Department of Ecology, Evolution, and Natural Resources


Ecology and Evolution Graduate Program Newsletter


January – February 2008



Previous newsletters may be found at:





Joan Ehrenfeld gave a plenary address, entitled “Plants and soil: finding a way through the maze” at the first annual meeting of the Netherlands Ecological Research Network, a new national organization of ecologists, in Lunteren, the Netherlands


Zac Freedman, a Ph.D. candidate in Tamar Barkay’s lab, gave a presentation on January  11 at the Yellowstone National Park Research Coordination Network(RCN) Workshop at the Mammoth Lodge in Yellowstone.  The title was "Isolation and Characterization of Early Evolving Mercury Resistant Bacteria in Yellowstone National Park."  Zac’s travel was supported by the Yellowstone NP RCN, an NSF program.


The 2008 Annual Meeting of the Northeast Region of American Society for Horticultural Science was held at Rutgers on Friday  January 4. Jason Grabosky and his lab gave four presentations:

  • Jess Sanders – “Urban tree planting and mortality statistics in the boroughs of NYC.”
  • Greg Dahle – “Anatomical study to determine vessel to fiber ratio along Norway maple (Acer platanoides L.) branches.”
  • Mike Gallagher (undergraduate researcher) – “Digital visualization of decay in oak species fiver years after pruning.”
  • Jason Grabosky – “Plant available moisture designed soils for pavement systems.”


Henry John-Alder gave two invited presentations:

  • “Lizards: Their Diversity and Distribution” to the 4 and 5th grades at Roosevelt Public School on January 17, 2008.
  • On February 15, Henry presented “Physiology, Performance, Fitness: Lessons from Lizards”, in the Cramer Seminar Series in the Department of Biological Sciences at Dartmouth College.



Matthew Kimball, a Ph.D. candidate in Ken Able’s lab:

  • Kimball ME, Able KW (2007).  Tidal utilization of nekton in Delaware Bay restored and reference intertidal salt marsh creeks.  Estuaries and Coasts 30(6):1075-1087.


     Faculty Achievements and Activities:

Joanna Burger and Michael Gochfeld were interviewed on the Today show regarding "High Mercury Levels Found in Sushi".<http://www.msnbc.m


Steven Handel and John Dighton were featured in the Winter 2008 issue of Rutgers Magazine.  

Steven Handel was featured in the New York Times Science Question section of January 29thSCIENCE   | January 29, 2008
Q & A:  Doomsday for Vermin
If every rat, cockroach and bedbug disappeared from New York City, would that be a good thing, ecologically speaking?


George McGhee has been chosen to be one of 18 invitees to the University of Leiden, The Netherlands, for an all-expenses-paid workshop on the concept of symmetry, 10-15 March 2008.  This invitation is a direct result of the publication of McGhee's latest book, The Geometry of Evolution.


George McGhee has been invited to the University of Valencia, Spain, for an expenses-paid workshop on "evo-devo" (evolutionary development), in honor of the late Per Alberch, one of the pioneers of the discipline of evolutionary development, 21-24 May 2008.  Like the Leiden invitation, this invitation is in response to the publication of McGhee's latest book The Geometry of Evolution.


Terry McGuire has been appointed as a Senior Fellow of the National Center for Science and Civic Engagement. The following is taken from the SENCER January Newsletter: “Terry has been an active participant in the SENCER project. He first participated as an advance team member (SSI2002), and has brought three teams from Rutgers University. He is a SENCER senior associate and the author of a SENCER backgrounder describing his journey as a professor. In addition to his work with SENCER, he is a BEN (BioSciEdNet) Scholar. At Rutgers University, he was recognized for his distinguished contributions to Undergraduate Education in the School of Arts and Sciences at Rutgers University and he was appointed as a Presidential CASTL Fellow. In 2007, he was appointed to the editorial board for the new online endeavor Nature-Education, with primary responsibility for Mendelian Genetics.”


Student Awards, Achievements, and Activities:

Karen Mabb, a Ph.D. candidate in Julie Lockwood’s lab, has accepted a position as a wildlife biologist at Camp Pendleton, CA. while she completes her degree.



Congratulations to the following:

On the successful completion of the Qualifying Exam:

  • Zac Freedman, advisor Tamar Barkay, on February 6th.
  • Jessica Sanders, advisor Jason Grabosky, on February 12th.
  • Alicia Shenko, advisors Rebecca Jordan and Ravit Golan Duncan, on February 25th.


On the successful defense of their Preliminary Proposal;

  • Carrie Norin, advisor Steven Handel, on January 10th.
  • Greg Dahle, advisor Jason Grabosky, on February 19th.
  • Ben Baiser, advisor Julie Lockwood, on February 25th
  • Yufei Wang, advisor Ming Xu, on March 3rd.



Amanda Dey, (Ph.D. 2005, advisor Joanna Burger) and Larry Niles, (Ph.D. 1996, advisor Joanna Burger) were featured on the Public Broadcasting System Nature series “Crash: A Tale of Two Species. The story of Red Knots and Horseshoe Crabs in Delaware Bay and Beyond.” on Sunday February 10 at 8:00 p.m.


Galbraith-Kent, S.L. and S.N. Handel. 2008. Invasive Acer platanoides inhibits native sapling growth in forest understorey communities. Journal of Ecology 96(2): 293-302.


Dana Price, Ph.D 2007, advisor Michael May) has accepted a position as a tenure track Assistant Professor at Salisbury University, in Maryland beginning Fall 2008.. Dana’s will teach Entomology and Zoology.


Patricia Ramey, Ph.D. 2008, advisors Drs. Fred and Judy Grassle, reports two publications:


Ramey P.A. and Bodnar (2008). Selection by a deposit-feeding polychaete, Polygordius jouinae, for sands with relatively high organic content. Limnology and Oceanography. In press.


Ramey P.A. (2008) Life history and population dynamics of a dominant polychaete, Polygordius jouinae, in inner continental shelf sands of the Mid-Atlantic Bight, USA. Marine Biology. In press.


Brad Walters (PhD, 2000, advisor Andrew “Pete” Vayda) working in collaboration with Bonnie McCay (E&E, Rutgers Human Ecology) and colleagues have just published an edited volume, created as a tribute in honor of the retirement of E&E Emeritus Professor, Andrew Vayda. The new book, Against the Grain: The Vayda Tradition in Human Ecology and Ecological Anthropology (Alta Mira Press, 2008) includes a broad collection of papers that engage various themes in Pete Vayda's eclectic and thought-provoking writings. Check out the link to Alta Mira's website: Against the Grain.


Juan Wang (M.S. 2007; advisor Ming Xu) has accepted a position as a Business Analyst in the  Group RCI, a subsidiary of Wyndham Worldwide Corporation. Juan began work there in January