August/September 2013

duck track iconNote from the Department Head 

Department Head, Susan M GalatowitschDear FWCB Alumni, Friends, Students, and Staff—

The Department of Fisheries, Wildlife, and Conservation Biology is 30 years old this year! In 1982 the Entomology, Fisheries and Wildlife Department split into two separate academic units. Since then, both departments have based in Hodson Hall with adjacent offices. Over these past decades the department has grown and now consists of 20 faculty members, 30 staff and 50 graduate students. Because Hodson Hall has not been big enough to support our department’s growth, FWCB faculty and students are scattered across the Saint Paul campus in eight buildings!

So as you can imagine, we were very happy when our college (Food, Agricultural and Natural Resource Sciences) decided to make improving FWCB’s space a priority. The outcome of six months of planning will be that our faculty, staff and students will be nearly all housed in two buildings, Skok and Hodson Halls (a few people will remain Green Hall, adjacent to Skok and in Ecology). Another benefit will be the new FWCB Department Office, which has already opened in 135 Skok Hall, is centrally located, easy to find and has its own conference room. The faculty, staff and students will be moving into their new offices during September and October.

One impetus for improving FWCB’s space is the new Aquatic Invasive Species Center which was established this past year with a major appropriation from the Legislative and Citizen Commission on Minnesota Resources (i.e., “lottery funds”). Moving our departmental office to Skok is the first in of a series of changes that ultimately frees up some critical space for the AIS. The AIS will rely on research and fish holding facilities in two buildings (one is Hodson), while their administrative office and most of their staff and students will be based in an adjacent building (the NC Station).

I hope that by the time the first snow flies both the FWCB Department and AIS Center will be settled in their new facilities. Much work remains, though. While this opportunity is a significant improvement for FWCB we need to modernize and expand our research lab facilities. And, of course, we would like to have everyone located in a single building or adjacent ones. Minnesota depends on a productive and vibrant Fisheries, Wildlife and Conservation Biology Department. Sound and functional facilities are crucial to our research productivity and teaching excellence. Wouldn’t it be wonderful if we reached these bigger goals by our 40th anniversary?

 Sue's signature

Sue Galatowitsch
FWCB Department Head

duck track iconSpecial Event

Duane Chapman, a research biologist who is a national leader in efforts to study, control and prevent the spread of Asian carp, will deliver a free, public lecture in St. Paul on Oct. 8.

Chapman's lecture, titled “The Biology and Management of Asian Carp: Lessons for Minnesota,” will be at 7 p.m. Tuesday, Oct. 8, in the theater of the Student Center on the University of Minnesota’s St. Paul campus. The Student Center is at 2017 Buford Ave. 

The lecture is sponsored by the Freshwater Society, the University of Minnesota College of Biological Sciences, the Minnesota Aquatic Invasive Species Research Center at the university, and the university’s College of Food, Agricultural and Natural Resource Sciences.

Register to attend at

duck track iconFaculty and Staff Highlights

 photo of Dr. Karen Oberhauser

Dr. Karen Oberhauser gets White House honor

Monarch butterfly expert Karen Oberhauser, a professor in the Fisheries, Wildlife, and Conservation Biology department at the University of Minnesota, has been honored by the White House for her work in “citizen science.” Oberhauser was honored June 25 at a ceremony in Washington, D.C., as a White House “Champion of Change.” The program honors Americans who are doing extraordinary things in their communities. Oberhauser said, “I feel that the award is for the entire monarch citizen science community, which includes hundreds or even thousands of volunteers." Star Tribune

duck track iconStudent Highlights

Conservation Biology students’ research finds unexpected benefits of climate change to penguins.

A recent study found that over the last 60 years, a colony of the birds on Beaufort Island in the Ross Sea, south of New Zealand, increased by 84 percent, from 35,000 breeding pairs to 64,000 breeding pairs. This increase has come as glaciers have retreated from the island, leaving more bare, snow-free ground, where the penguins make their nests. Michelle LaRue, PhD student in Conservation Biology, is a co-author of the study. UPI

FWCB welcomes new students to the department.

Seven students are joining FWCB to pursue graduate degrees:

  • Nathan Banet, Conservation Biology MS program, Peter Sorensen (advisor)
  • Aaron Claus, Conservation Biology MS program, Peter Sorensen (advisor)
  • Megan Cross, Natural Resources Science & Management MS program, David Fulton (advisor)
  • Gunnar Kramer, Natural Resources Science & Management MS program, David Andersen (advisor)
  • Joseph Lechelt, Conservation Biology MS program, Przemek Bajer (advisor)
  • David Pavlik, Conservation Biology MS program, Rob Blair (advisor)
  • Kathryn Swanson, Conservation Biology PhD program, Susan Galatowitsch (advisor)

Thirty-two incoming undergraduates plan to pursue an undergraduate degree in Fisheries, Wildlife, and Conservation Biology. Welcome to these freshmen and transfer students!

Jake Anderson, Peter Anderson, Nicholas Bachman, Gabriella Barnas, Sendrea Best, Melissa Boman, Madeline Carter, Jessica Colbaugh, Sam Delosh, Daniel Dewey, Emily Erhart, Gwendolyn Evans, Megan Gonyea, Lindsey Johnson, Lucas Lagoon, Tom Lake, Daniel Larson, Paul Leingang, Noah Linck, Todd Mielzarek, Bradley Mies, Christorpher Montgomery, Jacob Olbrich, Zachary Peterson, Samantha Schwartz, Vincent Spaid, Kyle Strait, Molly Tima, Grace Van Susteren, Michelle Vohs, Cullen Williams-Freier, Samantha Wolf.

duck track iconAlumni Highlights

Several alumni were featured in major news stories over the past few months:

Promoting sustainability in the Cities

Several University of Minnesota students including Seth Schramm have dedicated their summer to creating a sustainable farm-to-restaurant supply model for a business in South Minneapolis with hopes of transforming the way people think about food. The project started last summer after Julia Frost Nerbonne (PhD, Conservation Biology), Environmental Sustainability and Agriculture and Justice program director for the Higher Education Consortium for Urban Affairs, noticed her students wanted to farm but had no means to do it. Minnesota Daily.

 photo of cormorants

Cormorants and the culture that wants them dead

When should nature be left to take its course? That's a question that surfaced when the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources announced it planned to "control" cormorants on Lake Vermilion. Linda Wires (MS, Conservation Biology), a research fellow at the University of Minnesota's Dept. of Fisheries, Wildlife & Conservation Biology, responded. Minnesota Public Radio

duck track iconGiving

The Fisheries, Wildlife, and Conservation Biology Department thanks an anonymous donor who established a new fund to support graduate students and their research. The Robert L. Jacobson Graduate Award in Prairie and Wetland Restoration will provide financial support to graduate students studying and being trained in the discipline of prairie and wetland restoration. This is the first funded established at the University of Minnesota dedicated to habitat restoration. Bob Jacobson was a UM alumnus who worked as a vegetation specialist with Minnesota Department of Transportation. He pioneered many new techniques in habitat restoration and restored hundreds of acres of Minnesota prairies and wetlands during his career. FWCB welcomes additional donations to this fund. 

If you would like to discuss giving to the FWCB Department, for these or other purposes, please contact Sue Galatowitsch (612-624-3242, or Cynthia Cashman (612-624-7489, in the CFANS Development office. To all the individuals who contributed to FWCB in the past year, thank you!