Department of Ecology, Evolution and Natural Resources


Faculty and Student Newsletter

October 2005


Previous newsletters may be found at:





Special Note of Welcome:


With this newsletter we welcome Michael Doosey to Rutgers.  Michael is a 4th year grad student at Tulane University where he works with Dr. Henry Bart.  Hurricane Katrina closed Tulane and Michael and his family have come back to New Jersey until they can return to Tulane and their home in New Orleans. Lena Struwe is able to provide the equipment in her lab that Michael needs to continue his work.


A word of special thanks to all of you who offered to help Michael when word of his needs went out.




Sean Boyd, a graduate student in David Bushek’s lab at the Haskins Shellfish Marine Laboratroy, will be presenting a poster at the Estuarine Research Federation 2005 Conference in Norfolk, Virginia, October 16-21, 2005.  He received a $225 student travel award from the Federation to help offset the costs of attending the meeting.  The poster is titled “Establishment of the Non-Indigenous Asian Isopod Synidotea laevidorsalis in Delaware Bay, USA.”


Domenic D’Amore, a graduate student working in the labs of Kathy Scott and George McGhee, is presenting the results of his Komodo dragon feeding study at the annual Society of Vertebrate Paleontology meeting on October 19th in Mesa, Arazona.  The title is “Feeding in the Komodo dragon, Varanus komodoensis: taphonomic and functional implications of ziphodont dentition.”


Joan Ehrenfeld will be speaking on “Urban Wetlands – Science and Policy” to the Environmental Science and Policy Seminar Series at the NJ Institute of Technology on Oct. 26th


Joan is also an invited participant in a workshop at the Hudson River Foundation on “Setting Targets for Restoration of the Hudson-Raritan Estuary.”


Kenneth Elgersma, a graduate student working with Joan Ehrenfeld, presented a poster at the Invasive Plant Atlas of New England (IPANE) 2005 New England Invasive Plant Conference in Framingham, MA.  Co-authored with Joan Ehrenfeld, the poster was titled “Rooting patterns of Japanese Barberry (Berberis thunbergii) and a co-occurring native tree.”


Jason Grabosky has two presentations scheduled this month:

  • Madison Wisconsin, October 18  Wisconsin Arborist Association:  "Trees for the Urban Site"
  • Cherry Hill, NJ  October 21  New Jersey Shade Tree Federation: "Tree selection tools for urban landscape design"


Julie Lockwood presented a talk titled “The role of propagule pressure in explaining invasion success.” at the Rutgers Newark Biology Colloquium.


Joe Paulin, a David Ehrenfeld graduate student, presented the following at The Wildlife Society 12th Annual Conference. September 25-29 in  Madison, Wisconsin.

·        Paulin, JB, Drake, D, Ehrenfeld, DE, Carr, PC and K, Burguess. 2005. "Attitudes for or against the management of white-tailed deer, Canada geese, and black bear in New Jersey, USA."

Joe also spoke in Julie Lockwood’s Wildlife Ecology and Conservation class about human-black bear interactions in New Jersey.


Ming Xu presented a seminar titled “Climate Change and Ecosystem Carbon Cycle” in the , Department of Biological Science, Rutgers University, Newark, September 27, 2005.




Li, Y., Xu, M., Zou, X. “Effects of nutrient additions on ecosystem carbon cycle in a Puerto Rican tropical wet forest.” Global Change Biology (in press).


Li, Y., Xu, M., Zou, X.  “Heterotrophic soil respiration in relation to environmental factors and microbial biomass in two wet tropical forests.”  Plant and Soil (in press).


Faculty Achievements and Activities:


Jason Grabosky will be teaching a new course this spring in the Spring 2006 Rutgers College Honors Program seminar:  Tree Growth and Form  12:090:296.  The class is scheduled for Wednesday mornings at 9:50-12:50 on College Ave campus.


The discovery by Lena Struwe (Rutgers University) and Jason Grant (Univ of Neuchatel) of a unique tree-gentian in the Andes named the Harry-Potter-plant or Apparating Moon-gentian (Macrocarpaea apparata) is featured in the newly published book "Strange New Species : Astonishing Discoveries of Life on Earth" by Elin Kelsey on Maple Tree Press.  More information about this plant can be found at: 


Ming Xu was appointed by the Dean to the Affirmative Action, Diversity and Equal Opportunity Committee, Cook College, from July 1, 2005 to June 30, 2007.


Student Awards, Achievements, and Activities:


Tom Virzi, a graduate student working with Julie Lockwood, was awarded a second year of funding ($15,000) from the NJ Division of Fish & Wildlife, Endangered and Nongame Species Program for his research on American Oystercatchers breeding in NJ. 




Alexander Hernandez, advisor Michael Sukhdeo, successfully defended his Ph.D. dissertation on Oct. 12, 2005. Alex has accepted a position as a Postdoctoral Fellow at Florida International University where he will be working with Dr. Joel Trexler.




Some of the program alumni sent news to pass along. If any alumni have news that you would like to put in the newsletter, please send it to me.


Marlene Cole (Ph.D. 2002) is teaching a course at Boston College titled "Environmental Biology.  Marlene will also be increasing her involvement in BC's Urban Ecology Institute.  


Bob Cox (Ph.D. 2005) has accepted a position as a postdoctoral scholar in the Department of Evolution, Ecology, and Organismal Biology at The Ohio State University.  Bob is studying the physiological ecology of desert birds with Joe Williams.


David Nemerson, (Ph.D. 2001) is a Conservation Biologist in the Conservation Department at the National Aquarium in Baltimore.  David “runs the science end of things in our Chesapeake Bay marsh restoration program, which centers on rebuilding eroding salt marshes around the Bay using volunteer labor.” 


Scott Ruhren (Ph.D. 1998) was recently named Director of Properties and Acquisitions at the Audubon Society of Rhode Island. Scott is also an adjunct professor at Providence College and was formerly an instructor, researcher and advisor at the University of Rhode Island’s Department of Biology.


Kelly Smith (Ph.D. 1995) is an Associate Professor at the University of North Florida.  Kelly is currently involved in wetlands restoration efforts in Northeast Florida.  Her husband, Tony Turrin, who provided computer support when Ecology & Evolution was in Nelson Labs, is now supporting distance learning and streaming media services at the University.


Eric Weissberger (Ph.D. 1998) has moved from Maine to Narragansett, Rhode Island where he is employed at the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency in their Atlantic Ecology Division.