CFANS e-newsletter

Issue 41- Feb. 16, 2010

CFANS People in the News

Doug TiffanyDoug Tiffany, assistant professor in the Department of Applied Economics, has been named to the state NextGen Energy Board.

Michelle SchermannMichele Schermann, research fellow in the Department of Bioproducts and Biosystems Engineering, is a co-recipient of the USDA Forest Service's 2009 Chief's Honor Award in recognition of her exemplary work related to Hmong Americans' use of public lands for outdoor recreation.

jonathan schillingJonathan Schilling, assistant professor in the Department of Bioproducts and Biosystems Engineering, is one of 69 scientists from across the nation who will receive five-year research grants as part of the U.S. Department of Energy's Early Career Research Program.

The U of M Tourism Center was recently honored as a "Friend of Tourism" by the Minnesota tourism industry.

thor kommerdahlDepartment of Plant Pathology professor emeritus Thor Kommedahl, 89, recently completed his lifetime goal of running the distance of the equator, or 24,955 miles. His achievement will be celebrated at the St. Paul Gym at 2 p.m. Friday, Feb. 19.

































































































































In This Issue

  1. From CFANS dean Allen Levine: Join us for a look into the future
  2. Reich wins 'Frontiers of Knowledge' international award
  3. Borlaug papers will be digitized at U libraries
  4. U of M signs agreement with Moroccan institutions
  5. How the U of M saved the world's wheat
  6. Arboretum art show offers a taste of spring
  7. Beef team takes honors at national competition
  8. Become a CFANS fan on Facebook
  9. Events

From the dean: Join us for a look at the future

Allen LevineOver the past two years, a dedicated group of CFANS faculty, staff, students and alumni have been working on a major redefinition of the undergraduate experience in our college. They’ve studied what works well in other places, talked about what’s appropriate for CFANS and dreamed big about the possibilities.

Now, it’s time to start putting these plans into place. The task forces that began working last February are nearly finished with plans that change how our students learn and complete their undergraduate degrees. At the same time, we have been working on strategic plans for the college’s research and outreach missions. And all of this planning is taking place in an environment where our budgets are being reduced significantly.

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So how does it all fit together?

We have a road map, thanks to these planning efforts, and we are meeting with faculty and staff over the coming weeks to discuss how we can best deal with a reduced budget. At a half-day all-college gathering on Friday, Feb. 26, the undergraduate task force leaders will share their recommendations – with plenty of time for feedback – and college leaders will talk about the big picture, with a strong focus on “where do we go from here?”
I would like to invite all of our stakeholders – faculty, staff and students but also alumni, parents, employers, and anyone who’s interested in the success of CFANS – to attend this important session. If you can’t attend, please feel free to share your thoughts about these plans with me at

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Reich wins 'Frontiers of Knowledge' award

Peter ReichDepartment of Forest Resources professor Peter Reich recently was named this year’s winner of the prestigious BBVA Foundation Frontiers of Knowledge award in ecology and conservation biology. Reich, a Regents Professor, was honored for his work in global metabolic plant ecology, most notably his discovery of universal rules of leaf design and related scaling of plant physiology from seedling to tree, from cell to ecosystem, and from the stand to the globe.

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Borlaug papers will be digitized at U of M libraries

The University of Minnesota Libraries have been awarded funds to digitize the papers of Norman Borlaug and related historical materials from the University Archives. Digitizing the material will make it easily accessible to scholars from around the world.
Fifty-eight boxes of archival material will be digitized, including five decades of field notebooks, the pocket-sized books in which Borlaug documented his travel and work in the field in Mexico, South America, Africa, the Middle East, South and South East Asia and Eastern Europe. Other items include Borlaug's correspondence with colleagues, mentors and world leaders; talks and writings; multiple drafts of his Nobel acceptance speech; and more than 7,500 photographs from the late 1940s through 2000.

