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Memorial service for Professor Estabrook
Monday, November 28, 2011
We are saddened to announce the passing of Professor George Estabrook on the evening of Thursday, Nov. 24, 2011.
A memorial service will be held at 4 p.m., Tuesday, Nov. 29 at St Andrews Episcopal Church (at Catherine and Division Streets, Ann Arbor). In lieu of flowers, the family has requested that donations be made to "The Breakfast at St. Andrew's," 306 N. Division St., Ann Arbor, MI 48104-1497. An ‘in memoriam’ on the life of Professor Estabrook will be forthcoming.
General biology labs earn Silver Sustainable Lab status
Tuesday, November 22, 2011
The teaching labs for General Biology 173 in the Undergraduate Science Building have earned the silver rating from the Office of Campus Sustainability.
The Sustainable Laboratory Certification Award resulted from a class project that several students in the Program in the Environment/Residential College ENVIRON/RCIDIV 391: Sustainability and the Campus class undertook. Dennis Drobeck, biology lab/classroom services supervisor, and Carrie Stevens, biology lab/classroom services technician, volunteered to assist. The students analyzed sustainability practices in these labs through observation and meetings with the lab staff.
The course uses a large volume of varied materials for instructional purposes. Each week students are engaged in a different activity and experiment. “It was interesting working with the students and seeing where the concerns were for recycling,” said Drobeck.
Some of the changes that resulted from the project are closing the fume hoods that draw warm air out of the building when they are not in use; unplugging refrigerators when they’re not in use for long periods of time; keeping window blinds closed in the summer for greater energy efficiency; increased recycling of cardboard and packing materials. The lab staff is looking into increased recycling of chemicals at the suggestion of the students. If they make some further changes, they can move up to gold status.
“We all enjoyed sharing ideas and information in an effort to reach the common goal of sustainability and lowering energy costs to save the university money,” said Drobeck.
The project, “Promoting sustainability in campus laboratories” was run by students Zack Durham, Olivia Kramer, Zheng Xiang Ong, Sulgiye Park, and Professor Mike Shriberg, education director, Graham Environmental Sustainability Instititute; Jack Edelstein, formerly of Planet Blue Team, Plant Operations; and Sudhakar Reddy, coordinator-sustainable labs, Office of Campus Sustainability.
According to the project summary, “Labs are energy hogs, consuming three to eight times more energy than class or office rooms providing an opportunity to investigate potential energy savings.”
The lab supervisory team includes: (from left to right) the lab/classroom services technicians: Mark Brahce, Stevens, Chris Davis, Charles Davey (not pictured), and Drobeck. Reddy is standing. The team received special wall clocks and a certificate of recognition.
Early Career Scientists Symposium 2012: biodiversity informatics
Friday, November 18, 2011
EEB invites the nominations of outstanding scientists early in their careers to take part in the international Early Career Scientists Symposium on biodiversity informatics and its application to research in ecology and evolutionary biology. This symposium will be held in Ann Arbor, Mich., Sunday, March 25, 2012. Eight scientists and a plenary speaker will be selected to present their work. We are interested in scientists who are pursuing cutting-edge approaches to biodiversity sciences that integrate and/or synthesize informatics resources, including genomic/genetic, phylogenetic, morphological, geographic, and ecological datasets. We are especially interested in scientists who are leveraging information from natural history collections.
Early career scientists are defined as senior graduate students (who stand to receive their Ph.D. within one year), postdoctoral researchers, and first- or second-year tenure-track faculty. A colleague or advisor must provide the nomination.
A nomination consists of a brief letter of recommendation addressing the nominee’s scientific promise and ability to give a good talk, the nominee's curriculum vitae, and a brief abstract of the proposed presentation (< 200 words, written by the nominee). Nominations may be sent electronically (in one file if possible) to firstname.lastname@example.org using the nominee's name as the subject line (last name first, please). More information will become available on the Early Career Scientists Symposium 2012 website.
All nominations must be received by February 3, 2012. Selected participants will be contacted in mid-February 2012.
For more information, contact Cindy Carl at email@example.com.
2012 Early Career Scientists Symposium organizing committee:
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Have insect collection, will travel
Wednesday, November 16, 2011
Professor Barry OConnor toted some of what he calls the "oh my" display collections of insects to Spencer Elementary School in Brighton, Tuesday, Oct. 25. OConnor’s stepdaughter, Kim Lewicki, teaches third and fourth grade gifted students and the visit was a follow up to an insect biology unit the class covered this fall.
