Meeting minutes

List of meeting minutes

BGSA meeting, 22 August 2016

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Welcome committee

    • There will be a potluck held in the courtyard at 5pm on Friday August 26. Select beverages will be provided. Everyone is to bring a dish for a discounted price or pay a cover. Biology department will help cover some of the costs.
    • We will send an email out asking for people to volunteer their grills.
    • Nate will send out another email.


Javi is working on updating the BGSA website. The site is very outdated. Some members were asked to write a better description of their duties. We also wanted a mission statement. A google document will be distributed.

Bank account and future fundraisers

  • We are starting off the year with $1,775 in the bank account. We will continue selling the UF biology Tshirts and pint glasses for this semester.
  • Starting in the Spring of 2017 we will sell different UF Biology merchandise (water bottle, reusable grocery bag, etc).
  • If we sell all of the Tshirts in Jerald’s office we will earn $1117.

What are we fundraising for? We would like to host more seminars for undergraduates and graduate students.
There is a TA office! We could fundraise to make that nicer.

Awards committee

This year they will decide on an early application deadline. Last year awards were due December 23.

Green Team

  • They will do something this year! Maybe bring back composting? Does anyone know if students have access to the compost?

New Hires in the department

  • Jimmy will send out a survey to provide information for the faculty meeting on Wednesday.

What is our role as BGSA?

  1. We want to help both undergraduates and graduates with career development. Here are some potential seminars for both graduate and undergraduate students.
  2. CV/resume writing seminar for undergraduates (Zach Emberts will organize for Spring 2017)
  3. Ice cream social for undergraduates to get to know the graduate students and their research. This is also a great opportunity to find student researchers to volunteer in labs.  Students will be encouraged to ask questions about graduate school (Katrina will organize for Fall 2016).
  4. Mock graduate school interviews for undergraduates.
  5. Provide a seminar for graduate students where people in different professions (industry, academia, etc) can advise students.

End of meeting goals

    • Plan one seminar per semester. This semester will be the ice cream social.
    • Develop a mission statement.

BGSA meeting, 7 April 2016

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Jenna Moore had sent out an email containing the syllabus for the proposed course: Practical Pedagogy for Biology created by Christine Davis and Bill Spencer.(Discussed below)

Proposed Election Procedure Changes

Issues with current procedure in which all nominees are placed on the ballot without accepting the nomination.

  1. Nominations are unknown and being elected for a position is a surprise
  2. Refusal to serve when elected OR electee does not do their job

What if no one will run?

  1. Advertise the position
  2. Ask for endorsement from faculty members on a corresponding faculty committee (e.g. Public Relations faculty committee can recommend/endorse graduate student for Public Relations BGSA committee)

How do new BGSA officers/committee members learn their responsibilities?

  1. Encouraged to talk to previous officers
  2. Responsibilities can change from year to year

IP Course Changes

Lianne Jacobson updated us on the changes that will take place regarding IP.

  • One semester 2 credit course
  • Some variation of inference module will be covered
  • Writing and presenting focus

Open Discussion of issues

  • Grant writing course deadlines should match up with grant deadlines
  • A wokshop to get help with DDIG’s should be offered because these occur later in graduate career – perhaps BGSA could set up a workshop so that grad students currently writing a DDIG can speak with previous winners and those whose grants were rejected since everyone gets reviews

Proposed course: Practical Pedagogy for Biology

  • Bill should not teach it
  • Should a workshop be offered rather than a full semester? Should it happen in summer rather than during the semester? International students may not be able to get here in time AND grad students would not be paid yet in the summer so may not be able to live in Gainesville yet. Perhaps offer a 2 day intensive workshop during the first 2 weeks when there are no labs and then have every other week meetings for feedback.
  • Concerns about those who don’t teach BSC having to take a course that is designed to teach them how to teach BSC labs specifically. The goal of this course being how to teach intro bio class rather than learning how to teach for future careers is problematic.
  • Concerns that there is no control over content in BSC labs, so developing one lecture that grad students are interested in teaching and could potentially use in the future may be a good idea. This was countered that you have control over how you present yourself even if you don’t have control over the content and that can be worked on in this course in order to teach better.
  • Concerns about how grad students are graded in this course. Content of the course doesn’t appear to line up with what students will be graded on.
  • Some of the content (e.g. FERPA) is already covered in the mandatory University teaching training.
  • What are the weekly reflections? It sounds like keeping a diary and those in attendance were not receptive to this part of the course.
  • Why aren’t graduate students invited to guest lecture anymore?
  • A poll was taken. Would you rather have a class? (1 person voted for this) A workshop? (1 person voted for this and there was discussion about how you might forget information presented in a short workshop) or a combination (7 voted for this option. Jenna will survey the rest of the graduate students via email.

BSC research credit for undergraduates

Chris Krieg is working with Christine Davis to develop a syllabus for this course and wanted to gauge interest in supporting the course

  • The fact that the undergraduate research credit is supposed to be a course was a surprise to all of the graduate students that have mentored undergrads
  • The course would keep undergrads on top of their data – presenting, writing grants, writing annotated bibliographies, etc.
  • People generally seemed supportive

Fundraising Update

Jerald Pinson provided updates.

  1. Most of the old t-shirts have been sold and there have been a good amount of sales of new t-shirts
  2. Advertising t-shirts to undergrads went well
  3. There is a PR and fundraising faculty committee that BGSA fundraising committee can work with
  4. There was discussion about whether 2 people are sufficient for the fundraising committee, as well as why we fundraise.

URAP grants – why do grad students raise money for undergrads? Does BGSA want to continue funding undergrads

  1. Welcoming events
  2. Maybe we should have a biograd appreciation dinner
  3. In order to know how much our fundraising goal is, we need a budget.

What is the mission of BGSA? Goals should align with the mission.

  1. Mission/purpose is integrating with faculty committees so we have some kind of say in what happens and organizing URAP and hosting zoocial on Fridays. But does this require a large fundraising effort?
  2. We need a budget and documents in place. Smooth transitions between officers require documents as well. Can each officer/committee position get a UF email – need to ask Kyle. We should create strategic goals.

Ideas about fundraising

  1. 3D printing to make items to sell – are there University restrictions on this?
  2. Increase beverage prices at zoocial. It was noted that better zoocial bookkeeping would be needed if we did this.

BGSA Centralized Location for our items

Joni Wright

  1. Cabinet with combination lock in Carr 221A
  2. BGSA t-shirts and other merchandise, as well as cashboxes (e.g. treasurer, fundraising, zoocial) and miscellaneous supplies can be safely stored here
  3. All officers plus zoocial and fundraising committee members can get a key from Pete. The key must be turned back in at the end of each year and the new electees request their own key (i.e. The key CANNOT be passed down to new officers.)

Announcement: Gordon Burleigh will be the next graduate coordinator.

BGSA meeting, 18 March 2015

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Fund Raising Report

Some ideas about fund raising activities for next year were discussed.

  • A photograph competition was proposed and the competitors would be selected for making a Biology department calendar that we could sell
  • The competition could include also artwork such as plots and images that you make for your research

Involvement in new hires

Discussion about how grad students should get more involved with the new hires. Grad students should go to the receptions and talk to the candidates. Faculty would like to have a higher grad students input during the meetings. Would like to have other alternatives for feedback about the candidates for the hires. BGSA started using google docs by using objective questions.

BGSA Elections

Secretary sends out a call for nominations. Voting is running for 2 weeks.Discussion about the amount of positions. Separate welcome committee into two groups and create new positions.

Nominations for grad-invited speaker will be opened.

Discussion about Bob Holt invited researchers.

Interactions with staff

A motion to write a document with the procedures for managing money from grants and reimbursements with the fiscal office.

URAP symposium

Changed to April 13. Two grants for undergrads will be announced during the symposium.