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Papers from some of Borlaug's contemporaries also will be included in the digital collection, including correspondence and photographs from E. C. Stakman, Borlaug’s mentor and longtime head of the Department of Plant Pathology; the papers of Helen Hart, U of M alumna and faculty member, and expert on cereal rust disease; and portions of the John Gibler Papers, U alumnus and colleague of Borlaug’s at the Rockefeller Foundation.

Borlaug -- who received his bachelor's, master's and doctorate degrees in CFANS -- was a world-renowned plant pathologist and humanitarian who won the 1970 Nobel Peace Prize in recognition of his development of the high-yield, disease resistant wheat that is credited with saving billions of people from starvation. He died in 2009.

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Agreement will spur exchanges with Morocco

University of Minnesota officials have signed a new agreement between the university and four institutions in Morocco. The new partnership is intended to support faculty and student exchanges between CFANS and the College of Veterinary Medicine and the Moroccan schools. In particular, the partnership will focus on collaborative experiences for training doctoral students through their research programs and joint participation on oral exam committees for the students. 

The agreement was signed in December as the culmination of three visits to the West African country by university officials last year. Over time, leaders hope that the partnership will expand to meeting the educational and research needs of other countries in French-speaking West Africa based on the expertise found at both institutions.

Collaborating institutions include the Institute of Agronomy and Veterinary Medicine, Hassan II; the National School of Agriculture; the National School of Forestry Engineers and the National Institute for Agricultural Research, which form a consortium within the Ministry of Agriculture.

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How the U of M saved the world's wheat

viking book"Bringing Science to the People: Minnesota's Incomparable Legacy in Saving the World's Wheat," will be presented by author Susan Dworkin, author of the new book "The Viking in the Wheat Field." The book tells the story of how CFANS alumnus Bent Skovmand spent his career collecting and documenting thousands of wheat varieties so that they would be safe from disease and climate stress. Before his death in 2007, Skovmand founded the Svalbard International Seed Vault, also called the "Doomsday Vault," to preserve seeds in case of worldwide disaster.

Dworkin's lecture and a panel discussion will be from 3 to 4:30 p.m. Thursday, March 4, in the Cargill Building on the St. Paul campus. She'll also sign books at the Coffman Memorial Union bookstore from 4 to 5 p.m. March 3.

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Arboretum art show offers taste of spring

applesMinnesotans who have had enough winter, take heart: the Minnesota Landscape Arboretum’s Reedy Gallery is blooming with gorgeous flowers in vivid  hues at the “Flowers Fantastique” exhibit, which runs through May 31. All artworks will be available for sale and a portion of sale proceeds benefit the arboretum. For even more flowers, visitors can see a display of “orchids fantastic” in the Great Hall of the Oswald Visitor Center through March 14.   More than 150 orchids – including many unique species and hybrids – will be featured, courtesy of Jerry Fischer and Orchids Limited greenhouse of Plymouth, Minn. Both exhibits are free with Arboretum gate admission ($9 adults; free for ages 15 and younger and free for members).

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Beef team takes honors at national competition

beef team Students brought home Reserve top honors from the National Western Stock Show Collegiate Judging Contest in January. Team members include (left to right) coach Greg Harder, Matte Pearson, Justin Johnston, Amanda Zwieg, Tyler Evink, Brandi Modene, Dan Fox, Lakyn Lind, Andy Kryzer and coach Kyle Rozeboom.

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CFANS is on Twitter and Facebook

CFANS now has its very own fan page on Facebook and we need more fans! Of course you also can follow college research news and events on Twitter. And CFANS Alumni & Friends also is on Facebook, with updates and details on alumni/friends gatherings.

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Here are a few coming events of interest to the College of Food, Agricultural and Natural Resource Sciences community. Visit to see more events.

