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CBS News - November 2005


CBS needs more training grants for graduate students and more multi-project research grants

When it came time to write this column, Bob was in Beijing with Governor Pawlenty, President Bruininks, and an entourage of more than 200 other Minnesota business, government, university and community leaders as part of the largest state trade mission to China ever. Thus, our CBS News editor asked if I could contribute a few comments in his place about my previous stint here at the University of Minnesota (1964 – 1984); how things changed during the 21 years I spent in Washington, DC; and what I will be doing in my new position in the Dean’s office.

I left my position as professor of biochemistry on the St. Paul Campus in 1984 to take a position at the National Institute on Aging (NIA). Since then, the CBS faculty has almost doubled, the diversity of the faculty has increased significantly, several lovely new research facilities have been constructed, new activities such as Biodale and UEL have been established, and there is increased cooperation between CBS and the Medical School.

When I began work at the NIA, many of my aging U of MN colleagues urged me to hurry up, hoping that the NIA might come up with something useful for delaying the adverse changes that occur with aging that might benefit them. However, when I arrived at the NIA it can be fairly said that research on aging was still a backwater [Science, 309: 83 (2005)]. I left there six months ago, secure in the belief that this is no longer true, exemplified by the February 2005 issue of Cell, which is devoted to progress in aging research. Trying to understand the biological basis of aging has become exciting science, with some promise now that interventions to help people delay the onset of frailty and other age-related pathologies are indeed on the horizon.

I am delighted to return to the University of Minnesota in my new role as Associate Dean for Research. This is truly a case of the shoe is now on the other foot, as I am painfully aware that it is much easier and more fun to give away money than it is to try to get it. I hope my NIH experience will prove useful to our CBS faculty and that the half-life of my NIH knowledge will be reasonably long.

We need to capture more training grant funds to alleviate our problem of funding graduate students, and we need to make more use of multi-project grant mechanisms where appropriate to help build strong and nationally recognized research foci. As I become more familiar with the research interests of our faculty, I hope to identify NIH and other agency initiatives relevant to faculty interests. And I am willing to strategize with any of our faculty about applying for all kinds of grants, although I won’t pretend to understand all of the broad areas of science included in our college. It is clear my position has many responsibilities, and I will do my best to keep everyone informed about anything I learn at the variety of meetings I attend that I believe are of general interest to CBS faculty and staff.

Huber Warner, Associate Dean for Research
College of Biological Sciences


Governor’s Delegation to China

As part of the new Minnesota-China Partnership, Governor Pawlenty led a 200-member delegation of business, government, academic, and civic leaders to China November 11 through 19. President Bob Bruininks led the education section, which included several representatives from the University. CBS Dean Bob Elde was a member of the food, agriculture, and renewable energy section.

The purpose of the mission was to better understand this nation of 1.3 billion people, which is the fastest growing market in the world. The itinerary included Beijing , Shanghai , Hong Kong , Shenzhen, and Guangzhou . Not all parts of the delegation visited every city. Dean Elde will report back on his experience in the next issue of CBS News.

Morris funded for biomass burner project

The University Of Minnesota-Morris is receiving funds to build a biomass burner to heat and cool the campus. The project involves a gasification unit in the Minnesota-Morris district heating and cooling system which will burn cornstalks and straw to create steam.   The project is being funded by the USDA, which awarded the University of Minnesota-Morris a $1.8 million grant, the Initiative for Renewable Energy and the Environment (IREE), led by CBS Dean Bob Elde, and the 2005 Legislature.

CBS Holiday Open House

Stop by the CBS Dean’s Office from 11:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. for the annual holiday open house. Holiday treats and beverages will be served. The Dean’s Office is in 123 Snyder Hall on the St. Paul campus. 

