comes to an end, I’d like to thank all of you for everything you do to make the College of Biological Sciences a good place to discover, learn, and work.

We have accomplished a lot together this year. It’s easy to forget that as we complete one task and quickly move on to the next one on the list. But as the year ends, it’s important to pause, to reflect, and to give ourselves credit for jobs well done.

Here are some of the highlights from 2003-2004.

  • The Nature of Life program was launched.
  • Faculty and staff moved into the Cargill Building for Microbial and Plant Genomics.
  • The Initiative for Renewable Energy (IREE) created four research clusters and awarded more than $1 million in research grants.
  • UEL moved forward with a site purchased by the City of St. Paul and contributions totaling $9 million from Xcel, Medtronic, 3M and other contributors.
  • Associate Dean Robin Wright convened a task force to plan reform undergraduate curriculum.
  • Jane Goodall led 100 distinguished professors in a chimpanzee pant-hoot at the first Gombe Reunion.
  • IREE awarded $125,000 to David Tilman, Steve Polasky, Don Wyse and the Science Museum of Minnesota to create a renewable energy “Prairie Maze” for the museum’s new “Big Backyard” exhibit, which opens in June.
  • IREE leader Lanny Schmidt and colleagues in IT invented a hydrogen reactor that uses ethanol.

Meanwhile, faculty continued to bring in new research grants. While it’s not possible to mention all of those in this space, I’d like to note a few:

  • Nevin Young, plant pathology and plant biology, $10.8 million from NSF to lead sequencing of the genome of Medicago truncatula, a model legume.
  • Sarah Hobbie and David Tilman, EEB, with Peter Reich, CNR, $1.8 million from NSF for “”Interacting responses of C and N cycles to altered biodiversity, elevated CO2, and N enrichment.”
  • Craig Packer, EEB, $1.7 million from NSF for “Biocomplexity of the Greater Serengeti.”
  • Arkady Khodursky, BMBB, $1.4 million from the NIH for “Structure and Activity of E coli Chromosome.”
  • John Ward, Plant Biology, $1 million from from DOE for “Analysis of Arabidopsis Sucrose Transporters.”
  • Larry Wackett, BMBB, and Mike Sadowsky, Biotechnology Institute, $700,000 from NSF to sequence the genome of Arthrobacter aurescens.
  • Mike Sadowsky, Biotechnology Institute, $1 million from the USDA for research on Bradyrhizobium japonicum, a nitrogen fixing bacterium.

And faculty, staff, and students brought honor to CBS with many awards, including the following:

  • Claudia Neuhauser, professor and head of EEB, received the Morse-Alumni Award for Outstanding Contributions to Undergraduate Education.
  • Reuben Harris, BMBB, was named a 2004-2006 Searle Scholar.
  • Leslie Schiff, microbiology, received the Carski Award for undergraduate teaching from the American Society for Microbiology.
  • Mike Sadowsky, Biotechnology Institute, and Nevin Young, plant biology, were selected Distinguished McKnight University Professors.
  • Maya Babu, undergraduate neuroscience major, won a Truman Scholarship for $26,000 towards her senior year and graduate education.

In addition, the administration of the college was strengthened with the arrival of Elizabeth Wroblewski, Chief Administrative Officer; Nikki Letawsky Shultz, assistant to Associate Dean Robin Wright, and Barb Theno, Director of Human Resources.

Following several All-College Meetings to solicit your input, we submitted a very strong College Compact to the Provost this spring.

And we even managed to have some fun at the CBS Year-End Picnic last week.

Not bad for a year’s work. Thanks again for everything you do for CBS. Next fall, we plan to launch a college-wide strategic planning process. I look forward to working with you on this, and to seeing what we accomplish together next year.

Bob Elde, Dean


College of Biological Sciences Commencement 2004

300 CBS students will cross the stage at Northrop Auditorium Saturday night to receive their degrees at Commencement 2004. The program begins at 7:30 p.m.

Guest speaker is Liesl Chatman, 1990 graduate of the University of Minnesota, who is a science education partnership specialist with the St. Paul Public Schools. There will also be two student speakers, Imee Cambronero, who graduated in December 2003, and Forum Kandar, a spring honors program graduate. Cambronero now works in the office of Congresswomen Betty McCollum in Washington, D.C.

Holly Hofstad will be recognized for winning a 2004 President’s Student Leadership and Service Award for exceptional leadership and service to the University and surrounding community.

David Biesboer will receive the Stanley Dagley-Samuel Kirkwood Award Undergraduate Education Award. Biesboer is professor of plant biology and director of Itasca Biological Station and Laboratories.

Claudia Neuhauser, professor and head of the Department of Ecology, Evolution, and Behavior, will be recognized for receiving the Morse Alumni Award for Undergraduate Education in April.

