Department of Ecology, Evolution, and Natural Resources


Ecology and Evolution Graduate Program Newsletter



October 2009




Previous newsletters may be found at:




Siobain Duffy presented both a talk and a poster at the Conférences Jacques-Monod in Roscoff, France

  • Evaluating mechanisms of fast evolution in single-stranded DNA viruses. Understanding emergence of infectious diseases: focus on new experimental and theoretical approaches to virus evolution. (contributed talk)
  • J.J. Dennehy, S. Duffy, K.J. O'Keefe, A. Jethra, S.V. Edwards, and P.E. Turner. Reduced variation is a consequence of genetic exchange in evolving RNA virus populations. Understanding emergence of infectious diseases: focus on new experimental and theoretical approaches to virus evolution. (Poster)


Nina Fefferman gave an invited talk at an international workshop at the Institute for Pure and Applied Mathematics at UCLA, hosted by the Office of Naval Research, entitled "Stability and Success of Emergent Structures in Dynamically Self-Organizing Populations".


Steven Gray, Ph.D. candidate in the Rebecca Jordan lab, won the student poster competition for his poster at the Mid-Atlantic American Fisheries Society Meeting at Richard Stockton College of New Jersey on 10/1-10/2

  • Gray, S. Manderson, J. Palamara, L., Kohut, J., and Oliver, M., Developing ecological indicators for fisheries management using IOOS defined habitat characteristics in the mid-Atlantic Bight.

Rebecca Jordan reports the following two presentations:

  • Jordan, R. Invited Speaker:  NASA Land Cover Citizen Science Workshop in Greenbelt, MD.  October 26, 2009.  Title: Land Cover Citizen Science: benefits for scientists.
  • Bonney, R., R. Jordan, and H. Ballard. American Society of Science and Technology Centers Annual Meeting, Austin TX. November, 2009.  Title: Public Participation in Scientific Research: CAISE Inquiry Group Report.


Kirsten Schwarz, a Ph.D. candidate working with Stewart T.A. Pickett at the Cary Institute of Ecosystems Studies, attended the Long Term Ecological Research (LTER) All Scientist Meeting in Estes Park, CO (9/13-9/16) where she co-organized a working group entitled “Identifying the benefits and barriers to graduate student cross-site socio-ecological research in urban systems” and presented a poster entitled “An empirical model of the spatial distribution of lead in urban residential soils of Baltimore, Maryland.”


Kirsten Schwarz also attended the Baltimore Ecosystem Study (BES) Annual Meeting in Baltimore, MD (10/20-10/22) where she organized the BES graduate student symposium and presented a poster entitled “A comparison of three models describing the spatial distribution of lead in urban residential soils of Baltimore, Maryland.”


Julie Lockwood gave an invited seminar titled 2009 “Feeling less isolated: the fate of island bird diversity in the face of species invasions and extinctions” at the University of Delaware, Department of Entomology and Wildlife Biology



Siobain Duffy reports the following publication:

  • K. Rosario, S. Duffy and M. Breitbart. Diverse circovirus-like genome architectures revealed by environmental metagenomics. Journal of General Virology. 90:2418-2424.

Joan Ehrenfeld has two publications:

  • Shrestha, J., J. R. Rich, J. G. Ehrenfeld, P. R. Jaffe. 2009. Oxidation of ammonium to nitrate under iron reducing conditions in wetland soils: laboratory, field demonstrations and push pull rate determinations.  Soil Science. 174:156-164
  • Yu, Shen and J. G. Ehrenfeld. 2009. Relationships among plants, soils and microbial communities along a hydrological gradient in the New Jersey Pinelands, USA. Annals of Botany. doi:10.1093/aob/mcp183, 12 p



Joan Ehrenfeld received a grant, with Jason Grabosky as co-PI from the USDA AFRI titled “Belowground competition: a mechanism to explain the invasiveness of exotic forest understory shrubs”.


Faculty Achievements and Activities:

Joan Ehrenfeld participated as a member in a meeting of the Committee on Independent Scientific Review of Everglades Restoration Progress in West Palm Beach, FL.


Nina Fefferman participated in a workshop at the Consortium for Mathematics and Its Applications involving academic researchers and high school math and biology teachers to produce classroom teaching materials for the integration of mathematics and biology in the high school curricula.

Dina Fonseca (Department of Entomology) is on the Editorial Board of the  journal "Infection, Genetics and Evolution". This journal of molecular epidemiology and evolutionary genetics in infectious diseases (MEEGID) is a peer-reviewed journal with an impact factor of 2.792.


Ed Green attended the Editor's meeting at the Society of American Foresters National Convention in Orlando, Sept 30 - Oct 3. Ed was asked and agreed to serve as Editor of Forest Science for an unprecedented 7th year. 


