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CBS News - May 2011

Direct from the Dean | College news | Research | People | Events | FYI

New CBS courses developed in response to a call to faculty to help boost the student academic experience and tuition revenue:

Fall 2010
Biol 3209 Understanding the Evolution-Creationism Controversy
Biol 3700 Undergraduate Seminar: Gateway to Research
Biol 3700 Undergraduate Seminar: Research Seminars in the Biological Sciences
Biol 1010 Human Biology
Biol 1101/1101W Heredity and Human Society
Biol 4035 Metagenomics Laboratory
Biol 1050 Our Global Environment: Science and Solutions
MicB 3303 Biology of Microorganisms
PBio 1212 Plants and Society

Spring 2011
NSci 1001 Fundamentals of Neuroscience
NSci 4100 Developmental Neuroscience

Fall 2011
Biol 3272 Applied Biostatistics
EEB 4330 Animal Communication
GCD 2022 Social Challenges in Genetics

Spring 2012
GCD 4171 Stem Cells in Biology and Medicine
GCD 3033 Cell Biology (for non-majors)

College news

U of M to host HHMI-funded summer biology education institute

A $3 million grant from the Howard Hughes Medical Institute will expand the National Academies Summer Institute for Undergraduate Education in Biology from a single location to a total of nine regional centers over the next five years. New Summer Institute sites will debut this summer at a number of institutions across the country including the U of M. The July 10-15 Midwest Institute will be led by Robin Wright, CBS’ associate dean for faculty and academic affairs.

The institutes are designed to improve undergraduate biology education by encouraging faculty to approach teaching with the same analytical skills used in the lab.

Know an outstanding teaching assistant?

Nominate a TA for a CBS Outstanding Performance Award for Teaching Assistants. All TAs in CBS courses who have demonstrated excellence in teaching or other instructional activities are eligible. Send nominations for CBS courses taught spring through fall 2011 to Bruce Fall ( or by campus mail to 3-104 MCB).


A different perspective on antibiotics
Science | 4.29.11

Ford Denison and Will Ratcliff (EEB) recently published a “Perspective” article in Science entitled “Alternative Actions for Antibiotics.” Historically, researchers have considered antibiotics as weapons produced by one microbe to kill another. In low doses, many antibiotics do not kill exposed microbes, but rather make them behave differently. This has led to a popular idea that antibiotics in nature may have evolved for the purpose of mutually beneficial signaling. In the article, Denison and Ratcliff broaden the potential roles of antibiotics in microbial communication to include inadvertent information transfer (cues) as well as manipulation, and argue that mutually beneficial signaling is probably rare.

Research grants news

Nathan Springer (PBIO) received a $500,000 grant from the U.S. Department of Agriculture to study changes in epigenetic regulation in maize following exposure to environmental stresses. Epigenetic variation describes heritable changes that are not caused by changes in DNA sequence. By identifying the changes and what triggers them, Springer hopes to improve understanding of how plants cope with environmental stresses and potentially prepare their offspring for the environment by passing along gene expression patterns.


Jeffrey Simon (GCD) has been tapped by the National Institutes of Health for a four-year term with the Molecular Genetics C Study Section, Center for Scientific Review.  Members are selected on the basis of demonstrated competence and achievement in their discipline.

Sarah Corrigan, assistant director of the honors program, recently received the John Tate Award for Excellence in Undergraduate Advising. Her selection for the Tate Award recognizes her exceptional commitment to guiding undergraduate students in the Honors Program. In addition to making academic recommendations, she encourages students to pursue experiential opportunities that will allow them to explore their personal strengths, values and abilities.

Janet Dubinsky (Neuroscience) received the University’s Award for Outstanding Contributions to Post-baccalaureate, Graduate, and Professional Education. Recipients are chosen based on excellence in instruction, involvement in students’ research, scholarship, and professional development, development of instructional programs, and advising and mentoring of students.

The 2011 Stanley Dagley-Samuel Kirkwood Undergraduate Award went to Jeannine Cavender-Bares (EEB). The award acknowledges exceptional faculty contributions to undergraduate education through classroom presentation, educational innovation, and curriculum development. Cavender-Bares teaches undergraduate courses in ecology and plant physiological ecology, mentors undergraduate students and involves them in her research.

Leslie Schiff (Microbiology) was selected for the 2011 John S. Anderson Leadership Award. Schiff received the award in recognition of her contributions to academic leadership as director of undergraduate studies in the Microbiology Department, member of the Educational Policy Committee and leader of the Liberal Education Task Force.

CBS undergraduate Daniel Bloom received the Student Leader of the Semester Award for fall semester 2010 at the Biology Colloquium Recognition Dinner May 6. Electrical engineering student Emal Alwis received the award for spring 2011. In addition, Bloom and Jeremy Kudrna have been named 2011-12 student coordinators for the colloquium.

Dan MacNulty, EEB postdoctoral fellow, was interviewed for an article about wolf conservation and management which appeared in the March/April issue of Audubon magazine. MacNulty is leaving the University of Minnesota in July to take a tenure-track faculty position at Utah State University in the Department of Wildland Resources. In addition, he recently had an article accepted for publication in Behavioral Ecology about group hunting behavior in wolves. Craig Packer is his advisor.

Paul Gugger (EEB) has been named winner of the University of Minnesota Graduate School's Best Dissertation Award in the Biological and Medical Sciences!  Paul will be nominated by the Graduate School for the national Distinguished Dissertation in the BIological and Medical Sciences award given by the Council of Graduate Schools, Washington D.C.  Jeannine Cavender-Bares and Shinya Sugita were his advisors. 


May 19
St. Paul Campus GLBTA Advisory Group meeting

What does it mean to be an ally? Learn how you can play a role in making the U of M a more inclusive environment for all gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender (GLBT) students, staff, faculty, alumni, and community members on campus.

DETAILS: 239 Gortner Lab | St. Paul | 9-10:30 a.m.

May 20
CBS All-College Staff Meeting and CSBU Employee Anniversary Celebration

CBS staff are invited to hear a brief update on the state of the college, welcome new staff members and celebrate the years of service of our CSBU colleagues. Lunch will be served. RSVP by Tuesday, May 17.

DETAILS: 105 Cargill | St. Paul | noon-1:30 p.m.

June 4
Cedar Creek Science Field Day

Learn about research underway in plant ecology and global change, and explore some of the unique natural areas inside the science reserve’s boundaries. Tours focusing on red-headed woodpeckers and chickadee behavior will be offered.

DETAILS: Cedar Creek Ecosystem Reserve | East Bethel, MN | 12:30-4:30 p.m.


Web-based access to shared drive now available

A first-of-its-kind storage service on campus is now available to CBS faculty and staff. WebFiles provides a simple web interface that lets users access files on the college’s Active Directory or shared drive. Just go to WebFiles, then enter a University login and password to use the service. WebFiles works on smart phones and tablets like iPad and is secure and encrypted.