Department of Ecology, Evolution and Natural Resources


Ecology and Evolution Graduate Program Newsletter



April 2007




Previous newsletters may be found at:



Congratulations to:



Rutgers- Penn- Princeton Graduate Student Conference was held March 31st.

The annual R-P-P Conference was held at Rutgers this year. The retreat is organized by students as a forum for presenting short papers on their research and a chance to share knowledge and ideas in an informal gathering. Twelve papers were presented this year, with three of those presented by Rutgers students.

Dom is a Ph.D. candidate co-advised by Kathleen Scott and George McGhee.


Zac Freedman, a Ph.D. student in Tamar Barkay’s lab, is presenting a poster on Thursday April 26th at the  American Museum of Natural History’s Spring Symposium 2007:  Small Matters: Microbes and their role in Conservation.  Zac’s poster is₤ titled; “ Is the Mercury Resistance (mer) System of Thermus thermophilus HB27 an Ancestor to the Broadly Distributed mer System Among the Bacteria?”


Inga Parker LaPuma, a Ph.D. candidate advised by Rick Lathrop, presented a talk entitled "Forest biomass estimation and change using kNN in the Highlands of New Jersey" at the US-International Association for Landscape Ecology April 9th-


Joe Paulin, a Ph.D. candidate in David Ehrenfeld’s lab, was invited to give two lectures on techniques to reduce unwanted human-wildlife interactions in suburban areas for the Master Gardener Programs of Union and Monmouth Counties


Sharron Hicks Crane, a Ph.D. candidate co-advised by Tamar Barkay and John Dighton, will be attending the Mid-Atlantic States Mycological Conference on April 21 at the Beltsville Agriculture Research Station in Beltsville, Maryland. Sharron will be presenting a talk titled "The effects of mercury on mycorrhizal colonization and growth of Pinus rigida seedlings"



Thom Almendinger, a Master’s student in Julie Lockwood’s lab, has co-authored a paper that will be published in the next issue of Human-Wildlife Conflicts, a new peer-reviewed journal published biannually by the Jack H. Berryman Institute. 


Thom Almendinger co-authored a paper for New Jersey Birds that will be published this summer.


Teresa Johnson, a Ph.D. candidate in Bonnie McCay’s lab, has the following paper in press:


Matt Kimball, a Ph.D. candidate in the Ken Able lab, reports the following publication:


James MacDonald, a Ph.D. candidate in Judy Weis’s lab, has the following online artivcle:


     Faculty Achievements and Activities:

Jason Grabosky reports that Rutgers has been recognized as a foundation school by Bartlett Tree Foundation. Jason is a board member of the foundation. There will be an annual scholarship from the foundation to a Rutgers undergraduate.

Ed Green obtained a two-year, $20,000 grant from the Endangered and Nongame Species Program of NJ DEP to provide statistical expertise for their various research projects.

Springer-Verlag has approved a proposal by Ed Green and Bill Strawderman for a text tentatively titled "Bayesian Inference in Ecology and Natural Resources."  This will be an introductory level book aimed at ecologists and/or natural resource managers with limited math and/or statistical backgrounds.

Ed Green’s re-appointment as Editor of Forest Science is official.  Ed is the first Editor to serve two terms.

Peter Morin was one of four keynote speakers invited by graduate students at the 8th annual Ecological Integration Symposium held at Texas A&M University on April 20-21.
The theme of this year’s symposium was “From Speciation to Extinction: Interdisciplinary Approaches to Biodiversity.” The title of Peter’s talk was “Experiments on Biodiversity, Community Dynamics, and Ecosystem Functioning”. More information can be found at .

EcoGSA Activities:

Once again the spring semester was busy for the Ecology and Evolution Graduate Student Association. In addition to the Rutgers-Penn-Princeton Conference mentioned in the presentations section of this newsletter and the weekly Friday seminar series in which graduate students present their own research to the group, they organized the following events:


Eminent Ecologist Lecture:


We owe a special thank you to IMCS for the use their seminar facilities for this special event and the R-P-P Conference.


5K Run for the Woods:


Ag Field Day:

·       On Saturday, April 28th, the EcoGSA will again have a table at the annual Ag Field Day.  This year the students will 1) sell organic French fries, 2) hold a  used book sale, and 3) sell Ecology & Evolution T-shirts (designed by Domenic D'Amore) and E&E canvas tote bags.  Proceeds benefit the Ecology & Evolution Graduate Student Association. T-Shirts and canvas bags are available for purchase at other times from Ai Wen (aiwen@ Please stop by the booth located between Foran and Plant Physiology to say hello.


