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CBS News - November 2003

Dean's Comments

Changes in the Dean’s Office

If you’ve stopped by the Dean’s Office lately, you’ve probably noticed some new faces. Elizabeth Wroblewski, associate to the dean, and Nicole Letawsky-Shultz, assistant to Associate Dean Robin Wright, joined us last month.

Elizabeth and Nicole bring strong administrative skills to the Dean’s Office. Elizabeth comes to us from Provost Christine Maziar’s office, where she was chief of staff. Previously, she was deputy chief of staff to President Mark Yudof, and before that was an administrator at the College of St. Catherine. Elizabeth earned a master’s degree in education from the University of Minnesota. Nicole, who has a master’s degree in higher education, was formerly an assistant dean of students at Cornell University.

We are also working to fill vacant positions for a human resources director and a development director.

These changes are allowing me to respond to suggestions made during my comprehensive review last spring to strengthen CBS’ administrative structure to meet our growing college’s needs. I want to assure you that we are not just adding new positions or significantly increasing administrative costs, but reorganizing our resources and filling vacancies. Your suggestions for ways to improve our service to you are welcome.

As the players change and we continue to grow as a college, it’s more important than ever to build our sense of community. Toward that end, I encourage you to attend the CBS Research Forum at 3 p.m. on Friday, November 21 in the Cargill Building.

CBS Forum was created to showcase outstanding research with implications across disciplines and to bring us together for conversation and community. Bill Gray, plant biology, will give a lecture titled “Molecular genetics of auxin signaling: A degrading story of plant development.” I hope to see you there.

Bob Elde


Curriculum Task Force
Associate Dean Robin Wright has convened a task force to review the bachelor of science curriculum and make recommendations for improvement. Their goal is to develop an undergraduate program that will move the University of Minnesota to the forefront of biology education. Toward that end, they will review programs at peer institutions, consult with leaders in biology education, refer to scholarly analyses, and seek input from CBS students and faculty as well as people from other colleges and departments, and University administrators. Any suggestions should be directed to Robin Wright,

Members are Sandra Armstrong (Microbiology), Frank Barnwell (EBB), David Bernlohr (BMBB), Victor Bloomfield (BMBB), Sehoya Cortner (EBB), Mark Decker (General Biology), Alan Hooper (BMBB), Fumiaki Katagiri (PBio), Claudia Neuhauser (EEB), Richard Poppele (Neuroscience), Scott Selleck (GCD), Mike Simmons (GCD), and Pete Snustad (PBio).
Agendas, minutes, and other information will be posted on the CBS Web site in the near future. 

The Dean’s Office has acquired a large, new display unit that is available to departments and programs for events. There is also a smaller table-top unit available. Please contact Peggy Rinard,
New CBS display unit

Faculty, staff, and students are encouraged to use the new CBS bulletin boards in the Molecular and Cellular Biology Building to promote events, seminars, research opportunities, and club news. The boards are just across from the elevators on the second and third floors.
Post your news & events on CBS Bulletin Boards in MCB

The CBS Mentor Program has matched 144 undergraduate students with mentors from the CBS community. Mentors have volunteered to talk with students about their career experiences and provide advice about life after college from November to April. Volunteers are alumni, friends of CBS, and members of the community. Without our mentor volunteers, we would not be able to provide this wonderful opportunity to our students. Thank you!
CBS Mentor Program

More than 100 scientists who worked with Jane Goodall at Tanzania’s Gombe National Park over the past 43 years gathered at the University of Minnesota in October for the group’s first formal reunion. The event started with a chimpanzee pant-hoot that was led by Goodall herself and included professors from Harvard, Stanford, and other distinguished universities. The reunion provided an opportunity for participants to learn about research at the Center for Primate Studies at CBS and to discuss conservation efforts and future behavior studies.
Gombe Reunion

Packer will give a lecture titled “Into Africa: The Lions of Tanzania” at the Bell Museum on Saturday, Nov. 22 at 4 p.m. The program is free to students, faculty, and staff. For tickets, call 612-624-9050 or send an email to This lecture is part of the Bell Museum’s current exhibit, The Art of Cats, which is on view through January 4, 2004.

