October/November 2018

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Dear FWCB Alumni, Friends, Students and Staff--

As I write this, the department is getting ready to host our external review in November. An external review is a big deal, and it only happens about once a decade. The University brings in a review team of faculty from around the country and they spend two days meeting with faculty, staff and students, and touring our facilities.  The review team then puts together a document that offers suggestions for improving our programs and helps us create a strategic plan for the coming years. The first step in this review process actually started about six months ago when the FWCB faculty began a “self-study,” a comprehensive assessment of our research, educational, and outreach programs. We just completed that study last month and sent it off to the review team.  It has been a valuable opportunity to take stock of all of the various things we do and to get a better appreciation of who we are as a community of faculty, staff, and students.

Here are a few statistics, and excerpts from the 60-page FWCB Self Study, which you may find interesting:

    • The number of faculty and staff in the department has grown by 30% over the past ten years and now includes 65 faculty, research staff, and administrative staff. For the Department as a whole, gender composition approaches parity with 42% female and 58% male members.
    • FWCB has become increasingly reliant on external funding. Between 2009 and 2017, the proportion of funds from external sources grew from 48% to 63%.
    • FWCB has significant research strength in five areas: 1) organismal and population ecology, 2) quantitative methods, 3) biodiversity science and ecosystem services, 4)  human dimensions of natural resources, and 5) restoration of ecosystems and populations.
    • Over the past ten years, the FWCB undergraduate major experienced a variable but overall upward trend in enrollment and is currently at 169 students. Approximately two-thirds of FWCB undergraduates are transfer students rather than admitted as freshman.
    • Females currently compose 60-65% of our undergraduate student body. The number of students of color has increased from less than 10% in 2007 to 20% in 2017.
    • Over the past six years, an average of 42 undergraduates per year completed the B.S. in Fisheries, Wildlife, and Conservation Biology.
    • The Conservation Sciences graduate program currently has 24 female and 27 male students; six are international students from Brazil, Chile, China, Colombia, Italy, and Taiwan).
    • Approximately 80% of students completing graduate degrees in the past ten years are employed in professional or scientific positions related to their degree. Half of all M.S. and PhD. graduates work in government, non-governmental organizations, or private consulting positions. Approximately one-fourth of PhD graduates are in academic positions.
    • Extension initiatives anchored in the department fall into four main program areas: 1) conservation education, 2) citizen science, 3) ecological restoration and management, and 4) aquaculture and fish health. 
    • Since its founding in 2005, the Minnesota Master Naturalist Program has enrolled more than 2,200 people who have offered more than 395,446 hours of volunteer service, stewarding 3.4 million acres of natural areas.
    • The Aquatic Invasive Species Detectors program, launched in spring 2017 trained 217 AIS people in its first year who contributed over 4,000 volunteer service hours.
    • FWCB curatorial faculty disseminate collections-based information through the Minnesota Biodiversity Atlas, an online database with over five terabytes of data from the museum’s botanical and zoological collections, and serves as a resource on biodiversity to researchers and managers across the state and beyond. The Bell Museum is the official repository for all animal and plant species collected by Minnesota’s state agencies.

    We are looking forward to the next phase of the review, which consists of three days of in-depth discussions with reviewers, and to their fresh perspectives about our programs!

    Enjoy fall!



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    We need your excess sporting goods! 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 spring. We need a lot of gear to make this class a success. If you have unused sporting goods in working condition that you would 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. Our full list can be found here.

    The FWCB Driven to Discover project led by Professor Rob Blair and Adjunct Professor Karen Oberhauser has just published four curricula for using citizen science in middle school and high school classrooms.  The curricula cover 1) Birding and eBird, 2) Dragonflies and Odonata Central 3) Pollinators and the Great Sunflower Project, and 4) Phenology and Nature’s Notebook. Each is approximately 130 pp long. Digital copies are available for downloads.

    The 2018 Kolshorn Lecture and Awards Ceremony was held on September 18. This year’s lecture, Fate or Chance: Is Evolution Predictable, and Were Humans an Inevitable Result?” was presented to a packed house at the Bell Museum by Dr. Jonathan Losos of Washington University. Jeff Nelson received the 2018 Distinguished Alumni Award and Olivia LeDee received the Early Career Alumni Award. Sixteen graduate and undergraduate fellowship and scholarship awardees were also recognized.

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    Undergraduate Alex Franzen was awarded a scholarship from the Minnesota Division of the Izaak Walton League. The Minnesota Division of the Izaak Walton League awards scholarships to students in Environmental Education, Environmental Law, Wildlife Management or a program whose primary focus is natural resources management, renewable energy, water resources science, or other environmental sciences.

    Graduate student Ellen Candler, advised by Associate Professor Joseph Bump, is doing research to better understand what and when animals use deer gut piles provided by hunters across Minnesota. Listen to a radio interview with Ellen Candler.

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    The University’s new “Driven to Discover” Campaign features eight new initiatives, including Aquatic Invasive Species Detectors, led by Assistant Professor/Extension Specialist Dan Larkin and Extension Educator Megan Weber. Meet some detectors and watch them at work.

    On October 5, Assistant Professor Nick Phelps was honored as Bemidji State’s Outstanding Young Alumni Award winner. Dr. Phelps was featured in various events during BSU’s homecoming festivities, including riding in a VIP float. This could be a photo of Nick on the float, but we have been unable to confirm…

    Assistant Professor Laura Dee attended the All Scientists meeting for Long Term Ecological Research Network in Pacific Grove, California.  Dr. Dee led a workshop on the consequences of biodiversity change, Scaling-Up Productivity Responses to Changes in Biodiversity.” 

    Adjunct Professor Gerald Ankley, scientist with the Environmental Protection Agency, was named a finalist for the prestigious Samuel Heyman Service to America Award. Dr. Ankley was recognized for his career achievements at the forefront of understanding the fate of pollutants such as PCBs and dioxin, which provided the basis for improved regulation and the cleanup of these highly toxic substances. Dr. Ankley has created novel methods to provide information about water, water-dwelling organisms and water-borne chemicals. These methods and the data they produce, have streamlined the process of distinguishing harmful chemicals from benign ones.

    Adjunct Associate Professor Loren Miller (DNR Fisheries Research) was inducted into the Burnsville (MN) High School Hall of Fame Sept 14. Inductees are recognized for exceptional achievements in their field, significant contributions to Burnsville High School and/or unique contributions to their community on a local, state, national or international level. The Burnsville High School principal nominated Loren for his accomplishments in fisheries genetics.

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    We depend on your generosity to provide student scholarships, to bring visiting scholars to campus for special lectures, and even to upgrade our field gear and laboratories. To contribute to FWCB, 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.

    Thanks to everyone who supports FWCB with contributions to funds that provide scholarships, fellowships, research and lectures. Your gift truly makes a difference!

    FW 1001 students at the Cloquet Fall Orientation

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    In this issue:

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