Department of Ecology, Evolution, and Natural Resources


Ecology and Evolution Graduate Program Newsletter


May 2008



Previous newsletters may be found at:


Congratulations to:

·        Ming Xu on his promotion to Associate Professor with tenure, in the Department of Ecology, Evolution, & Natural Resources.

·        Terry McGuire on his promotion to Full Professor, in the Department of Genetics.


Get well wishes go to Jacalyn Toth Brown (M.S. 2007, advisor Ken Able).

Jackie was injured in the crash of a research plane in Ocean County, NJ on May 17th and is currently recuperating from her injuries in the Atlantic City Medical Center.  To keep track of her recovery, please visit the blog set up by her family:  Jackie’s husband Steven is currently a Master’s student in Ken Able’s lab. Get well soon Jackie!



Karl Kjer was invited to give a talk on insect phylogeny at the University of Minnesota Dept of Entomology (his alma mater), on April 29.  


Karl Kjer was invited to speak on Dragonfly Phylogeny, Insect Phylogeny and Alignment, respectively at Hanover, Jena, and Bonn Germany.  Karl will be working with Bernie Misof in Germany on a computerized version of structural rRNA alignment. He will be in Germany on a “mini-sabbatical” from May 14-June1.


Linda Rohleder, a Ph.D. candidate in Claus Holzapfel's lab, presented a program entitled "Creating a Backyard Habitat" on April 19 at the Nature Center at Washington Crossing State Park, NJ. The program emphasized the use of native plants and sustainable, environmentally-friendly ways to provide food, water, shelter and a place to raise young for many types of wildlife.





Jay Turnure, a Master’s student in Ken Able’s lab, presented a talk on April 28th titled "Preliminary Insights of Adult Weakfish Habitat Use: Biotelemetry and Passive Acoustic Approaches" at the 64th Northeast Fish and Wildlife Conference, which was held in Galloway, NJ.  Co-authors were Ken Able and Thomas Grothues.


Tom Virzi, a Ph.D. candidate in Julie Lockwood lab, gave an invited presentation at the 64th Annual Northeast Fish and Wildlife Conference held in Galloway, New Jersey on April 27-30 entitled: Modeling nest success for the American oystercatcher (Haematopus palliatus palliatus) using Program MARK.

Judy Weis gave an invited seminar at Woods Hole Oceanographic Inst. on May 1st.


Judy Weis has a letter to the editor on "Creationism and Intelligent Design" in the May issue of Frontiers in Ecology & Evolution



Joan Ehrenfeld  published an ‘early online’ paper in the Journal of Applied Ecology

  • Joan G. Ehrenfeld (2008) Exotic invasive species in urban wetlands: environmental correlates and implications for wetland management. It can be accessed through:


Judy Weis reports the following paper:

  • Bergey, Lauren and J.S. Weis 2008. Aspects of population ecology in two populations of fiddler crabs, Uca pugnax. Marine Biology 154: 435-442.


     Faculty Achievements and Activities:

Lena Struwe has been appointed as a Honorary Research Associate at The New York Botanical Garden in recognition of her close ties and productive research collaborations with the staff of their Institute of Systematic Botany.



A team of Rutgers University researchers from the School of Environmental & Biological Sciences and the Bloustein School for Planning and Policy have been awarded a $100,000 grant from the State of New Jersey.  The project is entitled "Assessing the Potential for New Jersey Forests to Sequester Carbon and Contribute to Greenhouse Gas Missions Avoidance” and is associated with the larger Rutgers University Global Climate & Environmental Change Initiative.   The research team consists of Richard Lathrop (EENR & CRSSA), Kristina Dahl (Env. Science), Joan Ehrenfeld (EENR), Frank Felder (Bloustein), Jason Grabosky (EENR), Edwin Green (EENR), David Specca (EcoComplex), Mark Vodak (EENR & Ext), and Ming Xu (EENR).





Student Awards, Achievements, and Activities:

Maria Stanko, a Ph.D. candidate in Peter Morin’s lab, will be serving as the AAUP/AFT's TA representative to the newly-formed University-wide Committee on Work and Family Issues.  President Richard L. McCormick and Executive Vice President for Academic Affairs Phil Furmanski officially charged the Committee at the first meeting of the Committee, which took place on Monday, April 28th.


Tom Virzi, a Ph.D. candidate in Julie Lockwood’s lab, assisted Mary Vitale, an undergraduate student from The Johns Hopkins University in obtaining a $1,500 research scholarship from Save Barnegat Bay's Student Scholarship Program to support an oystercatcher project in the Sedge Island Marine Conservation Zone this summer.  Tom will be mentoring her on a project that will identify and map important foraging areas for the local oystercatchers to be used to help designate areas of high conservation priority.



Congratulations to the following:

On the successful defense of their Ph.D. Dissertation:

  • Kristen Ross, advisor Joan Ehrenfeld, on May 12th.
  • Dale Haroski, advisor Gary Taghon, on May 16th.


On the successful defense of her Master’s Thesis

  • Jackie Taylor, advisor David Bushek, on May 14th.


On the successful completion of their Qualifying Exam:

  • Han Han, advisor Ming Xu, on May 20th.
  • Aspa Chatziefthimiou, advisor Tamar Barkay, on May 23rd.


On the successful defense of their Preliminary Proposal:

  • Jeremy Feinberg, advisor Janna Burger, on May 1st.
  • Linda Rohleder, advisor Claus Holzapfel, on May 7th.
  • Nick Skowronski, advisor Ming Xu, on May 16th.



Marielle Anzelone (MS 2000, advisor David Ehrenfeld) founded and helped organize the inaugural NYC Wildflower Week: (held during National Wildflower Week, May 4-10, 2008).


Shannon Nix (Ph.D. 2004, advisor John Dighton) starts a tenure track position at Clarion University in PA in August.  Shannon will be an assistant professor of environmental microbiology.


Celine Santiago Bass, (Ph.D. 2008, advisor Judy Weis) published the following:

  • Santiago Bass, C. and J. S. Weis (2008).  Increased abundance of snails and trematode parasites of Fundulus heteroclitus (L.) in restored New Jersey wetlands. Wetlands Ecology and Management, 16:173–182


Patricia Ramey, (Ph.D. 2008, co advisors Fred and Judy Grassle), was invited to be a participant in the International workshop on bar-coding of deep-sea organisms. The workshop was organized by the Census of Abyssal Marine Life “CeDAMar” in cooperation with the Marine Barcode of Life Initiative “MarBoL”. It was hosted by The German Center for Marine Biodiversity Research and Senckenberg Research Institute, Wilhelmshaven, Germany May 13-18.


Michael Sakatos (MS, 2006; advisor Kathy Scott) and his wife Smruti are proud to announce the birth of their daughter Meenali Jaya Sakatos.  Born April 18, 2008.  7 lbs, 4 oz; 19 1/2 inches.  Mom and baby are doing great!