Department of Ecology, Evolution, and Natural Resources


Ecology and Evolution Graduate Program Newsletter



September 2008




Previous newsletters may be found at:


In Memoriam: 

Dr. John Kuser passed away on August 25, 2008 after a long illness. We know that all of you will join us in remembering John’s many contributions as a teacher, scholar, mentor and colleague.  There will be a funeral service on October 17th, 2:30 PM at Trinity Episcopal Church, 33 Mercer St., Princeton.

Plans for a campus remembrance for John will be announced in the future.


Welcome to the incoming graduate students!

The fall 2008 semester brings us eleven new graduate students. They come from diverse backgrounds and will be doing their graduate work in many different areas.


  • Brian Clough joins Joan Ehrenfeld’s lab. Brian has an undergraduate degree from Rutgers in Ecology and Natural Resources. He will be working towards his Master’s.
  • Cara Faillace will be working towards her Master’s degree with David Ehrenfeld. Cara’s undergraduate degree is in Biology from Cornell University.
  • Charles (Charlie) Kontos, a Ph.D. student, is advised by Rick Lathrop. Charlie’s undergraduate degree is in Environmental Engineering from the Steven Institute of Technology, his Master’s degree is in Biology from Montclair State.
  • William (Bill) Lynch received his undergraduate degree from Rutgers in Sociology. He is pursuing a Master’s degree in Julie Lockwood’s lab.
  • Sonja (Sona) Mason is working towards her Master’s with Judy Weis. Sona’s undergraduate degree is in Ecology from the Columbia University School of General Studies.


  • Christen McCoy completed her undergraduate degree in Ecology and Natural Resources at Rutgers. She is continuing towards her Ph.D. in Michael Sukhdeo’s lab.
  • Joshua (Josh) Moody, is working toward Master’s degree with David Bushek. He completed his undergraduate degree in Biology at Temple University.
  • Patricia Rendo is joining Julie Lockwood’s lab to complete a Master’s degree. Patricia has her B.S. in Biological Sciences from Rutgers.
  • David Smith is joining Rick Lathrop’s lab as a Master’s student. David’s has a B.A. in Visual Arts from Antioch College and a B.A. from Rutgers-Camden in Biology.
  • Orion Weldon, a Ph.D. student joining Julie Lockwood’s lab, received his B.S. in Marine Science from Texas A &M University, Galveston.
  • Christopher (Chris) Zambell completed his undergraduate degree at Kean University in Chemistry and his M.S. in Biology at Rutgers-Newark. Chris is advised by Jim White.



Jason Grabosky has given three presentations this month:

  • Cream Ridge Nursery Research and Extension Meeting: 

August 28, 2008

“Tree Species Selection for the Future.”

  • New York State Arborist Meeting Poughkeepsie, NY  Sept. 22, 2008

“Implementing the ANSI A-300 part 1 Pruning BMPs”

“Integrating Trees and Pavement in storm water management design.”

  • Somerset County i-Tree training Sept. 25, 2008  i-Tree workshop

“Inventory basics.”


Oscar Schofield reports the following presentations:

  • Unveiling the biological complexity in the coastal oceans: A decadal view from the COOL Room. (University of Southern California)
  • Hot days in the Southern Ocean. Climate induced migration of the West Antarctic Peninsula (Oregon State University)
  • Lessons learned from a decade building the Coastal Ocean Observation Lab (Oregon State University)
  • Dawn in a new era of ocean observing: Potential payoffs for managing the Mid-Atlantic Bight.  (National Marine Fisheries Service, Sandy Hook, NJ)


Nick Skowronski, a Ph.D. candidate in Ming Xu’s lab, presented a poster at the International Association of Wildland Fire meeting on Sept. 24th in Jackson, WY.

·        Skowronski, N.S., Clark, K.L., Duveneck, M., Nelson, R., and J. Hom. Fire Severity and Carbon Loss Estimated Using Pre- and Post- LiDAR Derived Fuel Measurements. International Association of Wildland Fire Annual Meeting, Jackson, WY, 2008.


Ming Xu was the Keynote Speaker the Conference on Carbon and Biogeochemical Cycles on Tibetan Plateau, July 27-30, 2008, Xining, China. His presentation was titled “The Tibetan Plateau is potentially a large carbon sink in the 21st century.”




Han Han a Ph.D. candidate in Ming Xu’s lab reports the following publication from her Master’s work:

  • Han Han, Daniel Giménez and Allan Lilly. Textural averages of saturated soil hydraulic conductivity predicted from water retention data. Geoderma  Vol. 146 (1-2),   31 July 2008, Pages 121-128


Rebecca Jordan has the following publication:

  • Hmelo-Silver, CE, E. Chernobilsky, and R. Jordan. 2008. Understanding collaborative learning processes in new learning environments.  Instructional Science 36:409-430.


