University of California, Berkeley   |  College of Natural Resources 

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

PMB Blue Logo

Issue No. 16   

August 2013
See the bigger picture. Make a better world.
In This Issue ...
Fall '13 Seminar Series Announced
PMB Research Retreat
Opening at PMB Teaching Lab, and Other Jobs
Steve Lindow Promotion
Fall 2013 Graduate Students
Drop-In Calendar Training
First Annual Berkeley Microbiology Retreat
Lab Sites Launch
New Services Website
Life Science Data Study
Request for Proposals
Important Dates / Upcoming Events


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College of Natural Resources Newsletter



Undergraduate Program


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Breakthrough for Disease-Resistant Seeds

Disease-resistant plant on the left

In the battle between diseases and plants, scientists may soon have a more sophisticated weapon: disease-resistant seeds.


PMB Professor Brian Staskawicz is part of a team conducting basic research on the genetic gears of plant immune systems, science that has advanced so much that researchers can now build healthier plants to decrease dependence on pesticides; decrease water use; and help agriculture in developing countries


 See the full article on our website:



Fall 2013 Seminar Series

The department Seminar Committees have lined up an impressive array of speakers for the Fall 2013 Plant & Microbial Biology Seminar Series, including:
  • Renowned biofuels expert Olaf Kruse of the Center for Biotechnology at Bielefeld University in Germany
  • Wolf B. Frommer, director of the Department of Plant Biology at the Carnegie Institution for Science
  • James B. Anderson, an expert in population genetics and the evolution of fungi.
Please visit the Seminar Page on our website for more information:

Our first seminar will be Wednesday, August 28, featuring Brandon Gaut of University of California, Irvine.


PMB Research Retreat - Friday, September 13, 2013

The PMB Research Retreat is fast approaching: September 13, 2013 at Clark Kerr's Krutch Theater, close to the UC Berkeley campus.


This is an important event for our department, where we welcome our incoming graduate students and showcase the research that is going on in our labs. Come join us for outstanding research presentations, the traditional Poster Contest (with prizes) and plenty of opportunities to socialize and collaborate.


The Retreat starts at 8:30 am and continues throughout the day, featuring a fun Social Hour and amazing dinner as well, in the beautiful Krutch Theater. New this year -- meet the postdocs! 


The department pays for all incoming graduate students to attend. Faculty, students and lab staff are also invited, but labs must pick up the nominal fee for attendance.


 Sign-ups and RSVPs will start soon.


 Please visit for more info. 



Teaching Lab Position at PMB and Other Job Openings 


The College of Natural Resources Teaching Lab, administered by PMB, is seeking a Staff Research Associate to assist in providing top-notch support for our lab classes. The successful candidate will be a responsible and organized self-starter who has excellent problem-solving skills and enjoys being a critical part of a team working in a fast-paced academic environment.


The position will involve working with the teaching lab team to provide timely lab setup and support to 12 diverse classes offered by the departments of Plant and Microbial Biology (PMB) and Nutritional Science and Toxicology (NST).  The position reports directly to PMB's department manager, and also works under the direction of the Teaching Lab Team Lead, who coordinates tasks for the group.  

For more information, please go to the link below or visit the UC Berkeley Human Resources web site: Staff Research Associate #16502


In addition, there are a number of positions open at facilities in the US and around the world, including:
  • A plant molecular genetics research position to advance rice agriculture at the US Department of Agriculture.
  • A PhD position in Germany.
  • Two postdoc positions on photosynthesis and water relations of plants and plant canopies.


More information is available at


Lindow to Serve as Executive Associate Dean of CNR



Professor Steven Lindow of the Department of Plant and Microbial Biology is the new Executive Associate Dean of the College of Natural Resources.


"Steve is an outstanding scholar and teacher and experienced administrator," said J. Keith Gilless, Dean of CNR. 


Lindow is a member of the National Academy of Sciences; a fellow of the American Academy of Microbiology, the American Phytopathological Society, and the American Association for the Advancement of Science; recipient of research awards from the American Phytopathological Society, the American Society for Microbiology, the National Academy of Sciences, and the CNR Distinguished Teaching Award and Career Achievement Award; and is a current or past member of the editorial board of a number of academic journals.  He currently serves as Past-President for the International Society for Microbial Ecology, and previously served as Co-chair of the Department of Plant and Microbial Biology and Chair of the Division of Microbial Biology.


