Department of Ecology, Evolution and Natural Resources


Faculty and Student Newsletter

August 2005


Previous newsletters may be found at:



Welcome to the following new graduate students, research associates and post-doctoral fellows.


The fall 2005 semester brings us eighteen new graduate students. They come from diverse backgrounds and will be doing their graduate work in many different areas.


Wes Brooks received his B.S. in Biology from Duke University. Wes is working towards his Ph.D. with Rebecca Jordan

Sean Boyd received his B.S. in Aquaculture from Nova Scotia Agricultural College. Sean has been employed at the Haskins Shellfish Labs most recently.  David Bushek is advising Sean as he works towards his Master’s degree.

Ryan Burrows received his B.A. from Drew University in Biology. Ryan, a Ph.D. student, is advised by Rebecca Jordan.

Aspa Chatziefthimiou has her B.S. in Biology from Montclair State University. Aspa, who has been working towards her Master’s with Tamar Barkay will continue to work with Tamar towards her Ph.D.

Glen Davis has a B.S. in Biology from Muhlenberg College. He will be working towards his Master’s degree with Claus Holzapfel.

Erin Esteves is a Rutgers undergraduate with a B.S. in EPIB (Environmental Policy, Institutions and Behavior). She is a Master’s student with George Morren.

Jeremy Feinberg, a Ph.D. student in Joanna Burger’s lab, received his B.A. in Biology from SUNY Center Albany and his Master’s from Hofstra University.

Alex Felson has a B.A. in Botany from the University of Wisconsin, Madison, a M.A. in Landscape Architecture from Harvard University and a M.S. from the University of Wisconsin, Madison in Land Resources. He is working towards his Ph.D. with Steward Pickett.

Zac Freedman received his B.S. in Biology from Fairfield University. He is a Ph.D. student with Tamar Barkay.


David Mellor is a Rebecca Jordan Ph.D. student. He received his B.S. in Biology from The College of William and Mary.

Monica Palta received her B.A. in Biology from Grinnell College and her M.S. in Ecology from the University of Georgia, Athens. Joan Ehrenfeld is advising Monica as she works on her Ph.D.

Ileana Perez, a Ph.D. student working with Costantino Vetriani, has a B.S. in Biology from the University of Puerto Rico.

Paul Reiss will be working in Brazil on his Ph.D. with Ken Able.  Paul has a B.A. in Psychology from Brooklyn College.

Matthew Rodman received his B.A. from New York University in Ecology. He is joining the Tamar Barkay lab as a Ph.D. student.

Wayne Rossiter joins the Michael Sukhdeo lab as a Ph.D. student with a B.S. in Life Science from Otterbein College and a M.S. in Zoology from Ohio State University, Columbus.

John Ruppert is a Rutgers undergraduate with a B.S. in AgBiotechnology. He is a Ph.D. student advised by John Dighton.

Jessica Sanders received her B.S. in Environmental Studies from Richard Stockton State College of New Jersey. Jess is working on her Ph.D. with Jason Grabosky.

Jaclyn Taylor has her B.A. in Marine Biology from Long Island University, Southampton. Jackie is working with David Bushek towards her Ph.D.



We are also welcoming several new Research Associates and Post-docs to the department this fall:


Dr. Phillip Cassey, a Post-doctoral Fellow with Julie Lockwood, received his Ph.D. from Griffith University, Brisbane Australia.

Dr. Shaokui Ge is a Research Associate with Ming Xu and Rick Lathrop. Dr. Ge received his Ph.D. in Ecology from the Chinese Academy of Sciences in Beijing, PR of China.

Dr. Eva Gonzales is a Post-doctoral Fellow working in the Peter Smouse lab. Eva received her Ph.D. in Plant Biology from the University of Georgia.

Dr. Zewei Miao is a Research Associate with Rick Lathrop and Ming Xu. He received his Ph.D.  at the Agroecological Institute, Zhejiang University, PR of China.



Ecological Society of America; Montreal, Canada August 7 to 14th.  This meeting was held jointly with the IX International Congress of Ecology.

West Nile Virus: habitat-based spatial heterogeneity.”

Past, present and future of a suburban old growth forest: Vegetation change

and exotic species invasions over 50 years.”

