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CBS News - September 27, 2002


Weiblen wins Packard Fellowship
George Weiblen, plant biology, has been selected for a David and Lucille Packard Fellowship. This highly competitive program allows the nation's most promising young scientists and engineers to pursue research with few funding restrictions and limited paperwork. The Packard Foundation invites presidents of 50 universities to nominate two young professors for the awards. Nominations are reviewed by a panel of distinguished scientists who recommend 20 fellows to receive individual grants of $625,000 over five years. The foundation was created by David Packard, co-founder of Hewlett-Packard, and his wife, Lucille Salter Packard, in 1964. Weiblen studies plant systematics, molecular phylogenetics, coevolution, and plant/pollinator interactions. He co-authored a study recently published in Nature that revised the estimated number of arthropod species worldwide from 31 million to between four and six million. Claudia Schmidt-Dannert, BMBB, received a Packard Fellowship last year.

Cedar Creek 60th Anniversary
Nearly 300 people made the trip to Cedar Creek Natural History Area on Saturday, September 21 to help celebrate its 60th anniversary. Speaking at the program, Dean Elde said that Cedar Creek’s biodiversity research plots are better known outside of Minnesota as a symbol of the U than Northrop Mall. David Tilman, CCNHA director, noted that humans now dominate global ecosystems, a dramatic change from 60 years ago. Consequently, the value of Cedar Creek for studying the consequences of human impact has also increased. And David Hamilton, VP for Research, called Cedar Creek a “jewel in the University’s crown.” Activities, which followed the program, included a research update from Tilman, tour of Cedar Bog Lake, demonstration of radio-tracking starring Goldy Gopher, and nature crafts and games for children.

Molecular and Cellular Biology Building Dedication
You’re invited to the dedication for the Molecular and Cellular Biology Building on Wednesday, October 9 at 11:00 a.m. Speakers are Interim President Robert Bruininks, Regent Bryan Neel, AHC Sr. VP Frank Cerra, CBS Dean Bob Elde, Medical School Dean Deborah Powell, and former Governor Arne Carlson. Time capsule contents will be presented; tours and an informal lunch will follow the program. The dedication will be held on the plaza in front of the building, located on Washington Avenue near Church Street.

Itasca Student Weekend
First-year students were welcomed to CBS in style with a special program at Itasca September 13-15. Dean Elde, Dave Biesboer, Jon Ross, Julio Herrera, and Perry Hackett gave presentations on research and opportunities for students. Recreational activities included canoeing and hiking to the headwaters of the Mississippi. Student leaders discussed how to be successful at CBS.  This pilot orientation program, which may be expanded next year, involved 30 new students. Student Services thanks faculty and student leaders who helped make this a success.

Create an opportunity for a CBS student
CBS has raised 82 percent of its $6.1 million goal for Campaign Minnesota, which concludes June 20, 2003. Increasing support for annual and endowed scholarships remains an important goal for CBS. You can make a gift to a current fund or establish a new one with cash, securities, property, or by payroll deduction. Or, you can include CBS in your estate plans. Gifts from faculty, staff, alumni and friends create extraordinary opportunities for students. Private giving is an important tool in a great university. Contact Janene Connelly at 612-624-7496

Forum on the future of U research
University Forum is presenting a series of six fall programs on funding, sponsorship, special interests, and other external forces in the selection of research priorities at the U. Two programs are of particular interest to CBS faculty and graduate students. “Balancing the Life Science Missions of a Land-Grant University, Post 9/11” will be held on October 16 from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. in 135 Earle Brown Center. Panelists will include Alan Hooper, Larry Wackett, and Claudia Schmidt-Dannert, all from BMBB. “Conflicting Roles in the Biomedical Research Agenda” is on October 30, 3 to 5 p.m. in 3-120 MCB. For more information on all six discussions, call 624-0212.

Security alert
The University of Minnesota Police Department has received an alert from the FBI regarding escalated Earth Liberation Front/Animal Liberation Front activities. Please keep all laboratories locked and report any suspicious activity to UMPD (624-3550) immediately. They would much rather investigate a false alarm than respond to a real emergency.

Hamilton, Bloomfield named to top U posts
David Hamilton, GCD, and Victor Bloomfield, BMBB, were asked to fill key Univeristy posts on an interim basis this summer. Hamilton is interim Vice President for Research and Vic Bloomfield is interim Dean of the Graduate School. Interim President Robert Bruininks made the appointments in July to fill the positions left open when Chris Maziar was appointed Provost. Hamilton, former head of the Department of Cell Biology and Neuroanatomy, has held many leadership positions with the University. Most recently, he oversaw planning and implementation of the U’s electronic grants management system. Bloomfield is associate dean and vice provost for research. In the past, he has headed the biochemistry department and chaired the Faculty Consultative Committee.

