U promotional video emphasizes biology

by David Hyland

With the melody of a rock guitar soundtrack, the University premiered a video it will use to plug its new molecular and cellular biology initiative.
The program revamping, discussed Wednesday at a meeting in the Basic Science and Biomedical Engineering Building, is part of a larger agenda to make the University a leader in those areas.
At the crux of the initiative is the development of partnerships between the University programs, local school districts and industry.
The initiative includes the construction of a new, $70 million biology building where Jackson, Owre and Millard Halls now stand on Washington Avenue Southeast. The buildings, long considered obsolete, will be replaced and house the numerous laboratories that are currently in Kolthoff Hall.
Norma Allewell, vice provost for graduate and professional studies, has been leading the project and helped in the creation of the presentation and video.
The 10-minute video featured six University professors discussing their specific interests in biology, everything from annual corn yields to microorganisms to Alzheimer’s disease. These are some areas that the University wishes to promote because of the school’s leadership in the different fields.
For Wednesday’s event, a crowd of approximately 80 represented diverse interests from public and private schools, representatives of industry and state legislators. It shows the wide range of constituencies the University is trying to reach.
“We’re trying to build bridges between the cellular and molecular biology initiative that President Yudof is beginning with K-12,” Allewell said. “We plan to develop partnerships with individual school districts.”
Lynn Grabick, an official from the Wayzata School District, said the framework for a partnership between the University and the school districts already exists.
“We already have some of the mentorships going on, but I would like to see the University come in earlier rather than waiting until high school,” Grabick said. “I would like to see them communicating with the elementary schools and getting children excited on that level.”
Likewise, Mick Diers, a representative from an Eden Prairie biotechnology company said the partnerships need to reach the students.
“I think having a connection between the University and the school districts is fine, but I think bringing the students to the University will promote a much stronger attachment,” he said.
But Allewell said a primary reason for the increased outreach plans is to spark interest in biology for younger students.
“It will expand the range of things that they may think about when they apply to colleges and think about what they want to major in,” Allewell. “They will come to college much better prepared to take advantage of the opportunities.”