Send and Email to Kyle Arola if you want a webpage linked to the Bio department web page.

Other Activities

There was a proposal to start a Bio department retreat, as a symposium in which grad students get to interact to each other and present their research.

BGSA meeting, 25 September 2014

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Bank account and future fundraisers

Judit presented the bank statement. There is $1100 in the bank account. The welcome weekend was a success with $ 57 spent and then refunded by the department.

For future events, the museum secretary is the one to contact to reserve the courtyard. Also he should know about future events in the courtyard.

New Shirt

Kelly and Anya worked on the design of the new Biology department t-shirt. Contact Judit, Kelly or Anya if you want to see the logo but no changes can be done. The silhouette of the logo will be orange and the shirt will be blue. They got a quote from Dragon fly graphics which is ~$600 for 100 t-shirts of assorted sizes. There was a general consent for selling them for $20.

Pint Glasses

As there are pint glasses left, there where suggestions to encourage undergraduate students to buy them. There are ~50 pint glasses left, contact Richie Hodel or Barry Kaminsky for info on how to get one. There was a suggestion to bundle the shirts with the glass, so the combo will be $30.

There was a suggestion to advertise shirts and pint glasses in an annual alumni article.


It is a space to resolve problems in programming in several languages. Ideally it would meet once a month to discuss/solve research related problems. There should be a google doc/account to which all Bio grad students will have access in which you can post your questions ahead of time so people that are able to help with such questions can show up.

Other ideas where to set up a google account in a repository style to post old problems that were already sold so that other people with similar question can search in it. Also would be a space to post workshop info, R groups or any other information related to the Bio Github that may be of interest to the group.

Contact George Tiley for more info about the Github or ideas/suggestions.

New Hires in the department

The department is in negotiations with Van Savage as the Big Data hire.The Brain and Behavior candidate is coming next week/soon.

Additional topics

Lianne suggested an outreach activity for people that might be interested in tutoring middle school kids for science fair projects. The Idea is to help the kids to develop the project that they will present in the local science fair. People interested in this topic should contact Lianne Jacobson.

Barry talked about the compost bins in the Bartram/Carr buildings. They haven’t been emptied in a while and he suggested two solutions.

  1. Throw the bins away
  2. Talk to UF garden facility to see if they are interested in the compost generated from the two buildings.

He also wants to organize a clean up tailgate. Contact him for more info about this.

BGSA meeting, 21 February 2014

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The August Welcome Party: what we need to do, committee formation

We did away with this during the last election season, but we need to bring it back. Welcoming committee of 6 people Fall+Spring (Recruitment + Welcome party. It will be the committee’s job to decide who will be assigned to each event or if all 6 people will work on both.

Judit and Jessica will write this into the officer descriptions on the BGSA website.

August welcome party will be in the courtyard on a Saturday early Fall Semester. Having it on a Saturday will lead to fewer conflicts with rushes. Committee will be responsible for filling out the appropriate paperwork and recruiting help for various activities e.g., carding, serving alcohol, etc. Permits need to be in by the latest 2 weeks before our party.

Find event planning policies here, including a detailed event planning manual:

Recruitment weekend: how to improve, committee formation

Involved individuals (elected as “Welcome Committee” members) will organize field trips, activities (i.e. weekend parties), and the Friday lunch. Judit and Jessica will write this into the
officer descriptions on the BGSA website.

Zoocial Committee

Zoocial will be composed of 6 individuals. It is the responsibility of the elected officers to determine which members will be assigned to the fall or spring semester or whether people will switch off each week. Judit and Jessica will write this into the officer description.

Fundraiser/Pint glasses: how to sell rest of glasses

Put pint glasses in newsletter? Try to sell them! Advertise them! Payment and shipping needs to be added if selling to alumni out of town. Sell pintglasses at zoocial when there is home brew beer (buy a pintglass, get the beer free). Sell them at URAP.

Plants in grad lounge

There are plants in the grad-lounge, we need to water them (there will be a sign)

URAP money

Jessica will chat with various Bio higher ups regarding where URAP prize money is coming from i.e., BGSA or Bio.

BGSA grant ideas

We are constantly fundraising. Our goal is to be able to fund two new grants:

  1. Fund undergrad research?
  2. Fund disciplinary research?
  3. Fund publication cost?

Fundraising: T-shirts logo vote, to do

Flyers, ideas by Anya and Kelly

We got 200 dollar credit from Dragonfly, so we are going with them, they have price match too.

Voted on 3 best designs.

Departmental hires and departmental hire lunches

How to increase participation, lunch options

Krishna Lunch? Grab tickets the day before

BGSA officer elections

Must be organized and implemented (Election season starts at the end of March)

New Biology Chair and you.

Marta Wayne wants to meet with students at 4 PM, Monday (2/24/14) about being
new chair in Carr 222 (formerly Zoo Library).

BGSA meeting, 20 January 2012

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  1. Grad Forum
  2. Grad Committee
  3. Foundation Funds
  4. Budget
  5. Elections

Grad Forum

  • Goal of grad forum is to foster communication between grad students in
  • Open format for sessions: practice presentations, workshops, experimental
    design discussions, etc.
  • Held in 221 Carr (old Botany Library), Fridays, 12-1pm
  • Gaby passed around sign-up sheet, will also send out doodle for sign-ups
  • Martijn mentioned that Career Resource Center presented at Graduate
    Student Council about their services & it might be good to have them come
    present a workshop at Grad Forum.
  • Everyone agreed & Gaby/Martijn will work on getting this scheduled

Grad Committee

  • lots of concern about how the changes in implementation of policies on
    time-to-completion will change culture of department, especially in
    relation to side projects, collaborations & other efforts that aren’t directly
    part of a thesis/dissertation
  • suggestion to compare requirements/metrics/tracking methods at other
    large public institutions that are comparable to UF
  • agreement that a BGSA meeting with the Grad Committee would be good
    to improve communication between grad students & faculty on what’s
    happening (François will contact grad committee to make arrangements)

Foundation Funds

  • the special funds that were discussed in the fall will be applied as follows:
    • $2,000 towards student travel awards (not sure if this means more
      awards or larger awards)
  • $1,000 towards a new grant for interdisciplinary projects
  • $2,000 towards Riewald/Olowo grants
  • unclear if these funds will supplement existing funding, or these funds will
    replace current funding
  • Budget

    • Earned $930 from t-shirt sales (didn’t sell any mugs), so this covers two
      years of BGSA Riewald/Olowo & URAP funding


    • discussion over how to increase participation
      • self-nominations vs. peer nominations: conclusion was to have both
        methods, but peer nominations must be confirmed by nominee
      • talked about splitting some jobs fall/spring, to allow those who have
        lengthy field seasons during one semester to still be involved
      • issue is reps to faculty committees need to be for whole year
      • most positions that could be shared already have two or more
      • descriptions already include info on time commitment, but should
        publicize this more, since wide range of time commitments
      • publicize BGSA achievements to let everyone know that BGSA
        positions make a difference
    • discussion began focusing on fostering “community building” and
      communication to increase ties within department

      • Grad Forum newsletter: Gaby will compile notes & committee will
      • “stall wall” sheet: single page published weekly or monthly that is
        posted in restrooms: concern about whether this is permissible; when done in past, improved participation (e.g., Grad Forum)

    BGSA meeting, 6 September 2011

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    Seminar snack

    Seminar snacks are a huge amount of work

    • each lab rotating assignments, instead of BGSA committee
    • faculty agreed, but apparently forgot, but have been reminded
    • faculty working out procedure for rotating

