GSA Minutes 2007-03-01

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GSA Meeting Minutes
01 March 2007

Attendance: 15
Pizzas: 3

Nicola Plowes: If you like the barbecue pizza, the student union sometimes has the "Elvis Presley pizza" with pulled pork.

Officers' Reports

Jessica Budke (GSA President)

Called the meeting to order at 5:10pm.

Kat Shaw (GSA Treasurer)

  • To date we have $294.61 in the bank, not including pizza bought for the meeting. Since fall 2006, we have spent $236.15 on pizza and soda, also on Monday Evening Seminar.

Nic Tippery (GSA Secretary)

  • I have posted, and will continue to post, minutes from the GSA meetings on EEBedia.

Tsitsi MacPherson: What is EEBedia?
Nic: EEBedia is the web interface Paul Lewis set up for the department to have a more open-contribution web interface. It's of the same ilk as Wikipedia [1], using their software. Basically it allows any registered user to add and edit content. The advantage is it requires no knowledge of HTML and no extra software. If you would like to be a contributor, even a minor one, send Paul an email and he will add you to the system.

  • Molly Letsch mentioned that abstract submission for the grad student symposium is on EEBedia. She also added that to register as a contributor to EEBedia, you need send Paul Lewis only your NetID, not your password.
  • Nic mentioned a few points about posting GSA minutes online, namely that anyone with internet access will be able to view our meeting minutes. When I asked for objections (via email) to posting online, there were none. Nonetheless, if you feel the recording of the minutes or some portion of the minutes should remain private to our department, or should be altered please let me know. Technically anyone with EEBedia authorization could change the minutes, but I would like to retain control of how the minutes are presented, since they are my responsibility.

Nanci Ross (Faculty Representative)

  • There has been much talk lately about summer support.

Explanatory note from secretary: It was announced recently that the usual summer work study offered to grads (on a less than 100% acceptance basis) would be cut in half from $2000 to $1000 due to federal funding cuts.

Eric Schultz asked Nanci to conduct a survey as to who is affected. The response indicated that everybody except for a few would be.

Apparently there is nothing they can do for us this summer, because the funding cut is a federal problem. UConn has said this is a “one time deal”, but Nanci said there is no evidence the funding will be restored next summer. It totally depends on the federal congress, if they vote to reinstate funding that was cut.

  • Kent Wells had asked why only summer support is being cut? The answer was that UConn has the ability to limit work study whenever, but they’re just limiting for the summer. Federal funding for the entire year was limited, but UConn has run low of funds, and now we’re reaping the diminished pool of money.

Comment: The drop in summer support is biased against grad students.

Juan Carlos Villarreal: What about aliens? Work study doesn’t apply (secretary note: Non-citizens are not entitled to federal work study money.)

  • Nanci: International students will get hurt also. This year the EEB dept doesn’t have the extra money they did last year. Actually their funds are very limited. If you have other research support for the summer, be judicious about asking for more.

Tsitsi: The department may be generous to non-international students because of the work study funding crisis. Nanci reiterated that there is a very limited pool of money for the summer.

A: Yep. That is a good plan because this affects everyone at UConn, not just EEB.

  • Nicola: When we apply for financial aid, not everyone gets funding. How do they decide who gets an award?

Nanci: It depends on who submits when, also on the staff at Financial Aid. For example, Krissa Skogen once submitted very early, only to find that her forms got lost under a pile of papers.

  • Nicola: There is also the summer fee bill question. (note: Summer work study is accompanied by a nominal course of "graduate research", whose tuition skyrocketed to over $3000 this summer.)

A: Carl Schlichting is looking into that.

Kat looked into it, spent over an hour on the phone, talked to 12 people, listened to lots of jazz. She found out it was basically a data entry error. If you received the high charge, keep checking your records for them to be updated.

  • Juan Carlos: Does help from senate apply to international students?

Nanci: There will be different avenues for international and domestic grads.

Tsitsi: The only funding for internationals is through EEB.

Everyone agrees there is no work study funding for internationals from UConn.

Tsitsi: The student visa prohibits international students from working more than 20 hours anywhere but for UConn. Working for the university up to 20 hours per week is an option.

  • Roberta Engel: Are there opportunities to teach courses over the summer to earn money?

Susan Letcher: There may be work in greenhouse.
Tsitsi: Also in Collections.

