Department of Ecology, Evolution, and Natural Resources


Ecology and Evolution Graduate Program Newsletter



November 2009




Previous newsletters may be found at:




Allison Candelmo , a Ph.D. candidate working with Judy Weis, presented a talk at the Coastal and Estuarine Research Federation  (CERF) 20th Biennial Conference in Portland, Oregon on  November 3rd. 

  • Candemo, A. C., V. G. Guida. 2009.  Nutritional value of invasive tunicates, Botrylloides violaceus and Didemnum vexillum to potential consumers in the Mid-Atlantic nearshore ecosystem.  Presentation.

Alli also received a $600 travel grant for the conference from AERS (Atlantic Estuarine Research Federation) the regional affiliated society and a $330 travel grant from national CERF chapter.


Cheong Xin Chan, a postdoctoral fellow in Debashish Bhattacharya’s lab, presented a poster entitled “Examining the extent of HGT in microbial eukaryotes” at the Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory 10th Genome Informatics Meeting. The poster was co-authored by Ahmed Moustafa, also a postdoctoral fellow in the Bhattacharya lab, and by Debashish Bhattacharya.

Siobain Duffy gave an invited seminar at the Ecolunch seminar series in the University of Pennsylvania, Biology Department. The seminar, given on November 9th was titled “Breaking the DNA speed limit: fast evolution in single-stranded DNA viruses".


Nina Fefferman gave the keynote address as the inaugural meeting of the Life Sciences Dialogue Heidelberg. She spoke about "Technology and the Future of Healthcare and Medicine".

Nina Fefferman was also an invited participant in a panel discussion on Popular Culture and Science at the Sheffield Documentary Film Festival '09, sponsored by the Wellcome Trust.


Steven Handel spoke at the International Association of Landscape Architecture, Sweden Chapter, in September on "Landscape ecology functions of urban restoration projects."


Julie Lockwood gave an invited seminar titled “Feeling less isolated: the fate of island bird diversity in the face of species invasions and extinctions”. The talk was given in the University of Delaware’s Department of Entomology and Wildlife Biology in Newark, Delaware..

Brooke Maslo, a Ph.D. candidate in the Steven Handel lab, presented a poster entitled "Evidence-Based Decisions on the Use of Predator Exclosures in Shorebird Conservation" at the 33rd annual meeting of the Waterbird Society in Cape May, NJ on November 5th.



Debashish Bhattacharya has the following publication:

  • Borchert GM, Gilmore BL, Spengler RM, Xing Y, Lanier W, Bhattacharya D, Davidson BL (2009). Adenosine deamination in human transcripts generates novel microRNA binding sites. Human Molecluar Genetics. Advance Access Sep 23, doi:10.1093/hmg/ddp443

Cheong Xin Chan, postdoctoral fellow in the Bhattacharya lab, has the following publication:

  • Chan CX, Beiko RG, Darling AE, Ragan MA (2009). Lateral transfer of genes and gene fragments in prokaryotes. Genome Biology and Evolution. Advance Access Nov 4, doi:10.1093/gbe/evp04

Siobain Duffy reports the following publication:

  • JM Cuevas, S Duffy and R Sanjuán. Point mutation rate of phiX174. Genetics 183:747-749.

Julie Lockwood has the following publications in press:

  • Lockwood, J.L.  Book review for Invasive Species Management by M.N. Clout and P.A. Williams. Progress in Physical Geography.
  • Blackburn, T.M., J.L. Lockwood, and P. Cassey.  Fifty years on: confronting Elton’s hypotheses about invasion success with data from exotic birds.  In Fifty years of invasion ecology: the legacy of Charles Elton (D.M. Richardson, ed.).  John-Wiley/Blackwell Publishing, UK.
  • Olden, J.D., J.L. Lockwood, and C.L. Parr.  Species invasions and the biotic homogenizaton of faunas and floras.  In Conservation Biogeography (R.J. Whittaker and R. Ladle, eds.)  Oxford University Press.
  • Boulton, R.L. and J.L. Lockwood.  Response of endangered Cape Sable seaside sparrows to nest exclosures.  Florida Field Naturalist


Brooke Maslo, a Ph.D. candidate in the Handel lab and Julie Lockwood are coauthors on:

  • Maslo, B., and J.L. Lockwood. 2009. Evidence-Based Decisions on the Use of Predator Exclosures in Shorebird Conservation. Biological Conservation 142(12): 3213-3218.