    Snack & soda store

    Snack & soda store earning money, but not bringing in as much as we

    • tracking inventory for one semester (beginning & end) to see if it’s worth to continue running it
    • suggestion: email department w/status & let everyone know that we may have to eliminate store
      • reminder that we’re missing money
      • Francois & Jess will send to both museum & bio lists
    • discussion of price change to $0.75/item: decided to hold off on changing prices until after evaluate inventory
      this semester
    • put sign up thanking for supporting research
    • coffee: currently space committee task, suggestion to switch to Keurig, but concern about being
      environmentally wasteful. Decided that coffee pot will be provided, but not coffee

    URAP Awards

    • research awards for undergrads doing posters/talks at research day
    • encourage undergrads presenting research
    • suggested small prize, e.g., $25 gift cards or something
    • 1 for talk & 1 for poster + “Honorable Mentions”
    • $50 (talk), $50 (best poster), $25(honorable mention poster), see how it
      goes this year
    • Gift card to Amazon, since can use for wide variety


    • Designing t-shirt &/or mug
    • explore option of working with Jamie to find someone from Art dept. to
    • pre-orders for the bulk of the order
    • Daniel presented his (& Julian’s) idea of DNA w/diff. ecosystems in each
      loop, very favorable response
    • Caitlin has a graphic designer friend who might be willing to do it, will
    • goal is having these ready before Christmas
    • Francois confirmed that mug & t-shirt came at top of list on survey done in
    • email coming out by early November

    Extra money from department

    • one-time deal
    • not large, but fairly substantial (~$5,000)
    • department is giving SIGNIFICANTLY less in travel funds than in the past
    • departmental travel awards can be used for research, CLAS only for
    • Options discussed:
      • more/larger Riewald/Olowo awards
      • more/larger travel awards, research or conferences was the concensus
      • multidisciplinary projects for collaborative research projects?
      • grad student retreat
    • will have vote on options
    • committee for awards via same mechanism as Riewald/Olowo?

    Rustom Antia’s visit

    He arrives Sept. 24, leaves Tuesday

    • joint with EPI
    • Itchetucknee trip on Sunday
    • doodle will be sent out
    • not sure if grad students will have vote or not, but will find out

    Grad student progress letters

    • started tracking progress much better last year
    • letters going out indicating that status in program may be in jeopardy
    • letters go out annually
    • concern is that this policy is being applied to senior students in mid-stream
    • feeling is that decisions would have been different if the tracking
      had been going on from the beginning
    • providing updates isn’t the problem, but some students feel that the implementation is
      severely flawed & causing excess stress
    • having a discussion with the grad committee & grad students might be
    • request for face to face meeting with grad committee/coordinator, not
      just via email, perhaps after report to administration is done in November
    • proactive checklist for each year

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    BGSA meeting, 1 March 2011

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    # of attendees: 13

    Smriti Bhotika, President of BGSA,
    presided over the meeting and presented following agenda, which was
    distributed earlier today to the biograd list-serve

    1. Brief presentation by GAU (the graduate student union)
    2. Election Procedures
    3. Suggestions for Committees
      • merge Treasurer and Secretary
      • reduce size of welcoming committee to 3 people
      • form new fundraising committee for tshirt sales (2 people)
      • reopen awards committee for nominations rather than elect from R-O recipients
      • Seminar Committee
      • information from Alice; can submit proposal to faculty
      • move R-O awards to Fall semester
      • move grad forum back to lunch time
      • conduct Grad Invited Speaker nomination during spring instead of summer
    4. Treasurer’s Report (including update on Snack/Soda Store)
    5. Fundraising Efforts (Tshirts and Mugs)


    Graduate Assistants United (three representatives present) informed us that a new bill in the Florida Legislature may dissolve our status as a labor union unless our membership increases to 50% of the graduate assistants at UF (currently, we have 20% membership) by July 1 2011.

    Jane Brockmann attended the first 10 minutes of our meeting to communicate that she, along with many faculty members, is concerned that this bill will jeopardize our basic rights and benefits as employees of the University of Florida. The Biology faculty – as a whole – does not want its graduate assistants to lose healthcare benefits, legal representation, and other rights assured by the existence of GAU as a legal union. She urged us to consider joining GAU and she reported that the Biology faculty are working to support the continued existence of unionized graduate assistants at UF.

    Michael Mayne (, a representative from GAU, followed up with specific information about the bill and GAU.

    About GAU: Graduate Assistants United is a Labor organization. Every year, GAU represents graduate assistants in an employment contract negotiation with UF. Examples of important components of this contract are the tuition waiver (won in 1986), fee deferment and cap (2010) and a healthcare plan (~2006). The yearly contract is legally binding (because we’re a labor Union), provides us with a legal representative for grievances with the University, and works to ensure that our rights as employees are maintained through changing economic times.

    About the (dreaded) bill (HB 1023): proposed by the supermajority in Tallahassee, requests that maintaining Union status require a 50% membership, which is much higher than our current membership of 20%. If this passes and we do not reach 50% by July 1, GAU loses its status and we lose our legal representative with UF. The result is that our tuition waivers, healthcare benefits, and other GAU benefits become vulnerable to suspension without legal consequences.

    The g’s: GAU is supported financially by its membership dues. Members of GAU pay 1% of their yearly salary. If you joined but aren’t sure if you’re still a member, check your paycheck. The 1% deduction should appear in the description provided through To become a member, check your mailbox for a membership contract. If you are abroad, you can e-mail Mike (see address above). GAU website: contains membership form, copy of this year’s contract, and other information about socials and officers.

    If you have further questions and would like to chat with a GAU representative in person, you can visit their table in the Plaza of the Americas any Wednesday afternoon.

    Currently, our steward is Stein Servick. Alfred Thomson volunteered to become a second representative for our department to GAU, given the current increase in demand for communication and cooperation between graduate assistants and GAU.

    There was concern about the cost of joining: 1% of our paycheck is $120, which adds up. Hannah wondered whether GAU is open to reducing the cost. Mike said no (other unions charge up to 5% and the money that GAU makes is used to pay lawyers). He called our attention to the less conspicuous benefits (gov’t employee discounts for car rentals and other services).

    Smriti and Gaby requested a list of the additional benefits; this list may be useful for students who are very budget-conscious and simply unaware of the net cost of joining. We think the list is coming…will check back with you when we have it.

    New Election Procedures

    Smriti and Hannah are updating the officer descriptions on the BGSA website (see here) in order to ensure consistency through transitions and to clarify questions about BGSA’s officer positions. The updates were e-mailed to the graduate student list-serve for comments and suggestions.

    The 2011-2012 BGSA officer elections will contain the following new policy:
    Graduate students who are interested in becoming BGSA officers can self-nominate. Our previous policy was to allow peer nominations; however this procedure will not be followed for the 2011-2012 elections. A two-week period (to be decided: late March, early April) will be designated for self-nominations and elections.

    Additionally, those who are interested in holding an executive position (President, Vice President, Secretary, Treasurer) will submit a brief statement about him/herself (who are you?) and why he/she would like to serve as one of the executive officers. The goal of this statement is to keep things personal. Now that we are a bigger department, many of us don’t know each other and thus wouldn’t have the information needed to vote.

    If a position is still empty during voting time, the secretary will send out a call for volunteers to assist in said positions.

    If there is only 1 self-nominated student for a position, he/she will automatically get the position.

    There was resistance to the self-nomination policy. Concerns (with responses from the executive officers who discussed the procedure at length) are summarized below:

    Concern 1: Self-nominations select for students who are already involved. Response: this concern may be based on a misconception. Many officers actually prefer to step back and get some work done after serving as BGSA officers.

    Concern 2: Nobody will self-nominate. Response: this semester, several positions became vacant. Smriti called for volunteers and received quick responses. The hope is that a self-nomination policy will result in fewer ‘drop-outs’ who either cannot serve because of work constraints or are unaware of their nomination until it’s too late to step down.

    A motion to vote on this new policy was called: 11 of the 11 graduate students present (two had stepped out before the end of the meeting) voted to support the new policy.

