April/May 2014

duck track iconNote from the Department Head 

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

This year, with our group of new graduates, the network of FWCB Alumni will top 1000. The Class of 2014, 40-or-so newly minted BS, MS, and PhDs, join 970 people who have gone on to do so many interesting things since graduating from Minnesota. A high proportion of our alumni are biologists, scientists, analysts, and technicians for a wide array of state, federal, local and tribal governments. Many have leadership roles in these organizations, serving as directors or managers. FWCB alumni work at zoos, non-profit organizations, and educational institutions. A few dozen are university professors and about the same number lead private companies. Just about every occupation is represented in our alumni network, including farming, health care, criminal justice, the trades, and the armed forces. Service in the public sector is a very common career path for many FWCB grads, often as natural resource professionals, but also as elected officials. One of our grads currently serves in the US House of Representatives; many others hold or have held local elected offices. Of course, some of our alumni are retired and hopefully enjoying well-deserved opportunities for outdoor pursuits! 

Most of our graduates stayed in—or have returned to -- Minnesota, although nearly 100 are based in Wisconsin. If you planned a journey to encounter the greatest number of alumni, where would it lead? You’d travel from Minnesota and Wisconsin to Washington, California, Michigan, Colorado and Alaska (in that order). All told, there are FWCB alumni in 43 states and 17 countries.

An alumni network is a vital part of university academic programs and departments, like FWCB. Alumni serve as career mentors to current students and help with the transition to professional life. Some alumni support FWCB students through scholarship donations. Alumni promote FWCB by telling friends, neighbors, and elected officials about our educational and research programs. Alumni also have opportunities to create a culture favorable to conservation of fish and wildlife species and habitats—which is at the heart of the FWCB Department and its programs.

We want to ensure our FWCB alumni can stay connected –or reconnect-- to the department. So, starting with this newsletter, we’ve expanded our email list to include everyone in the University of Minnesota’s alumni database affiliated with FWCB. That means about 700 of you are getting this newsletter for the first time. The newsletter comes out six times a year --you view the past issues on the FWCB Department website. We also want to help you stay in contact with each other—so we’ve launched a FWCB Alumni Facebook page.

And, to all of our alumni, as well as friends, if you are nearby—stop in –we’d love to hear what you are up to….and share a little of we’re been doing recently.

Keep in touch!

 Sue's signature

Sue Galatowitsch
FWCB Department Head  


photo of Rocky Gutierrez

Rocky Gutierrez was recently selected to be a TWS Fellow. The Wildlife Society Fellows are appointed for life and serve as ambassadors of The Wildlife Society. As such, they are encouraged to engage in outreach and other activities that will benefit and promote The Wildlife Society and the wildlife profession. The Award Ceremony will be held in October during The Wildlife Society's 21st Annual Conference in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.

photo of James Forester

The latest issue of the Solutions magazine features the research of James Forester (Assistant Professor) and his team, who are working with the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources and The Grand Portage Band of the Lake Superior Chippewa to figure out why so many moose are dying. Forester’s team is focusing on the role of diet and habitat.


photo of Josh Egan

Graduate student Josh Egan was awarded a three year National Science Foundation (NSF) Graduate Research Fellowship. Josh, a Conservation Biology PhD student advised by Professor Andrew Simons, is investigating the evolution of clupeiform fishes (e.g., anchovies, herrings, sardines). Josh also recently received a doctoral research grant from the University of Minnesota’s Interdisciplinary Center for the Study of Global Change.

photo of Jennifer Cochran Biederman

Jennifer Cochran Biederman is a featured author on the “Fisheries Blog”. In her article, “Earning a PhD: A Family Affair”, Jennifer reflects on the rewards and challenges of being a fisheries scientist and new mom. Jennifer, pictured right, studies coldwater streams, supported by funding from Austen Cargill. She is advised by Assistant Coop Leader and Professor Bruce Vondracek. Click here to read her article.

Undergraduate James Weagley presented his research, Trophic Morphology of a Near Shore Marine Fish Family, Blennidae, at the National Conference for Undergraduate Research. The 2014 meeting was held in Lexington, Kentucky, April 3-5, and was attended by more than 4,000 undergraduate students and mentors. James is mentored by Professor Andrew Simons and graduate student, Peter Hundt.

duck track iconALUMNI HIGHLIGHTS

photo of Erika Rivers

Erika Rivers (PhD, Conservation Biology, ‘09) has been appointed Director of the Parks and Trails Division of the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources. In her current position as an Assistant Commissioner at the DNR, Rivers oversees the development of strategic plans, development planning for the Fort Snelling Upper Post, Lake Vermilion State Park and La Salle Lake State Recreation Area, and the initiation of Phase II of off-highway vehicle system planning. She also helped facilitate collaboration between the Met Council, DNR and greater Minnesota on planning and allocation of the Parks and Trails Legacy funding that was approved by Minnesota voters in 2008. Rivers will oversee a $103 million annual budget and a staff of 1,200 full- and part-time employees. State parks and trails host more than 9 million visitors each year.

Seth Stapleton’s (PhD, Conservation Biology, ’13) work to develop a new technique to monitor polar populations “from space” was highlighted in several local and national media outlets in Canada and Nunavet Territories.
Nunatsiaq News Online
Ottawa Citizen


The 2014 Kolshorn Lecture will be held October 6, 2014 on the Saint Paul Campus. This year’s speaker is Dr. Steven Cooke. Dr. Cooke is an Associate Professor and Canada Research Chair of Environmental Science and Biology at Carleton University (Ottawa, Ontario), in the field of fish ecology and conservation physiology. He is also an Adjunct Professor in the Biology Department at the University of Waterloo and an Affiliate Research Scientist at the Illinois Natural History Survey.

FWCB will present the First Annual Distinguished Alumni Award at the Kolshorn Lecture. 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. The candidate should have received either their baccalaureate degree through the Department of Fisheries, Wildlife and Conservation Biology, or their graduate degree from a faculty of the Department of Fisheries, Wildlife and Conservation Biology. 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 June 15, 2014.

The First Annual Conservation Biology Research Spotlight Fundraiser, held on March 31, raised more than $700 for the Conservation Biology Student Travel Fund! The evening featured a happy hour poster session, a shared light dinner, a series of short student research talks and a silent auction. Hope to see many of you back again next year, as well as some new faces too.

stylized graphic University of Minnesota logo

Warm weather is just around the corner --- it’s a good time to get an FWCB T-shirt! Order by June 1 and we’ll ship it to you free! Contact Tomi (olayi001@umn.edu) to order—they are $12 each.

duck track iconGIVING

There are many different ways to support students, faculty research and the FWCB Department. More about scholarship and research funds can be found on the FWCB website.

If you would like to discuss giving to the FWCB Department, please contact Sue Galatowitsch (612-624-3242, galat001@umn.edu) or Cynthia Cashman (612-624-7489, cashman@umn.edu) in the CFANS Development office. Thanks to all of our past supporters!

 photo of bison on the road, viewed from vehicle, Yellowstone National Park

Getting "bisoned" is a highlight of every FWCB Yellowstone Trip (March 2014)