'Unquenchable: America’s Water Crisis
and What to Do About It'

Monday, Feb. 22, 7 to 9 p.m.
St. Paul Student Center theater
Robert Glennon, author of “Unquenchable: America’s Water Crisis and What to Do About It” will give a public lecture, followed by a panel of Minnesota water experts. Robert Elde, dean of the College of Biological Sciences, and Gene Merriam, president of the Freshwater Society, will moderate. The free lecture kicks off the Moos Family Speaker Series, which is co-sponsored by the Freshwater Society and the College of Biological Sciences. For details and to register, go to

Sustainable Communities
Interdisciplinary Lecture

Tuesday, Feb. 23, 3 to 5 p.m.
Humphrey Center, University of Minnesota West Bank
Sustainable community design and development expert Joachim Eble, founder and director of Joachim Eble-Architektur in Tübingen, Germany, is known as "the grandfather of green building" in Germany. His lecture will be followed by a panel including College of Design dean Thomas Fischer; Institute on the Environment director Jon Foley and Mary Jo Kreitzer, director of the campus Center for Spirituality and Healing. There is no cost to attend but pre-registration is required.

21st Century Agriculture: Balancing Productivity and Conservation in a Changing Environment

Tuesday, Feb. 23, 8:30 a.m. to 4:15 p.m.
Cargill Building, St. Paul campus, University of Minnesota

The symposium is part of the centennial celebration in the Department of Agronomy and Plant Genetics. Speakers wiill examine how current
research is addressing emerging environmental challenges and facilitate a
discussion regarding the role of the agricultural research
community at the University of Minnesota and around the world. Speakers are from Monsanto, Pioneer and several research universities. The symposium is free, but pre-registration is required. Sponsors include the Minnesota Soybean Research Council.

Frontiers in the Environment:
"Eyewitness to Global Warming”

Wednesday, Feb. 24, noon to 1 p.m.
St. Paul Student Center, University of Minnesota

Explorer Will Steger will offer a vivid account of the changes he's witnessed firsthand, caused by global warming pollutants, in Arctic regions over four decades of polar exploration. In this seminar sponsored by the university's Institute on the Environment, Steger shares stunning photographs from his expeditions along with compelling data, satellite imagery and multimedia videos to document the deterioration in the polar ice caps. While the issue is critical, and the presentation is dramatic, Steger’s message is one of hope and empowerment. His lecture is free and open to the public.

Horticulture Day

Saturday, March 6, 8:30 a.m. to 3:15 p.m.
Southern Research and Outreach Center, Waseca
Learn the latest in gardening and preservation techniques at the center's 16th annual Horticulture Day. This year's theme is “Vegetable Gardening: ABC to XYZ,” with seminars on soil, planning, planting and preserving as well as a photo contest. Registration is required by Feb. 19 and costs $25 per person ($15 for a spouse) and includes lunch and handout materials.

Plant Breeding in the Genomics
and Post-Genomics Era

Monday, March 15, 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.
Cargill Center for Microbial and Plant Genomics, St. Paul campus
The annual symposium organized by the graduate students in the Applied Plant Sciences program is sponsored by Pioneer Hi-Bred International, Inc. Featured speakers include Rex Bernardo and Bob Stupar from the U of M as well as Shawn Mansfield from the University of British Columbia; Stephen Moose, University of Illinois; and Martin Arbelbide, Pioneer. The seminar is free but pre-registration is requested.

Cafe Scientifique: Food Safety and Food Defense

Tuesday, March 16, 2010, 7 p.m.
Bryant-Lake Bowl Theater, Minneapolis
Examine food's role in public safety with Koel Ghosh, a research fellow at The Food Industry Center in the University's Department of Applied Economics who studies food safety, food health and food defense. From accidental contamination to deliberate food terrorism, the discussion will look at ways food affects our health and safety. Tickets are $5-$12; call (612) 825-8949 for reservations.

From Hybrid Corn to HoneyCrisps:
University Agricultural Success Stories

Runs through May 9
Bell Museum of Natural History

For more than 100 years, the University of Minnesota Agricultural Experiment Station has improved food and food production in Minnesota and around the world. Since 1978, David Hansen has documented these experiment station success stories through his vivid and award-winning photography.

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