    Suggestions for changes to BGSA officer and committee structure

    1. Merge Treasurer and Secretary positions: Hannah has served in each position and found that the duties are easy to combine. Having a single secretary/treasurer position will result in easier logistics for the president when executive committee meetings need to be planned.
      Gaby doesn’t think the positions should be combined. She agrees that the workload for each position is low and prefers that the workload for BGSA positions remain low.
    2. Reduce the size of the welcoming committee from 5 to 3: The main concern was that if 1 person bails out, the welcoming pic-nic is too much work for 2 people. We are, however, willing to see if the self-nomination procedure results in better commitment and/or preemptive replacement of members if something comes up.
    3. PR and fundraising rep to be a single person who handles t-shirts and updates for the Biology website. Danielle suggested that 2 people hold the position.
    4. Riewald-Olowo awards committee: we may expand the eligibility criteria to include all students who have received R-O awards in the past. Serving on the committee could be their opportunity to provide an important service in return.
    5. We will move the R-O deadline to the Fall so that it’s lined it up with the Sigma Xi deadline.
    6. We are considering moving grad forum back to lunchtime in order to increase attendance. A poll will go out to the graduate students before the grad forum meeting time is decided next year. This will hopefully eliminate schedule conflicts that prevent large numbers of students from attending at 4:00 p.m.
    7. The nominations for grad invited speaker will go out in the Spring instead of Summer. Smriti thinks that we are now allowed to invite 2 speakers per year but she is going to check on this and get back to us.
    8. Seminar committee: it’s a lot of work and almost purely a service position with no benefits. Should BGSA be in charge of setting up snacks? Smriti spoke to Alice, who said that in the past, the Botany seminar snack/coffee arrangements were made by a staff member and included non-perishable snacks that didn’t require weekly grocery trips. There isn’t a University-wide policy (some departments put the staff in charge, some departments put graduate students in charge). Alice proposed that the graduate students submit a new policy for seminar committee membership so that the faculty can discuss options.
      We are considering the option of transferring the basic duty to a staff member (sans the grocery store trip). If we want extras that are more enjoyable but perishable, the faculty host can provide them.

    Treasurer report

    We have ~$2,900. We’ve made $300 from candy store since we moved it. It’s self-sufficient again and making profits since it was moved to the grad student lounge. Volume of sales is lower but profit is much higher (i.e. positive and not negative!!!). There are some complaints about the absence of the IOU system but we are going to keep it as is for now.


    Fundraising: Francois needs help with a designer for our t-shirts. If we don’t have a t-shirt design by the end of March, we’ll postpone until the Fall semester.
    Danielle had a great suggestion: we should design it at the beginning of the Fall and sell it at the pic-nic, Zoocial and as a holiday gift.

    Meeting adjourned at ~6:20 p.m.

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    BGSA meeting, 9 November 2010

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    Attendance: 14 people

    Main topics of today’s meeting: grad invited speaker, grad forum.

    1. Space committee/grad student lounge: to ensure that grad student lounge will stay well-supplied and organized, we will include some grad lounge maintenance duties in the Space Committee description of tasks for next year.
    2. Frequenly Asked Questions resource: Hannah and Smriti assembled a list of Frequently Asked Questions with answers for graduate students who want to know basic departmental policies: fiscal, curriculum, TAships, etc. They will post it online within the next 2 weeks and are encouraging us to check it out first before going through the trouble of asking questions to people who may/may not know the answers.
    3. Graduate Invited Speaker – Budget: Caitlin and Smriti asked the faculty some questions about $$ for grad invited speakers. The seminar committee expressed that they will support 2 graduate invited speakers/year (1 per semester), given that in the past, there was 1 for Zoology and 1 for Botany. Smriti asked attendees if there were any objections. There was unanimous support for having 2 invited speakers/year. Clare suggested that we re-visit the option during semesters that involve several faculty hires, given that hiring duties require lots of participation and may cut away from time that the graduate students may be able to devote to hosting an invited speaker.
    4. Graduate Invited Speaker – Voting: We usually submit nominations and vote on an invited speaker after BGSA elections. Thus, the decision is usually made by the end of the summer. We may need to vote earlier if we are coordinating the visits of 2 speakers. Caitlin would be happy to take nominations before elections (for next year). We discussed the option of constructing categories (e.g. Ecology, Molecular Biology, etc) in order to evenly distribute the representation of disciplines among invited speakers. This idea was not well-received by us. Clare provided a well-articulated argument for no categories: having a single category incentivizes people to choose an integrative person. Thus, everyone will be more likely to participate. Daniel expressed that the scheduling process may be challenging, given that famous people have busy schedules. We will try this out during for 1 year (assuming the risk of having 2 in 1 semester, but trying to have 1/semester).
    5. Graduate Research Forum/Grad Forum/Graduate Student Research Forum/Research Forum: The faculty in the seminar committee want to institutionalize graduate forum; they suggested the idea of requiring 1 presentation in order to graduate. We agreed that there are several opportunities for students to give practice talks and present results/questions in the department; enforcing this is not necessary. We are going to suggest that 1-2 Departmental Seminar slots be allotted to departmental student presentations (in addition to exit seminars). We want to continue having grad forum because it is informal and useful for people who are getting their feelers out Re: an idea, a graph, etc. It’s more interactive than a formal seminar. The problem thus far has been low attendance to grad forum. Danielle suggested that we advertise by announcing grad forum during weekly seminars. We may also increase faculty attendance by requesting that they sign up to attend grad forum 1 day/year. Another incentive: grad forum presenter gets a free beverage at Zoocial on his/her presentation day. Additional grad forum presentation incentive: lottery. We pull a name out of the group of presenters and give a prize at the end of the semester ($50 book certificate?).
    6. Curriculum: Bob is teaching theoretical community ecology in the Spring.
    7. BGSA Fundraising: Francois reported survey results: Winner: T-shirts; 2nd place: mugs. Camila volunteered to draw a T-shirt design if we come up with one. Daniel drew his design (double helix with ecosystems). We liked it; he and Camila are going to work on it together. Danielle: another idea for fundraising: Garage sale/auction, possibly tied into holiday party. From survey results: 2 people said they’d be willing to spend >$100 on fundraising.
    8. BGSA Treasury: Votes for spending money: 10% of votes were for a retreat, majority of votes were for research or travel grants. Melania reported that we have $2,262.85 – $300 for research grant. Candy store isn’t bringing any money in. We are concerned because we’re not making much profit – some money is missing consistently. We used to have the candy store and soda store in the secretary office, which likely maintained more loyalty to the honor system? We thought about putting the candy store in the grad lounge; however access to it will then be limited. Do we need to raise prices? We should be making more, now that Lori is buying from Sam’s. First possible solution: put it in the office of a staff member?
    9. Curriculum: Jamie is interested in helping graduate students improve their writing skills, either by teaching a short/intense workshop or a semester-long writing course. Another possibility is hiring someone from the writing center. Swati summarized her presentation from grad seminar: The woman offers instruction on writing – her background is in linguistics. $3,800/semester is the price of the workshop. YIKES! Francois mentioned that these workshops operate on a more basic level than we need. We might benefit more from a course/workshop taught by a faculty member. Caitlin mentioned that there is a professor in Chemistry who teaches an excellent Scientific Writing course. It may or may not still exist. Bottom line, though: more students would be interested in semester-long course.
    10. Last item: Mike Gil: appeal/suggestion. He is the departmental sustainability representative and is trying to organize a public panel discussion during which we bring our understanding/knowledge of biology to inform the public about sustainability and conservation. Camila suggested hosting it at the museum of natural history. It’s difficult to make a link between biology research and sustainability. Could we call it Conservation/Global Change? Hannah suggested that Mike define the discussion topics a priori and choose a timely event that is of great public interest (e.g. oil spill). This may increase public interest.

