April/May 2018

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Dear FWCB Alumni, Friends, Students and Staff--

Our newsletter periodically features photos from international courses taught by FWCB faculty. These courses provide great opportunities for our students to become “global- ready,” to be adaptable in cultural settings other than their own, and to be versed in conservation challenges beyond the US. And because our faculty - not “service providers” - teach the classes, international course content can be just as rigorous and challenging as what students experience on campus.

Study abroad courses create learning opportunities not possible in any other context. Let me highlight one example from this semester. Professor Jim Perry is currently teaching his freshman seminar in coral reef management which includes a 10-day session in Belize. As an extension of the seminar, students can opt into a remote collaboration with Marshall Island students. The Marshall Island students who are enrolled in an associate’s degree program at a small college, are also taking a course about reef ecology and management. Both instructors, Jim in Minnesota and Michael in the Marshall Islands, teach their respective courses using a similar format: students learn about reefs by doing research. The Marshall Island students are apprehensive about their English communications skills but are familiar with coral reef animals and plants, having grown up surrounded by the Pacific Ocean. For our students, it’s the reverse—they’re new to reef ecology, but familiar with English.

Izzy BurWith the field station manager in Belize (Mathilde) serving as moderator the two groups of students met via Skype for introductions and briefly shared their plans for research. Midway through both courses, the two groups convened again remotely to discuss lessons learned from their projects. As you would expect, the students from both places learned how challenging it can be to do science so that it yields the knowledge being sought. Their principal insight to date has been the value of process rather than product early in a science experience. They are now working together to draft guidance for next year’s students, offering advice for making the most of their classroom sessions to prepare for the field, how to design and conduct experiments in reef systems, and offering insights about collaborating.

The newsletter photos from our international courses can’t provide a full picture of what students gain from the study abroad experiences created by our faculty. In the coming years we hope to find ways for many more FWCB students to take these courses and find opportunities to expand our offerings. We are in the midst of a strategic planning process to identify the best ways to make this happen.

We know that increasing scholarship assistance would make it possible for many more students to take study abroad courses. Our faculty work hard to keep courses affordable but we want every FWCB student to have access to these opportunities. We’d like to build our international scholarship fund and hope you’ll consider contributing --look for details at the end of this newsletter.

Enjoy reading about what’s been going on in FWCB this past of couple of months…as we patiently wait for spring!

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Just days away! The annual Conservation Sciences Research Spotlight Fundraiser will be held April 18, 2018, 5-7 PM, at the Cargill Building on the Saint Paul Campus. Join us for an evening of Conservation Sciences research and conversation over food and drink, all in support of the Conservation Sciences Graduate Student Travel Fund. The evening will feature student research talks and posters, and a silent auction.  Hearty appetizers and beverages will be served. We hope that you'll join us in our efforts to take student research beyond the walls of the University -- RSVP now!

The 2018 Natural Resources Association of Graduate Students Annual Symposium will be held on Wednesday, April 25th, from 9am to 2pm in room 105 Cargill Building, on the Saint Paul Campus. The NRAGS Symposium is a student-led event designed to showcase natural resource work from across departments. 

Adjunct Professor Dave Mech is presenting a webinar “Do Wolves Reduce Moose and Caribou Numbers?” for the International Wolf Center on May 23 at 5:00 p.m.

Save the Date! The Annual Kolshorn Lecture and Awards Ceremony will be held September 20, 2018. Events Scheduled 5 - 8:30 pm starting with Award Recognition on St. Paul Campus and Kolshorn Lecture at the new Bell Museum. This year’s lecture will be presented by Dr. Jonathan Losos, Harvard University and Museum of Comparative Zoology. Drawing from his new book, “Improbable Destinies: Fate, Chance and the Future of Evolution,” Dr. Losos explores recent research, including his own pioneering experimental work with lizards on Caribbean islands, to reveal what the latest breakthroughs in evolutionary biology can tell us about one of the greatest ongoing debates in science: is evolution’s path predictable.

Become an AIS Detector in 2018:  Registration is now open for AIS Detectors, a volunteer network and science-based training program launched by the Minnesota Aquatic Invasive Species Research Center in partnership with University of Minnesota Extension. By joining this network of engaged Minnesotans, you’ll receive high-quality, scientist-reviewed training, build your skills in AIS identification and reporting, and become part of the solution to AIS problems in Minnesota.  Details, answers to frequently asked questions, and registration information is available on MAISRC's website

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Congratulations to Kaly Adkins (NRSM ’17 MS ) who was awarded the 2017 Student Conservationist Award and the Bob Fedeler Awards by the Minnesota Chapter of the Wildlife Society at their annual meeting in February. Kaly is advised by David Andersen.