CBS Homecoming Picnic Cancelled
CBS has cancelled the 2002 Homecoming Picnic scheduled for October 11 because of changes made to the Homecoming schedule resulting from the Minnesota Twins playoff calendar. The bonfire has been moved to October 9 and the football game has been moved to October 10. The parade will take place as scheduled on October 12.
Career Center
“Exploring Careers in the Life Sciences,” a monthly program to enable students to hear life sciences professionals talk about work and career paths, makes its debut next Wednesday, October 2. The first panel will include representatives from health care, environmental management, and a bio-related business. Students are invited for snacks and to meet panelists at 5:00 p.m.; presentations and Q&A are from 5:30-6:30 p.m. This new program is sponsored by the CBS Alumni Relations Office and the Career Center. Topics this semester include resume writing, preparing for a job search, interviewing, and internships.
The Career Center has received more than 70 applications for the Mentor Program, a 50 percent increase over last year!

Bioinformatics open house
Come to the open house for the new Bioinformatics and Research Computing Facility, located in room 13 Snyder Hall, on October 9, 2002 from 9 a.m. - 4 p.m. The lab was created by the Center for Computational Genomics and Bioinformatics and the Imaging Center. Equipment includes a dozen Apple G4 Power Macs, each with dual 1GHz processors and 1.5GB RAM. Contact Bob Milius (

Vote for the U on November 5
On November fifth Minnesotans will elect a governor, 67 state senators, and 134 state representatives. Your voice, united with others, can have a powerful impact on legislative support for the U. The University encourages faculty, staff, students, and alumni to promote the U to candidates and legislators. You can do this in a number of ways: Let candidates know that you expect them to support the U; volunteer time or money to a campaign; and vote on November 5.


Min Ni, plant biology, received a $145,000 grant from the USDA/Cooperative State Research, Education, and Extension Service to study the isolation of phytochrome signaling components.

Aimin Liu, biochemistry, received the Boyer award for excellence in post-doctoral studies on Tuesday, September 24 in a ceremony at the Molecular and Cellular Biology Building. John Lipscomb is Liu’s faculty advisor. The award was established by Paul Boyer, who won the 1997 Nobel Prize in Chemistry for elucidation of the enzymatic mechanism underlying the synthesis of adenosine triphosphate (ATP). Boyer was on the faculty of the biochemistry department from 1945-1957.

Michael Simmons, GCD, received $14,000 from the Minnesota Medical Foundation for a genetics research project.

Jeffrey Schaub, BMBB, received a “Hats Off” award from the University of Minnesota Alumni Association for volunteer efforts related to the end-of-the-year CBS picnic.

Janene Connelly, dean’s office, won a “Hats Off” award for providing leadership in strengthening relationships among students, alumni, and the College of Biological Sciences.

Herbert Jonas, professor emeritus of botany, passed away on September 13 at the age of 87. After emigrating from Germany in 1934, Jonas did research for the U.S. government and the University of Virginia before becoming a professor of pharmacognosy at the University of Minnesota. In 1968, he moved to the Department of Botany, where he remained until 1985. His interests included mineral nutrition and chemotaxonomy.

Alaine Siniff, dean’s office, took a trip down memory lane when she recently cleared out a remote storage room for the CBS Dean’s Office. Siniff, who began her CBS career in 1973 as the dean’s secretary, discovered boxes of minutes and other records that she herself squirreled away decades ago in days when “we saved everything,” adding that “No good deed goes unpunished.” Among the nostalgic items she unearthed was a 1978 copy of “Bioscribe,” the CBS newsletter, in which the birth of her daughter was announced. Some of the records went back to the College’s founding in 1965.

Events & Seminars

  • October 1
    Plant Biology Colloquium Series
    “The genetic basis of life—history of traits in natural Arabidopsis populations,” with David Weiss, Hebrew University of Jerusalem, 3:30 p.m., 335 Borlaug.
  • October 9
    Molecular & Cellular Biology Building Dedication
    11:00 a.m. Program, tours, lunch, time capsule presentation. Washington Avenue near Church Street.
  • October 12-13
    American Society of Microbiology Annual Meeting, North Central Branch
    2-690 Moos Tower.
  • October 23-25
    CBS Imaging Center Workshop
    “Advances in Microwave Specimen Processing for Biological Samples.”
  • November 1-3
    Crown Gall Conference
    For laboratories that work on Agrobacterium tumefaciens, the agent that causes Crown Gall tumor disease. Will be held in 3-120 MCB.
  • November 7
    Mentor Program Kick-Off,
    Ecology 150, 6:00 p.m. Contact CBS Alumni Relations, 612-624-4770