University of California, Berkeley   |  College of Natural Resources 

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

PMB Blue Logo
Issue No. 25
June 25, 2014
See the bigger picture. Make a better world.
In This Issue ...
New Chair at PMB
Understanding Cellular Signaling
PMB Retreat at Asilomar
New Faculty: Matthew Traxler
BCourses Training in Koshland
International Plant Protection Congress 2015
Berkeley Professor Wins International Award
Important Dates / Upcoming Events

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New Chair at PMB
N. Louise Glass will be the new chair of the Department of Plant & Microbial Biology, as announced recently by J. Keith Gilless, dean of the College of Natural Resources. Glass replaces Bob Fischer, a PMB professor who served three years as chair.

Glass, a professor in the Department with research labs in Koshland Hall, as well as the Energy Biosciences Institute, has been working with Fischer as Associate Chair. Her tenure will begin on July 1, 2014.

A new Associate Chair will be named in the near future.


MAD Science -- Understanding Cellular Signaling
By Karyn Houston
Plant & Microbial Biology
Weimin Ni of the Quail Lab and Shouling Xu 
of the Carnegie Institution for Science

A team of researchers led by the Quail Lab at UC Berkeley has zeroed in on the important process of "attenuation," the way cells guard against potentially harmful overreactions to the external cues that enable them to adapt to prevailing conditions.


"In the biosciences, defects in signaling attenuation mechanisms are under increasing scrutiny in both medical and agricultural areas," said Peter Quail, professor in the Department of Plant & Microbial Biology at UC Berkeley and research director at the Plant Gene Expression Center.


"Cellular signaling attenuation is essential for cells to survive in a fluctuating environment and when broken can, for example, cause cancer."



Sign Up Now for the PMB Retreat at Asilomar            
Asilomar State Beach

The Department of Plant & Microbial Biology Research Retreat will be held September 5th-7th, 2014 at Asilomar. 

The deadline to sign up for the Retreat is Monday, June 30. No additional RSVPs will be taken after that date. 

The Retreat is open to all faculty, graduate students, postdocs and lab staff in the department. With the exception of incoming first year graduate students, each lab will be charged a fee for attendance.

The general schedule for the retreat will be:

  • Friday night: Arrival, dinner and social hour.
  • Saturday: Full morning of scientific presentations, lunch with breakout sessions, afternoon break with optional excursions, dinner, skits and social hour.
  • Sunday morning: Full morning of scientific presentations. Retreat ends just after lunch.

REGISTER NOW - open only to PMB Faculty, Students and Staff.


Matthew Traxler to be New Faculty in PMB
Matthew Traxler
Matthew Traxler has accepted UC Berkeley's offer and will become a new faculty member in the Department of Plant and Microbial Biology. 
His official start date has been deferred to July 1, 2015, which will give him time to finish his postdoctoral studies at Harvard. 


bCourses Training in Koshland


There's still a few openings to learn all about bCourses from an expert with Educational Technology Services (ETS), the department that is rolling out the new service to campus.

PMB bCourses Workshop:
Wednesday, June 25, 2014
1-2:30 pm
338 Koshland Hall
As of the end of Spring Semester, 30% of UC Berkeley's course sites, more than 1200, were created on bCourses. Faculty and instructors are encouraged to follow their peers and make the transition to bCourses by setting up Fall course sites in the new system. 

To find out more about the project, visit the project website:
If you would like to attend the training in Koshland Hall please contact Karyn Houston (; 510-643-7614, 111 Koshland Hall) before noon on Wednesday 6.25.


Mark Your Calendar for International Plant Protection Congress
"Mission possible: food for all through appropriate plant protection"

The International Association for Plant Protection Sciences (IAPPS), the German Phytomedical Society (DPG), Julius-Kühn-Institute and Industrieverband Agrar invite you to the XVII International Plant Protection Congress (IPPC). The conference will take place from August 24-27, 2015 in Berlin/Germany. 


For more information please visit: www.ippc2015 

Check out the promotional video here: 



Berkeley Professor Wins International Award in Renewable Energy


Jay Keasling, a member of the Graduate Group in Microbiology, has won the 2014 Eni Award prize in Renewable Energy for his achievements in the microbial production of hydrocarbon fuels.


Keasling is recognized as a world leader in the burgeoning field of synthetic biology and its applications to the production of clean, green, advanced biofuels.


Keasling is a professor in the Department of Chemical & Biomolecular Engineering and the Department of Bioengineering. He joined the UC Berkeley faculty in 1992. His laboratory research focuses on the metabolic engineering of microorganisms for degradation of environmental contaminants or for environmentally friendly synthesis. He is also affiliated with the U.S. Department of Energy's Joint BioEnergy Institute's Fuel Synthesis division.


Check out the full article here:



Important Dates  |  Upcoming Events  
Event Calendar Image


Summer 2014


6/24 - bCourses Training, 338 Koshland Hall 
6/30 - DEADLINE to sign up for PMB Retreat at Asilomar
8/15 - Summer school ends


Fall 2014


8/26-8/28 - Grad Student Orientation  


8/28 - First Day of Instruction

9/1 - Labor Day


9/5/14 - 9/7/14 - PMB Retreat, Asilomar 


10/10-10/12 - Homecoming Weekend


11/27-11/28 - Thanksgiving Break


12/1 - Graduate Admissions Application Deadline


12/12 - PMB Holiday Party


Spring 2015


1/22/15 to 1/25/15 - Graduate Recruitment Weekend

(Faculty Interviews 1/23/15)

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