Department of Ecology, Evolution and Natural Resources


Ecology and Evolution Graduate Program Newsletter








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Tis the Season…


We would like to remind faculty, alumni, students, and friends that it is possible to make charitable donations to help support the research of graduate students in the E&E Graduate Program. Donations can be made to the Ecology & Evolution Graduate Program Academic Excellence Fund through a check payable to the RU Foundation (please indicate account number 539108 –Ecology Fund on your check). You can be assured that donations to this initiative will go directly to support graduate student research. This past year we implemented a competition for small grants, available only to our graduate students, that is supported by donations to this fund. We were delighted to make 6 awards to students, although we had many more applicants than we could support from this limited pool of funds. If you have any questions about contributing to this cause, please don’t hesitate to contact Peter Morin (  Remember, your contributions are tax deductible and they go to support a very worthy cause at a time when the university is experiencing budget cuts of unprecedented size.



Celine Santiago Bass, a Ph.D. candidate in Judy Weis’ lab, attended the New England Estuarine Research Society (NEERS) conference held Oct 26-28th at the US Coast Guard Academy in New London, CT. where she presented a poster entitled "Effects of heavy gill parasite burdens on Fundulus heteroclitus anatomy and physiology." 

Congratulations to Celine on winning the M.I.T. Travel Award and the Dean Award for Best Graduate Student Poster


Joan Ehrenfeld has given several presentations recently:



Frank Gallagher, a PhD candidate in Dr. Jason Grabosky’s Urban Forestry program, co-presented a general session at the New Jersey Shade Tree Federation’s annual conference in Cherry Hill on October 27th..  The presentation focused on demographic transition and the corresponding need for natural resource based educational materials.  Co-presenter Elizabeth Faircloth of the Division of Parks and Forestry explained how the Project Learning provides such materials.

On Oct 31-Nov 1 Ed Green attended the annual meeting of the Northeast Mensurationists Organization, and presented a talk titled "Bayesian Analysis of LAI Data from Redwood Sprouts."

The National University and National Science Council of Taiwan have invited Ed Green to present a workshop on publishing in Forest Science to faculty and graduate students in Taiwan.  He will be in Taiwan Nov 25-Dec 4.  While there Ed will also give a presentation titled “Bayesian Inference in Forestry” and tour the National University's Experimental Forest

Teresa Johnson, a Ph.D candidate in the Bonnie McCay lab, presented at the International Council for the Exploration of the Sea Symposium on Fishing Technology in the 21st Century: Integrating Fishing and Ecosystem Conservation. October 30-November 3 in Boston, MA. Her talk was titled Industry-Science Collaboration to Improve Fishery-Independent Data Collection: The Trawl Survey Advisory Panel.


Teresa Johnson gave a talk in the Human Ecology Department’s 'Brown Bag' Seminar on Oct. 11. The title was: "Case Studies in Cooperative Research: Incorporating Fishermen and their Knowledge into Science and Management"


Inga P. LaPuma, a Ph.D. candidate in Rick Lathrop’s lab,  attended the LANDIS-II Model Developer's Workshop in Madison, WI from Oct 30th to Nov 1st  where she presented a talk titled, "LANDIS –II in the Pinelands of NJ: Incorporating Landuse/Landcover Change"


Jonathon Schramm, a Ph.D. candidate in Joan Ehrenfeld’s lab,  presented a talk entitled "Spatial Distribution of Japanese Stiltgrass in the Sourland Mountains of NJ" at the fall meeting of the New Jersey Chapter of the Wildlife Society, held Nov 14th  here on Cook.


Kirsten Schwarz, a Ph.D. candidate in Steward T.A. Pickett’s lab, presented the following poster at the 2006 Baltimore Ecosystem Study annual meeting: 

“The Spatial Dynamics of Lead Levels in Urban Soil and Correlations with Land Cover in Baltimore, MD. Schwarz, K., S.T.A. Pickett, M.L. Cadenasso, R.V. Pouyat, and I.D. Yesilonis


Nicholas Skowronski, a Ph.D. student in Erik Hamerlynck’s lab, presented a poster at the Society of American Foresters National Convention held October 25-29th. The poster was titled: “Recovery Following Severe Wildfire in the New Jersey Pine Barrens.”


