University of California, Berkeley   |  College of Natural Resources 

A Newsletter for Faculty, Students, Staff and Friends of the Department

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Issue No. 13   

April 26, 2013
In This Issue ...
Excellence in Teaching
Virology Podcast
Prestigious Fellowships for Grad Students
Berkeley's Stellar Performance in the Latest Rankings
Et cetera -- Important Dates and Information

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Graduate Student Instructors Receive Awards 
Jason Liu, Zoe Davis, Tom Kleist, Michael Steinwand
Graduate Student Instructors Jason Liu, Zoe Davis, Tom Kleist, Michael Steinwand
Outstanding Graduate Student Instructors were recognized recently for excellence in teaching at UC Berkeley. 
Tom Kleist, Michael Steinwand, Jason Liu, Zoe Davis, Razika Hussein, and Tom Haas are the Outstanding Graduate Student Instructors (GSI) for the Department of Plant & Microbial Biology.
"We truly appreciate the hard work, enthusiasm, and excellence in teaching that graduate students bring to our undergrads," said Rocio Sanchez, Graduate Student Advisor for the Department. "We are very lucky to have them."


The teaching talent was recognized at a ceremony in the department last week. Haas and Davis will be recognized campus-wide (nominated by the department) and will receive a $250 prize.



14th Annual Microbiology Student Symposium Goes Viral

The Microbiology Student Group's popular Student Symposium went viral following the event, which was attended by more than 100 people at Li Ka Shing Center on the UC Berkeley campus earlier this month.


Vincent Racaniello, Higgins Professor in the Department of Microbiology and Immunology at Columbia University's College of Physicians and Surgeons, visited the symposium to speak with Britt Glaunsinger and Eva Harris about their work on Kaposi's sarcoma associated herpesvirus and dengue virus.
Eric Alm, of the Department of Biological Engineering at Massachusetts Institute of Technology was the second keynote speaker. He talked about "the Human Microbiome in Health and Disease." The Alm Lab focuses on developing complementary computational and experimental methods for studying microbial evolution.


This talk was featured as a segment on This Week in Virology (TWiV)... The podcast about viruses ... the kind that make you sick.
To listen to the full podcast for free, visit
To visit the Microbiology Student Group's web site please visit



Prestigious Fellowships for Grad Students
Please join the department in congratulating all graduate students who received awards and honorable mentions in the recent National Science Foundation competition. The National Science Foundation Graduate Research Fellowship program provides 3-year fellowships for recipients.

Fellowship Recipients 
Anne Runkel (Plant - Zambryski Lab) 
Michael Steinwand (Plant - Wildermuth Lab) 
William Moore - (Plant - 1st year) 
Honorable Mentions 
Riva Bruenn (Plant - 1st year) 
Monica Hernandez (Plant - 1st year) 
Jessica Graves (Micro - 1st year) 
Carine Marshall (Plant - 1st year) 
Patrick Browne (Micro - Komeili Lab) 


Berkeley's Stellar Performance in the Latest Rankings
In the just-released 2013 U.S. News and World Report rankings of graduate programs, Berkeley is again rated among the best in the nation, with 14 of its programs ranked #1 and most other ranked programs either maintaining or improving position. Berkeley's Biological Sciences was ranked #2 in the country, with subgroups of Ecology / Evolutionary Biology ranking #1 (which encompasses Plant Biology) and Microbiology as #7. A detailed summary of the rankings is available online (PDF).

Also in March, based on a survey of more than 16,600 academics worldwide, Berkeley was "firmly cemented into the 'elite six' of world universities" in the  2013 reputational rankings released by Times Higher Education, the United Kingdom's leading educational news publication. 
Read the full article here:



Et cetera ... Important News and Tidbits of Information
Important dates:



Friday 5/3 - Formal classes end 
Friday, 5/3 - PMB Spring Social, Alumni House - PMB Faculty, students, staff.
(contact for more information)
Mon. 5/6 - Fri. 5/10 - Reading, Recitation and Review (aka Dead) Week
Mon. 5/13 - Fri. 5/17 - Finals Week
Sun. 5/19 - CNR Commencement (7 pm)
Mon. 5/27 - Memorial Day 
Thur. 5/30 - PMB Faculty Meeting 

Aug. 26-28  - Incoming Grad Students Orientation
Fri. 9/13, 2013 - PMB Retreat, Clark Kerr
Fri. 12/6, 2013 - PMB Holiday Party, Alumni House
Fri. 5/2, 2014 - PMB Spring Social, Alumni House

Fri. 9/5 - Sun. 9/7, 2014 - PMB Retreat, Asilomar 





The department maintains two calendars: - Integrates with the campus calendar network and showcases events the public is invited to. Check here if you want to see what is going on in the department and on campus. Also includes links to our affiliates.


department calendar - For department-specific events, including Finishing Talks, a variety of seminars, Open Lunches, Lab Happy Hours, Scientific Retreats and all the fun stuff we do. If you'd like to subscribe to this calendar please contact Karyn Houston


Spring Semester Seminars  


The remaining regular PMB seminars for the Spring semester will be from noon to 1pm in 101 Barker:


05/01/13: Judy Wall (University of Missouri) on "Genetics and biochemistry of mercury methylation by sulfate-reducing bacteria."


05/08/13Elena Alvarez Buylla (Visiting Miller Professor at UCB, Chelsea Spetch Lab) on "Regulatory networks of stem-cell niche patterning in Arabidopsis roots: molecular genetic and modeling approaches." 


In addition, there are a number of other seminars, including PMB student and postdoc seminars (on campus) and Plant Gene Expression Center Seminars (in Albany) that have been posted on our



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The PMB newsletter is produced by the Department of Plant & Microbial Biology, UC Berkeley.

Professor Robert Fischer, Department Chair

Professor N. Louise Glass, Associate Chair

Dana Jantz, Chief Operating Officer 

Karyn Houston, Communications / Webmaster / Newsletter Editor 

Rocio Sanchez, Graduate Program

Trey Patridge, Undergraduate Majors