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CBS News - May 2006


Top 12 reasons why 2005-06 was a great year for CBS

It seems like there's always something interesting going on at the College of Biological Sciences, but this has been an extraordinary year even by our yardstick. We got off to a strong start with Habitat for Biologists in the fall and maintained that pace through the year. Here's a list of the highlights.

  • Habitat for Biologists volunteers completed work on a new cabin for women students. CBS raised a total of $90,000 for construction of this cabin and renovation of cabin #4.
  • Planning was completed for new facilities at Cedar Creek Natural History Area.
  • Planning for the National Center for Biofuels moved forward.
  • IREE awarded $8.5 million in renewable energy research grants to faculty from several other colleges.
  • University Enterprise Laboratories, Inc. celebrated its grand opening.
  • Crown Prince Haakon of Norway visited the Cargill Microbial and Plant Genomics Building and presented CBS with a $750,000 gift to establish an endowed chair in biofuels research.
  • Joe McFadden, Helene Muller Landau, Laura Ranum, Romas Kazlauskas, Tony Dean, Anath Das, Reuben Harris, David Tilman, Sarah Hobbie, Ken Vernick and many other faculty published important discoveries in Science, Nature, PNAS and other leading journals.
  • CBS and IREE were represented in Gov Pawlenty's trade mission to China.
  • Claudia Neuhauser landed a $2.8 million training grant for civil engineering and ecology from the National Science Foundation and was named a Howard Hughes Medical Institute Professor, a designation that carries a $1 million award which she will use for innovative undergraduate programs in computational biology.
  • Many CBS faculty, including Claudia Neuhauser, Dave Bernlohr, Robin Wright, Kate VandenBosch served on strategic positioning task forces.
  • CBS students garnered several top national scholarships, including the Goldwater Scholarship, the Beckman Scholarship, the Howard Hughes Medical Institute Scholarship, and the Jack Kent Cooke Award.
  • And in spite of clouds and drizzle, 650 faculty, staff, and students turned out for the Annual CBS Picnic.

I would like to thank all of you for everything you do that contributes to making CBS such a great place to learn, teach, and do research. Together we are truly making a difference in improving human health, evaluating human impact on global ecosystems, developing renewable fuels and materials, and using biology to address so many critical problems that affect the quality of life for everyone.

Bob Elde


CBS Commencement 2006

More than 275 students will cross the stage of Northrop Auditorium to receive bachelor's degrees on Saturday, May 13 in the 2006 College of Biological Sciences Commencement. The ceremony will begin at 7:30 p.m. There will be a reception on the plaza in front of the auditorium from 6:30 to 7:30 p.m.

John S. Anderson, who is retiring this year after 39 years on the CBS faculty, will carry the U of M Mace and lead the procession of faculty and students into the auditorium.

Eric Jolly, president of the Science Museum of Minnesota, will deliver the commencement address. Student Speakers are Lisa Hoang, a native of Vietnam and the first college graduate in her family, and Amanda Hemmingsen, recipient of the 2006 President's Award for Student Leadership and Service. Regent Patricia Simmons, M.D., professor of pediatrics at Mayo Medical School, will confer the degrees. Other guests include Jerry Rhinehart, vice provost for student affairs, and Jeff Carpenter, President of Biological Sciences Alumni Society.

Eric Bauer, professor of genetics, cell biology, and development, will be honored as this year's recipient of the Stanley Dagley-Samuel Kirkwood Award for Outstanding Contributions to Undergraduate Education. Claudia Neuhauser, professor and head of ecology, evolution, and behavior, will be recognized for receiving the Howard Hughes Medical Institute Professorship, which carries a $1 million grant for undergraduate education. Three graduate students received the award for Outstanding Performance as a Teaching assistant. They are Rawan Awwad (Genetic Counseling) Harpartap Mann (Horticulture) and Katherine Phillips (Ecology, Evolution, and Behavior)

Planning for Institute on the Environment gets underway

Provost Tom Sullivan has appointed an advisory committee to make recommendations to create a U-wide Institute for the Environment. The team is co-chaired by professors Deborah Swackhamer (Water Resources Center) and Stephen Polasky (Ecology and Applied Economics) and includes Efi Foufoula (Civil Engineering), Lucinda Johnson (Natural Resources Research Institute), Anne Kapuscinski (Fisheries and Wildlife), Brad Karkkainen (Law School), Peter McMurry (Mechanical Engineering), Peter Reich (Forest Resources), Harvey Thorleifson (Minnesota Geological Survey), and G. David Tilman (Ecology, Evolution and Behavior). Recommendations are due in September.

