College of Biological Sciences Professor George Weiblen is the recipient of the University of Minnesota's 2017 President's Community-Engaged Scholar Award, the highest award the University of Minnesota bestows for scholarship conducted in partnership with external communities. Weiblen was chosen for the system-wide award for his community-engaged research and partnerships in Papua New Guinea which have advanced the field of biodiversity on the global level.
A professor in the Department of Plant and Microbial Biology, Distinguished McKnight University Professor Weiblen is the scientific director and curator of plants at the University’s James Ford Bell Museum of Natural History and Planetarium and a teacher in his “Flowering Plant Diversity” and “Minnesota Flora” courses.
In 1997, Weiblen and his colleagues founded the New Guinea Binatang Research Center by working with scientists, local governments, and tribal leaders to develop a conservation area, public school, and the Swire Station Research Facility near the Papua New Guinea village of Wanang. Weiblen’s team of citizen scientists have identified 250,000 woody plants and more than 500 species, culminating in WIAD Conservation: a Handbook of Traditional Knowledge and Biodiversity. Training and salaries provided by Weiblen and his colleagues continue to leverage native knowledge of regional biology to promote research and environmental conservation in the region.
The award's college-wide recipients are:
Abimbola Asojo, professor, Department of Design, Housing, and Apparel, College of Design:
Kathryn Draeger, statewide director, Regional Sustainable Development Partnerships, University of Minnesota Extension;
Michelle Johnson-Jennings, assistant professor, Department of Pharmacy Practice and Pharmaceutical Sciences, School of Pharmacy:
Jennifer McComas, professor, Department of Educational Psychology, College of Education and Human Development;
Kathy Quick, associate professor, Humphrey School of Public Affairs:
Tetyana Shippee, assistant professor, Division of Health Policy and Management, School of Public Health; and
Renee Sieving, professor, School of Nursing.