OConnor recalls a couple of years ago when one of the students was literally bursting with enthusiasm and said "This is the BEST day in my whole school life!" This year, he said, “the kids were quite enthusiastic and some were proud to show off the knowledge that they had gained from Kim's insect biology curriculum. There was even one boy who knew a number of the Latin names of the insects!”
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EEB photo contest 2011
Friday, November 11, 2011
The EEB Honorary “Photographer at Large” Contest is back and it’s open to U-M EEB faculty, students, postdocs and staff. Submit your best photos (up to three) of lab or field research, EEB people, science-related or nature shots through Friday, November 18, 2011.
See your email for a link to the CTools site and instructions on how to upload images.
The winner receives the honorary title for the year of “Photographer at Large” in memory of David Bay who was the self-described “photographer at large” for EEB and its predecessor departments for 34 years. He touched the lives of hundreds of faculty, students and staff with his humor, good nature and expertise.
The photos are always spectacular whether they are taken around the world or just around the corner. Looking forward to seeing through your lenses!
Megahan’s painting in AFC exhibit
Thursday, November 10, 2011
The AFC exhibit is the world's top conservation-themed art exhibit featuring over 70 original artworks for sale by over 50 leading nature and wildlife artists from around the world.
“The inspiration for ‘Guarding the Catch’ came during a road trip across the country,” said Megahan. “When my family and I were just entering Idaho, my wife, Anne, spotted this osprey on its nest just off the road. The light was just right so I decided to try and get a few photos. Close by was a hill that was almost level with the bird so I climbed it and got some great shots. The background unfortunately was pretty bad, with a barn, electric wires and buildings visible. So, I combined the osprey images with some shots I had taken of northwest forests. I used the beautiful brown colors of the light coming through the primaries and dark reddish browns of the osprey’s body as one main hue. The other is the bluish grey of the background forest. If you look closely at the colors of the clouds you can see that I pulled in a lot of reds, purples and browns to unify the two parts of the scene.”
“I was very excited that this painting made it into the AFC show. Entries come from the top 500 wildlife artists around the world. Unfortunately, it didn't make it into the 'live' traveling show, which is limited to the top 70 paintings. Mine made the online show, the top 120 paintings. Next year I will try again and, with luck, I'll make the live show.”
Middlemis Maher’s FIRST IV postdoc
Thursday, November 03, 2011
Recent EEB graduate Dr. Jess Middlemis Maher began a postdoctoral fellowship at Michigan State University in October 2011 doing biology education research.
She is working in Dr. Diane Ebert-May's lab in the Plant Biology Department at MSU. “Research in Ebert-May's lab links the concepts and processes of biology to theories in cognitive science, with emphasis on how students construct their understanding of biology,” Middlemis Maher said. “Specifically, I am working on the national FIRST IV project, a model that uses professional development in 200 postdocs to reform undergraduate biology teaching practices. Postdocs in the program are trained in the development of learner-centered, inquiry-based pedagogies, and we evaluate the change in teaching approaches and the outcomes for student learning and tenure promotion.”
FIRST IV (Faculty Institutes for Reforming Science Teaching) for Postdoctoral Fellows is funded by the National Science Foundation and associated with five regional field station networks throughout the United States.
New graduate program assistant
Tuesday, October 25, 2011
EEB is happy to welcome Bethany Christoff, graduate program assistant / recruiter who joined the department in October 2011. Christoff will support the graduate programs in EEB, and is responsible for all aspects of recruitment, admission, and student progress in the master's programs.
Most recently, she spent five years at the Ohio State University with the Service-Learning Initiative and Office of Outreach and Engagement working to develop and support community-based learning and research opportunities. Previously, she worked as an outreach specialist with the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources. Christoff received her bachelor’s degree from the University of Northern Iowa in biology and her master’s degree from the University of Wisconsin-Green Bay in environmental science and policy.
“I thoroughly enjoy spending time outdoors while running, bicycling, hiking, skiing, etc.,” she said. “I have a very active one-year-old son who keeps me on my toes! I am excited to be joining the EEB team, and I look forward to supporting our current students and working with the department to continually develop our recruitment strategies – with special focus on our Frontiers Master’s Program.”
Solving mysteries at ID Day
Monday, October 24, 2011
The community presented all manner of disparate objects to experts at the U-M Museum of Natural History when it hosted the 15th annual ID Day October 9, 2011, including moon coral, a rabbit tail and pike weed.