Jackie Taylor, a student in David Bushek’s lab, presented a poster at the International Conference on Shellfish Restoration.  The title was "Preliminary investigations of constructed oyster reef habitat in Lower Delaware Bay." The meeting was held Nov 15th -18th  in Charleston, SC. Jackie received funds from the GSNB Conference Travel Support Program to attend this meeting.


Pete Vayda gave a talk titled  "Causal Explanation of Environmental Change: The Case of Indonesian Forest Fires" at the Yale School of Forestry and Environmental Studies on Oct. 19 and at Columbia University on Nov. 20.


Tom Virzi, a Ph.D. candidate in the Lockwood lab,  gave a presentation on November 1 at the NJ Division of Fish & Wildlife, Endangered and Nongame Species Program's annual staff meeting entitled "Oystercatcher Research in New Jersey: Current Efforts and Long-Term Opportunities."  The purpose of the talk was to give an overview of the research currently being supported by the Endangered and Nongame Species Program with their State Wildlife Grant (SWG) funds and to outline the benefits of continuing the study over the long-term.  The immediate results of the talk were the inclusion of the oystercatcher study in ENSP's 2008 SWG budget proposal at the current level of support.


Shen Yu, a post-doctoral fellow in the Joan Ehrenfeld lab, attended the  Annual Meetings Of Agronomy Society of America - Crop Science Society of America - Soil Science Society of America 2006 in Indianapolis On November 12-16, 2006, Shen had two presentations with collaborators from the Ehrenfeld lab:





We are happy to announce the publication of two books this month.



Julie Lockwood ‘s  Invasion Ecology is now available.


     Lockwood, J.L., M.F. Hoopes, and M.P. Marchetti.  Invasion Ecology.  Blackwell Scientific Press, UK.



George McGhee's latest book has just been published by Cambridge University Press, England.


   The Geometry Of Evolution: Adaptive Landscapes And Theoretical Morphospaces,




Greg Dahle, a Ph.D. candidate in Jason Grabosky’s lab, reported the following publication:

Dahle, G.A., H.A. Holt, W.R Chaney, T.M. Whalen, J. Grabosky, D. Cassens, R. Gazo, R.L. McKenzie, J.B. Santini. “Decay patterns in sliver maple trees converted from round-over to V-trim.”  Arboriculture & Urban Forestry 32(6):260-264


Lin Jiang  (Ph.D. 2003 advisor Peter Morin) and Jennifer Adams Krumins, a Ph.D. candidate in Peter Morin’s lab, collaborated on the following publications:


Julie Lockwood and her lab report three papers:


Ming Xu reports two papers in press:




Vayda, A. P., 2006. Causal explanation of Indonesian forest fires: Concepts, applications, and research priorities.  Human Ecology 34: 615-635.


     Faculty Achievements and Activities:


Joan Ehrenfeld attended a meeting of the Water Science and Technology Board of the National Research Council, in Washington, DC (November, 2006). Joan has been appointed to the Committee on Independent Scientific Review of the Everglades Restoration Progress.


 Joan Ehrenfeld organized and led a workshop on “Watershed Management and Wetlands” at the “Regional Planning Comes of Age” conference held to celebrate the 25th anniversary of the Pineland Comprehensive Management Plan, organized by the Pinelands Preservation Alliance.  September 29th 2006


Jason Grabosky was elected to a 3-year term on the Board of Directors of the New Jersey Shade Tree Federation and received the following awards from the New Jersey Arborist chapter of the International Society of Arboriculture:

2006 Arborist of the Year

2006 Researcher of the Year.

Ed Green attended the Society of American Foresters National Convention in Pittsburgh PA (Oct 25-28). While there he attended the SAF Journal Editors meeting and the Forest Science Reviewer Reception.