Amanda SamesCongratulations to Amanda Sames (Conservation Sciences PhD student) for being awarded a Presidential Student Leadership and Service Award. This award recognizes the accomplishments and contributions of outstanding student leaders at the University of Minnesota-Twin Cities. Amanda is being recognized for her leadership on the CFANS Grad Student Board, a special task force on graduate academic opportunities that developed comprehensive recommendations for CFANS.

Anne Christianson, (NRSM PhD) received a research award from the Minnesota Consortium on Law and Values in Health, Environment and Life Sciences for her Project, “Examining Ecosystem-based Approaches to Climate Change Adaptation: The Intersection of Gender Capabilities and Biodiversity Conservation’. Anne is advised by Dr. Kristen Nelson.

Erin Schaeffer (MS, Conservation Sciences) and researchers from MN DNR have discovered that muskies thought to be year-round residents of the Saint Louis River migrate into Lake Superior in the fall. Check out the Duluth News Tribune article to read more.

Science Daily recently highlighted Annie Bracey’s (Conservation Sciences PhD student) research on common terns. Annie and her colleagues (including Francie Cuthbert, advisor) discovered that, surprisingly, this species uses migratory staging areas in the inland US and Gulf of Mexico, and winters on the coast of Peru. This information can help inform conservation strategies for common terns which are in decline.

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Francesca CuthbertCongratulations to Professor Francie Cuthbert (pictured right) who received the 2018 CFANS Undergraduate Student Board Outstanding Advisor Award. She will be honored at the 12th Annual Borealis Night of Excellence on April 20. 

Assistant Professor Laura Dee and colleagues were awarded the Innovation in Sustainability Science Award by the Ecological Society of America for their paper, “To what extent can ecosystem services motivate protecting biodiversity?” published in Ecology Letters. This award recognizes the authors of a peer-reviewed paper published in the past five years exemplifying leading-edge work on solution pathways to sustainability challenges. 

Assistant Professor and MAISRC Director Nick Phelps has been selected by Bemidji State University as their 2018 Young Alumni Award winner. Alumni award recipients are nominated by BSU alumni, faculty and staff, friends and colleagues and are selected by the Alumni & Foundation Board of Directors for outstanding achievement in career, public service and/or volunteer activities. 

Minnesota Cooperative Fish and Wildlife Research Unit Assistant Leader and Professor David Fulton gave an invited seminar in February at Texas A&M University entitled, "Values and Sustainability Planning: Implications of a Multilevel, Social-Ecological Systems Approach for Understanding Values," to the Applied Biodiversity Science (ABS) program at Texas A&M University.  The ABS is an interdisciplinary program focusing on biodiversity conservation with participation across 10 departments at Texas A&M University.  In March, David presented an invited address to the National Flyway Council and the Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies at the annual North American Natural Resources and Wildlife Conference in Norfolk, Virginia.  David provided a summary of research findings from his recent study of North American Waterfowl Management Plan stakeholders, conducted across the United States and Canada.

Adjunct Assistant Professor Loren Miller’s research received a high level of press attention in early 2018. The Minneapolis Star Tribune ran an in-depth story on his fish genetics research program and how it affects fisheries management in Minnesota. In a separate story, the Star Tribune reported on Loren’s discovery of crossbreeding between steelhead and Kamloops salmon in Superior North Shore tributary fisheries. The Minnesota Conservation Volunteer highlighted Loren’s work on brook trout genetics in southeastern Minnesota streams.  Loren is a Minnesota Department of Natural Resources fisheries research biologist whose genetics lab is at the University of Minnesota.

Researcher Wesley Glisson, graduate students Mike Verhoeven and Carli Wagner, post-doctoral researcher Ranjan Muthukrishnan, and assistant professor Daniel Larkin recently published a paper in Lake and Reservoir Management on the control of the invasive alga, starry stonewort. This research was conducted in collaboration with the Koronis Lake Association and Blue Water Science, a lake management firm. They found that mechanical and algaecide treatments greatly reduced starry stonewort biomass, but that bulbils – small, star-shaped structures that can regenerate into new plants – remained viable after treatment. The study was recently covered in an article by the Associated Press.

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Andrea Claassen (PhD, Conservation Biology, 2017) is studying river terns in Cambodia. Her work was recently featured in the  Phnom Penh Post. Andrea, who is also a technical advisor at the Royal University of Phnom Penh’s Department of Natural Resources and Development, was advised by Dr. Francie Cuthbert. 

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Your generosity can make a big difference to our students. We'd like to make it possible for more FWCB students to have access to international experiences while pursuing their University of Minnesota degrees. Please consider contributing to our international student scholarship fund or supporting other funds that provide key opportunities for undergraduate or graduate students. To contribute to FWCB, please contact Sue Galatowitsch, FWCB Head, (612-624-3242) or Adam Nance, Chief Development Officer (612-624-7489). 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!

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Principles of Fisheries Science class -- Spring 2018 (photos by Isaiah Tolo)