  • Nicola: Earning money flies in the face of field season. Most of us need to do research in the summer. The notice about lack of summer funding should have been brought to our attention sooner.
  • Jessica: GSS can be the most effective way to communicate our plight.
  • Tsitsi: It would help to have the department lay out where the options are for earning summer money. It seems to be first-come first-served. They should lay it out on the table.

Molly Letsch (Grad Student Symposium Committee)

  • People need to send their titles. Molly will be gone up until the Friday evening before the symposium, at a meeting down in Georgia. She needs help getting presentations onto the computer. To do that, the person needs to be trained on the computer system. Nic asks if we've been trained once, does that count? ...and inadvertantly volunteers for the job.
  • Jessica: Do we know of anyone having a party on the night of the symposium? There is a grad school semi-formal the same night.

Norm Wickett: The grad semi-formal might not be the best option for a party. We need to resolve a legitimate alternative.

(Grad-Invited Seminar Committee)

  • Jessica: The grad-invited seminar will be March 29. The speaker is Arne Mooers, who is currently in Europe on sabbatical. Our commitment to bring him here as a speaker entails flying him from Europe. The EEB will cover most of the expense, but they have asked the grads to provide some financial assistance amounting to $400. Incidentally, Pat Anderson reminded us that we have $1700 in money leftover from NEEC (the Northeast Ecology and Evolution Conference, which our department hosted in 2004) not earmarked for anything. That money will be used to help pay for Dr. Mooers' trip.

Molly recommended we keep the leftover money safe in case we need it for another such emergency in the future.

Juan Carlos: The invited grad seminar happens how often? Once per year or once per semester?
Jessica: Once per year.

Amanda Wendt (T-Shirt Committee)

  • We have two designs, one by Tsitsi and one by Nic. Would the design authors like to explain their designs?
  • Tsitsi: I spent months looking at ordination plots while I was studying for my thesis. I decided to plot my grad existence as an ordination plot, and I found that the plot resonated with many other grad students. The axes are progress and focus, with various arrows indicating typical grad student activities.

Norm said his grad existence could be described as a yeti eating a hot dog, and then proceeded to draw it on the board.
Nanci: Are you the yeti or the hot dog?

  • Nic explained his design, which was reminiscent of image often seen on the cover of Darwin's Origin of Species, with transitional stages in the evolution of man marching toward their culmination in Homo sapiens. His design has images of grad students moving from the ground upwards, engaged in typical grad student activities. The culmination of grad evolution is not so definitive... the final image to the right is a student hunched over in troglodyte fashion, typing his dissertation.

Amanda: One idea had been a shirt with the text "selfing happens". Gregor Yanega illustrated that design with a tiger with another tiger head coming out of it.

Another prior design, "ecologists do it with models", was mentioned.

Jessica: The professors are our top buyers, and they purchase shirts for their kids.

  • Amanda decided to limit the number of different shirts to two, as had been done in other years. She decided on an anonymous vote from those present, which favored Nic's design. In subsequent discussion, people recommended dark colors or black, and that a "girlie" type shirt be included in the offerings. Nic offered to provide a preview of the design on a shirt.

Kat: Will we solicit pre-orders prior to the symposium?

Jessica: We can provide money from grad funds up front, and have a check cut to the t-shirt place.

How many shirts to order? Last time it was 28, then 35 others later. It was decided to order 40 first. We can always order more later.

A: Yep.

Juan Carlos Villarreal (Monday Evening Seminar)

  • The next MES will be held the Monday after Spring Break. The speaker is Inigo Martinez-Solano, the new postdoc. That date is the only time he can do it.


  • Maria: The intramural volleyball team may happen, we’re on the waiting list. March 12 at 2pm is the mandatory managers' meeting.

Norm: Did I make the team?
Maria: Yep. Don't forget to bring your kneepads and headband.

  • Jessica: Many more grad photos have been posted to the EEB website. Good job on submitting them! You can also submit a two-sentence blurb to Paul Lewis about your work, which will occur on rotation on the EEBedia main page.

Nanci: We should add things to the grad handbook, like the summer funds thing.

Adjourned 5:55pm.


  • Jessica: Submissions to the EEB newsletter have been solicited by Pat Anderson. Please consider making a contribution. Even if you think you haven't accomplished much, you probably have. Plus, the newsletter goes out to a lot of EEB grad alumni, who help fund the department and may provide you with a job someday.

Minutes committed by Nicholas Tippery (GSA Secretary).