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    BGSA meeting, 31 August 2010

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    Kris Callis described the cellphone exchange program: graduate students who purchase
    cellphones while working abroad can donate/loan their phones to others who may need them
    when going to work in the same country.

    Smriti requested volunteers for the seminar committee: Mariela volunteered. We still need
    another person.

    Gaby, one of the two GSC reps, announced that Martijn will be out of town this semester
    and she needs two sit-in representatives: 1 for the September 16 meeting and one for the
    November 18 meeting. Clare and Jessica volunteered.

    Smriti addressed some inconsistencies in our voting procedures. She proposed the idea of
    having anonymous online voting to allow more people to vote. We discussed the
    implications of both options.

    At first, most of the attendees voiced that they wouldn’t go against online voting.

    Sea mentioned that key aspects of a vote may be discussed during a meeting, thus only the
    people who were present should vote because they have the necessary information.

    Kris proposed an online discussion forum for issues that require more careful thought.

    Christine asked what we would be voting on.

    Smriti answered that we will be voting on some issues in the strategic plan and on how to
    spend our money.

    Francois mentioned that regardless of what we will be voting on, we need to standardize
    the procedure. The vote on the graduate invited speaker didn’t follow policy, partly
    because the rules weren’t definitive.

    Gaby will research options on Survey Money (i.e. can people vote anonymously without
    submitting 2 votes?).

    Hannah and Smriti spent some time this summer drafting new election procedures. Smriti
    will send it out when next year’s elections are near. We discussed whether the nominees
    should include a statement on their suitability for the proposed job.

    We discussed our budget.

    Melania stated that we have $1964 + some candy store money. Our budget has been
    fluctuating between 2000 and 2500. Smriti said we can expect to make a net of $500 next

    A few ideas on how to spend our budget money:

    • Travel award
    • Double-sided printer for the McEdward lab
    • Copy machine credit Snacks for graduate research
    • Graduate student lounge supplies
    • Gift certificates, raffle Retreat/get-together
    • Don’t spend it.

    Last year, we spent $950 on grant money.

    Sea proposed that we put the money towards a general category of research grant.

    Hannah mentioned that if we devote the money to an award, it goes to a single person,
    whereas if we devote it to something more general (i.e. printing), it will benefit all

    Lingering questions: Do we want to benefit all or a few? Do we want to commit to spending
    money in perpetuity? (i.e. if it’s a printer, we need to buy ink and paper). We decided
    on a ‘no spend for now’ option.

    Do we want to fundraise this year? Please send ideas to Francois.


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    BGSA meeting, 18 February 2010

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    Start Time: 4:30

    Van Safety

    • We discussed ways to make driving the vans safer at the suggestion of Alice Harmon
    • Most attendees were in favor of allowing practice driving the vans before we took classes out. This could be in the form of Pete being more amicable to us borrowing keys to practice or a couple hours at the beginning of the semester being set aside as practice time or even making it a part of the IP course.
    • Most attendees also supported having van checklists with several caveats.
      • First, the things we have to check should be basic enough for those of us with little automotive experience to understand
      • Second, if we have to sign off on this check list, we want to make sure that this does not make us more liable should something happen
      • Third, the checklists need to go to someone (not a grad student) who does know something about cars and has the power to get the vans repaired. The checklists are useless if no one reads them.
      • Grad students, who use the vans more often than staff or faculty, are in the best position to anticipate maintenance problems with the vans.

    Grad Student Lounge

    • In general, it would be ideal for this space to support a table/chairs, couch(es), dry erase board, coffee maker, hot water kettle and microwave.
    • This space could be used to have lunch, coffee/tea time and for general decompression.
    • The lounge could also be a place for brainstorming sessions and building collaborations.
    • We are currently voting on whether we support this idea.
    • After the vote, we will begin looking at location options.


    • Jenny reminded us to be aware of worker’s comp. Many injuries we sustain, even if only mildly associated with work, are covered under worker’s comp, and if Gator Grad Care decides your injury should have been covered under worker’s comp, they will not pay for medical treatment. Should we have Julie Neubig come for a Q and A to help us clear things up?
    • Jada reminded us that the 6th floor of Library West is an awesome place to study, has lots of natural light, is quiet, and is for grad students only. Get your access granted on the second floor.
    • Clare reiterated that grad reps should contact the faculty on their committee about upcoming meetings. DO NOT assume the faculty will contact you. Ask Amy or go to the Biology Dept website to find out who the faculty are.

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    BGSA meeting, 1 December 2009

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    Start Time: 4:50 — Five Star Pizza was decent today.

    Report from GSA meeting

    • Julie reported back from the GSA meeting.
    • There are $250 travel grants available from GSC. 14, 12, 8, 7 are left for January, February, March, and April, respectively. There are many available for May and June. You need an accepted abstract to apply, but may be able to get letter of acceptance earlier if you ask the conference organizer.
    • Wednesday, February 3rd is the GSC research day ( We need at least one poster from the biology department to be presented. If you have a poster ready, please consider presenting, especially if you have received a travel grant.
    • Undergrads have voted to raise fees to renovate the Reitz Union. Estimated increase is $50 a semester. The GSC has written a letter to Bernie Machen protesting this. The GAU will be protesting it
    • A raise in salary may be on the horizon?! It would probably be a raise of the minimum pay or a raise for incoming students.

    Report from the graduate student opinion survey

    Smirthi reported on the results of the graduate student opinion survey.

    • The majority of us have been funded by TA ships. What is the “other” category of funding?
    • The majority of graduate students were satisfied or very satisfied with their situation (workload, classwork, space, etc.) except for salary, financial support from the department, and financial support from the University.
    • Smirthi suggests that if the minority is unsatisfied or very unsatisfied is a substantial amount (at times it is 15 people) than they should not be ignored even if the majority is happy.
    • Jada suggested that a raw data breakdown looking at satisfaction based on source of funding.
    • The majority was very satisfied or satisfied with the quality of mentoring. Though Kathleen suggested this could benefit from being broken down by years in program.
    • Smirthi is worried the results seem too rosy and may make the department not want to improve, since 15% are unsatisfied.
    • The majority of us are satisfied with the program as a whole, including the diversity of classes. Again this may be affected by the breakdown—is one an ecologist or a physiologist?
    • Should new, first year students, be included in the survey? They may not have enough experience to really answer the questions.
    • The majority was satisfied with logistical support. This includes IT, building maintenance, financial office, etc.
    • The majority were only OK with gender and ethnic diversity. Ethnic diversity could definitely be improved.
    • Overall, we are a generally happy, satisfied bunch!
    • What is the motivation of this survey? The faculty also took a survey. We want to see these results!

    Office trash

    Office trash is only being picked up on Thursday evenings. It is now best to use hallway trashcans for your trash as these are emptied more regularly.

    Faculty searches

    There are 3 faculty searches next semester. That means about 12 seminars, lunches, field trips, and dinner parties.

    • How can we maximize participation to minimize burnout?
    • Jada reminded us that these searches are a great learning opportunity for us to understand how job searches work.
    • One is for an “Eco Theorist” (i.e., the new Ben), one is for an evolutionary geneticist at the emerging pathogens institute, one is for an epidemiologist at the emerging pathogens institute.
    • Andrew reminded us that the grad reps to these search committees are here to get input from us and bring it to the committee, so let them know if you want the candidates to have a certain skill or characteristic.
    • Each candidate has a lunch in the courtyard, a field trip, a reception, and a dinner.
    • Should we drop the dinner? How important is that on top of everything else?
    • Should we drop the lunch? It is too big? Should they occur in the Botany Conference Room around a table to encourage more conversation with the candidate and less with one’s own group of friends?


    $2594 is our current balance. $300 will go to our research grant.


    Jessica presented a new t-shirt design but many found it too “cute-sy”.
    They were however playing instruments, which was pretty awesome.
    But it needs more plants.
    We ultimately decided “no” on it but it and the old zoology design will be sent out to other people to make changes if they want.

