of Ecology, Evolution, and Natural Resources
and Evolution Graduate Program Newsletter
January – February 2009
Previous newsletters may be found at:
Please join us in welcoming two
new post-docs in the Kjer lab:
- Jessica Thomas joined the Kjer lab
on February 16 as a postdoc.
Jessica is coming to us from the University of Edinburgh. She has experience with 454 and Solexa sequencing,
cloning, molecular clocks, and salt tolerance in plants.
- Elizabeth Scott (Prendini) will be joining the Kjer
lab in mid March as a postdoc. Liz
is originally from South Africa,
and is now associated with the American
Museum of Natural
History. She is an expert on
phylogenetics, with specialties in frog morphology, and automated
Karl will bring them around to Friday seminars.
On January 28th
Patricia Alvarez was an invited speaker for the forestry seminar at
Michigan State University.
Patricia’s presentation was titled “The influence of pathogens and predators in
tropical ecosystems”. Patricia, advisor Jim White,
successfully defended her dissertation on February 17, 2009.
Aspa Chatziefthimiou presented a poster in the
"Third Annual Mini-Symposium on Microbiology at Rutgers University:
Cultivating Traditions, Current Strength and Future Frontiers" which took
place on January 29-30, 2009.
The poster title was
"Mercury Contamination and its Effects on Phylogenetic and Functional
Diversity of Soil Mercury Resistant Bacteria" and the authors were: Aspa
D. Chatziefthimiou, Allison L. Isola, Tamar Barkay. Aspa is a Ph.D. candidate
advised by Tamar Barkay in the Department of Biochemistry and Microbiology.
Steven Handel reports the following talks:
- Harvard University,
of Design, Dept. of
- Northwestern University, Department of Civil and
Both talks were on advances and opportunities in urban
Henry John-Alder presented
an invited contribution in the symposium “Hormonal Regulation of Whole-Animal
Performance: Implications for Selection” sponsored by NSF at the Society for
Integrative and Comparative Biology meeting in Boston (3-7 January 2009). His
contribution was as follows:
Co-authors included Robert M. Cox, Dartmouth College
(former E&E grad students); Gregory J. Haenel, Elon University
(former post-doc); Linda C. Smith, Stockton State College (former E&E grad
graduate students presented invited
contributions in companion sessions at the same meeting:
Lathrop participated in
a two day workshop on Coastal Planning and Land Use hosted by the National Oceanographic
and Aeronautic Administration’s (NOAA) Cooperative Institute for Coastal and
Estuarine Environmental Technology. The workshop was in Manchester NH
on December 2-3, 2008.
Lathrop was a featured
speaker at NOAA's Jacques Cousteau National Estuarine Research Reserve's
(JCNERR) Coastal Training Program's
Workshop entitled "How Prepared Are You for Rising Waters? Planning
for sea level rise - regional and local consideration for coastal areas". The
workshop was held at the JCNERR Education center, Tuckerton NJ
on December 9, 2008.
On Wednesday, February 11, 2009 Brooke Maslo gave a talk titled “Evaluating 10 Years of Predator Exclusion Methods for Piping Plovers in
New Jersey” at the NJ Beach Nesting Bird Partners meeting
at the Jacques Cousteau
Center in Tuckerton, NJ.
Brooke is a Ph.D. candidate in the Handel lab.
Karl Kjer has
been invited to Mexico City
from February 28 to March 7 to give a talk and participate in a symposium on
Blake Mathys, a Ph.D. candidate from the Lockwood lab, presented a
poster at the International Biogeography Society's 4th Biennial Meeting in Merida, Yucatan,
poster was titled "Rapid Morphological Evolution of Exotic Passerine Birds
on Islands". Blake and Steven Handel
student Elena Tartaglia also took a week prior to the conference to experience
many Mayan ruins and diverse flora and fauna.
Peter Morin has been busy giving
invited plenary and keynote lectures in Europe
over the last few weeks.
delivered a plenary lecture at the American Society of Limnology and
Oceanography’s Aquatic Sciences Meeting held in Nice, France.
Peter’s lecture on 27 January was titled “Biodiversity and Ecosystem
Function in Aquatic Microbial Systems: Results, Predictions, and
Challenges”. This was one of two plenary lectures in a program titled “Is
there a link between biodiversity and ecosystem function in aquatic
systems?” Other E&E Graduate Program Faculty attending the meeting
included Kay Bidle and Costa Vetriani. For more details about the meeting,
. To view the plenary sessions visit:
delivered a keynote lecture at an international symposium held in Leiden, the Netherlands, in honor of the
200th anniversary of the birth of Charles Darwin and the 150th
anniversary of the publication of “On The Origin of Species”. The
symposium, titled “Evolutionary islands 150 years after Darwin”, was part of a broad celebration
called Darwin Jaar2009. The symposium was held at The National Museum of
Natural History – Naturalis - in Leiden,
from 11-13 February, and was co-sponsored by the Darwin Center
for Biogeology. The title of Peter’s lecture on 12 February was “The
Ecology and Evolution of Island Communities in a Changing World”.
