August/September 2018

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This year’s annual Kolshorn lecture and awards event on September 20 is going to be special.  We  have a an outstanding biologist, Jonathan Losos, as our invited speaker, we will honor two alumni (Jeff Nelson and Olivia LeDee) and we will have one of the first university events at the new Bell Museum of Natural History.

We will honor Jeff Nelson as the 2018 FWCB Distinguished Alumnus.  He received his BS in Wildlife in 1979 from the University of Minnesota and his MS from Utah State University in 1982. Jeff has had a tremendous impact on wildlife conservation through his leadership in Ducks Unlimited and the World Wildlife Fund. Jeff was with Ducks Unlimited for 30 years, where he held several key executive positions including Chief Biologist, Director of Operations for the Great Plains program in Bismarck, North Dakota, Executive Vice President and CEO of Ducks Unlimited Canada. Following his first retirement, Jeff served as deputy director of the World Wildlife Fund’s Northern Great Plains Program; a position he held for nearly six years. He advanced habitat conservation and protection in both organizations by building innovative teams, leading successful fundraising campaigns, and forging successful partnerships with tribes, rural communities, landowners, government agencies, and other conservation organizations.

Olivia LeDee is the first recipient of the FWCB Early Career Alumni Award.  Upon receiving her PhD in 2008 from the University of Minnesota in Conservation Biology, she worked with the State of Massachusetts on climate impacts and then joined the Wildlife Working Group of the Wisconsin Initiative on Climate Change Impacts where she developed and led assessments of the future impact of climate change on regional wildlife species. She then became a planning and policy analyst with the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources. In this position, she coordinated fish and wildlife strategic and long-range planning. In 2016, she assumed a leadership position in the U.S. Department of Interior, serving as Deputy Director of the Northeast Climate Science Center. Olivia is currently Acting Federal Director of this center.  Within the first ten years of her career, Olivia has provided crucial leadership and guidance to multiple conservation organizations and agencies formulating strategies to address climate impacts on fish and wildlife.

We look forward to seeing many FWCB alumni, friends, students, staff and faculty at the Kolshorn reception and lecture. It’s a great time to celebrate the accomplishments of our alumni, renew friendships, and reconnect with the FWCB community. More information about the events can be found here.

Hope to see you in September!

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The new Bell Museum of Natural History is the location for the 2018 Kolshorn Lecture and Awards Ceremony, on September 20. This year’s lecture will be presented by Jonathan Losos, Washington University. His lecture, “Fate or Chance: Is Evolution Predictable, and Were Humans an Inevitable Result?” will explore fascinating questions about life on earth including: Are the plants and animals that exist today, and we humans ourselves, predictable inevitabilities or historical flukes, the happy, but improbable, result of the particular chain of events that occurred over Earth’s history? Come hear Dr. Losos reveal what the latest breakthroughs biology say about one of the greatest ongoing debates in science: Is the history of life on earth predictable? Events start with a reception at 5 PM, followed by the awards ceremony (6-6:30), and lecture (6:30-7:30).  Information on location and parking can be found here.

Dr. Losos will give a lecture on his research on Friday at noon in 495 Hodson. This talk is entitled, "Experimental Studies in Evolution: Research on Lizard Adaptation in the Bahamas." More information about the Kolshorn events can be found here.

Dr. Losos is a member of the National Geographic Society’s Committee for Research and Exploration and editor-in-chief of The Princeton Guide to Evolution. He is the author of “Lizards in an Evolutionary Tree: Ecology and Adaptive Radiation of Anoles.” His latest book from Riverhead Books is “Improbable Destinies: Fate, Chance and the Future of Evolution.”