    End Time: 6:08

    Miscellaneous notes from the President (Lori)

    • Gaby Blohm has graciously volunteered to serve as the grad rep for
      the 3rd job search (emerging infectious diseases). Thank you Gaby!
    • Thanks for all the ideas about grad student involvement in the
      upcoming searches. Several past and current grad reps are meeting
      with the faculty chairs of the searches on Friday. We will pass
      along these suggestions and keep everyone posted on the outcome.
    • Finally, I wanted to thank Adrian for his positive comments during the
      discussion of the grad survey results. The merging of our departments
      wasn’t seamless, but I totally agree that the end result is an awesome
      biology department and I am also happy to be here.

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    BGSA meeting, 10 April 2009

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    Proposal to use BGSA funds

    There were 12-15 students who applied for travel awards this summer. Five applications were forwarded to CLAS. The department cannot support student travel this summer, though they will match funds for one additional travel grant if the college approves one.

    Currently, the balance in the BGSA fund is $3000. This is roughly twice as much as at the beginning of the year with deposits from the soda and candy stores.

    We must use these funds for one $300 Riewald grant. Additionally, it is proposed that the BGSA fund 3-5 summer travel awards, depending on whether the college provides any. This would be a maximum expenditure of about $1550. The idea is that this is a short-term fix, rather than long-term solution. No one knows whether travel money will be available from the department in the fall or in the future. If these funds are not spent now, they will stay in the account until the BGSA proposes and approves another manner in which to spend the funds.

    A hidden vote will be conducted with doodle. Votes are due by Wednesday, April 15 at 5:00pm.

    BGSA elections

    The following positions reflect the new merged departments and will be open for nominations until Wednesday at 5:00pm. Send nominations to Some descriptions are available online. The nominees will then be able to remove their name from the list before voting occurs. Voting will be conducted by email.

    • President (1)
    • VP (1)
    • Secretary (1)
    • Treasurer (1) – new position
    • Undergrad Rep (1)
    • Grad Rep (1)
    • URAP (2)
    • Welcoming Committee (5)
    • Greenhouse Committee (1)
    • Computer Committee (1)
    • Seminar Committee (4)
    • Seminar Rep (1) grad speaker/faculty liason
    • GSC Reps (2)
    • Soda store (4)
    • Candy store (4)
    • “Zoo”cial (4)
    • Grad Forum (4)
    • Space Committee (1)
    • T-shirt Committee (?)
    • Awards Committee (3) – not elected, will be selected from five Olowo/Riewald grant recipients

    News from Faculty

    IP course will be two-year experiment, and department will reassess after two years.
    Minutes are being kept for faculty meetings by different person each week, posted on server, available to just us.
    Alice Harmon is interested in fundraising/PR committee, potential for student rep in the future.

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    Department chair candidates meeting with graduate students 9 December 2008

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    Starting date: July 1, 2009

    Intro from Craig Osenberg: Likes the department, expects challenges will be fewer for grad
    students than faculty, believes grad program is heart of department, has seen huge
    transition in Zoology dept in 12 years between department reviews that he has been a part
    of (in terms publications, productivity, etc.)

    Intro from Alice Harmon: Also believes graduate program is key to department, recognizes
    increased enrollment for undergrad classes and teaching burden, few changes for our degree

    1) How can minor in opposite department be preserved? What happens to the outside
    committee member?

    C: Faculty have graduate status in a program and still separate in that sense. Outside
    members in opposite unit are still okay.

    A: Believes outside member is purely political,
    and thinks outside member still in department (although different degree program) doesn’t
    fulfill role. Students in department at time of change can get grandfathered into old
    rules or chose new rules.

    2) New role will demand a lot of extra commitment on top of already full plates. What

    A: RA helps to maintain research, but likely won’t be sufficient. Alice thinks
    she’ll lose free time.

    C: Thinks his own graduate students should be concerned but will
    work to protect time with grad students and children. Will not be teaching.

    3) What will happen to the future of Integrative Principles and other required courses?
    How can you give credit to people teaching IP?

    C: Helped developed IP. Would like to see it continue. Right now, believes it
    provides a scholarly framework to introduce to students to department research and unite
    students. Students talk about ideas outside of comfort zone, it allows students to go to
    people outside lab, field, etc and engage in scholarly discussions. May change approach
    in terms of modules, and should be reoriented to bring in broader diversity of faculty.
    Regarding other requirements, grad students shouldn’t be saddled with more commitments,
    but rather coursework is up to grad student and committee. Believes credit can be given
    to people teaching. It depends upon college, and has in the past relied upon faculty who
    do it by good will. Karen granted sabbatical to Craig for 7 years of teaching.

    A: Thinks it is an excellent course to prepare for rigors of academia, especially to
    start early in career. Would like to see content modified to include more molecular

    4) What is your specific vision for department to change grad or undergrad programs,
    courses, etc?

    A: For short term, focus is not to change much, but to establish
    infrastructure. Right now, we need to work on new strategic plan, bylaws, meeting
    conduct, etc. Changes to courses and degrees can come later, would like input from
    current students. Does not have a clear vision now without good understanding of Zoology.

    C: Department works more democratically, will have lots of faculty input. He will work
    to make the vision from the whole department happen.

    5) A lot of faculty don’t want to be chair. Why do you want the position?

    C: Would be happy not to be chair, as it will not be a fun task. May be more
    rewarding in this term than last – hopes things are going up. Feels duty to provide
    service to department, and everyone thinks they already have done their service. Thinks
    job is important.

    A: Agrees with Craig and points out it is better to have chair from within than have
    dean appoint.

    6) Are there any threats to our department and what is important to protect?

    A: Doesn’t know of any threats. Expects merged status will help us to throw our
    weight around like Chemistry and Physics. Administration is more positive about the
    department after the merge.

    C: Part of impetus for merger was BSC that hung outside of the department and expects
    it will be in a better position now.

    7) Is there pressure from dean to increase teaching load on faculty and how will you stand
    up for the department?

    C: Unsure what the comment means. Do we have too many faculty on release, do we teach
    too many small classes, more students wanting classes and can’t graduate on time, etc? We
    need to figure out how to solve the problem, but that doesn’t necessarily mean we will
    teach more, but rather more effectively.

    A: In comparison to English or History faculty, Biology faculty do not necessarily
    teach as much. Believes it’s more other issues.

    8) No formal division in research interests for Zoology, but not the case for Botany?
    Will those divisions be maintained?

    A: At this point, everyone is looking to be fully merged. In Botany, had
    Ecology/Evolution, Systematics, and Molecular disciplines. Tried to maintain certain
    ratios of faculty. Worried about how we protect minority focused interests. Other models
    have dissolved individual degrees. More dialogue is necessary.

    9) What is role of non-chair after the appointment? What about a co-chair?

    A: The non-chair of the two candidates help the new chair in whatever capacity as with
    all other faculty.

    C: Expects faculty from all units to contribute. Hope to have diverse representation
    from department when setting up committees, etc. Co-chair is not a good idea. Need a
    single person leading the group (many of problems now have stemmed from three current

    10) Will there be faculty hires in the next three years? What are priorities?

    C: Two ads are currently out. Animal physiologist seems more certain, though the
    university can pull back money at any point. Teaching needs of department matter a lot to
    the dean, and we want to have faculty to staff class demands.

    11) Many majors are more interested in Zoology than Botany type classes? What will
    you do to maintain plant courses? Can you change requirements?

    A: Plant people can teach evolution, genetics, ecology, etc. In the short term, more
    hires may be of Zoology nature. Possibility of farming out teaching to IFAS.

    C: We want undergrads in our department. Thought changing requirements to make
    program better is good idea, and undergrad education should not dictate what the
    department does.

    12) What would be your role in making the merger happen without stepping on toes of

    A: Thinks we have gotten over much of that and faculty have already agreed on a lot,
    including all-encompassing mission statement. Now we’re getting into the nitty-gritty

    C: What will this department look like in 15 years? Always thought Zoology should
    merge with Botany, but will we be too big to function integratively? So far, things have
    been going smoothly, voting similarly.

    13) How would you characterize the differences between you?

    A: Differences are probably in program idea. Two departments are coming closer
    together. Her vision of department differs depending whether viewing it as faculty member
    vs. chair. Molecular biologists in botany area are not ecologists and most don’t have
    evolutionary perspective. So Alice wants a more inclusionary vision.

    C: Helped create Zoology mission statement, motivated by idea as department that
    program is different and defines us. No matter what level you worked on, all united by
    some interest in evolutionary principles or ecological ones. We have attracted faculty
    that could have gone to medical schools, but liked the program in which work is surrounded
    by people with other interests and try to link their work to greater context. What
    emerges is integrative approach, but would like students coming out of program to be far
    more integrated. Thinks Alice has a less exclusionary view. There is a tension between
    diversity and exclusivity and the two candidates separate a little differently. Zoology
    is missing molecular biology and theory and hired people to address those needs.

    14) How do we deal with distances between buildings?

    A: Would have office hours here. Students are also separated physically, but there
    hasn’t yet been a clear solution.

    C: Also recognizes that faculty are not all in Bartram-Carr and he would not be
    accessible to everyone either.

    15) What is on table for increasing salary of TAs?

    A: Probably nothing in next 2 years with another budget cut coming in near future.

    C: Cuts will be more vertical than horizontal: smaller cuts in some areas, and bigger
    cuts in others. Optimistic hope is that we will be sheltered from cuts due to Biology

    16) Where is your comfort zone in increasing or decreasing size of department?

    A: Not smaller. Will probably have to grow. We will be at 39 with two new hires,
    most Biology programs are 50.

    C: Zoology has always wanted to add more faculty. Thought about how to do things more
    effectively and need to think in different ways in this type of period.

    17) How will you handle recruitment with more budget cuts?

    C: Didn’t affect most students this year and hopes it won’t affect this year’s

    A: As far as TA numbers, undergraduate teaching is our gold mine, and this supports
    many of the incoming students.

    18) Since the merge, there I more competition for funding and awards within
    department. Competition is double, resources cut in half. How will you try to increase

    A: There were a fewer numbers of travel awards this year and doesn’t know how it can
    be avoided. Wants to keep merit-based, avoid division.

    C: Faculty, students, and staff lose out on awards in this situation. He will help
    remind college of department size. Tiny departments should not get same number of awards.
    He will also encourages procuring funding internally, grant writing through IP course,
    committee to get endowment funds, etc.

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    Graduate student/faculty discussion minutes, held on October 23rd, 2008

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    Announcement from Lori Albergotti

    HHMI Gator program is for graduate students to mentoring students. It involves ½ time
    RA and two undergraduates who get paid. The deadline is November 28.


    The background of this meeting came from several semesters back. Graduate students
    involved in faculty hiring process felt there was a discrepancy between graduate students
    of this department and new faculty, i.e. that we are not the same caliber. In particular
    a faculty member commented to student that 5% or less of Zoology students would be
    competitive applicants at a Research I institution.

    Maybe a first question to ask is: do all students graduating from this department even
    want to be at a Research I institution? Perhaps we should begin to look at career
    trajectories of the students graduating from our department. For example, at UC Davis
    Todd Palmer reported only a small handful went to Research 1, but many went other places
    and he thinks the proportion is similar to handful that has come out of UF.

    What are our standards and how do students measure up?

    Brian Silliman said one thing to consider is how long someone has been in grad school,
    master’s or not. The years of experience may add up quickly.

    Colette St. Mary mentioned that many of the applicants in our job search often had 7-10
    publications or more from grad school and post-docs. Students graduating from UF have 3
    or so publications, which seems to be on track to continue up to 7-10, as did the
    applicants to this department.

    Also you need to consider your goals from beginning—is your research on track to get to
    where you want to go? These goals may vary and the path to achieve them as well.

    Where are grad student anxieties coming from?

    Ben Bolker said part of this might be anxiety, but unfortunately, it doesn’t go

    Some ways to ease anxieties: Publication record is self-driven. One student pointed
    out ecology projects make it hard to publish early. She suggested that faculty members
    involve students in projects that can get done early. Though, Todd Palmer said students
    shouldn’t feel like it is their right to be on advisor’s publications. Think about what
    you want and what will put you in the right position when you finish, and if the advisor
    can’t provide that, you may need to reconsider. Diversify your publications, publish as
    you go. One review paper is a good idea, lots is a bad idea. Let advisor know you want
    papers. A lot of it comes back to personal responsibility.

    Might it come from the challenge of knowing when it is time to publish?

    Think about where papers may come in as you plan your research project(s): what can
    stand as individual papers, when do you expect to publish and where? Start with small
    papers, just get something out there.

    Charlie Baer pointed out the people who get jobs have interesting research programs.
    You need to cultivate ambition and durable ego. Karen Bjorndal said perhaps any change we
    bring is not a program-wide phenomenon. It’s an individual by individual basis or with
    advisor. Also, she pointed out you don’t want to publish a lot of unrelated papers, you
    are working to build a body of knowledge. As a graduate student, you are putting together
    a mini-version of body of knowledge. Plan post-doc a year in advance. Is there a logical
    intellectual story that connects thesis and post-doc? Keep building the story. The best
    way to learn the writing process is to do it. Use your committee members. These are
    people who said they are interested in your project, so take advantage of them. Marta
    Wayne also suggested to look outside the department. Don’t be afraid to email people in
    your field. Go to meetings and email people you want to talk to in advance. Meet with
    visiting scientists and seminar speakers. A student suggested creating a publication
    seminar class in which graduate students working on publications would work together
    regularly to prepare a publication. Often, getting a job takes persistence and
    stubbornness, plus 1-3 post-docs. Also, remember the number of people coming out with a
    PhD is greater than number of faculty openings. Some people want to (and need to) go

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    Graduate Student Council minutes held on October 16th, 2008

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    Here’s a short report of announcements made at last weeks Graduate Student Council

    1. Julie Neubig of the Graduate Assistants Benefits Office spoke about some of the
      updates to the coverage by Gator Grad Care, such as the fact that vaccines are now
      covered by the plan. Contact Julie for more
      info: or visit:
      The info is towards the bottom of the page.
    2. There will soon be a web-based application form for GSC Travel Grants.
    3. There will be a GSC Spring Conference for anyone who wants to present a poster or
      talk. It will be at the Reitz Union on February 12, 2009 from 9:00 to 4:00. The
      deadline for abstract submission is December 10 and should be sent
      to Hannah sent an
      email earlier today (October 27th, 2008) with the announcement.
    4. GSC is in need of student representatives in Student Government. The SG has meetings
      every Tues.

    Grad forum: Introduction to webdesign, held on October 17th, 2008

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    You can download the presentation from the workshop

    Meeting with graduate coordinators (Colette St. Mary and Kaoru Kitajima),
    held on September 19th, 2008

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    Colette expressed she wants the merger to affect us as little as possible but Colette and
    Kaoru also answered the questions of the graduate students present.

    1) What will our degrees say?

    It should have the title of the program (department) that
    we arrived in. Colette said the specific program is not really important in the long
    run—people never ask about the program she got her degree in, just which university.

    2) How many votes will we have in the faculty meetings?

    (The concern was our one student vote will count less in a larger faculty size.)
    Faculty hope to get the same amount of input from the grad students, though the vote may
    still be one. Nothing is yet decided. Additionally, even each faculty member’s vote will
    count less in the larger department, but as a whole the faculty has a louder voice in the
    college/university. For example larger departments like chemistry and physics get paid
    more and have a stronger vote at the university level.