Variation in pollinator service to restored experimental wildflower patches differing in species richness.”

 Schoolyard restoration at a middle school in suburban New Jersey: NSF GK-12  program enhances hands-on ecological education.”

"Effects of habitat loss at a migratory stopover: A study of migratory raptors at the Cape May, NJ stopover."

“Foraging dynamics of migratory waders relative to prey density.”

“Enhancing ecological understanding: An evaluation of student perception and a case study.”

“Direct and indirect effects of food web diversity on bacterially mediated decomposition.”

Remotely Sensing Analysis of Urban Land Cover Components at Multiple Scales.”

Anhydrobiosis: an ecological strategy to increase transmission success in gastrointestinal nematodes.”

Survivorship in restored woodland clusters on Fresh Kills Landfill 8 years after planting.”

The effects of microtopography on the soil environment and plant performance in a New Jersey Pinelands fen.”

“Bears in the backyard: People politics and management.”

The Effects of Urbanization on Nitrate Removal Capacity of Urban Wetlands.”

Population and community stability in aquatic food webs: partitioning the effects of species diversity, species composition and enrichment.”

Altered predator/prey interactions mediate ecological effects in contaminated estuaries.”


American Ornithologists’ Union; Santa Barbara, CA ; August 23 – 27th


Other meetings attended and presentations given:


(Helieae-Gentianaceae): endangered and endemic genera from Brazil with six-merous flowers. IBC 2005, Vienna, Austria, 17-23 July 2005.

specialists: Speciation and distribution patterns of Chelonanthus within South America. IBC 2005, Vienna, Austria, 17-23 July 2005.





The trilingual field guide to the anti-malarial plant genus Tachia in South America was published in May by Lena Struwe (Rutgers) and Adrian M. Pohlit (INPA, Manaus, Brazil). This beautiful guide was largely designed by undergraduate student Wendy Peters. It is available as a downloadable pdf in English, Spanish, and Portuguese, with translations by Rocio Cortes (Universidad Federal, Bogota, Colombia) and Maria Fernanda Calió (Universidad Sao Paulo, Brazil).  


     Faculty Grants, Achievements and Activities:


Research Associates and Postdoctoral News:

Eva Gonzales (2005) received the Duncan Award, the top honor awarded by the Plant Biology Department, University of Georgia, to the graduate student who most excels in at least two of three areas: teaching, research, and service.


Advisory Panels: 


Peter Smouse has been asked to serve on the Independent Scientific Advisory Board, Northwest Power and Conservation Council (2005-08).


Peter Morin will be serving on the NSF Ecology Panel this fall.


Student Awards, Achievements, and Activities:

Han Han, a graduate student in Ming Xu’s lab, spent time in Yunnan, China this summer doing volunteer work in the NGO (Center for Biodiversity and Indigenous Knowledge, Yunnan, China) Han conducted a questionnaire and interview survey in a tourism site in northwest Yunnan Province. The NGO is interested in understanding the needs and expectations of both tourists and service providers, and discussing possible ways to carry out real ecotourism in China.  


Jean Maire Molina, a Lena Struwe graduate student, received a travel award from the Smithsonian to aid in her research in evolution and pollination biology of the grape relative Leea in the Philippines.  She has done fieldwork in the Philippines during June, July, and August this summer.


Joe Paulin, a David Ehrenfeld Ph.D. student, has been busy in the New Jersey community. He worked at a table display at the Morris County 4-H Fair educating children and adults about New Jersey’s black bears. Joe also taught kids ranging from 2-13 years of age at a local summer camp about wildlife conservation and human-wildlife interactions in Madagascar.



Cristina Frank, advisor Joanna Burger, has accepted the Important Bird and Birding Areas Coordinator position with NJ Audubon Society.  Cristina will be based out of the Society's Center for Research and Education in Dennisville, NJ.  The Important Bird and Birding Area (IBBA) Coordinator oversees the second and final phase of the New Jersey Important Bird and Birding Areas Program, a program designed to identify and delineate essential avian habitat in New Jersey and focus on conserving those areas.  This will include completion of the ongoing site nomination process and initiation of site-based implementation at identified IBAs.