Alumnus John R. Jungck will receive an Honorary Doctor of Science degree for leading a national effort to improve biology education by integrating biology with math, physical science, and computer science. He is co-founder of BioQUEST, a national organization devoted to biology curriculum reform, and he contributed to “BIO 2010:Transforming Undergraduate Education for Future Research Biologists,“ a study conducted by the National Research Council. This study is the basis for a national revolution in biology education, including a curriculum review at the College of Biological Sciences.

Currently Mead Chair of the Sciences and Professor of Biology at Beloit College, Jungck was a Fulbright Scholar and has authored and edited many articles, reviews, and book chapters on biology education and mathematical biology. He is also a Fellow of the National Institute of Science Education and a Fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science.

Jungck received his B.S. degree in biochemistry (’66) and M.S. degree in genetics and microbiology (’68) from the College of Biological Sciences. He earned his Ph.D. in evolution at the University of Miami, Florida in 1973. The Honorary Doctor of Science is the highest honor conferred by the University of Minnesota. Regent William Hogan will present the award.

All-College Meeting

All faculty and staff are invited to the All-College Meeting on Tuesday, May 18, from noon -1:30 p.m. in the Cargill seminar room. The agenda includes a review of this year’s accomplishments and a look ahead toward next year.

Undergraduate Scholarship Recipients for 2004-2005

34 undergraduates have been chosen to receive CBS scholarships for 2004-2005 ranging from $500 to $5,000 per year.

A list of recipients with the name of the scholarship they received is posted online.

Most CBS scholarships were created by faculty, alumni, and friends. The University recently launched a matching program for undergraduate scholarships that will double the impact of any gift of $25,000 or more for endowed scholarships. If you would like more information about this program, call the University of Minnesota Foundation at 612-624-3333 and ask for Bob Burgett.

CBS students excel at extracurricular activities

In addition to classes, homework, and lab research, many CBS students find time for sports, music, and other extracurricular pursuits and excel in these areas. Here are just a few.

Big Ten Conference Athletes

Jessica Crawford, Thea Fleming, Cecile Lamour, Megan Peters (Swimming & Diving) and Erin Murphy (Gymnastics). All of these students are also UM Scholar Athletes.

University of Minnesota Scholar Athletes

Erika Bjorklund, Jenna Buskohl, Leigh Dixon, Alean Frawley, Julia Herman, Heather Horton, Meghan Johnson, Nicole Kopari, Jesse Kovash, Erin Martin, Lauren Reed, Jena Trask, Steven Williamson, and Stefanie Zeihen.

University Band

Nichole Boettcher, Courtney White, Anna Bredsten, Brian Engel, Susan Godbout, Brianna Kase, Sarah Bradley, Keegan Hasselmann, Kristyn VanderWaal, John Wratkowski, Kassa Andreasen, Chieko Kyogoku, Lindsey Taylor, Ann Stimmel, Andrew Buttler, Miranda Bernhardt, Kim VanderWaal, Rachelle Werth, Yuta Sakai.

Henrietta Miller Garden

Thank you to the volunteers who helped clean up and replant the Henrietta Miller garden in front of Snyder Hall and Gortner Laboratories this spring. They are Jodi Kipping-Bjork and Ric Roderick (Greenhouse), Eileen Furlong and Sandra Mackey (Instructional Labs), and Jean Marie Lindquist, Jeff Thomas, and Elizabeth Wroblewski (Dean’s Office). Please stop by to take a look at the garden, which honors Henrietta Miller, retired administrator for the Department of Biochemistry.

CBS Day at Midway Stadium

Join alumni, faculty, and staff at the June 25th St. Paul Saints game for the third annual CBS Day at the Midway Stadium. We'll be grilling and tailgating prior to the game, then taking our reserved bleacher seats to cheer on the hometown team as they take on the Sioux City Explorers. Tickets are $16 per person (includes reserved bleacher seating, grilled items, chips, potato salad, baked beans and soda).

Last year we had more than 150 CBS alumni and friends join us, so be sure to get
your tickets early to reserve your space. Family and friends are

Peregrine Falcon website

A new peregrine falcon website featuring the Midwest database in searchable form is now online. Bruce Fall, Bud Tordoff, Mark Decker, and Rick Peifer all contributed to the site, which is still a work in progress. Comments and suggestions are welcome. The original site was created by Pat Redig, Raptor Center.

Mark your calendar for Fall Fest 2004

On Sunday, October 17, the Biological Sciences Alumni Society will
host “Fall Fest 2004: Connecting U.” Join CBS alumni, students, parents,
faculty, staff, and community members as we explore CBS research, tour
facilities on the St. Paul campus, and learn how CBS, along with the College of Agriculture, Food, and Environmental Sciences, the College of Veterinary Medicine, and the College of Human Ecology are working to support President Bruininks initiatives for 2004.