For more details about the
symposium, see http://science.naturalis.nl/darwin2009
Rachael Winfree (Department of Entomology) reports two seminars:
- Department of
Entomology at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst titled “crop pollination by
native bees as an ecosystem service.”
Society of America, "Valuing crop pollination"
Rachael Winfree (Department of Entomology) has the following publications:
- Lonsdorf, E., C.
Kremen, T.H. Ricketts, R. Winfree, S. Greenleaf, and N.M. Williams, Modeling
pollination services across agricultural landscapes. Accepted, Annals of Botany.
- Lonsdorf, E.,
T.H. Ricketts, C. Kremen, R. Winfree, S. Greenleaf, and N.M. Williams.
Crop Pollination Services. in The Theory & Practice of Ecosystem
Service Valuation in Conservation, P. Kareiva, et al., Editors.
Accepted, Oxford University Press: Oxford.
- Winfree, R., R.
Aguilar, D. P. Vázquez, G. LeBuhn, and M. A. Aizen. A meta-analysis of
bees’ responses to anthropogenic disturbance. In press, Ecology.
- Winfree, R. and
C. Kremen. 2009. Are ecosystem services stabilized by differences among
species? A test using crop pollination. Proceedings of the Royal Society of London 276: 229-237
- Winfree, R.
Pollinator-dependent crops: an increasingly risky business. 2008. Current Biology R968-R969
Wes Brooks, a Ph.D. candidate in Rebecca Jordan’s lab, reports the
- Reardon, B.J. & W.R. Brooks. 2009. Vegetative
Community Compositional Gradients of Tropical Hardwood Hammocks along the Florida Keys. Biotropica 41(1): 27-36
Faculty Achievements and Activities:
Joanna Burger (Departments of Cell and
Developmental Biology and Ecology, Evolution, and Natural Resources) received
the Distinguish Achievement Award from the Society for Risk Analysis, an
international scientific organization, at the Society’s 2008 annual meeting in Boston. The Society’s
highest award was given to Dr. Burger in recognition of her “extraordinary
achievement in science relating to risk analysis”. Dr. Burger is a founding member of the Consortium
for Risk Evaluation with Stakeholder Participation, a multi-university,
multi-disciplinary organization, under which auspices much of her risk research
has been conducted. CRESP is funded by the U.S. Department of Energy.
(Department of Biology, Rutgers–Newark), Charles Hofer, a Holzapfel Ph.D.
student, and Frank Gallagher (Ph.D. 2008, advisor Jason Grabosky) are featured
in the following interesting story on pollution at Liberty State Park.
and the Center for Urban Restoration Ecology (CURE) will be designing a new
National Park. He has the contract to design the ecological restoration of
habitats at the Great Falls State Park in Paterson.
The U.S. Senate approved a bill making this site a new National Park. The bill had already passed the House of Representatives.
The Center for Urban
Restoration Ecology (CURE) and Steven
Handel’s work at the Orange County (CA) Great
Park has been awarded the 2009
Institute Honor Award for Regional and Urban Design by The American Institute of Architects (AIA). CURE has contributed the extensive ecological
restoration and environmental education components to this vast site.
The Honor Awards are the profession's highest recognition
of works that exemplify excellence in architecture, interior architecture and
urban design. Selected from over 700 total submissions, 25 recipients located
throughout the world will be honored in April at the AIA 2009 National
Convention and Design Exposition in San
Francisco. Steven collaborates on this project with
the architects of TEN Arquitectos in NYC, Ken Smith Landscape Architects of
NYC, and Mia Lehrer + Associates Landscape Architects of Los Angeles.
The citation reads as follows:
"Orange County California's Great
Park will bring over 1,400 acres of
urban parkland to the city of Irvine
and the surrounding region. Planned on the former site of El Toro Marine Air
base, this large tract of undeveloped land will include a man-made canyon that
runs through the park and will support a diverse range of active and passive
programs. A great lawn, sports park, botanical gardens, and several arts and
cultural facilities, including a large outdoor amphitheater will be programmed
into the park."
This project has also been awarded national honors by the
American Society of Landscape Architects and the American Planning Association,
as well as state honors by the Society for Ecological Restoration. Steven is
very pleased that the importance of ecological thought in transforming our
physical environment has been recognized this year by the three major design
professions of our country.
On February 13-14, Henry
John-Alder participated in the American Institute of Biological Societies
(AIBS) Education Committee’s planning meeting for implementation of an
NSF-funded project funded through the program called Research Coordination
Networks in Undergraduate Biological Sciences (NSF RCN UBS). This grant
is a collaborative project involving the University of Oklahoma,
AIBS, and key national scientific and biological societies. Gordon Uno (University of Oklahoma) is PI. The project is
titled: “Preparing to Prepare the 21st Century Biology Student: Using
Scientific Societies as Change Agents for the Introductory Biology Experience”.
