Department of Ecology, Evolution, and Natural Resources


Ecology and Evolution Graduate Program Newsletter



June 2009




Previous newsletters may be found at:





Debashish Bhattacharya and his post-doctoral associate Jeferson Gross report the following abstract in Nature Reviews Genetics AOp, published online 9 June 2009; doi:10.1038/nrg2610

  • Jeferson Gross and Debashish Bhattacharya. “Mitochondrial and plastid evolution in eukaryotes: an outsiders’ perspective.”


Nina Fefferman gave the keynote address on Virtual Worlds and Health to the annual Games for Health Conference (Boston, June 10-12th).



David Ehrenfeld's latest book, Becoming Good Ancestors: How We Balance Nature, Community, and Technology (Oxford University Press, 2009), was reviewed in Nature (vol. 459, June 4, 2009) under the heading "Averting environmental crisis."


Julie Lockwood reports that her latest book has been published:

  • Avian Invasions:  The Ecology and Evolution of Exotic Birds

Tim M. Blackburn, Julie L. Lockwood, and Phillip Cassey


Julie Lockwood reports the following publications in press:

  • Lockwood, J.L., T.M. Blackburn, and P. Cassey.  The more you introduce the more you get: the role of colonization and propagule pressure in invasion ecology.  Diversity and Distributions.
  • Lockwood, J.L., and T. Virzi.  Taxonomic patterns.  In Encyclopedia of Invasive Introduced Species (D. Simberloff and M. Rejmanek, eds.)  University of California Press, Berkeley, CA.
  • Blackburn, T.M., J.L. Lockwood, and P. Cassey.  Following birds on the pathway to invasion, and beyond.  The Biologist.


Henry John-Alder has had a symposium paper “Hormones, Performance and Fitness:2 Natural History and Endocrine Experiments on a Lizard (Sceloporus undulatus)” accepted for publication in the journal Integrative and Comparative Biology. The paper is based on the invited presentation Henry made at the SICB meeting in Boston in January 2009. The symposium was titled “Hormonal Regulation of Whole-Animal Performance: Implications for Selection”.


Nick Skowronski, a Ph.D. candidate in the Ming Xu lab, has the following publication:

  • Clark KL, Skowronski N, Hom J, Duveneck M, Pan Y, Van Tuyl S, Cole J, Patterson M, Maurer S (2009) Decision support tools to improve the effectiveness of hazardous fuel reduction treatments in the New Jersey Pine Barrens. International Journal of Wildland Fire 18, 268–277.


Lena Struwe has the following publication:

  • Struwe, L., V. A. Albert, M. F. Calió, C. Frasier, K. B. Lepis, K. G. Mathews, & J. R. Grant. 2009. Evolutionary patterns in neotropical tribe Helieae (Gentianaceae): evidence from morphology, chloroplast and nuclear DNA sequences. Taxon 58: 479-499.


Andrew (Pete) Vayda, professor emeritus (Department of Human Ecology) has had the following book published : 

  • Andrew P. Vayda, Explaining Human Actions and Environmental Changes, AltaMira Press: Lanham, MD, May 2009. The book consists of essays on research and analysis directed towards showing causes of concrete events, especially human actions and the environmental changes brought about by them.


Faculty Achievements and Activities:

David Bushek, (IMCS and the Haskins Shellfish Research Lab) and The Delaware Estuary Living Shoreline Initiative were in the news. Josh Moody, an E&E master’s student in Dave’s lab, and Kurt Cheng, an undergraduate intern from Marine Sciences, were involved in the work as well.


Steven Handel was interviewed in Christian Science Monitor about his labs ecological restoration work:  Steven’s work and his award from the American Society of Landscape Architects were also written up in Architecture Week , June 17, 2009.

Jody Hey, (Department of Genetics), was elected president of the Society for Molecular Biology and Evolution.

Lena Struwe was elected Professor of the Year by the students of the Plant Biology Graduate Program for her outstanding service to the program (June 2009).


Lena Struwe participated in the Science Career Fair Day at Long Branch High School, Long Branch, NJ on June 5, 2009, and gave a presentation for 200+ high school students on being a scientist.


Lena Struwe served as Scientist Mentor for a science team at two high schools within the national PlantingScience web-based educational project during Spring 2009.