“ID Day is a fun way to show the community what we have ‘behind the scenes’ in our museum collections,” said Celia Churchill, EEB graduate student. Churchill and Paula Teichholtz, EEB graduate student showcased a variety of tropical shells displaying adaptations to predation risk (e.g., increased thickness, spiny sculpture, presence of an operculum, or "trapdoor"). “Visitors wanted to know how shells grow, why the insides of shells (nacre) feels so smooth, whether snails have brains, and why all the ‘cool shells’ come from Florida! Several kids brought shells they'd collected from the Gulf of Mexico on family vacations, and one adult had a great collection of fossil oysters.”
EEB graduate student Jen–Pan Huang and Professor Barry OConnor staffed the insect table and identified several local insects and spiders. “We also had a lot of interesting conversations with adults and kids about both local and exotic insects and spiders,” said OConnor.
The event is also fun for visitors who didn’t bring in objects; they learned about specimens and artifacts in the experts’ collections, and found out what surprises other visitors brought in. Approximately 75 items were identified during ID Day. A smattering of them include: a tiger moth larva, raccoon skull, fern impression on rock, mammoth tooth, artifacts including a bone tool and a whale vertebrae disk, and antique jewelry dug up in someone’s garden.
Thanks to all of the participants affiliated with U-M EEB: Celia Churchill, graduate student, EEB, Museum of Zoology, area of expertise: mollusks, marine invertebrates; Paula Teichholtz, graduate student, EEB, Museum of Zoology, area of expertise: mollusks, marine invertebrates; Alexa Unruh, graduate student, EEB and the Museum of Zoology, area of expertise: local mammals, mammalian ecology; Tanya Dewey, research program officer, Museum of Zoology, Mammal Division, EEB, area of expertise: North American mammals; Jen-Pan Huang, graduate student, EEB, Museum of Zoology, area of expertise: insects; Professor Barry OConnor, EEB, curator of insects, Museum of Zoology, area of expertise: insects and mites; Professor Gerald Smith, curator emeritus of fishes, Museum of Zoology, curator emeritus of lower vertebrates, Museum of Paleontology, professor emeritus of EEB, professor emeritus of geological sciences, area of expertise: fish evolution.
If you missed ID Day this year, gather your mysterious treasures and watch for it next year!
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Feature: Michigan Flora website
Monday, October 24, 2011
The Michigan Flora website presents comprehensive and up-to-date information about the diversity and occurrence of Michigan’s wild-growing vascular plants, which is essential to understanding and stewarding Michigan’s environment and appreciation of its natural heritage.
Dr. Anton Reznicek, curator of vascular plants at the U-M Herbarium, points out that Michigan Flora is searchable, browsable and contains photos, maps, full keys, species pages, and comprehensive download capability. The next phase of the website (completed, but not yet public) will include a specimen level search capability.
According to the websites’ introduction, “few things in science are more certain than the fact that floristic works become outdated almost as soon as they are printed,” and this is certainly true of the three-volume "Michigan Flora," the first volume published in 1972, which is being updated into a single volume by Reznicek, Herbarium curator and research scientist. “The web is, however, ideally suited for presenting such dynamic information.”
The information presented in this website is updated from the “Michigan Flora” volumes in three main ways. First, advances in understanding of plant relationships result in the need to change a number of names to reflect this new information. These advances have been tremendous in the last couple of decades, driven by our ability to directly access the genetic code, as well as the development of computational tools and computer power sufficient to analyze such vast amounts of data. Second, there have been a large number of species added to the flora, giving considerable insight into our changing flora. Third, the maps are updated, following the precedent set in “Michigan Flora” that the maps are based only on specimens examined. Nearly 44,000 new collections have been added since the first volume of “Michigan Flora” was published, resulting in considerable changes to our understanding of the distribution of Michigan plants.
The website is based largely on data carefully gathered over decades by Ed Voss, Herbarium curator emeritus, Reznicek, and information from the three-volume “Michigan Flora.” Beverly Walters, Herbarium collection manager, is the site’s data manager who has also contributed many photos, proofread, and helped update information. The site was designed by Reznicek and Walters, with programming by Kraig Korroch, Michigan Natural Features Inventory’s information technologist.
The project was supported by a grant from the U-M Office of the Vice President for Research with matching funds from the College of Literature, Science, and the Arts, and the U-M Herbarium, with appreciation to Professor Paul Berry, Herbarium director and curator. Complete acknowledgements can be viewed on the website.
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