Henry is a member of the education committee and was appointed to the advisory
board for the project.
Rachael Winfree’s (Department of Entomology) work has appeared in the
following popular press articles:
- New York Times, “A low-tech
treatment for bee plague,” January 27, 2009
- Worldwatch Magazine, “Pollination
panic,” November/December 2008
- San Diego Union-Tribune, “Radios on
bees track movements that might help save pollinators,” December 18 2008
- National Geographic Magazine
online, “Tiny radio tags offer rare glimpse into bees’ universe,” November
- The Scientist, “A bee’s life,”
- American Bee Journal, “Ecologists
assess the impact of people on pollinators,” September 2008
reports two grants:
- Department of Education: Institute of Educational
Studies ($1,630,450; collaboration with
Georgia Tech) co-PI; Lead PI of Cindy Hmelo-Silver. Using Structure-behavior-function (SBF)
Ontology to engage students in ecosystem studies.
- Curriculum Development Award ($48,700): Enabling SEBS
Students to Become Better Learners with Caron Chess and Andrew Pleasant
Steven Handel also reports two grants:
- Duke Farms
Foundation. Environmental stewardship planning for the Duke Farms
property. 2008-2009. $120,000.
- Essex County, NJ.
Restoration design of woodland habitats at the South Mountain Preserve.
Awards, Achievements, and Activities:
On January 16, 2009. Patricia Alvarez, advisor Jim White, was
featured in “Primate
Kingdom in Amazon”.
Directed by Matsubayashi Akira, NHK Japanese television.
Alex Felson, a Ph.D. student working with Steward Pickett, has accepted a position at the Yale School of
Forestry and Environmental Studies as a lecturer convertible and upon
completion of his Ph.D in the fall 2009 will become an assistant professor in
spring 2010. Alex is teaching an urban
design studio in architecture for graduate students.
Alex Felson was project director while at EDAW for the PlaNYC
reforestation plan , an initiative of Mayor Bloomberg’s to create
sustainability in NYC. The design won a New York American Society of Landscape
Architects (ASLA) award for 2009.
Alex Felson’s Tuxedo Reserve salamander study won a New Jersey ASLA award
Zac Freedman was awarded the Robert S. and Eileen A. Robison
Scholarship Award for Excellence in Graduate Studies. The award is given by the
Department of Biochemistry and Microbiology.
Zac is a Ph.D. student in the Barkay lab.
On February 2nd, Jessica
Sanders, a Jason Grabosky Ph.D. student, taught a TA Project seminar called
the "First Time TA", which is part of the Prepared TA certificate
Congratulations to the following
on the successful defense of their doctoral dissertation:
Molina, December 18, 2008, advisor Lena Struwe
- Gregory Dahle
on February 6, 2009, advisor Jason Grabosky
Alvarez on February 17, 2009, advisor James White.
Congratulations to Christine Kiesel on the successful
defense of her master’s thesis on Janaury 29, 2009. Chris was advised by Joanna
Congratulations to Di Li on the successful defense of her
preliminary proposal on January 22, 2009. Don Schaffner (Department of Food
Science) is Di’s advisor.
heard sad news from Kathleen LoGuidice this month.
Joan Roth, alumna of the Ecology and
Evolution program at Rutgers died on January
12th. Joan got her master’s degree in 1994 advised by Steven
Handel. She had been battling a rare cancer of the thymus gland for quite a few
years. Kathleen said in her email “Many of you overlapped with Joanie at Rutgers and frankly, to know her was to love her.”
(Ph.D. 2008, advisor Jason Grabosky) gave a presentation at the Alliance for New Jersey Environmental Education annual
conference at Princeton
University on January 30,
2009. The title of the talk was “Global Forest Sustainability.”
James MacDonald (Ph.D 2008, advisor
Judy Weis) has accepted a position as a Fisheries Specialist with New York
Seagrant. Among his many duties are fisheries outreach, education, and
management work. The position is administered in Partnership with Seagrant, New
York State DEC, and Cornell University Cooperative
Jeanmaire Molina (Ph.D. 2009, advisor Lena Struwe) manages the Rice Evolutionary
Genomics Project at New York University, which has collaborations with Cornell, Purdue, Washington
University, and the International Rice Research Institute in the Philippines.
also reports these publications:
- Molina, J. In
Press. Floral biology of Philippine morphospecies of the grape relative
Leea (Leeaceae). Plant Species Biology.
- Molina, J. and
L. Struwe. In Press. Utility of secondary structure in phylogenetic
reconstructions using nrDNA ITS sequences - an example from Potalieae
(Gentianaceae: Asteridae). Systematic Botany.