EEB joins St. Anthony Falls Laboratory as affiliated department

The Department of Ecology, Evolution and Behavior (EEB) was invited to join the St. Anthony Falls Laboratory (SAFL) as an affiliated department. SAFL is the world's only fluid-mechanics laboratory that uses a natural waterfall as its prime water source. The researchers at SAFL solve a wide range of problems in environmental fluid mechanics, stream restoration, hydropower engineering, water quality, and hydraulic structures to address the needs of local, state, and federal agencies. For more information, visit the SAFL website at

General Biology Program gets new leadership

Susan Wick (Plant Biology) will replace John Anderson as director of the General Biology Program when he retires this month. Wick, a professor in plant biology, studies plant development and morphogenesis.

John Anderson is retiring after 39 years with the College of Biological Sciences. He has taught biology and biochemistry at all levels, conducted his own research, and provided leadership for General Biology and other programs.

2006-07 student officers and board members named

The CBS Student Board has approved the slate of officers and members for the 2006-07 year.'The board works collaboratively with CBS administration,'departments, and affiliated student organizations to build community among CBS students. Officers include Sean Polster, president; Andy Manning; VP Programming; Milkeesso Foge, VP Communications; Mayuri Garikepati, VP Committees: Phillip Radke, Treasurer. 


The profile of John Anderson on page 6 of the spring issue of BIO states that he worked under Francis Crick at Oxford University. In fact, that happened at the Medical Research Council Laboratory of Molecular Biology in Cambridge. We apologize for the error.


Lola Abdul (CBS undergraduate student) has been awarded a scholarship from the Howard Hughes Medical Institute to study at the University of Washington, Seattle this summer.

Mike Autry (BMBB Research Associate), was elected to a two-year term on the Board of Directors of the National Postdoctoral Association (NPA). Mike was also was a featured speaker at the recent 4th Annual NPA Meeting, held at the NIH Natcher Conference Center in Bethesda MD on April 21-23, 2006.

Sarah Corrigan (Student Services) has been named assistant director of the CBS Honors Program effective May 1. In her new role, Sarah will administer the program, recruit and advise students, develop a comprehensive honors experience for lower and upper division students, and promote student involvement in undergraduate research. Sarah has been an academic advisor for CBS since 2000. She received her B.S. degree in zoology from the University of Wisconsin-Madison, and her M.S. in biology from the University of Tulsa.

David Czarnecki (Instructor, Itasca Biological Station and Laboratories) died on May 4, 2006 following a long battle with cancer. Czarnecki, a professor at Loras College in Dubuque, Iowa was employed by CBS in the 1970s and maintained associations with CBS plant biology faculty. He taught at Itasca Biological Station and Laboratories for nearly 30 summers.

Emily Johnson (Dean's Office) is the new coordinator for alumni and external relations. Kristen is a 2006 graduate of CLA, with a double major in political science and psychology. She has gained experience with events planning, public relations, and legislative advocacy through working for political campaigns. She replaces CBS Alumni Relations.

Martin Dworkin (Microbiology) will accept the 2006 USFCC/J Roger Porter Award from the American Society for Microbiology on May 21. The award, which is also supported by the United States Federation for Culture Collections (USFCC), recognizes Dworkin for his contributions to microbial diversity. Dworkin has devoted his research career to studying the developmental biology of the myxobacteria, with particular emphasis on the physiology, biochemistry, and cell-cell interactions in Myxococcus xanthus.'He is a Fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences and a Felllow of the American Academy of Microbiology.

Erin Fider has replaced Kristen Murphy as program coordinator for Itasca Biological Station and Laboratories. Erin, who has a B.A. in journalism was coordinator of the Department of Pharmacology graduate program and department webmaster for eight years. She is pursing a master's degree in the Liberal Studies Program at the U of M. Her email address is and her phone number is 624-6743.

CBS undergraduate students Amanda Hemmingsen, Paula Schumann, and Elizabeth Slagle received the President's Student Leadership and Service Award from President Bruininks on May 1 at the President's Awards Banquet. The award recognizes the accomplishments and contributions made by outstanding student leaders at the University of Minnesota.

