Meet CFANS' newest faculty members
Eleven new tenure-track faculty spanning a wide range of disciplines and expertise are joining CFANS in the 2015-2016 academic year. Here are brief profiles of each of them:
Assistant Professor, Entomology
Before coming to the U of M: Postdoctoral Research Associate at Rutgers University
Research and expertise: My work focuses on native bee communities with a strong emphasis on pollination ecology. I am interested in understanding how habitat factors drive bee biodiversity and how this biodiversity may influence pollination of native plants and crops. In addition, I study how habitat restoration can best contribute to the conservation of native bees and the pollination services they provide.
Teaching: Pollination ecology; insect community ecology; restoration ecology; science ethics and communication; Pollination Ecology (ENT 8061)
Assistant Professor, Horticultural Science
Before coming to the U of M: Post-doctoral research associate, University of Minnesota
Research and expertise: My research focuses on using both traditional and molecular plant breeding approaches to develop improved grape cultivars for cold climate wine production. One key area of research is studying the genetics behind the unique resistances to common grapevine pests such as powdery mildew, phylloxera, downy mildew, and black rot in our hybrid germplasm. Our goal is to develop new grape varieties with multiple resistances so that growers can reduce the amounts of pesticides applied in a season.
Teaching: Hort 1001 Plant Propagation, Hort 1031 Vines and Wines: Introduction to Viticulture and Enology
Assistant Professor, Animal Science
Before coming to the U of M: Postdoctoral fellow at the University of Michigan, School of Public Health
Research and expertise: My research focuses on epigenetics, with emphasis on DNA methylation, and its interaction with the environment. Developmental plasticity and the long-term effects of early life exposures are central to the expression of phenotype, as mediated by epigenetic mechanisms. My areas of expertise are in the molecular genetic mechanisms, bioinformatic discovery, and mouse models of inter-individual epigenetic modifications. Additionally, I use evolutionary relationships with comparative genomics to probe the origins of environmentally labile loci.
Teaching: My coursework will consist of applied bioinformatics, advanced genetics, and epigenetics across species.
Jason T. Kerwin
Assistant Professor, Applied Economics
Before coming to the U of M: Economics PhD student, University of Michigan
Research and expertise: I am a development economist, specializing in the use of randomized field experiments to understand health and labor markets in sub-Saharan Africa. My research topics fall into two broad areas. The first is studying how people form subjective expectations and how those beliefs affect their decision-making processes. The second is labor markets in rural Africa, broadly defined – from choices people make about their effort at work and how to spend their wages to their decisions about their own and their children’s education.
Teaching: Intermediate microeconomics
Assistant Professor and Extension Specialist with Fisheries, Wildlife & Conservation Biology and the Minnesota Aquatic Invasive Species Research Center
Before coming to the U of M: Conservation Scientist at Chicago Botanic Garden and Adjunct Assistant Professor at Northwestern University
Research and expertise: My areas of focus are restoration ecology and invasion biology. I work to develop more effective ways to guide the recovery of degraded habitats and associated biodiversity and ecosystem services, primarily in wetland and aquatic systems impacted by invasive plant species. I am excited to work with my new colleagues at the University of Minnesota, and with natural resource managers throughout the state, on research and extension that brings together basic science and applied management to address urgent conservation challenges.
Teaching: My teaching will primarily involve Extension work with aquatic plant managers, restoration practitioners, and other natural resource specialists. I also look forward to teaching graduate seminars or other courses on topics related to restoration ecology and invasion biology.
Associate Professor in Bioproducts and Biosystems Engineering, starting Jan. 19, 2016.
Before coming to the U of M: Postdoctoral research associate in the Soil and Water Lab in the Cornell University Department of Biological and Environmental Engineering, working on instrumentation to remotely gauge streams.
Research and expertise: My research is focused on bringing real-time environmental sensing to the environmental, ecological, and biological communities. To do this, I’m working on different devices that connect to the Internet of Things (IoT), and which can be built by anyone, thus enabling citizen and community science through open source designs.
Teaching: I hope to teach a course in environmental instrumentation and bioinstrumentation, and possibly one in acrobatics. My position is partially funded by the MNDRIVE initiative, and is for robotics, sensors, and advanced manufacturing.
Assistant Professor, Applied Economics
Before coming to the U of M: PhD Student, University of California, Santa Barbara
Research and expertise: I am generally interested in management of natural resources, especially renewable ones like fisheries. In particular, I study the effects of both changing policies and changing environmental conditions on outcomes for those resources. A second area of interest is the interaction of environmental policy and technology, including how technology can inform or be incorporated into policy (e.g. enforcement) and how policy can influence the development of new technologies. When possible and useful, I also try to make use of my background in computer science.
Teaching: Fall 2015: Methods of Economic Data Analysis; environmental and natural resource economics, econometrics.
Assistant professor, Animal Science
Before coming to the U of M: Consultant, World Bank Group
Research and expertise: Production economics, agricultural economics; I'm an applied economist by training. I studied dairy operations in Maryland for my dissertation research. I will be collaborating with animal scientists and economists.
Outreach: I will be making decision-support tools for dairy producers in Minnesota.
Professor, Applied Economics
Before coming to the U of M: Professor, Department of Agricultural Economics, Kansas State University
Research and expertise: Food and agricultural marketing; consumer economics. I’m currently involved in projects that examine economic viability of grocery stores in rural areas and the impacts of values-based supply chains on small and medium-size farms.
Teaching: Food Marketing Economics (APEC 4451/5451) and others.
Director, Water Resources Center and Professor, Applied Economics
Before coming to U of M: Professor, Department of Agricultural Economics, Kansas State University
Research and expertise: My research has focused on environmental policy analysis, primarily as related to water use and water quality impacts from agriculture. I’ve supervised numerous graduate students and have taught courses in environmental economics, resource economics and dynamic optimization.
Assistant Professor, Agronomy and Plant Genetics
Before coming to the U of M: Assistant Professor, Université catholique de Louvain (Belgium)
Research and expertise: I am a crop physiologist with a primary focus on identifying physiological mechanisms and traits that enhance crop productivity, resource use efficiency and/or limit the environmental impact of the crop in an increasingly challenging climate. A more basic objective of my research deals with discovering mechanisms governing poorly understood plant biology processes that might be relevant to the farmer. Both objectives will rely on a trans-disciplinary approach, integrating knowledge from other colleagues’ expertise in agronomy, horticulture, quantitative genetics, genomics and molecular biology.
Teaching: Plant and crop physiology
Assistant Professor, Forest Resources
Before coming to the U of M: PhD fellow at Utah State University
Research and expertise: My research spans the range of basic to applied forest dynamics. I'm interested in exploring how silvicultural tools can be used to meet a wide range of objectives, including maintaining forest productivity and increasing resistance and/or resilience to climate change, forest pests and pathogens, and other disturbances. Additionally, I focus on understanding how different forest vegetation layers (overstory, regeneration, shrubs, and herbaceous) respond to natural and human disturbances.
Teaching: Silviculture and Forest Management