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February 16, 2018

EGG Meeting 16 February 2018

Barbara Bloemers
Darren Incorvaia
Erika LaPlante
Kenna Lehmann
Mau Losilla
Caitlin Mack
Connie Rojas
Taylor Rupp
Olivia Spagnuolo
Olivia Utley
Christopher Warneke
Alex Wright

EEBB Colloquium (Darren and Mau)

  • There is a possibility that this would drop to every three weeks if no one signs up. People generally don’t want that to happen.
  • Kay has offered to send emails strongly encouraging people to sign up, which should help.
  • Mau is dropping the number of pizzas ordered to 7, because the new pizza place is more expensive than the old one, and we need to stay within budget.
  • More clearly tie participation in colloquium with funding options.

    Tshirts (Kenna)
  • Some people still haven’t picked up their shirts! This means that their shirts are now up for anyone to purchase, so if you didn’t buy a shirt, now you can!
  • We are thinking of increasing the price to help cover losses. Kenna will send an email about this to EEBB, in the hopes of spurring people into purchasing them while the price is still low.


Questions from Kay (Kenna, with much group discussion)

  • There was recently an EEBB faculty meeting, which resulted in a lot of questions that Kay wanted feedback on.
    • Should we drop one of the Bs in the name?
      This would change our name to Ecology, Evolution, and Behavior Program.
      People were generally in favor of this.
    • Is it possible, or desirable to implement rotations in EEBB labs?
      Some other programs at MSU already do this. Does EEBB want to join them in this practice?
      We wondered whether this would be done on a case-by-case basis.
      Perhaps a group of similar labs would be interested in having students rotate through them, rather than through the whole program.
      People were generally confused with how this would work. How would funding be managed while students were doing rotations? What about students that don’t end up in a lab after rotations? What happens to them?Plant Bio already has the option of rotations between all the plant departments for its students, so their students probably wouldn’t do this through EEBB.
      This seems like a confusing area and people aren’t sure how it would work within EEBB.
    • Should EEBB pursue becoming a stand-alone department?
      Resounding “no” from those in attendance.
      EEBB is great because we get to meet so many people from other departments.
      Having a dual degree was an important factor in the decision of at least 4 people in the room in coming to MSU to begin with.
      This would be also very difficult to do logistically and financially.
      This idea comes up pretty frequently, but the grad students are pretty much against it.
      The reasons why this keeps coming up include that EEBB may have more of a say in the university, may have a different funding structure or opportunities for other funding sources.
      People are concerned that EEBB as a separate department would compete against the other departments that currently exist. Universities that have stand-alone EEBB programs tend not to have a separate iBio or Plant Bio departments, so they don’t have the competition program.
      Also, other top schools (like UC-Davis) have interdepartmental EEBB-type programs that are well respected, so we don’t see a stand-alone department as necessary.
      This would probably be an area where the Vice President for Research at MSU would have to formulate this as a new core aim for research here.
    • How would we make EEBB more competitive? Should we emphasize getting PhD students into R1 jobs?
      From the sound of this, this would result in EEBB de-emphasizing MS degrees and PhDs that don’t want to go into an R1 professor position.
      Grad students are very against this. Students that want academic careers aren’t better students than those that don’t, so we don’t see this as a good metric.
      Students that work well don’t always want to be professors.
      Only 8% of grad students go to R1 research positions. What are we going to do with the other 90% of grad students? This would fail them.
      We took a poll, and less than half of the grad students in attendance were interested in an R1 research professor position.
      Consider the job success of students. Would this attract students?
      Emphasizing PhD students for R1 positions might also alienate the more applied departments like FW, etc.
      Students like and participate in EEBB because it is a supportive program and supportive environment. Emphasizing such a narrow scope of the potential job market would create a more cutthroat program, and none of us want that.
      This seems like it is better as an individual-lab-level decision, and not a program-wide decision. If a PI only wants to train R1 researchers, then that is who they recruit. Don’t do it at a program level.
      ​​​​​​​Diversity of values leads to a stronger program.
    • Should we do a weekend retreat for new EEBB students?
      This would probably take place at KBS and would involve the new students and a few current students as hosts.
      Most in attendance are in favor of this. It would facilitate bonding among the students.
      Some people in the room had MS degrees from elsewhere and their previous programs did something like this. They really thought it was a good thing to do.
      “Best idea we have heard all day!”
    • Tighten EEBB course requirements?
      There was concern that not all the classes that are options for the different EEBB requirements all are the same intensity/breadth, so students come out on the other side of them with different experiences.
      Should we channelize the other course requirements as we have done for the stats sequence?
      There might be two committees formed to address this: one for the Evolution requirement (usually met by the Evolution class) and the Ecology requirement (usually met by the Pop&Comm course).
      Those two new committees would review the courses that are currently allowed to be taken to fulfill those requirements.
      It is good to have options when selecting courses, but we need to make sure the options are good.
      “The more diversity you want in a program, the more diversity you will need in coursework options.”
      Make sure to align the list with EEBB learning goals.

Seminar Committee (Alex and Erika)

  • Stress to speakers and hosts of speakers that EEBB is a wide audience, and to plan the talk accordingly.

EEBB Swag (Kenna)

  • Should we make more EEBB (or EEB?) swag?
  • Things like mugs, shirts, stickers, pint glasses.
  • People generally think yes, but didn’t know where the money would come from.