Jostein Mykletun (CLA alumnus) received the University's Distinguished Leadership Award for Internationals. Mykletun was nominated by Dean Elde for work to help establish the Norwegian Centennial Interdisciplinary Chair at the University of Minnesota. Mykletun, an alumnus of the College of Liberal Arts, received his master's and doctorate degrees in international relations and political science from CLA. He is the deputy director general of the Norwegian Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

Anna Alice Mosser (Fisheries and Wildlife) has been awarded the 2006-07 Doctoral Dissertation Fellowship from the U of M Graduate School. The fellowship enables promising Ph.D. candidates to focus on researching and writing their dissertations. Mosser's advisor is Craig Packer (Evolution, Ecology, and Behavior).

Todd Reubold (Initiative for Renewable Energy and the Environment), and Nikki Letawsky Shultz (CBS Student Services) have been selected for the President's Emerging Leaders (PEL) program for 2006-07. PEL is a one-year program dedicated to mentoring, rewarding, and retaining outstanding P&A, civil service, and bargaining unit staff across the University. Todd, who has a master's degree in environmental policy from the Humphrey Institute, is assistant director of IREE.

Claudia Schmidt-Dannert (BMBB) has accepted an invitation to serve a four-year term on the Synthetic and Biological Chemistry B Study Section, Center for Scientific Review. Claudia is a McKnight Professor in the Department of Biochemistry, Molecular Biology, and Biophysics.

Tom Soulen (Plant Biology) received the 2006 President's Award for Outstanding Service from the University of Minnesota. Recipients of this award have gone well beyond their regular duties and have demonstrated an unusual commitment to the University community. Tom, a professor emeritus of plant biology, retired several years ago. He is being recognized for his work as a faculty member and his volunteer outreach efforts to strengthen science education at K-12 schools.

Friedrich Srienc (Biotechnology Institute) received a $255,204 grant from the National Institutes of Health, Institute of General Medical Sciences (NIGMS) for his research project 'Design and Construction of Efficient Reaction Networks.'

Ken Vernick, a member of the Center for Microbial and Plant Genomics, has discovered a group of genes that make some mosquitoes resistant to malaria and prevent them from transmitting the malaria parasite. The finding could be used to develop strategies to control malaria, which kills more than one million people per year, most of them African children. The finding was published in the April 28 issue of Science. Michelle Riehle, postdoctoral researcher in Vernick's lab, was co-author.

Larry Wackett (BMBB) recently gave two lectures in New York and a technical seminar at the State University of New York at Brockport, Department of Chemistry. At the Undergraduate Research Symposium of the Rochester, NY section of the American Chemical Society, he gave the keynote lecture titled 'Chemistry, Genomics, and Evolution of Herbicide Biodegradation.' He also gave a general public lecture titled 'Environmental cleanup: Using bacteria to treat spills of an agricultural chemical' sponsored by the Council on Arts and Sciences at the State University of New York at Brockport.


Bloom! Botanical Art Through the Ages

May 13 ' August 27
Bell Museum of Natural History

'Bloom!' features more than 60 flower and plant-themed drawings, paintings, prints, books, detailed botanical models and fine crafts from public and private collections around the country. Among the highlights are magnificent hand-colored prints and books from the 18th century, stunning botanical wall charts and whimsical hand-painted furniture and contemporary sculpture.

For more information visit

CBS Imaging Center workshop

May 17-19
College of Biological Sciences Imaging Center

This three-day tutorial provides hands-on experience in new techniques and instrumentation using microwave-assisted procedures for preparing cells and tissues for light and electron microscopy. Topics include in vivo labeling, principles of fixations for biological materials for histology, light and electron microscopy, immunohistochemistry, and in situ hybridization. A state-of-the-art confocal system will be provided by Nikon Instruments, Inc. as part of the CBS Imaging Center workshop on May 17-19. Look for information and registration details at: or

The Risks Posed by New Biomedical Technologies:  How Do We Analyze, Communicate and Regulate Risk?

Friday, May 19, 2006
Mondale Hall Room 25
University of Minnesota

Sponsored by the Consortium on Law and Values in Health, Environment and the Life Sciences Joint Degree Program in Law, Health and the Life Sciences.