NOTES FROM THE DEPARTMENT HEAD
Dear Alumni, Friends, Students and Staff-
For many of us, the way we come to know Minnesota's Bell Museum of Natural History is by viewing the exhibits and world famous dioramas of Francis Lee Jaques or by participating in special programs, such as Cafe' Scientifique or Saturday with a Scientist. For many natural history researchers around the world the Bell Museum is known for its scientific collections of more than 4 million specimens of animals and plants. These collections are curated by University of Minnesota faculty who are also researchers and teachers. FWCB is the "home" of two of the Bell Museum's Curators, Dr. Andrew Simons and Dr. Ken Kozak. FWCB's partnership with the Bell Museum of Natural History provides us with exceptional opportunities to study biodiversity, both in Minnesota and around the world.
Bell Museum scientists, including FWCB Faculty Curators, collect specimens to build the museum's biological collections which serve as an international library for scientific research. The fish collection, curated by Dr. Simons, includes specimens from the Menage expedition to the Philippines in the 1890s, fish from Hawaii collected in the early 1900s, and recent Indo-Pacific collections made by his research team. Marine fish from the Pacific Northwest, Gulf of Mexico and Atlantic coast are also well-represented in the fish collection.
In addition to its global collections the Bell Museum is the main repository of collections that document Minnesota's biodiversity. The Bell's amphibian and reptile collection curated by Dr. Ken Kozak is one of the most extensive collections for the Upper Midwest. The mollusk and fish collections are also especially rich for freshwater species in our region. All of these collections are used by researchers as reference materials to confirm identifications they have made during field surveys and to understand the biogeographic history of species. For example, the Bell's frog collection has been critical to researchers investigating the history of frog malformations in the Upper Midwest.
Both Andrew and Ken use collections for phylogeographic research, the study of historic processes that explain the current geographic distributions of species. Andrew's research has focused on the phylogeography of North American freshwater fishes and the evolution of tropic morphological characters in freshwater and marine species. Ken investigates how climate, geology, and other features of the landscape influence patterns of species diversity in temperate and tropical salamanders. The courses they teach, Ichthyology (study of fishes) and Herpetology (study of amphibians and reptiles) also rely on Bell Museum collections.
The Bell Museum of Natural History is entering a period of rapid change. Over the next two years they will build and open a new museum on the Saint Paul Campus. They are currently hiring a new executive director. We anticipate new faculty curators will join the museum to ensure that all of the collections continue to be valuable research resources. FWCB is fortunate that the Bell Museum of Natural History is well-positioned for the future - the museum is central to our mission of understand biodiversity in Minnesota and around the world.
We'll keep you posted about these exciting changes both in the newsletter and on Twitter.
ANNOUNCEMENTS & EVENTS
The Conservation Biology Graduate Program is now the Conservation Sciences Graduate Program. The name change represents the program's multidisciplinary approach for biodiversity conservation and natural resources management. A new Conservation Science Track was added for students interested in the interface of population, species and ecosystem biology with the disciplines of social sciences, education and economics. The Fisheries and Aquatic Biology Track focuses on conservation and management of fisheries and aquatic systems.
Approximately 100 people attended the ribbon-cutting (fish-flipping) ceremony on March 3 for the newly renovated Minnesota Aquatic Invasive Species Research Lab. The new space - with nearly one hundred fish tanks and aquaria, four plant growth chambers, four living streams, and dedicated space for research on invasive plants, invertebrates, fish and pathogens - will be home to cutting-edge research on zebra mussels, curly-leaf pondweed, heterosporis, Asian carp, and more. If you missed the event, you can catch up by watching these videos from WCCO and Kare11.
Jordan Rutter (Conservation Sciences graduate student) is a member of the Communication Team for the North American Ornithological Conference VI (NAOC) slated for August in Washington, DC. NAOC, held every four years, is expected to draw more than 2000 avian researchers including many FWCB faculty, students and alumni. FWCB is an Educational Affiliate of NAOC. To learn more, visit the conference website.
FACULTY & STAFF HIGHLIGHTS
Adjunct Assistant Professor Loren Miller, received the MN DNR Fisheries Employee Recognition Award for Overall Excellence at the recent Fisheries Academy (March 2-3) for his work applying genetic principles and tools to fisheries management questions across Minnesota.
Emeritus Professor Rocky Gutierrez recently received the Raymond F. Dasmann Award for the Professional of the Year by the Western Section of The Wildlife Society. This award recognized his collective body of work that has advanced many aspects of avian conservation and the ecology of spotted owls and ruffed grouse. Dr. Gutierrez is President-Elect of the TWS Western Section.
Assistant Professor Paul Venturelli and Postdoctoral Researcher Ratna Ghosal were featured in the recent issue of CFANS Solutions magazine, which highlighted the research of early career faculty, staff and students. Learn more about Paul's and Ratna's research at these links.
Dr. Anup Joshi (PhD, Conservation Biology) , Coordinator of the Conservation Sciences Graduate Program, is lead author on a new paper published in Science Advances, Tracking Changes and Preventing Losses in Critical Tiger Habitat. The research team collaborated with World Resources Institute to create the Global Forest Watch website, so anyone with internet access can monitor forest loss and gain at 30 m resolution in 76 Tiger conservation landscapes. The data is updated annually.
FWCB is accepting nominations for the Distinguished Alumni Award, which is presented at the Kolshorn Lecture in the fall. This award recognizes an alumnus/alumna who has attained distinction as a professional in fisheries, wildlife, conservation biology or a related field, and has demonstrated outstanding achievement and/or leadership on a community, state, national, or international level. The candidate's education in FWCB should represent a significant portion of his or her total postsecondary education. Nominees cannot be a current member of faculty or staff or a sitting Regent, but retirees are eligible. This award may recognize an individual posthumously. FWCB is accepting nominations online until May 1, 2016.
We depend on your generosity to provide student scholarships, to support graduate student research, and even to upgrade our field gear and laboratories. To contribute to FWCB, please contact Sue Galatowitsch (612-624-3242), email@example.com), FWCB Head, or Cynthia Cashman (612-624-7489), firstname.lastname@example.org in the CFANS Development office. More information about making gifts to the department can be found on the FWCB website.
Thanks to everyone who supports FWCB with contributions to funds that provide scholarships, fellowships, research and lectures. Your gift truly makes a difference!
In this issue:
- Note from the Dept. Head
- Announcements & Events
- Student Highlights
- Faculty & Staff Highlights
- Alumni Highlights
- Support FWCB!