Steven Handel has been elected by ESA's membership to a 3-year term on the Board of Professional Certification of the Ecological Society of America. This Board determines whether applicants will receive approval under the guidelines of the Society.  Three levels of Certification are available, from Associate Ecologist (bachelor's in ecology plus other criteria) through Senior Ecology (Ph.D. plus 5 years experience, plus leadership. etc.)  Full details are on the ESA website.


Rebecca Jordan and Cindy Hmelo-Sliver were awarded an NSF collaborative proposal for Alternate Learning Technologies focused on using classroom aquaria to teach about complex systems ($304,252)


Rebecca Jordan and Ravit Golan Duncan were awarded a Woodrow Wilson Foundation Teacher as Scholars award in which in-service teachers are given the opportunity to interact with Rutgers Scientists. New graduate student Steven Gray will also participate in this initiative ($15,000)


Julie Lockwood attended the Fall New Jersey Wildlife Society Meetings here on Cook Campus.  The topic of the meeting was Managing New Jersey's Forests. 


Terry McGuire and Jeanette Haviland-Jones’ work on the healing and therapeutic effect of flowers has been written up in the November 2006 issue of “O” The Oprah Magazine.

In addition to the Oprah magazine Terry was a scholar-in-residence at the University of Montana Oct. 9 -13 . He gave 3 different talks on teaching science and consulted with interested faculty.


Terry McGuire also reports that he was elected a BiosciEdNet scholar. 

This is part of a National Dissemination project with the National Science Digital Library. He was told that only 20 people were selected nationwide.  Terry has been core faculty and senior associate of the NSF-funded SENCER project.


Student Awards, Achievements, and Activities:


At the invitation of Dr. Nancy Targett, Dean, College of Marine and Earth Studies, University of Delaware, John Balletto provided testimony in a performance assessment review for the Delaware Sea Grant Program.  Prior to their departure the team gave very positive marks to the Delaware Program. John is a Ph.D. candidate under Ken Able.

John has recently changed jobs.  After retiring from PSEG where he was heavily involved in the Estuary Enhancement Program, a 10,000 acre salt marsh restoration program, John is now Principal Scientist/Vice President of Blasland, Bouck and Lee, Inc, a consulting company where he intends to continue habitat restoration work.


Jeremy Feinberg, a Ph.D student in Joanna Burger’s lab, was interviewed by the New York Times about his leopard frog research. 


Joe Paulin, a Ph.D. candidate in David Ehrenfeld’s lab reports several items:


Tom Virzi, a Ph.D. candidate in Julie Lockwood’s lab, was awarded a third year of support for his oystercatcher research from the NJ Division of Fish & Wildlife, Endangered and Nongame Species Program.  ENSP is providing Tom with a research grant from their 2007 State Wildlife Grant funds to prepare and test a GIS model of the expected distribution of American oystercatchers in coastal salt marshes in New Jersey.


Tom Virzi has also been coordinating efforts to repair osprey nesting platforms at the Sedge Island Marine Conservation Zone.  Repairs to damaged platforms are being conducted this winter by a group of volunteers from the NJ Sea Kayak Association.


Quals and Prelims:

Congratulations to the following:


Alumni News:

David Bart, (Ph.D. 2004, advisor Jean Marie Hartman) has accepted a position as assistant professor of Landscape Architecture at the University of Wisconsin-Madison.

Jeremy Fox  (Ph.D. advisor Peter Morin) has the following publication:

  Fox, J. W.  2006.  Using the Price Equation to partition the effects of biodiversity loss on ecosystem function.  Ecology  87:2687-2696.


Alex Hernandez (Ph.D. 2005, advisor Michael Sukhdeo) reports the following publication. It was published online in Parasitology, the official journal of the British Society for Parasitology. “Composition and diversity patterns in metazoan parasite communities and anthropogenic disturbance in stream ecosystems.” A. D. Hernandez, J. F. Bunnell and M. V. K. Sukhdeo.



The extended E&E family continues to grow with two more grad students announcing the birth of daughters: