Department of Ecology, Evolution, and Natural Resources


Ecology and Evolution Graduate Program Newsletter


January 2010




Previous newsletters may be found at:





Siobain Duffy gave a presentation titled "Experimental evolution of RNA viral emergence" at the fall meeting of the Theobald Smith Society, North Jersey branch of the American Society for Microbiology.


David Ehrenfeld gave an invited seminar in the BioColloquim Series at East Stroudsburg University. The presentation was titled “Winning Strategies in Conservation.”


Joan Ehrenfeld gave an invited seminar at University of California-Davis, Ecology and Evolution Seminar Series, titled “Invasive plants, soils and ecosystem processes:  what have we learned so far?”



Siobain Duffy reports two publications:

·        G.W. Harkins, D.P. Martin, S. Duffy, A.L. Monjane, D.N. Shepherd, O.P. Windram, B.E. Owor, L. Donaldson, T. van Antwerpen, R.A. Sayed, B. Flett, M. Ramusi, E.P. Rybicki, M. Peterschmitt and A. Varsani. Dating the origins of the maize-adapted strain of maize streak virus, MSV-A. Journal of General Virology. 90:3066-3074.

·        C. Firth, M.A. Charleston, S. Duffy, B. Shapiro and E.C. Holmes. Insights into the evolutionary history of an emerging livestock pathogen: Porcine circovirus 2. Journal of Virology. 83:12813-12821.

Peter Morin has a new publication:

  • Beckerman, A., O. L. Petchey, and P. J. Morin. 2010. Adaptive foragers and community ecology: linking individuals to communities and ecosystems. Functional Ecology 24:1-6.


Holly Vuong, A Ph.D. candidate co-advised by Peter Morin and Rick Ostfeld, has the following publication:

  • Pitzer, J.B., R.L. Byford, H.B. Vuong, R.L. Steiner, R.J. Creamer, and D.F. Caccamise. 2009. Potential vectors of West Nile virus in a semiarid environment: Dona Ana County, New Mexico. Journal of Medical Entomology 46(6): 1474-1482.


  Faculty Achievements and Activities:

Peter Morin and Herman Verhoef (Vrije Universiteit, Amsterdam) have edited a book published by Oxford University Press. The book is based in part on a graduate course that Peter, Herman and several other colleagues taught in the Netherlands. Plans are being made to offer the course again in Europe, and they may offer a similar course here in the US if support can be arranged.   Verhoef, H. A.. and P. J. Morin (eds.). 2009. Community Ecology: Processes, Models, and Applications. Oxford University Press, Oxford, UK. 247 pages.

The botanical illustration by renowned artist Bobbi Angell and the story behind the discovery of the new species Jason's ring gentian (Symbolanthus jasonii) is featured in the traveling art exhibit "Losing Paradise? Endangered Plants Here and Around the World", arranged by The American Society of Botanical Artists. This Ecuadorian species was described by Lena Struwe and then E&E doctoral student Jeanmaire Molina in 2008. The art exhibit will be featured at The New York Botanical Garden, The Smithsonian Institution, Chicago Botanic Garden, and Missouri Botanical Garden.


Dr. Marci Meixler,, Director of Global Map Analytics, Philadelphia, has been appointed an Adjunct Member of the Graduate Program in Ecology and Evolution.Dr. Meixler has taught the following courses at Cornell University: GIS for Natural Resource Management; Computer Technology for Natural Resource Managers; GIS for Environmental Engineers; and has given lectures on: GIS for Strategic Conservation Planning; Stream Ecology; and GIS in Watershed Analysis, also at Cornell.  She has also taught a short course in Field Techniques for Mammal Population Estimation, at Yosemite National Park.  Currently she is teaching an online course titled Water: Environmental Science for the American Museum of Natural History. Dr. Meixler is willing to serve on graduate committees in aquatic ecology, GIS in ecological assessment, watershed restoration ecology, and related subjects.


Student Awards, Achievements, and Activities:

Emma Green-Beach, a master’s student working with David Bushek, was awarded free lodging at the National Shellfisheries Association meeting in San Diego CA in March. The award was based on the high quality of the abstract Emma submitted as judged by a group of 19 scientists from diverse shellfish fields.

Lea Johnson, a Ph.D. candidate advised by Steven Handel, will be teaching a spring course in Urban Botany at Eugene Lang College, The New School for Liberal Arts, in the Environmental Studies Department.



Congratulations to the following on the successful defense of their Ph.D. dissertations:

  • Kirsten Schwarz, advisor Steward T.A. Pickett, on December 1st.
  • Brooke Maslo, advisor Steven Handel, on December 15th.
  • Alexander Felson, advisor Steward T.A. Pickett, on December on 17th.


Congratulations to the following on the successful defense of their Master’s thesis:

  • Karena DiLeo, advisor John Dighton, on December 10th.


Congratulations to the following on the successful defense of their Preliminary Proposal:

  • Zachary Freedman, advisor Tamar Barkay, on November 20th.
  • Maria Stanko, advisor Peter Morin, on November 23rd.
  • Illeana Perez, advisor Costantino Vetriani, on December 10th.



Greg Dahle, (Ph.D. 2009, advisor Jason Grabosky) reports the following publication:

  • Dahle, GA and JC Grabosky. 2009. Allometric patterns in Acer platanoides (Aceraceae) branches. Trees: Structure & Function DOI 10.1007/s00468-009-0401-5


We have heard from several alumni this month with news of additions to the family and new job positions:


Niall Dunne (MS 2009, advisor Steven Handel) and wife Dana welcomed daughter Evelyn Mary-Louise Dunne on November 29th. Everyone is healthy and doing well.  


Jennifer Krumins (Ph.D. 2008, advisor Peter Morin) has accepted a tenure track position as assistant professor at Montclair State in the Department of Biology and Molecular Biology. Jenn will begin in fall 2010.


James MacDonald (Ph.D. 2009, advisor Judy Weis) is the Fisheries Specialist at New York SeaGrant in the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation.


James Vasslides (MS 2007, advisor Ken Able) has returned to New Jersey as the Program Scientist for the Barnegat Bay National Estuary Program. The program is based at Ocean County College in Toms River.


Eric Weissberger (Ph.D. 1998, advisor Judy Grassle) has accepted a position at the Maryland Department of Natural Resources. He will be working on oyster restoration in Chesapeake Bay.