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CBS News - November 27, 2002


Weinig wins NSF Young Investigator Award

Cynthia Weinig, new faculty member in the Department of Plant Biology, has received a Young Investigator Award from the National Science Foundation’s Plant Genomics Research Project (PGRP) for $1.7 million over four years. Weinig uses Arabidopsis to study evolution of plant fitness to the environment. She and collaborator Julin Maloof at UC Davis, who will share the award, are interested in understanding how selection acts on crowding responses in agricultural settings. More specifically, plants can modify their phenotype (for instance shape or form) in response to crowding and the onset of competition for sunlight. There is now strong evidence that flexible developmental responses to crowding, such as stem elongation, confer a fitness advantage to individual plants in natural settings.

Gary Nelsestuen launches CBS Forum

Gary Nelsestuen, Samuel Kirkwood chair in Biochemistry, launched the CBS Forum last Friday with a lecture about his research on blood coagulation and the importance of a Minnesota education to his studies. About 100 faculty, staff, and students attended the event. The forum will continue with a lecture every semester to feature leading CBS faculty and to explore connections between CBS disciplines. Next semester the forum will be co-hosted by the Department of Genetics, Cell Biology, and Development.

All College Meeting

Mark your calendars. The CBS All College Meeting will be December 19, at 12 noon in 239 Gortner. For more information, contact Alaine Siniff,

U scientists crack genome sequence of Johne’s disease pathogen

U researchers have completed sequencing the genome of the bacteria that causes Johne’s disease, a major chronic wasting disease found in dairy cattle. Mycobacaterium paratuberculosis is considered one of the most important threats to the health of dairy cattle worldwide. The achievement will enable researchers to develop new methods for early diagnosis, treatment, and prevention of the disease. Vivek Kapur, associate professor of veterinary pathobiology, and director of the Advanced Genetic Analysis Center in Biodale, was principal investigator.

Workshop opportunities

CBS is sponsoring a workshop on creating a respectful workplace for the second year. The workshop is open to all faculty and staff. Dean Elde encourages everyone who did not attend last year’s workshop to take advantage of this opportunity. The workshop will be offered three different times on the St. Paul and Minneapolis campuses.

    Tuesday, December 3, 9-11 a.m. 2-101 BSBE.
    Register to Ann Johnson,

    Wednesday, January 15, 9-11 a.m.150 Ecology.
    Register to Lisa Wiggins

    Tuesday, January 28, 9-11 a.m.2-101 BSBE.
    Register to Laurie O’Neill

Got a great T.A.?

Nominations are being accepted for the 2002 Outstanding Performance Award for Teaching Assistants. T.A.s who taught classes in spring semester, summer session, or fall semester 2002 in any CBS or affiliated departments are eligible. Any CBS student, staff, or faculty member can submit a nomination. To nominate a T.A from Biol 1001 or 1009, contact Bruce Fall, or 612-625-4391. For all other CBS courses, contact Jane Phillips, or 612-624-2789. Awards will be presented at commencement this spring.

Even Mother Nature Loves Maroon and Gold.

This year’s “Even Mother Nature Loves Maroon and Gold” posters feature the photography of U alumnus Jim Brandenburg. The posters show a whitetail fawn bathed in early morning light near Brandenburg’s family house in southwestern Minnesota. Posters can be picked up free of charge in 3 Morrill Hall. Note card and envelope sets are also available for a charge.

CBS phone directory

There is now a link to the updated CBS phone directory at the bottom of the home page, Please contact Justin Piehowski,, if you detect any errors or omissions.

New ecological stoichiometry class

Bob Sterner will offer one-credit course next semester to discuss his new book Ecological Stoichiometry: the Biology of Elements from Molecules to the Biosphere (2002, Princeton University Press). The book explores how ecology and evolution can be understood by considering organism interaction as a mass-balanced chemical reaction. The course number is EEB 8990. The first chapter of the book is available online:


Sharon Jansa, EEB, received $100,000 from the National Science Foundation to reconstruct the evolutionary relationships among South American marsupials using DNA sequences from several nuclear genes

Sara Vetter, graduate student in Microbiology, will receive the 2003 Raymond Sarber Award from the American Society for Microbiology. The Sarber Award recognizes academic achievement, outstanding research accomplishments, and potential. Vetter will receive a $1,000 cash prize.

Bobbi Sislo and the Biological Sciences Student Association collected over 1,160 lbs. of canned and dry food “trick or canning” on Halloween in the neighborhood near the St Paul campus. The food was donated to Sharing Korner, a local charity.

Events & Seminars

December 5
Understanding Neurodegenerative Disease Through the Use of Cell and Animal Models: Studies of the Polyglutamine Repeat Disease Spinals and Bulbar Muscular Atrophy
Diane Merry, Thomas Jefferson University
12 noon, 2-101 BSBE
Contact: Laura Ranum, 624-0901

December 12
Genetics and Genomics of Autoimmune Disease
Kathy Moser, Institute of Human Genetics
12 noon, 2-101 BSBE
Contact:Meg Titus: 625-8498

December 19
All College Meeting
12 noon, 239 Gortner
Contact: Alaine Siniff,

February 12
NSF Workshop
7:30 a.m. rooms 135 B and D, Earle Brown Center

March 6
Presentation of Outstanding Achievement Award to Douglas DeMaster,
Ph.D. '78 EEB, Director of Alaska Fisheries Science Center.
Lecture, "Impossible Problems, Improbable Solutions: The Life of a Wildlife Biologist in a Federal Regulatory Agency," to follow.
4 p.m., Earle Brown Center
Contact: Lija Greenseid,