List of meeting minutes:
- BGSA meeting, January 20th, 2012
- BGSA meeting, September 6th, 2011
- BGSA meeting, March 1st, 2011
- BGSA meeting, November 9th, 2010
- BGSA meeting, August 31th, 2010
- BGSA meeting, February 18th, 2010
- BGSA meeting, December 1th, 2009
- BGSA meeting, April 10th, 2009
- Department chair candidates meeting with graduate students, December 9th, 2008
- Graduate student/faculty discussion, October 23rd, 2008
- Graduate Student Council minutes, October 16th, 2008
- Grad forum: Introduction to webdesign, October 17th, 2008
- Meeting with Grad coordinators, September 19th, 2008
- (Z/B)GSA Meeting, September 11th, 2008
BGSA meeting, 20 January 2012
- Grad Forum
- Grad Committee
- Foundation Funds
- Goal of grad forum is to foster communication between grad students in department
- 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
- 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)
- 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
- 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 people
- 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 distribute
- "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
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 should.
- 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
- 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 design.
- 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 check
- goal is having these ready before Christmas
- Francois confirmed that mug & t-shirt came at top of list on survey done in past
- 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 conferences
- 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 helpful
- 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
BGSA meeting, 1 March 2011
# 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
- Brief presentation by GAU (the graduate student union)
- Election Procedures
- Suggestions for Committees
- merge Treasurer and Secretary
- reduce size of welcoming committee to 3 people
- form new fundraising committee for tshirt sales (2 people) li>
- 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
- Treasurer’s Report (including update on Snack/Soda Store)
- 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 (email@example.com), 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 my.ufl.edu. 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: http://ufgau.org/ 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
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- We will move the R-O deadline to the Fall so that it’s lined it up with the Sigma Xi deadline.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
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.
BGSA meeting, 9 November 2010
Attendance: 14 people
Main topics of today’s meeting: grad invited speaker, grad forum.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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).
- 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?).
- Curriculum: Bob is teaching theoretical community ecology in the Spring.
- 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.
- 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?
- 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.
- 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.
BGSA meeting, 31 August 2010
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 year.
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 forum
- 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 students.
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.
END OF MEETING.
BGSA meeting, 18 February 2010
Start Time: 4:30
- 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.
BGSA meeting, 1 December 2009
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. http://grove.ufl.edu/~gsc/aboutTravelGrant.html.
- Wednesday, February 3rd is the GSC research day (http://grove.ufl.edu/~gsc/researchConference.html). 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 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.
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?
- WE NEED TO ENCOURAGE OTHERS IN OUR LAB TO GO TO THESE EVENTS. THERE IS NO OTHER WAY THEY ARE GOING TO COME. FACULTY SHOULD ENCOURAGE THEIR STUDENT STO BE INVOLVED.
$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.
BGSA meeting, 10 April 2009
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.
The following positions reflect the new merged departments and will be open for nominations until Wednesday at 5:00pm. Send nominations to firstname.lastname@example.org. 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.
Department chair candidates meeting with graduate students 9 December 2008
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 programs
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 gives?
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 focus.
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 chairs).
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 others?
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 details.
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 program.
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 recruitment.
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 funding?
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.
Graduate student/faculty discussion minutes, held on October 23rd, 2008
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 away.
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 elsewhere.
Graduate Student Council minutes held on October 16th, 2008
Here's a short report of announcements made at last weeks Graduate Student Council meeting:
- 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: email@example.com or visit: http://www.hr.ufl.edu/benefits/gatorgradcare/default.asp#contact The info is towards the bottom of the page.
- There will soon be a web-based application form for GSC Travel Grants.
- 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 firstname.lastname@example.org Hannah sent an email earlier today (October 27th, 2008) with the announcement.
- 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
You can download the presentation from the workshop
Meeting with graduate coordinators (Colette St. Mary and Kaoru Kitajima), held on September 19th, 2008
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 department?
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, Zoology.
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 departments.
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 person.
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.
Meeting held on September 11th, 2008
Along with Zoology graduate students, two Botany Liasons (Jenny Schafer and Caitlin Hicks) were in attendance
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.
The ZGSA website now has a grant list and field trip list. Other updates can go to François
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.
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 population
- 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