Steven Handel has an art installation at The Jewish Museum on Fifth Avenue and 93rd Street in Manhattan. As part of the "Reinventing Ritual" show, his piece, done in collaboration with artist Mierle L. Ukeles, is an ecological interpretation of the ritual spice box used to close the sabbath day. Called "I'm Talking to You: a Scent Garden, Three Different Voices from Nature," the piece shows the ecological function of plant odors, their power to attract, repel, or trick the animal world to visit or avoid the plant. Over 25 different species of plants are used that have unique odors.  In this way, Handel hopes to teach ecological principles, in this case plant-animal interactions and chemical ecology, to non-traditional audiences.  The show will be at the Museum through February 7, 2010, and then moves to San Francisco to be displayed at the Museum of Contemporary Jewish Art downtown.


Gene Likens (Founding Director and Professor Emeritus of the Cary Institute of Ecosystems Studies) has been elected as an Einstein Professor by the Chinese Academy of Sciences. Dr. Likens will be visiting China in October where he will give a plenary lecture at the International Society of Limnology, receive an honorary degree from Jinan University and lecture at Nanjing Institute of Geography and Limnology and the South China Botanical Garden.


Judy Weis attended a workshop in Ottawa Canada to advise the Division of Fisheries and Oceans on how to make their aquaculture more "environmentally friendly” the week of Oct 19 to 23.


Advisory Panels:

Joan Ehrenfeld been appointed to the Ecological Processes and Effects Committee of the US EPA Science Advisory Board .    


Student Awards, Achievements, and Activities:

Aspa Chatziethimiou was a tour leader at HMF on Sept 20th. Title of the tour: "The microbial ecology of HMF" and led another tour at HMF with Dr. Dan Cariveau on Oct. 6th for a Microbiology class from Wagner College. "Macro- and Micro- ecological processes at HMF" Aspa is also collaborating on a project titled: "Comparative analysis of merA genes and microbial communities between 2 mercury polluted areas in the U.S. and Taiwan” with visiting professor Dr Mei-Fang Chien from Ehime University in Japan.



Julian and Jessica Avery announced the birth of daughter Arden Lark Avery. Arden was born on October 6th at 4:41 pm weighing 7lbs 6oz and 20.5 inches long.  Mom and baby are both doing extremely well.


Rachael Winfree (Department of Entomology) and her husband Robert welcomed Sophia Geppert Budny. Born on Thursday, October 8th at 3:19 pm at Princeton Medical Center.  Sophia weighed 7 lb 2 oz, and was 20.5 inches long.  Sophia joins her brother Nicholas. Everyone is doing very well.



Congratulations to Jack Siegrist, advisor Peter Morin, on the successful completion of his Qualifying Exam on September 30. 2009.


Congratulations to Jessica Sanders, advisor Jason Grabosky, on the successful defense of her preliminary proposal on October 20, 2009.



Greg Dahle (Ph.D. 2009 advisor Jason Grabosky) reports the following publication:

  • Dahle GA and JC Grabosky. 2009. Review of Literature on the Function and Allometric Relationships of Tree Stems and Branches. Arboriculture and Urban Forestry 35:311-320


On October 7th Frank Gallagher, (Ph.D. 2008, advisor Jason Grabosky) a Visiting Scholar with the Urban Forestry Program gave a presentation entitled "Phytostabilization of an Urban Brownfield: Assessing the Ecological Risks" at the Watchable Wildlife Conference in Avalon/Cape May New Jersey.

Frank also reports a publication:

  • Gallagher, F.J., Pechmann, I., Isaacson B., and Grabosky, J., In Press. Morphological Variation in the Seed of  Betula populifolia Marsh: A Comparison of Trees from Metal Contaminated Soils. Urban Habitats. Volume 6.


Lin Jiang,(Ph.D. 2003, advisor Peter Morin) reports his most recent publication:

  • Jiang, L. and Z. Pu. 2009. Different effects of species diversity on temporal stability in single-trophic and multi-trophic communities. American Naturalist, 174: 651-659


Karen and Scott Ruhren (Ph.D. 1998, advisor Steven Handel) are the proud parents of their second child, Tess DiLisio Ruhren, born September 7th, Labor Day! Tess, the only native Rhode Islander in the bunch, joins sister Faith.


Patricia Ramey, Ph.D. 2008, advisors Fred and Judy Grassle, reports the following publication:

  • Ramey, P.A, Grassle, J.P., Grassle, J.F., and Petrecca, R. M.  (2009) Small-scale, patchy distributions of infauna in hydrodynamically mobile continental shelf sands: Do ripple crests and troughs support different communities? Continental Shelf Research. doi:10.1016/j.csr.2009.08.020.


Lauren Spearman, (Ph.D. 2009 advisor Mike May) has accepted a Visiting Assistant Professor position at Towson University. It is a 3-year appointment.


Tom Virzi, (Ph.D. 2008, advisor Julie Lockwood) attended the Bayesian Analysis of Population Ecology Workshop at the Centre for Research into Ecological and Environmental Modelling at University of St. Andrews, Scotland, from September 7-10.  Tom attended to learn advanced Bayesian analysis techniques to be applied to demographic data for the Cape Sable Seaside Sparrow project.