Student Awards, Achievements, and Activities:


NOAA National Estuarine Research Reserve (NERR) Social Science Fellowship. 

Steven Gray, a first year Ph.D. student in Rebecca Jordan’s lab, has received a NOAA National Estuarine Research Reserve (NERR) Social Science Graduate Research Fellowship. Steven will receive $30,000.00 in funding for 12 months. Steven’s proposal is titled: “Documenting Stakeholder Perception and Knowledge of Ecosystem-based Management: Creating an Informed Public and Fostering Participation .”


BRI Award

Jeremy Feinberg, a Ph.D. student advised by Joanna Burger, was awarded $19,713 by the New York State Biodiversity Research Institute (BRI) for his  project, “The Decline of Southern Leopard Frogs from Long Island: Investigating Causes and Conservation Strategies.” 


Graduate School New Brunswick Awards

Two students will receive Graduate School New Brunswick Awards on April 26th at the Spring Reception to be held at the Zimmerli Art Museum:


Special Study and Pre-Dissertation Awards were received by three students:



Ralph Good Award for Pinelands Research


Zac Freedman, a Ph.D. student in the Tamar Barkay lab, won a travel award from the Yellowstone National Park Research Coordination Network (YNP RCN) for $1,100 for a proposal titled : Spatial Diversity of Mercury Resistant Bacteria at Yellowstone National Park


Inga Parker LaPuma, a Ph.D. candidate in the Rick Lathrop lab, has been invited to participate in Week 1 of The Buffalo IGERT program in Geographic Information Science of the 2007 Vespucci Summer Institute, June 10-15, 2007, in Fiesole, Italy.  Inga’s invitation includes financial support for tuition, lodging, meals and travel to participate. Inga will be one of 6-8 chosen from with 39 applicants.


James MacDonald, a Ph.D. candidate in Judy Weis’s lab, received a grant of $3700 from the PADI Foundation for fieldwork in Honduras. “The PADI Foundation encourages and supports underwater science, environmental projects, and education. The Foundation will fund and assist worthwhile projects that will enrich mankind's understanding of the aquatic environment and encourage sensitivity to and protection of the delicate ecological balance of underwater life.”


James MacDonald was named to the summer post of Chief Mangrove Scientist for Honduras with the Education/Conservation organization Operation Wallacea; James will be heading their mangrove research and conservation programs in Utila, Honduras over the summer. 


Jeanmaire Molina, a Ph.D. candidate in Lena Struwe’s lab, received  735.55 from the Systematics Research Fund of the Linnean Society of London.


The New York Times weekend edition of March 25th featured the salamander migration on Beekman Road in East Brunswick. David Moskowitz, a Ph.D. student in Mike May’s lab and a member of the East Brunswick Environmental Commission, remains instrumental in promoting public awareness of the annual Beekman Road amphibian migration. 


Maria Stanko, a Ph.D. student working in the Peter Morin lab, will be attending a two-day interdisciplinary conference titled Networks in Ecology and Beyond.  The conference is presented by the Program in Interdisciplinary Math, Ecology and Statistics (PRIMES) at Colorado State University, Fort Collins, Colorado, and will take place April 26-27, 2007.


Quals and Prelims:

Congratulations to two students on the successful completion of their Qualifying Exam:


Congratulations to three students on the successful defense of their Preliminary Proposals:


SEBS Celebration of Excellence Awards

Several members of the DEENR /E&E family are receiving Excellence Awards this year. Congratulations to the following:

Costantino Vetriani

Joseph Paulin

Edmund Stiles (posthumously)

Lena Struwe





Phillip Cassey, a Post-doc from Julie Lockwood’s lab, received a Human Frontiers in Science Young Investigators Award for a collaborative project titled, "The chemistry of visual trickery: evolution and mechanisms of egg mimicry in cuckoos". The award is for $750,000.


Jeremy Fox, Ph.D. 1997, (advisor Peter Morin) has received a British Ecological Society Early Career Project Grant of ₤23,900.


Sylvan Kaufman, Ph.D. 1999 (advisor Peter Smouse) has published the first field guide to North American invasive plants. It is written for homeowners, landowners and outdoor enthusiasts.

The book includes full color photos for identification, information about where the plants came from and what they do in the environment, and how to control them.


Scott Ruhren (Ph.D. 1998, Handel Lab) reports two presentations:

Rhode Island Natural History Survey conference in Narragansett, RI.

University in Bristol, RI.