Requirement for Responsible Conduct of Research Education implemented

The University Senate policy, Education in the Responsible Conduct of Sponsored Research and Grants Management, now requires continuing education in the responsible conduct of research (RCR). Implementation of the policy was guided by a faculty committee, and the resulting policy requires faculty and principal investigators to review updated information about changes in policies related to RCR issues once every year, and principal investigators must report participation in an awareness/discussion activity related to RCR topics once every three years. Additional information is available on the FIRST website at

Cargill Building earns architectural merit award

The American Institute of Architects (AIA) awarded the Cargill Building for Microbial and Plant Genomics one of four 2005 Merit Awards. Submitted projects were judged on technical innovation, environmental responsibility, community impact, budget/business success, client/team satisfaction, and design excellence. According to AIA, the Cargill building is “high design. The building fits well into its tight site, and the use of materials is innovative and elegant.” For more information, see the November issue of Architecture Minnesota.

UEL recognized for innovative design

The University Enterprise Laboratories (UEL) is featured in an article titled “Getting Started” in the November issue of Architecture Minnesota. The article showcases the innovative architecture and UEL’s accommodations. Principal Architect Thomas DeAngelo describes it as “a kind of laboratory hotel” for fledgling bioscience companies.

CBS Imaging Center offers CD/DVD duplication

The CBS Imaging Center is now offering bulk CD/DVD duplication. The center can duplicate small runs or large runs along with high-end packaging and printing on the disk. The center can also transfer existing masters onto CD or DVD from any source.  Please go to the Imaging Center website at for more details.

Learn more about CBS undergraduate research

The College of Biological Sciences Biology Colloquium Program is sponsoring an ice cream social, food drive, and project gallery on Friday, November 18 from 3:00 p.m. to 6:00 p.m. at the Bell Museum . All U of M students, faculty, and staff interested in biology or the life sciences are invited to come learn about undergraduate research projects completed by Biology Colloquium students. Please bring a non-perishable food item to be donated to a local food shelf.


The Interface Between Materials Science and Biology

In its 18 November 2005 issue, Science -- along with one of its online companion sites, the Science of Aging Knowledge Environment (SAGE KE) -- explores the interface between materials science and biology. News and Review articles in Science examine how natural examples have inspired new approaches to engineered materials -- and, conversely, how advances at the frontiers of materials science, particularly at the nanoscale, are breaking new ground in cancer detection and treatment and in probing the world of the living cell. An article in SAGE KE titled "Bionic Grandma" reports on how engineers and biologists are making progress toward creating custom-made artificial tissues to rejuvenate aging bodies.


Sarah Corrigan (Student Services) participated in a Learning Abroad Center site visit to Toledo , Spain from October 8 through 15. She is one of four U of M faculty and staff chosen to visit the International Program in Toledo and learn more about opportunities for CBS students to study Spanish language, humanities, social science, and fine arts courses. Spanish is the most common language major/minor pursued by CBS students. For more information about the Toledo program visit:

Jim Cotner (Ecology, Evolution, and Behavior) is co-author of an article titled “Effect of Microbes on Contaminant Transfer in the Lake Superior Food Web” published in the November 9 issue of Environmental Science and Technology. The study shows that bacteria, which are a primary food source for other organisms in Lake Superior , absorb large amounts of PCBs, which are subsequently passed up the food chain. Lead author is Matthew Hudson, environmental biologist with the Great Lakes Indian Fish and Wildlife Commission. Deb Swackhamer (Environmental Health Sciences, School of Public Health ) was also a co-author.

Meggan Craft (Ecology, Evolution, and Behavior graduate student), has been selected to receive the 2006 Carol and Wayne Pletcher Graduate Fellowship. This is a CBS endowed fellowship that supports Ph.D. graduate students in biology. Meggan is advised by Craig Packer (EEB).

Anath Das, Paul K. Judd , and David Mahli (all from Biochemistry, Molecular Biology and Biophysics), are co-authors of “Molecular characterization of the Agrobacterium tumefaciens DNA transfer protein VirB6.” The last in a three-part series published this year, the paper appears on the cover of the November issue of the journal Microbiology. To view the complete article go to

Antony Dean (Ecology, Evolution, and Behavior) published a report titled “The Biochemical Architecture of an Ancient Adaptive Landscape” in the October 21 issue of Science. He and his colleagues determined relationships between genotype, phenotype, and fitness that provide insights into how natural selection produces adaptations.