Craig Packer has received a $1.7 million grant from the National Science Foundation for “Biocomplexity of the Greater Serengeti: Humans in a Biologically Diverse Ecosystem.” He will use four different models to study the impact of humans on the Serengeti. Packer is Distinguished McKnight University Professor of Ecology, Evolution, and Behavior.
Packer receives $1.7 million NSF grant

CBS Forum is presented twice a year to foster interaction and build community. All faculty, staff, and students are encouraged to attend. A reception follows.

Plant Biology will host the fall CBS Research Forum at 3:00 p.m. on Friday, November 21, in room 105 of the Cargill Building. Bill Gray, assistant professor of plant biology and McKnight Land-Grant Professor, will lecture on the molecular genetics of auxin, a hormone that regulates plant growth and development. Gray and colleagues recently discovered that changes triggered by this simple hormone involve the degradation of certain transcriptional regulators. This phenomenon has been found to be widespread in the development of other higher organisms. Gray will discuss his findings about the auxin response pathway and identify key questions that remain.
CBS Research Forum
“Molecular genetics of auxin signaling:
A degrading story of plant development”, or 614-0774 for information.

Even Mother Nature Loves Maroon and Gold
The new version of the University poster, “Even Mother Nature Loves Maroon and Gold” can be viewed at
There are free copies available in the CBS Dean’s Office, in the St. Paul Student Center, and at Coffman Union. This year’s design shows a maroon and gold sunset.

Furniture available
Need a bookcase or coffee table in your office? The Dean’s Office has one of each available. Contact Peggy Rinard,, or 624-0774.


Ashley Haase, head of microbiology, has been named to the Institute of Medicine of the National Academy of Sciences. Membership in the Institute is one of the highest honors in the field of medicine, given to those who have made significant contributions to medical sciences, health care, and public health.

Larry Wackett and Michael Sadowsky are helping Regenesis clean up a groundwater site in Wisconsin using Arthrobacter aurescens TC1, which are being introduced into the ground via injection wells. A. aurescens TC1 was isolated at the University of Minnesota by postdoctoral associate Lisa Strong. It is very active in degrading atrazine and many other s-triazine herbicides used throughout the Midwest. The NSF recently granted Sadowsky and Wackett funding to sequence the A. aurescens TC1 genome in conjunction with the Institute for Genomics Research in Rockville, Maryland. Wackett is Distinguished University McKnight Professor and head of the Division of Microbial Biochemistry.

Lalitha Belur, Joel Frandsen, Adam Dupuy, David Largaespada, Perry Hackett and Scott McIvor are co-authors of a paper titled "Integration and long-term expression in lung mediated by the Sleeping Beauty transposon system" published in Molecular Therapy [8: 501-507 Sept, 2003]. Belur is a postdoctoral associate and Frandsen is a junior scientist. Adam Dupuy, formerly a postdoc, is now at the National Cancer Institute. Largaespada, Hackett, and McIvor are faculty in the Department of Genetics, Cell Biology, and Development.

John Ward, associate professor of plant biology, received $110,000 from the U.S. Department of Energy for a project titled “Functional Analysis of Arabidopsis Sucrose Transporters.”

Marc von Keitz, associate director of the Biotechnology Institute, received $42,000. from 3M to support two biotechnology post-doctoral research fellows who will work with Fredrich Srienc on a project titled “Design and Construction of Efficient Reaction Networks.”

Events & Seminars

CBS Fall Forum
"Molecular genetics of auxin signaling:
A degrading story of plant development."
Hosted by the Department of Plant Biology
Lecturer: Bill Gray, associate professor
November 21, 3 p.m.
Cargill Building for Microbial and Plant Genomics