Bill Landesman, a Ph.D. candidate in the John Dighton lab, had the following paper accepted:

  • Allan, B.F., R.B. Langerhans, W.A. Ryberg, W.J. Landesman, N.W. Griffin, R.S. Katz, B.J. Oberle, M. Schutzenhofer, K.N. Smyth, A. de St. Maurice, L. Clark, K.R. Crooks, D. Hernandez, R.G. McLean, R.S. Ostfeld and J.M. Chase.  Ecological correlates of risk and incidence of West Nile Virus in the United States.  Oecologia. (accepted)


Julie Lockwood reports the following in press:

  • Boulton, R.L., J.L. Lockwood, M.J. Davis, A. Pedziwilk, K.A. Broadway, J.T. Broadway, D. Okines and S.L. Pimm.  Survival of the endangered Cape Sable seaside sparrow: an eleven-year study.  Journal of Wildlife Management.


Oscar Schofield has the following publications:

  • Glenn, S. M., Jones, C., Twardowski, M., Bowers, L., Kerfoot, J., Webb, D., Schofield, O. 2008. Studying resuspension processes in the Mid-Atlantic Bight using Webb slocum gliders. Limnology and Oceanography 53(6): 2180-2196.
  • Chao, Y., Zhijin L., Farrara, J. D., Moline, M. A., Schofield, O., Majumdar, S. J. 2008. Synergistic applications of autonomous underwater vehicles and regional ocean modeling system in coastal ocean forecasting. Limnology and Oceanography 53(6): 2251-2263.


Lena Struwe reports the following publications:

  • Calió, M. F., J. Pirani, & L. Struwe. 2008. Morphology-based phylogeny and revision of Prepusa and Senaea (Gentianaceae: Helieae ) — rare endemics from eastern Brazil. Kew Bulletin 63: 169-191.
  • Frasier, C., V. A. Albert, & L. Struwe. 2008. Amazonian lowland, white sand areas as ancestral regions for South American biodiversity: biogeographic and phylogenetic patterns in Potalia (Gentianaceae). Organisms, Diversity & Evolution 8: 44-57.
  • Polle, J. E. W., L. Struwe, & E. Jin. 2008. Identification and characterization of a new strain of the unicellular green alga Dunaliella salina (Teod.) from Korea. J. Microbiol. Biotechnol. 18(5): 821-827.

Rachael Winfree has the following publication:

  • Winfree, R. and C. Kremen. 2008. Are ecosystem services stabilized by differences among species? A test using crop pollination. Published online 17 September in Proceedings of the Royal Society of London


Ming Xu, his lab and collaborators have the following in press:

  • Miao, Z., Xu, M., Lathrop, R., Wang, Y. 2008. Comparison of A-Cc curve

fitting methods in determining maximum Rubisco carboxylation rate (Vcmax),

potential light saturated electron transport rate (Jmax) and leaf dark

respiration (Rd), Plant, Cell & Environment (in press).

  • Zhang, Y., Xu, M., Chen, H., Adams, J. 2008. Global pattern of NPP to GPP

ratio derived from MODIS data: Effects of ecosystem type, geographical

location, and climate, Global Ecology and Biogeography (in press).


     Faculty Achievements and Activities:

John Dighton reports that the faculty and staff of the Pinelands Field Station participated this summer in a Camden based NSF funded REU program. The Principal Investigator (PI) was Heike Bucking. They had 10 undergraduate students from around the state and other far flung regions of the USA including Puerto Rico staying in the field station dorm for the first two weeks before going to Camden or the staying at the station to conduct their research over the following eight weeks. John will be PI on the project for the next two years.


Dina Fonseca has a new graduate student in Entomology. Laran Kaplan has her Masters from Clarke University and will be working on the ecology of parasite-host interactions. She started doing research at the Center for Vector Biology last August.


Dina Fonseca is now also an Associate Professor in the School of Public Health at UMDNJ.

Rebecca Jordan attended a Working Group meeting of the National Science  Foundation supported Center for Advancement of Informal Science Education on September 18 and 19th.

Jim Quinn, Professor Emeritus, recently attended The Fifth International Symposium on Grass Systematics and Evolution at the University of Copenhagen in Denmark.