Post-Doc Activities

Marisol Gutierrez, a post-doc working with Henry John-Alder, was invited to participate as a Postdoctoral Scholar in the FIRST (Faculty Institutes for Reforming Science Teaching) IV Program.  FIRST IV is a national dissemination project designed to reform undergraduate science education through professional development of post-docs in teaching and learning.  Marisol attended a four-day workshop at Michigan State University's W. K. Kellogg Biological Station (June 1st-4th) to design a course framework to be implemented during the 2009-2010 academic year.  She will then attend a subsequent workshop in the summer of 2010 to evaluate and to revise her course design through peer review.  FIRST IV is supported by the National Science Foundation.


Student Awards, Achievements, and Activities:

Congratulations to the following DEENR undergraduate students. They have each been awarded a $1000 scholarship from the Smoyak Hoffman Scholarship Fund:

  • Wayne Blum
  • Laura Chen
  • Sean Hayes
  • Laura Wiley


Julian Avery, a Ph.D. candidate in Julie Lockwood's lab, received a Special Travel Award of $400.00 from the Graduate School–New Brunswick to attend The Animal Visual Ecology Symposium in Germany in August.


Steven Gray, a Ph.D. candidate in the Rebecca Jordan lab, was named the winner of the American Fisheries Society Writing Contest. His paper “Are Robots and Satellites the Future of Fisheries Management?’ will be published in Fisheries.


Joe Paulin, a Ph.D. candidate working with David Ehrenfeld, has been busy in Hawaii:

  • Represented the Hawaiian Islands Humpback Whale National Marine Sanctuary at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, National Ocean Service, Sanctuary Advisory Council Summit at Thunder Bay National Marine Sanctuary in Alpena Michigan May 4-8, 2009.
  • Co-coordinated a panel entitled “Managing the Balance Between Commercial and Economic Interests within MPAs for Cetacean*s*,” at the First International Conference on Marine Mammal Protected Areas (ICMMPA) in Maui, Hawaii, March 30 April 3, 2009. Participants included more than 200 marine mammal scientists, marine protected area (MPA) managers and other experts representing 40 countries.
  • Coordinated two Management Plan Review Initiation Workshops for the staff and Advisory Council of the sanctuary. He also coordinated communications training for the sanctuary Leadership Team.
  • Coordinating the review of the Hawaiian Islands Humpback Whale National Marine Sanctuary management plan. Currently, the sanctuary only provides protections for humpback whales, but is considering adding protections for all other whales and dolphins, sea turtles, and the critically endangered Hawaiian monk seals (less than 1200 left).


Ai Wen, a Ph.D. candidate co-advised by David and Joan Ehrenfeld, attended the Great Swamp Biennial BioBlitz as a group leader and biologist on May, 12th. The public was invited to participate in many planned outdoor activities during the BioBlitz. The BioBlitz was described as part contest, festival, educational experience and scientific endeavor.


Ai Wen, a Ph.D. candidate co-advised by David and Joan Ehrenfeld, and Linda Rohleder, a Ph.D. candidate working with Claus Holzapfel, attended the Hillside Intermediate School Annual BioBlitz on May 29th. They led several bird and plant identification groups during the day. This annual event provides an educational forum for young people to learn about the animals and plants in their schoolyard.



Congratulations to Kathleen McCarthy on the successful defense of her master’s degree on June 4th. Kathleen was advised by Rick Lathrop.


Congratulations to Tavis Anderson, advisor Mike Sukhdeo, on the successful defense of his doctorate on June 25th.



Stacey Lettini, (Ph.D. 2009, advisor Michael Sukhdeo) has accepted a position as Assistant Professor at Gwynedd-Mercy College in Ambler, PA.  Stacey will be teaching their Microbiology courses and will help to set up an undergraduate research program.


Jorge Saliva (Ph.D.1995, advisor Joanna Burger) has the following publication:

  • Saliva, Jorge E. 2009. Puerto Rico and Its Adjacent Islands (pp 83-98). In, Bradley. P.E. and R.L. Norton, Eds., An Inventory of Breeding Seabirds of the Caribbean. University Press of Florida, Gainesville, FL, 353 pp.