Department of Ecology, Evolution, and Natural Resources


Ecology and Evolution Graduate Program Newsletter



March 2009




Previous newsletters may be found at:



Each spring the Ecology, Evolution, & Natural Resources Department honors graduating seniors in four areas with Outstanding Student Awards. Awardees are nominated by faculty based on their assessment of the student's professionalism and performance both in and out of the classroom.  Attention is also given as to how the awardee reflects the ideals of the individual to whom the award is dedicated.


 This year’s recipients are:

  • Dimitry Gershenson for receiving the M. Buell Outstanding Student in Ecology
  • Stevie N. Steffey for receiving the R. Locandro Outstanding Student in Natural Resources
  • Samuel D. Joseph for receiving the J. Applegate Outstanding Student in Wildlife Conservation
  • Carolyn E. Haines for receiving the E. B. Moore Forestry Award


The awardees names will appear in the commencement brochure. They will be invited to the SEBS awards ceremony held on April 23rd, and they will receive a certificate of award.



On March 3, David Ehrenfeld gave a plenary lecture in the "Science in the Modern World" program at Purchase College, State University of New York.  The audience comprised approximately 400 students, faculty, and members of the public.


Karl Kjer spoke at the international “Taller del Nodo IBUNAM de la Red MEXBOL El Codigo de Barras de la Vida” (the Mexican barcode of life workshop) sponsored by the Universidad Nacional Autonóma de México (UNAM), in Mexico City, March 8, 2009.  His talk focused on the strengths and limitations of barcode data for phylogenetics.


Rick Lathrop was invited to present a paper at the Atlantic Estuarine Research society's annual spring meeting at Ocean City, Maryland, on March 6, 2009.  The talk was titled "Assessing the Impact of Land Use Change on the Barnegat Bay estuary."


Kathleen McCarthy, a master’s student working with Rick Lathrop, presented a poster at the Joint Annual Conference of the Mid-Atlantic Ecological Society of America and the Mid-Atlantic Society for Restoration Ecology on March 13-14, 2009. The conference took place at The College of New Jersey in Ewing, NJ. The poster was titled "The source - sink dynamics of anurans in stormwater basins of the New Jersey coastal plain".



Jeremy Feinberg, a Ph.D candidate in Joanna Burger’s lab, published an article in the New York-New Jersey Trail Conference newsletter TrailWalkers. The title is “Marauding Salamanders: The Earliest Sign of Spring.” See page seven of


Rebecca Jordan reports the following publication with co-authors Steven Gray and Ravit Golan Duncan:

  • Jordan, R., Gray, S. and R. Golan Duncan. (2008) Teachers and Scholarship: Self-definition of Teachers in the Scientific Enterprise. Education and Society, 26: 33-44.


Cesar Rodriguez-Saona (Department of Entomology) has the following publication:

·        Rodriguez-Saona, C., Rodriguez-Saona, L., and Frost, C. 2009. Herbivore-induced volatiles in the perennial shrub, Vaccinium corymbosum, and their role in inter-branch signaling. Journal of Chemical Ecology 35: 163-175.


    Faculty Achievements and Activities:

Nina Fefferman is one of only two Rutgers nominees for the Packard Fellowship for Science and Engineering Award for 2009. The David and Lucille Packard Foundation website describes the fellowship as follows; “to allow the nation's most promising professors to pursue science and engineering research early in their careers with few funding restrictions and limited paperwork requirements. Every year, the Foundation invites the presidents of 50 universities to nominate two professors each from their institutions. Nominations are reviewed by an advisory panel of distinguished scientists and engineers. The panel then selects 20 Fellows to receive individual awards of $875,000, payable over five consecutive years.”  For more information regarding this honor please visit:


A team of researchers from Morehouse University, led by Prof. Chuang Peng, have received funding from the Department of Homeland Security to work in Nina Fefferman's lab this summer. This team will collaborate with Fefferman to further her work investigating the uses of entropy measures in biosurveillance.

Richard Lathrop and John Bognar of Rutgers Center for Remote Sensing & Spatial Analysis (CRSSA) teamed with John Bunnell of the NJ Pinelands Commission to develop a vegetation management plan for electric transmission line right-of-ways in the New Jersey Pinelands. The goal of the project was to prepare right-of-way (ROW) maintenance plans that create and maintain relatively stable and sustainable early successional habitats that reflect characteristic Pinelands habitats, require minimal management, ensure transmission reliability and safety, and minimize the need for individual Pinelands permit reviews. The Final Draft ROW Maintenance Plan is available at


Student Awards, Achievements, and Activities:

Jeremy Feinberg, a Ph.D candidate in Joanna Burger’s lab, received a Bevier Fellowship for the 2009-2010 academic year.


Alison Golinski, a Ph.D. candidate in Animal Sciences working with Henry John-Alder, has been selected for a Fulbright award to visit the Czech Republic in 2010.  Her Fulbright project will build on research that she has already initiated with Dr. Lukáŝ Kratochvíl at Charles University in Prague, investigating the hormonal regulation of sexual dimorphisms in closely related species of Eyelid Geckos.


Esther Leibovich, a Ph.D. candidate in Gary Taghon’s lab, conducted a workshop for the Teaching Assistant Project (TAP), on "Designing and Assessing Multiple Choice Exams".



Congratulations to Domenic D’Amore, advisors Kathleen Scott and George McGhee, on the successful defense of his Ph.D. dissertation on March 11, 2009.



Myla Aronson, (Ph.D. 2008, advisor Steven Handel) has accepted a tenure track position at Hofstra University as an assistant professor in the biology department. She and Scott and son Sean are planning their exodus from the frigid upper Midwest of Rochester Minnesota for this summer.


Frank Gallagher (Ph.D. 2008, advisor Jason Grabosky) gave a presentation entitled “Global Forest Sustainability”, for the American Forest Foundation at their mentor training session in Portland, Oregon, on March 2.


Patricia Ramey (Ph.D. 2008, advisors Fred and July Grassle) reports the following accepted publication from her collaboration with researchers from the Marine Invertebrates, Sciences Department, Museum of Victoria, Melbourne Victoria, Australia.

·        Avery, L., Ramey, P.A. and Wilson, R. New Polygordiidae (Polychaeta) from the Australian Region. Zootaxa


Celine Santiago Bass reports the following publication co-authored with her advisor Judy Weis (Rutgers –Newark):

  • Santiago Bass, C. and J.S. Weis.  2009.  Conspicuous behaviours of Fundulus heteroclitus (L.) associated with high digenean trematode metacercariae gill abundances. Journal of Fish Biology 74:763-772.