You can participate in one of three presidential initiative education tracks: Bioscience and Biotechnology; Healthy Foods, Healthy Lives; Environment and Renewable Energy. Or take a tour of St. Paul campus facilities including the new Cargill Building for Microbial and Plant Genomics; the Raptor Center; the Veterinary Medicine animal hospitals, or one of the many greenhouses. In addition to the education tracks, we'll also have activities and tours for families and children.


Access to the Literature: The Debate Continues

The Internet is profoundly changing how scientists work and publish. New business models are being tested by publishers, including open access, in which the author pays and content is free to the user. This ongoing web focus will explore current trends and future possibilities. Each week, the website will publish specially commissioned insights and analysis from leading scientists, librarians, publishers and other stakeholders, as well as key links, and articles from our archive. All content is available free.

Stipend survival

Graduate-student pay levels mean tight budgets and inventive cost-cutting, but is the five-year pay freeze worth it?

All over the world, graduate students stretch their take-home pay to cover daily living expenses. To make ends meet, students forgo or share cars, limit shopping to sales and take advantage of free campus activities. The low income leaves little room for savings or an extravagant lifestyle. While college friends may go on to high-paying 'real' jobs, graduate students face five years or more of living hand to mouth.   


Carolyn Silflow, professor of plant biology, has received a four-year, $730,000 grant from the NSF for “Segregation and positioning of basal bodies,” a gene discovery project to study the function of genes involved in positioning of basal bodies in Chlamydomonas.

Robert Megard, professor of ecology, evolution, and behavior, was honored at a retirement reception on May 3. Megard joined the University of Minnesota as a research fellow 1962, after earning degrees from St. Olaf, University of New Mexico, and Indiana University. In 1967, he became one of the first EEB faculty members. Megard retired in December after making numerous contributions to limnology. He is known for his research on paleocladocera of Iran, kinetics of oxygen generation in algae, and transmission of light through water columns. In recent years, Megard refined understanding of fine-scale spatial distributions in zooplankton in lakes.

Kathy Ball, education specialist, will retire on June 11 after 33 years at the University of Minnesota. Kathy earned her B.S. in natural science education and M.S. in botany at the U. She then worked in General Biology for 19 years (teaching and administration) and in 1990, joined the Dean’s Office staff to work on administrative projects. For the past several years, she has taught botany. Kathy, who says she is “glad she’s finally graduating from the U” plans to write non-fiction for children, play lots of scrabble, and travel. A retirement party in her honor will be held on Wednesday, May 26, from 3 to 5 p.m. in 257 Biological Sciences Center. Please RSVP to Odette Holter, 625-1234, by Friday, May 21.

Susan Gibson, plant biology, received a $152,655 grant from the NSF for “Collaborative Research: Metabolic engineering of hairy roots for alkaloid production.”

Nathan Springer, plant biology, received $327,757 from the NSF for “Assessment of the use of oligonucleotide microarrays for single nucleotide polymorphism mutation detection in maize.”

Akhouri A. Sinha, GCD, received $471,421 from the U.S. Department of Defense for “Prediction of aggressive human prostate cancer by cathespin B.”

David Kirkpatrick, GCD, received $179,086 from the National Institutes of Health for “DNA repair genes and acquired drug resistance in Candida.”

Angie Hodgson and Jacob Egge, EEB graduate students, were awarded Doctoral Dissertation Research Grants from the Graduate School. Angie is advised by John Pastor and Jacob is advised by Andrew Simons.

Erika Helgerson, CBS undergraduate, is one of two University of Minnesota students nominated for an Undergraduate Research Award from the Forum on Education Abroad.

Kyran McCormack is the new executive assistant in the Dean’s Office, replacing Jean McAlpine, who retired last month. Kyran will provide administrative support to the dean, the chief administrative officer, and other CBS management staff. She will also coordinate and supervise office services in the reception area. Kyran comes to CBS from the UM General Counsel’s Office, where she was principal secretary.

Peggy Rinard, communications, won the Maroon Award for BIO, the CBS magazine, in the 2004 University of Minnesota Communicators Forum Maroon & Gold Awards in May. The Gold Award went to “The Link,” the magazine of the College of Education and Human Development, and Honorable Mention went to “Legacy,” which is published by University of Minnesota Foundation.


September 12-16
XVI International Roundtable of the International Society of Nucleosides,
Nucleotides and Nucleic Acids
Center for Drug Design
College of Pharmacy
Robert Vince, Director
For details,

September 27-28
13th Annual Developmental Biology Center Symposium
“From Egg to Organ: Development and Disease”
Great Hall, Coffman Memorial Union
For details visit
or contact Tami Jauert at 624-4981 or