NOTES FROM THE DEPARTMENT HEAD
Dear FWCB Alumni, Friends, Students and Staff-
Each fall we welcome a new group of graduate students to the FWCB Department. They come with aspirations of becoming experts in their chosen fields and with hope that their graduate studies will launch careers as researchers, teachers and conservation leaders. These graduate students bring enthusiasm and life experiences to our department - a truly energizing force!
This year our incoming group of graduate students is the largest in many years – 21. Their interests are diverse: population modeling, avian conservation, human dimensions of natural resources, citizen science, aquatic invasive species and monarch biology to name a few. About an equal number of these students plan to earn MS and PhD degrees. Some are beginning their studies immediately following undergraduate degrees but most are coming from positions in agencies, non-profit organizations or universities. A few will be working on their graduate degrees while continuing in their professional positions, which is not an easy feat.
Our new graduate cohort is nearly double the number we typically recruit. What’s behind the boost? The main factor is research funding. When FWCB faculty are successful at obtaining major research grants, they provide opportunities for graduate students. The cost of earning a MS or PhD is much higher than a BS—the tuition rate is significantly higher and doing research (required for graduate degrees in our field) can be expensive. Nearly all FWCB graduate students are supported by research assistantships arranged by faculty advisers. Graduate research assistants contribute to their team’s research program, work on their own research, and their assistantships cover their tuition and provide a modest salary.
Another reason we could recruit so many promising graduate students is because we already have great graduate students! Year in and year out FWCB attracts amazing students often with considerable professional experience and from many parts of the US and the world. These students form a wonderful peer-network. As is often said, most of what you learn in graduate school depends on your fellow graduate students.
This year’s group of graduate students was so large we ran out of office space. It created a bit of a scramble this past summer, prompting some room renovations to add desks and data lines. We were ready in time for their arrival which is good because it’s clear they wanted to get going! Just weeks into the new academic year, some are already in the field gathering research data and all are in the classroom getting used to being students again.
We wish all of our graduate students a rewarding and productive time at the University and in FWCB. Watch for highlights of their accomplishments in coming newsletters—first as students, and eventually as alumni!
ANNOUNCEMENTS & EVENTS
Check out the new Fisheries, Wildlife and Conservation Biology Department website (link here)! Not only does it look good, our new site makes it easier to learn about our programs and keep up with what’s going on. Other great ways to stay connected is to follow FWCB on Twitter @UMNFWCB and Facebook.
Twelve undergraduate and five graduate students were honored at the recent Kolshorn Lecture and Annual Awards Ceremony. Undergraduates receiving scholarships were Gabriella Barnas, Zachary Dickhausen, Cody Hinton, Tom Lake, Hannah Leeper, Paul Leingang, Michael Ocasio, Kayla Stampfle, Daniel Simpson, Nicholas Vang, Cullen Williams-Freier, and Peter Xiong. Sergey Berg, Annie Bracey, Kelly Nail, David Pavlik and Brittney Yohannes were recognized for their graduate research fellowships.
For his graduate research Nate Banet is tracking the movements of common carp using implanted electronic tags with the hope of developing strategies to control this invasive species. In addition to gathering data useful for management, Nate and his colleagues are learning a lot about this highly successful species. For example, in a single day carp can travel more than 4 miles through multiple lakes when migrating to spawn, a routine they’ll repeat many times through their long lives, which can exceed 50 years. Learn more about his project in the MN Daily and Minnesota Public Radio.
FACULTY & STAFF HIGHLIGHTS
Emeritus Professor Ira Adelman was named as a Fellow of the American Fisheries Society (AFS) at the society’s 145th Annual Meeting in Portland, Oregon in August. Dr. Adelman was recognized for his research on the environmental physiology of fishes, aquatic toxicology, fisheries management, and aquaculture and for his service as president of the American Fisheries Society (2003-2004).
Professor David Smith co-authored a newly published paper in Landscape Ecology, Amur tigers and leopards returning to China: direct evidence and a landscape conservation plan. The existence of tigers and leopards recolonizing habitat in China has spurred the central government and the Jilin provincial government to launch a project to restore 6000 km^2 of forest habitat by providing incentives for local people to shift from forestry and cattle grazing to ecotourism.
The Monarch Lab and Monarch Joint Venture partnered with the U.S Fish and Wildlife Service in August to hold an educational event at the Minnesota Valley Wildlife Refuge. U.S. Senator Amy Klobuchar (D-MN) and U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Director Dan Ashe joined forces to show their support for monarch butterflies, announcing the Service will dedicate $4 million in funding for monarch conservation. The event featured Professor Karen Oberhauser and included hands-on citizen science demonstrations. Participants took part in fun activities for families and young conservationists, focusing on monarch biology, migration and habitat.
KARE11 news featured the work of FWCB Research Assistant Professor Mike McCartney to sequence zebra mussel genome. This groundbreaking research - a partnership between the Minnesota Aquatic Invasive Species Research Center and the University of Minnesota Genomics Center - could help determine the key vulnerabilities of zebra mussels, and how to capitalize on those for control.
Dr. Donald Siniff (PhD, Wildlife, ’67) received the 2015 FWCB Distinguished Alumni Award and gave the Kolshorn lecture on September 28. The FWCB Distinguished Alumni Award recognizes an alumnus/alumna who has attained professional distinction in fisheries, wildlife, conservation biology or related fields as evidenced by outstanding professional achievement on a state, national or international level. Don was recognized for his distinguished career pioneering wildlife movement research and advancing our understanding of Antarctic wildlife species.
Dr. Abby Powell, (PhD Wildlife Conservation ‘92), was recently selected as the Leader of the USGS University of Florida Cooperative Fish and Wildlife Research Unit. Her former position was Assistant Unit Leader – Wildlife, at the Alaska Cooperative Fish and Wildlife Research Unit in Fairbanks. Dr. Powell research focuses on developing strategies for both population- and ecosystem-based conservation for marine birds.
Dr. Olivia LeDee (PhD, Conservation Biology, 2008) was appointed co-Chair of the Advisory Committee on Climate Change and Natural Resource Science. This committee advises the US Secretary of the Interior on science priorities and implementation related to climate change.
Wildlife Conservation Society biologist Jon Slaght (PhD, NRSM-Wildlife, 2011), recently published research findings on the Blakiston’s fish owl. The research highlights the importance of cooperation of the Russian forestry industries for conserving this endangered species.
All the awards given at our Kolshorn Lecture and Awards Ceremony—as well as the lecture itself—were only possible because of private donations. With your support, FWCB can bring more experts to campus for outstanding lectures and support more students and their research.
To contribute to FWCB scholarships or research, please contact Sue Galatowitsch (612-624-3242,firstname.lastname@example.org), FWCB Head or Cynthia Cashman (612-624-7489, email@example.com 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 makes a difference!
In this issue:
- Note from the Dept. Head
- Announcements & Events
- Student Highlights
- Faculty & Staff Highlights
- Alumni Highlights
- Support FWCB!