As Executive Associate Dean, Steve will provide oversight for CNR's centers and facilities, research administration, and represent CNR on the Program Council of the Division of Agricultural and Natural Resources.


Visit Steve's faculty page at


Incoming Graduate Students 
Please join the department in welcoming seven microbiology and 10 plant biology students to the Graduate Program.


The students are:
  • Angelica Castaneda  |  Cal Poly - Pomona  |  Micro  
  • Carly Grant  |  Montana State University |  Micro 
  • Darae Jun  |  University of California, San Diego  |  Micro
  • Gabriel Rosenfield  |  University of Texas  |  Micro
  • Evan Starr  |  Carleton College  |  Micro
  • Magdalena Stoeva  |  University of Ottawa  |  Micro 
  • Ouwei Wang  |  University of California, Berkeley  |  Micro
  • Adam Adair  |  University of Missouri-Columbia  |  Plant
  • Akiko Carver  |  University of Washington  |  Plant 
  • Andrew Brandon  |  University of Tennessee  |  Plant
  • Heejung Cho  |  Yonsei University  |  Plant
  • Christopher Gee  |  University of Washington  |  Plant
  • Tyler Helmann  |  Cornell University  |  Plant
  • Emma Kovak  |  St. Olaf College  |  Plant
  • Rachel Li  |  University of California, Berkeley  |  Plant 
  • Angus Vajk  |  University of Edinburgh  |  Plant
  • Jeff Wong  |  Texas A&M University  |  Plant
Faculty may sign up for "Profs on Parade" and indicate rotation and lab openings at this time at the new Services website: Please contact Karyn Houston or Rocio Sanchez if you need assistance.


Upcoming BCal Trainings

Did you know you can make reservations for any of the conference rooms in Koshland (or anywhere on campus) straight from your BCal calendar?


You can also subscribe to department events and happenings.


The BCal calendar does not need to be your primary calendar, and you can keep all of your events private. Using it makes it much easier for everyone to keep track of our many department events -- retreats, faculty meetings and the like.


Karyn Houston is available anytime to help you with any questions you might have. You may also attend BCal trainings. They're nearby, quick and easy. Download and post info about the upcoming trainings here:


Or contact Karyn at for a quick training session or to subscribe to the department calendar. Karyn may also be reached at 643.7614 or stop by Koshland 111b.
UPDATE - The campus has just announced drop-in training for anyone who wants to learn more about BApps, including calendar, mail, drive and mobile device set-up. See the schedule below, and just stop by to ask your questions for some one-on-one help:






Office Hours

9:00 - 12 noon

Rm 135@2150 Shattuck


Office Hours

1:00 - 3:00 pm


Google Doc Basics

9:00 - 10:30 am

Rm 28 University Hall


Office Hours

1:00 - 3:00 pm


Office Hours

9:00 - 12 noon

Rm 28 University Hall


Forms Beyond Basics

1:00 - 3:00 pm


Office Hours

9:00 - 12 noon

Rm 135@2150 Shattuck


Office Hours

1:00 - 3:00 pm


bMail Beyond Basics

9:00 - 10:30 am

Rm 28 University Hall


Calendar Beyond Basics

11:00-12:30 pm


Spreadsheet Basics

1:00 - 3:00 pm



Berkeley Microbiology Retreat 

The first annual 
Berkeley Microbiology Retreat will be Friday, November 15, 2013 in the Brazilian Room at Tilden Park. 

The goal of the 
retreat is to bring together the many scientists studying aspects of microbiology on campus and at affiliated research organizations. Because we are housed in different research units, the exchange of results and technical advances can be difficult, even with nearby labs.
Retreat organizers -- a mix faculty, postdocs and grad students -- envision that this retreat will increase awareness of the scope of microbial research and relevant facility resources in Berkeley-affiliated labs, and will foster productive collaborations. We also hope to forge strong connections among graduate students and postdocs doing microbiology-related research throughout the Berkeley community.

Information about registration, posters, and abstracts for short student/postdoc talks will come your way within the next few weeks. But for now, please save the date and join us in exploring microbial physiology, pathogenesis, cell biology, ecology, and engineering.  

Please keep checking back the web page for more information. Additional information will be posted soon at  

Please direct any questions to:
Kathleen R. Ryan at 510-643-9387 or


New Lab Websites

Check out the bevy of new lab sites that have been launched for PMB faculty in the past year. These sites use the drupal Content Management System and are easy to maintain and quite versatile in what they can do. They are templated sites and all operate in the same way, but actually look quite different while complementing our main PMB site.


