University of Wisconsin-River Falls

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June 25, 2004

Biology Professors Share U of M Award

UW-River Falls biology professors Brad and Kim Mogen met and married while undergraduates at the University of Minnesota, and their lifelong connection to the U of M has garnered recent recognition by its Department of Plant Pathology.

The Mogens, who live in River Falls, received the department's 2004 Distinguished Friend of the Department, the first time the annual award has been given to a married couple since its creation in 1987. The award is for "friendship, research collaboration and support, and for promoting intellectual and educational exchange" between the University of Minnesota and the University of Wisconsin-River Falls.

"It's logical that when we came back here [to UW-RF], we maintained our ties to the U of M," says Kim, who is a 1979 graduate of the U of M with a B.S. in horticulture. Brad, a 1979 U of M graduate with a plant pathology degree, met Kim while she was employed in the University's Dial U service, a consumer hotline for horticulture questions. The Mogens both hold master's and doctorate degrees from North Dakota State University.

UW-RF students in the Mogens' classes are no strangers to the U of M St. Paul campus and its new Cargill Biotechnology Building and laboratories. Through formal and informal collaborations with the plant pathology department, students have heard from guest speakers, toured the lab facilities, and have seen the workings of the Biodale Imaging Lab's scanning electron microscope, a piece of equipment too costly for UW-RF's primarily teaching laboratories.

The Mogens maintain professional ties to their alma mater, serving as faculty mentors to post-doctoral students at the U, collaborating on research projects, and even obtaining various cultures for use in classroom instruction.

Kim is currently working on a National Science Foundation-funded project with Linda Kinkel of the U of M plant pathology department, investigating the antibiotic properties of streptomycete bacteria found in soil.

Brad has also spent a semester sabbatical from UW-RF with plant pathology Professor Richard Zeyen, studying the molecular biology of disease-resistant barley. Brad's replacement to teach his courses at UW-RF while on the sabbatical was a Ph.D. student in the plant pathology department at the U of M.

Last year Brad served as a faculty mentor to a U of M post-doc student who was interested in learning more teaching and pedagogical techniques in addition to preparing for a career in research.

The exchange goes beyond the academic school year as well. Several UW-RF biology and plant science alumni are employees in the department's laboratories, and several graduates have also gone on to graduate studies in the department.

"It serves their outreach mission as well," says Brad. "We are, in turn, a good source for qualified graduate students looking to enter research programs or lab technicians looking for jobs."

"It's a great synergy," adds Kim.


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