Oscar Schofield reports the following activities:

  • Served on the organizing Committee on the “Integrated Ocean Observing System Modeling framework symposium” which was held in Arlington, Virginia
  • Appointed to the steering Committee for the Federation of Observing Environmental Networks (FEON) for NSF Computer Science Directorate.
  • Appointed to the Editorial Board of the Journal of Marine Biology


Rachael Winfree was quoted in Science News, “Bumblebees deliver disease”, 16 August 2008.


Ming Xu was an invited scientist at a Joint Workshop on Climate Change by NSF and NSF-China, Sept. 4, 2008, Shanghai, China .



John Dighton has been awarded an International NSF award for undergraduate research looking at thinning and forest floor disturbance in the NJ Pine Barrens and related forest harvest practices in Finland of clear felling and post harvest residue removal. We will be working with Dr.Helja-Sisko Helmisaari of the Finnish Forest Research Institute (Metla).


Carrie Norin and advisor Steven Handel received $5000 from an NJAES Internal Hatch Award for the project entitled, "The Role of Phenotypic Plasticity in Defining Appropriate Genotypes for Ecological Restoration."


Orion Weldon, a Ph.D. student in Julie Lockwood’s lab, received a $900.00 Special Study Award from the GSNB. As Orion explained in his proposal the award will enable him to attend “The 3rd Annual Cerulean Warbler Summit and 2nd Annual Golden-winged Warbler Summit held in Bogota, Colombia from October 21 – 25, 2008. The goals of this summit, through multiple intensive workshops, are to: create a five year conservation management plan for both species, discuss issues in all areas of these warblers ranges driving population decline, and develop coordination and information sharing between industries, farmers, land managers, and conservationists.”


Student Awards, Achievements, and Activities:

Joe Paulin, a Ph.D. candidate working with David Ehrenfeld, accepted a position with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration as Manager and Program Coordinator of the Hawaiian Islands Humpback Whale National Marine Sanctuary.  Joe will be coordinating research and educational efforts for conservation projects involving several threatened and endangered species including humpback whales, sea turtles, dolphins, and monk seals.  He will also be developing a new management plan for the sanctuary.



Congratulations to the following:

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

  • Thomas Virzi, advisor Julie Lockwood, on September 18th.
  • Andrew Reed, advisor Rich Lutz, on September 19th.


On the successful completion of their Masters:

  • Niall Dunne, advisor Steven Handel, on September 11th.
  • Andrea Kornbluh, advisor Peter Smouse, on September 23rd.
  • Erin Esteves, advisor Karl Kjer, on September 29th.


On the successful completion of her Qualifying Exam:

  • Di Li, advisor Don Schaffner, on September 8th.


On the successful defense of their Preliminary Proposal:

  • Tavis Anderson, advisor Michael Sukhdeo, on August 26th.
  • Wes Brooks, advisor Rebecca Jordan, on September 12th.
  • Ileana Perez, advisor Costantino Vetriani, on September 12th.
  • Amy Karpati, advisor Steven Handel, on September 23rd.



The extended E&E family continues to grow at a fast pace. We welcome six new babies with this issue! Three were born within 24 hours of each other and there are more on the way.

  • Stacey and Brian Lettini welcomed daughter Kaitlyn Elizabeth on August 22nd. Kaitlyn weighed 6 lbs, 15.6 oz and was 18 inches long.
  • Yufei and Pingli Wang welcomed daughter Jiahui (Jasmine) Wang on September 3rd. Jasmine weighed 7 lbs, 3.6 oz and was 20 inches long.
  • Sean Tristan Aronson was born to Myla and Scott Aronson on September 11th. Sean weighed 6 lbs 7 oz and was 18 ¾ inches long.
  • Inga and David La Puma welcomed Corinna Wren on October 1st. Born at home, Corinna weighed 6 lbs, 4 oz.
  • Matthew and Busy Kimball welcomed Ann Caroline on Oct 1st. Ann weighed 8lbs 12oz.   
  • Greg and Iwona Dahle welcomed Lucille Anna on Oct 2nd. Lucy topped the weigh-in at 9.0 lbs and 20.5 inches.


All families are happy and healthy but report being in need of sleep.



Frank Gallagher, Ph.D. 2008, advisor Jason Grabosky, and Part Time Lecturer, received the Nancy Zimmerman Memorial "Running with Scissors" Award The award is given to those individuals willing to push boundaries to protect or enhance the natural resources of the harbor and its watershed. The award is given annually by  The Baykeeper, an NGO that focuses on the environments of the New York Harbor, whose mission it is to protect, preserve, and restore the ecological integrity and productivity of the Hudson-Raritan Estuary - the most urban estuary on the planet.