    3) Rules and requirements for grad students in new department.

    Already the
    Botany and Zoology graduate programs were very similar and operating under similar
    guidelines, but Colette and Kaoru are going to close any gaps and make more similarities
    between the two departments. Pay and teaching equivalents are the same. IP may be
    required for all Botany students but that is yet to be determined because it has not been
    discussed by the faculty.

    4) Can we still choose an external committee member from the previously external

    The students who have already selected their committee members will be
    grandfathered in. However, the purpose of the outside member is to serve as an arbitrator
    from outside of the department if the student is affected by internal politics. So it is
    in your best interest to choose from outside our combined department if you have not
    selected an outside member. More specifically, if for example, you are a Zoology student
    and have been in conversation with a Botany faculty member to be on your committee,
    Colette would defend that selection at this point but would still encourage us to look
    outside because that person would not be fulfilling the role of the external member.

    5) As of now, the graduate school recognizes two graduate faculties (the college sees only
    one) and we have two budgets (plus a BSC budget). Do you plan to make the Zoology and
    Botany grad programs something like two divisions within the new department?

    No. As of
    now, the department is moving toward one budget and one chair next year. It takes 3-4
    years to change a graduate program, so as of now Botany and Zoology will be different
    emphases, just as there are multiple other programs sponsored by this department such as
    SNRE, etc. We expect to treat all students coming into our program similarly while
    recognizing different degree requirements in different programs.

    6) How will graduate admissions work for the next year?

    Students will apply to two
    different programs, but the one department will sponsor two degrees, and faculty can
    sponsor students in either track. Thus the admissions process will be combined. There
    were worries that it would not be clear to prospective students how the department was
    working, but Colette thought the most important thing was contact with prospective
    advisors and the astute students would figure out the details even if the webpages were
    not current*. And in fact, if we have a smaller pool of applicants, that may be okay as
    we are making the transition. It was suggested that the university give us money to
    launch a new webpage, as this is our portal to communication with prospective
    students. *Kaoru, Colette and the graduate committees are making updates to the graduate
    pages to minimize confusion.

    7) The proposed title of the department is Biology. How does that work with other
    departments that are subdivisions of biology?

    Our role has not changed, and the faculty
    would like to emphasize the mission statement of the department. However, the name has
    not been approved at higher levels yet. No webpage is out because we don’t have an
    official name to put on it.

    8) How do we ensure we don’t lose Botany applicants and that the ratio of Botany to
    Zoology students will stay the same?

    There is always a balance of accepting students
    between multiple factors of funding, qualified applicants, number of students the advisor
    already has, etc. The diversity at the faculty level should play out at the grad level.
    For example, at LSU, 10 years post merger, there is still the same faculty balance as the
    point before the merger. Undergraduate majors will stay the same: Biology, Botany,

    9) Can graduate students still attend the faculty meetings?

    Yes, they are still open,
    though space in the room may be the only limitation.

    10) How will office space be handled for graduate students?

    Zoology and Botany currently
    operate a little differently. Zoology guarantees an office space, and the graduate
    coordinator determines office assignments. In Botany, it is up to the advisor to find
    space for the students. Perhaps as things get ironed out in the new department, there
    will be a space chair and committee appointed for dealing with office space in both

    11) Can students in Botany teach Zoology courses and vice versa?

    It is a possibility.
    Students who are qualified will be prioritized.

    12) Do you expect to have some of the same difficulties with budgeting for teaching this
    spring and in the future as there were this fall?

    Budgeting for teaching this fall was
    terrible, but Colette expects it to be better in the future once the two budgets are
    merged, as there will be more flexibility and transparency.

    13) What will happen to the Integrative Principles course?

    It will continue to be
    required for students in the Zoology track. Colette hopes it will be required for
    students in the Botany track as well and diversified by modules offered by Botany
    faculty. This is yet to be discussed but when it is Botany faculty will be especially
    interested in grad student feedback regarding IP.

    14) Will the two graduate coordinator positions be merged?

    As the plan is to have one
    chair next year, it will also be much simpler to have one graduate coordinator for
    official communication with the college, but there will likely be a committee with various
    aspects of the position being handled by different people, as it is a big job for just one

    15) How will qualifying exams work in the new department?

    That is based entirely on the
    committee, though the faculty can always reevaluate this in future (there are no plans to
    do so). The current handbooks will be slightly revised to minimize inconsistencies, but
    for now they should be separate with no major changes in the short term. There is one
    change regarding the three internal members on the committee. In the Zoology handbook,
    for example, it says three Zoology faculty are required for a PhD committee, but that will
    be changed to Biology faculty effective immediately.

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    Meeting held on September 11th, 2008

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    Along with Zoology graduate students, two Botany Liasons (Jenny Schafer and Caitlin Hicks)
    were in attendance

    Budget update

    The ZGSA currently has $970 in account. Ben says candy store has raised about $500 over
    the last year

    Botany budget: Botany student association earns money by selling cold sodas and would
    like to move refrigerator into new mailroom under candy basket, as it is often
    inaccessible now. They don’t know the status of their account, but they also had $200
    donated from student silent auction last year.

    There was a suggestion to merge both accounts, especially if the candy store and drinks
    are merged into one location. The ZGSA funds one student grant each year, if we merge
    both pots of money that would allow Botany students to be eligible for grants.

    Website update

    The ZGSA website now has a grant list and field trip list. Other updates can go to

    Physiology hire

    Lori Albergotti is graduate student representative, no Botany student grad rep
    Botany faculty member on committee, though it will mainly be a Zoology hire committee
    because the line was designated before merger.

    Merger questions

    The Dean has offered to field any questions, bigger picture concerns, and smaller
    questions can be dealt with inside department. Anyone who entered as old department has
    been grandfathered in to prior department and can decide which name to put on degree

    Updates from Faculty Meeting:

    • Outside consultant coming in to advise in merging process
    • New Department name voted on by faculty: “BIOLOGY”, though it still needs to go
      through more steps before it is final
    • Integrative Biology from grad student perspective was more popular
    • Faculty perspectives on name:
      • Need to distinguish from IFAS and Medical School in name
      • More modifiers in front of biology make it more exclusive
      • Mission statement is more important than name, sent out to department
      • Bret will field our comments about how we feel about the mission statement

    Grad student concerns:

    • Grants from CLAS – Still uncertain whether we get same amount for combined grad
    • People donate for specific purposes, have lost donors in merger
    • Riewald-Olowo grants
    • ZGSA website should be changed to reflect changes within student association, how will
      we operate the new grad student association? How will banking and grad student awards
      work? (Working plan for committees has figured out.)
    • Zoology and Botany websites are yet to be merged
    • How will IP work?
    • How will new applicants come in? Which department are they applying to? Funding?
      • Funding will be combined, number of grants still up in the air
      • Colette and Karou are in process of merging recruitment weekend
      • May have separate tracks for each department
    • How will TAships work for current students? Will all current students be eligible for
      teaching in Botany or Zoology course?
    • Will there be a new graduate student handbook?
      • Committee member size, how quals are administered
      • What counts as an outside committee member? Doesn’t seem in line with getting
        a degree in Botany or Zoology.
      • Students want their requirements in writing
    • Bigger seminar room?

    Open discussion with Colette on Friday, September 19 at 12:40 in Carr 222

    Joint student/faculty meeting

    typically the faculty have dedicated one meeting a semester to students to voice
    concerns. The next topic scheduled was scholarship (whether we producing caliber
    students, what it means to be a grad student in this department, approach to
    education/qualifying exams/etc)

    Grad forum ideas

    Webpage workshop – it would be awesome if most of our students had webpages. Some
    people were interested in having a Endnote tutorial

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