CBS students Ashley Gray, Luke Robinson, and Paula Schumann have been accepted into the University of Minnesota ’s Tom Burnett Advanced Leadership Program. The program is designed for a select group of seniors ready to transition into their chosen career. Participation is limited to 14 students during spring semester.

Marc von Keitz has been promoted to associate director of the Biotechnology Institute (BTI). Von Keitz has served as program director for the Biotechnology Resource Center (BRC) as well as managing the BTI Incubator Laboratories. During his tenure, the BRC has been upgraded to a state-of-the art facility and the incubator laboratories have evolved to become University Enterprise Laboratories. In his new role, von Keitz will be involved in expanding BTI’s industrial internship program and will continue to identify and implement new technical services to support faculty research.

Soukthavi Kouanchao has joined the CBS Dean’s Office staff as a human resources assistant, reporting to Barb Theno, HR Director. Soukthavi, or “Souk,” has a background in HR, including a bachelor’s degree through Metropolitan State University and prior HR experience in the private sector. She has taken over primary responsibility for payroll processing, maintaining personnel records and PeopleSoft data, generating reports, and coordinating staffing procedures for the CBS administrative departments.

Joe McFadden (Ecology, Evolution, and Behavior) is coauthor of a paper published in the October 28 issue of Science titled “The Role of Land Surface Change in Arctic Summer Warming.” McFadden and colleagues synthesized a decade of field data from Alaska showing summer warming is occurring primarily on land, where a longer snow-free season and growth of vegetation contribute to atmospheric heating.

Jennifer Powers (Ecology, Evolution, and Behavior) was awarded $166,000 by the National Science Foundation for her research. Her project is titled “A Mechanistic Understanding of the Response of Soil Carbon Pools in Tropical Forests to Increasing Global Temperatures.”

Pete Snustad (Plant Biology) has been elected a fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS). He is being honored for genetic dissection of bacteriophage T4-induced nuclear disruption and host DNA degradation and for molecular analysis of the tubulin gene families of Arabidopsis thaliana. Snustad, who has been a faculty member at the U for 37 years, is co-author with Mike Simmons of “Principles of Genetics,” a textbook used by universities worldwide. An induction ceremony will be held during the AAAS annual meeting, which will be held in St. Louis , Missouri , in February, 2006.

Nathan Springer (Plant Biology) was awarded second-year funding of $177,000 for his project titled “Functional Genomics of Maize Chromatin” from the National Science Foundation.   Professor Carrie Wilmot (Biology, Molecular Biology, and Biophysics) has been named the recipient of the American Crystallographic Association's 2006 Etter Award. The Etter award recognizes crystallographers at the early stages of their academic careers who have achieved national and international recognition for their research scholarship. Dr. Wilmot’s research focuses on cryo x-ray crystallography and the role of amino acid based cofactors.


Catherine Verfaillie
Distinguished Women Scholars Lecture Series
Nov. 15, 7:30 p.m. – 9:00 p.m.
Cowles Auditorium, Humphrey Institute
University of Minnesota professor and stem cell researcher Catherine Verfaillie will deliver the inaugural University of Minnesota Ada Comstock Distinguished Women Scholars Lecture. Verfaillie, professor of medicine, is director of the University of Minnesota Stem Cell Institute.

“VISIONS OF NATURE: The World of Walter Anderson”
through Feb. 5
Bell Museum of Natural History
An exhibit celebrating the art and life of the Mississippi artist and naturalist Walter Anderson (1903-65), will feature his paintings, sketches, sculpture, and pottery. Anderson, a diagnosed schizophrenic, has been compared to O'Keefe and Van Gogh.