Kirsten Schwarz, a Ph.D. candidate in the Steward T.A. Pickett lab, co-authored a paper in Landscape Ecology entitled “Mapping urban landscape heterogeneity: agreement between visual interpretation and digital classification approaches” available online here:


Holly Vuong, a Ph.D. candidate in Peter Morin’s and Rick Ostfeld’s labs, has the following publication:

  • Keesing, F., J. Brunner, S. Duerr, M. Killilea, K. LoGiudice, K. Schmidt, H. Vuong, and R.S. Ostfeld. 2009. Hosts as ecological traps for the vector of Lyme disease. Proceedings of the Royal Society B 276:3911-3919.


Faculty Achievements and Activities:

Nina Fefferman organized and hosted a two-day, international workshop on Mathematical Modeling of Behavioral Epidemiology at the Center for Discrete Mathematics and Theoretical Computer Science (DIMACS).


On November 14th, Frank Gallagher (Ph.D. 2008, advisor Jason Grabosky), a Visiting Scholar and PTL in DEENR, and Claus Holzapfel, Assistant Professor Biological Sciences Newark, jointly presented a talk and walk on novel assemblage development in the urban context.  The presentation was sponsored by the Friends of Liberty State Park and opened to the general public.


Steven Handel was a Visiting Professor of Ecology at Stockholm University's Dept. of Systems Ecology in September and October, teaching a graduate seminar class in Urban Restoration Ecology.  He also participated in the Ecosystems Management course and addressed a Symposium on Green Urbanism, held in Stockholm.


Steven Handel recorded a series of eighteen 2-minute botany and urban ecology chats about urban weeds. They are now online at, under "weed walk" on the right side. Click on "video" under each topic and you'll see pictures of the plants and habitats under the Number 7 subway line in New York City, and hear Steven chatting about them. This work is meant to make people more aware and provide a better understanding of the nature around them in the city.  The recording was made by Columbia University's Graduate School of Architecture and Planning, within their Urban Landscape Lab. In this way Steven is trying to reach non-traditional audiences; here, subway riders on the way to the 'burbs!  You can also download these talks as podcasts on your mp3 player, and walk around the streets listening to the chats.  Steven predicts he is on his way to Broadway.


George McGhee has been awarded a 3-month research fellowship at the Konrad Lorenz Institute for Evolution and Cognition Research in Altenberg, Austria (just outside the city of Vienna) for the summer of 2010.


Bonnie McCay (Department of Human Ecology) and her boat and research were featured in The Telegram of St. John’s, Newfoundland, Canada.



Rachael Winfree (Department of Entomology) received a Rutgers 2009 Pre-Tenure Faculty Career Development Award for her proposal titled "Assessing pollinator declines using a 140-year data set".


Student Awards, Achievements, and Activities:

David La Puma and the Fall Migration Moon Watch were featured in a Delaware online article “Full moon casts light on bird migration” on November 1st.



Congratulations to Blake Mathys of the successful defense of his Ph.D. dissertation on November 5th, 2009.


Congratulations to Jennifer Kilic on the successful completion of her Qualifying Exam on November 2, 2009.



Niall Dunne, (MS 2008 advisor Steven Handel), has completed a book  titled, "Great Natives for Tough Places; a Brooklyn Botanic Garden All-Regional Guide”, 119 pages.


David LaPuma, (Ph.D. Jan 2010, advisor Julie Lockwood), has the following publication:

  • La Puma, D.A. November-December 2009. Everglades Endemic. Species Profile: Cape Sable Seaside Sparrow (Ammodramus maritimus mirabilis) WildBird Magazine 23 (6), 38-39.


Patricia Ramey (Ph.D. 2008, co-advisors Fred and Judy Grassle) has a new 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.


Tom Virzi (Ph.D. 2008, advisor Julie Lockwood) gave a presentation titled "New Jersey Oystercatcher Research Update 2009" at the 2009 Atlantic Coast American Oystercatcher Working Group Annual Meeting held at the Cobb Island Station in Oyster, Virginia on November 9-10.