2018 AIS Research and Management Showcase. Join the Minnesota Aquatic Invasive Species Research Center on campus on Wednesday, September 12 for a selection of talks about the latest MAISRC research on starry stonewort, zebra mussels, spiny waterflea, invasive carp, and much more. The breakout sessions schedule is available here. Interact with faculty over lunch, get an inside-peek into our newly renovated lab, hear from MAISRC's newest researchers who are launching projects this summer, and enjoy a poster session reception. This is the best opportunity to learn all about MAISRC's research and the latest in AIS management recommendations. Space is limited and pre-registration is required. Click here to register

Mentor an FWCB Student! Professional networking is important for preparing future conservation leaders. Our CFANS Mentor Program connects students with mentors who provide them with career exploration, professional skill development and networking opportunities. Last year, 19 FWCB undergraduate and graduate students were matched with alumni and professionals. It’s rewarding for all and doesn’t require much time! Register now to be mentor for the 2018-19 academic year.  If you have any questions about mentoring a FWCB student, contact Sue Galatowitsch (, 612-624-3242). Please sign up by September 24.

Thanks to last year’s mentors for FWCB students: Julia Brokaw (UMN), Jerry Cegelske (Ketchikan Gateway Borough), Gretchen Hansen (MN DNR), Jessie Koehle (City of Eagan), Nick McCann (UMN), Shahram Missaghi (UMN), Bruce Monson (MPCA), Brian Nerbonne (MN DNR), Sean O’Connor (MPCA), Kelly Pennington (MN DNR), Jessica Piispanen (USFWS), Leslie Reed (Wildlife Rehabilitation Center), Roberta Ryan (Wildlife Science Center), Marjorie Schleper (UMN College of Veterinary Medicine), Alex Schlueter (UMN), Margaret Shanahan (UMN),  Stephanie Souter (Washington County), Veronique St-Louis (MN DNR), Jennifer Stucker (WEST), Michelle Vohs (UMN), Andrew Von Duyke (North Slope Borough), Erin Williams (National Park Service) and Christine Yaeger (MN DNR).

Where can you learn to dance like a crane, watch a Jim Brandenburg video, and stare down a giant beaver? Only at the “new” Bell Museum of Natural History, which had its grand opening in July. The Bell features Minnesota’s natural history and the U’s research on the environment at a new level—be sure to visit soon.  It’s in the neighborhood now - on the Saint Paul campus.

Back by popular demand is a FWCB course for undergraduates, North American Hunting, Fishing, Trapping, and Gathering Traditions, which will be taught by Dr. Nick McCann this springWe need a lot of gear to make this class a success. If you have unused sporting goods in working condition that you’d like to donate, let us know. Our “wish” list includes a lot of basic gear like compound and recurved bows, deer hunting calls, lures for angling, fishing rods of all kinds, common traps, and decoys.

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Carmen Martin (CS graduate student and FWCB B.S. Alumna) works for Blue Rhino Studio, a local company which specializes in interpretive design and artistic fabrication for museum, visitor center, and zoological environments. Her contributions to exhibits for the new Bell Museum were featured in several news stories related to the grand opening. Learn how Carmen blends her talents in art and conservation science here.

Graduate students Nina Hill (MS-NRSM) and Ami Thompson (PhD-CS) spearheaded the first ever Women in Wildlife (WOW) meeting for the Minnesota Chapter of The Wildlife Society. More than 50 people attended the session at the Chapter meeting in February. It provided an open opportunity for the Minnesota Chapter’s members to meet female biologists, honor their wildlife contributions, consider their needs in the field and share visions for launching WOW as a structured chapter group.

The FWCB Club (a TWS student chapter) had an exceptionally productive year, as summarized in president Jeff Tillery’s update published in the newsletter of the North Center Chapter of The Wildlife Society. The student chapter participated in numerous events this past academic year, including raptor, duck and saw-whet owl banding, track surveys for Canada lynx with the USFS, ice fishing, canoeing, and a deer-aging workshop. Club members also worked with the MN DNR to test for chronic wasting disease in deer, received fire training, attended the TWS meeting (including the quiz bowl), and raised $16,000 to support club activities.

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FWCB welcomes two new faculty members, Gretchen Hansen and Sushma Reddy. Assistant Professor Gretchen Hansen’s research focus is on freshwater lake fisheries. Breckenridge Chair of Ornithology Sushma Reddy will oversee the Bell Museum’s bird collection and research avian diversity.

Professor Francie Cuthbert and her graduate students and undergrads have studied the endangered Great Lakes piping plover population for more than 30 years. The ultimate goal is removal of the population from the endangered species list. On 24 July, seven current and former students attended the End of Season Plover Meeting at the University of Michigan Biological Station and assembled for a photo.

From left: Emily Roach (B.S. Expected 2020); Danielle Brown (B.S. 2018); Sarina Haasken (B.S. 2018); Megan Diamond (B.S. 2017); Breanna DiMartino (B.S. 2017); Liz Weaver Price (M.S. 2002) and Cathy Haffner (M.S. 2005).

Minnesota Cooperative Fish and Wildlife Research Unit Assistant Leader and Professor David Fulton and colleagues’ Conservation Biology paper (2017), “Why social values cannot be changed for the sake of conservation,” was highlighted by the journal as one of top downloaded articles in recent publication history.

MAISRC Director and Assistant Professor Nick Phelps was recently elected to the Great Lakes Panel on Aquatic Nuisance Species. The panel, hosted by the Great Lakes Commission, coordinates education, research, management and policy efforts to prevent new AIS from entering the Great Lakes Basin and to control and mitigate those AIS populations already established. The Great Lakes Panel is one of six regional panels that report to the federal Aquatic Nuisance Species Task Force, which coordinates AIS efforts on a federal level. 

Assistant Professor Laura Dee was an invited participant at CNRS (Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique) - Station d'Ecologie Theorique et Experimentale in Moulis, France for a workshop aimed at advancing our understanding of the impacts of biodiversity change across scales.

Adjunct Professor Gary Ankley and colleagues recently published a critical review in Environmental Toxicology and Chemistry that is making news in Europe. Read the news coverage of their paper, “Toward sustainable environmental quality: priority research questions for Europe.”

Adjunct Professor David Mech will present the closing Keynote Address at the International Wolf Symposium at the Minneapolis Marriott Northwest on Oct. 14, 2018.

FWCB welcomes three new Adjunct Assistant Professors: Derric Pennington, Steve Windels, and Chris Jennelle. Learn more about them on the FWCB website.

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Jeff Nelson (’79 BS Wildlife) will receive the Fisheries, Wildlife and Conservation Biology (FWCB) Distinguished Alumni Award for 2017 at the annual Kolshorn Lecture and Awards Ceremony.  This annual award recognizes an alumnus/alumna who has attained professional distinction in fisheries, wildlife, conservation biology or related field as evidenced by outstanding professional achievement on a state, national, or international level.

Olivia LeDee (’08, Ph.D. Conservation Biology) is the first recipient of the Fisheries, Wildlife and Conservation Biology (FWCB) Early Career Alumni Award. This award recognizes an early-career alumnus or alumna of Fisheries, Wildlife and Conservation Biology who has achieved outstanding accomplishments and is poised to make significant advancements in their field.  She will receive her award at the annual Kolshorn Lecture and Awards Ceremony.

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Thanks to all of those who have supported FWCB scholarships, fellowships, and the Kolshorn Lecture. Your support truly makes a difference and provides opportunities that wouldn’t be possible otherwise.  We’re looking forward to the upcoming FWCB Kolshorn Lecture and Awards Ceremony and recognizing our Distinguished Alumni Award winner. We hope you’ll consider supporting important events like this which are key to the vitality of the FWCB community --alumni and friends, students, staff and faculty.

To support FWCB students, research, or department activities, please contact Sue Galatowitsch, FWCB Head, (612-624-3242) or Adam Nance, Chief Development Officer (612-624-7489) in the CFANS Development office. More information about making gifts to the department can be found on the FWCB website.

A special thanks to our supporters who annually support FWCB with contributions that support our students and our research--you are making a difference!

Carmen Martin working on Bell's giant beaver exhibit.

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In this issue:

  • Note from the Dept. Head
  • Announcements & Events
  • Student Highlights
  • Faculty & Staff Highlights
  • Alumni Highlights