Once the sites are built they can easily be managed by faculty or lab staff.


Check them out at: 


i-PMB Web Launch - New Services Site for the Department 

A new services website, has just been launched for the department and is in a soft launch phase right now.


The site will be going strong by the start of the Fall Semester and is the place where students, faculty, staff and department visitors can get business done.


Why another website? It's simple. Our flagship site,, will continue to showcase our outstanding faculty, graduate and undergraduate programs. All of the administrative services that are on there now are moving over to the new services site.

Feedback is most welcome! Please do make your room reservations there. Better yet, get on the BCal bandwagon and schedule your rooms yourself. It's easy and everyone in the department has permission to do so.
Questions? Comments?
Please contact:
Karyn Houston, Webmaster and Communications, PMB
 643.7614 or stop by 111 Koshland.


Life Science Data Study  


The Center for Science, Technology, Medicine and Society, in conjunction with other members of the scientific research community at UC Berkeley, is conducting an ethnographic study about the computational and statistical techniques that scientists use to collect, analyze, and share their data. They are looking to hear from members of the scientific community at all levels (faculty, postdocs, graduate students, staff, and undergraduates) who have experience relevant to understanding the practices of scientists surrounding their data.

Participating in this study would involve meetings to interview for about one hour and, if possible and convenient for you, to observe and document your workplace activities at brief intervals over a period of 2 to 4 weeks. They hope that the outcome of this study will help improve the institutional structures supporting scientific research on campus. They also hope to elucidate some of the broader challenges of conducting research across various domains.

If you are interested in participating, then please e-mail:
Nicholas D'Avella at


Funding Available from QB3-Pfizer Partnership
Ongoing requests for proposals for research to be funded under the QB3-Pfizer partnership are continuing. Pfizer and QB3 have worked together since 2008 as strategic partners in an alliance focused on engaging UC faculty and Pfizer scientists in collaborative R&D opportunities. 

Over 25 collaborations have been funded since the partnership was initiated and have produced several licensing opportunities and numerous publications. In 2011, Pfizer expanded the scope of this partnership to include collaborations with startups via the Pfizer Seed Fund, an investment vehicle also administered through Pfizer's External R&D Innovation (ERDI) organization.

There are two open-ended options for submissions based on broad areas of interest to Pfizer. The company has also highlighted three areas of interest where collaborations are currently sought: 1) Novel immunotherapy approaches for oncology indications; 2) Precision medicine tools for cardiovascular and neuro disease indications; and 3) Methods for rapidly evaluating or predicting the in vivo bioactivity of antibody-drug conjugate (ADC) variants.

There is no deadline for proposals; each will be considered as it comes in. If you have questions, please contact our QB3 industry alliances director Neena Kadaba at


Important Dates / Upcoming Events
Event Calendar Image

Fall 2013

8/22/13 - Fall Semester Begins


8/26 - 8/28/13 - Incoming Grad Students Orientation


8/27 - 5 pm - Rotation advice meeting by the Plant Student Group. 338 Koshland Hall.


8/29 - Instruction begins.

Friday, 9/13/13 - PMB Research Retreat
                           Clark Kerr Campus, UC Berkeley
9/17/13 - Plant Student Group Meeting, 6 pm, 338 Koshland Hall. 
11/15/13 - Microbiology Retreat, Tilden Park
11/22/13 - Bob Buchanan Celebration Event
11/27 - 12/1 - Thanksgiving Break
12/06/13 - PMB Holiday Party, Alumni House
Spring 2014
1/14/14 - Spring Semester Begins
1/30 - 2/2/14 - PMB Graduate Program Recruitment Weekend (candidate interviews 1/31)
3/24 - 3/28/14 - Spring Break
4/12/14 - Cal Day
5/02/14 - PMB Spring Social, Alumni House


9/05 - 9/7/14 - PMB Retreat, Asilomar 


12/12/14 - PMB Holiday Party, Alumni House


5/15/15 - PMB Spring Social, Alumni House


Faculty Meeting Dates for 2013:  

  • September 17th
  • October 8th
  • November 12th
  • December 10th
  • January 14th
  • February 11th
  • March 11th
  • April 22nd
  • May 29th (First Year Graduate Student Review) All meetings are scheduled for Tuesdays from 12:00-1:30 unless otherwise indicated.  


111 Koshland Hall    I    Berkeley, California 94720    I    510.642.9999      I


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

Jenny Cornet, Undergraduate Majors