News and Events

teeth, photo courtesy of LaShanda Williams

Glad they didn't brush their teeth!

Graduate student LaShanda Williams studies the human oral microbiome using the Cleveland Museum’s Hamann-Todd Osteological Collection.
Read “Using the Collection Today” in John Mangels’ museum blog.

priests on Lake Suwa. Image courtesy of J.J. Magnuson

Centuries of human observations of lake and river ice chronicle hastened climate warming

Read More | National Geographic Voices blog | York U Press Release | Paper DOI

(picture by J.J. Magnuson)

bluefin tuna, photo by Aziz Saltik (flickr)

New paper in PNAS reveals how hunting can lead to species extinction

Read more about the paper | Paper DOI | (picture by Aziz Saltik)

Fundamentals of Evolution: poster exhibit. Photo credit: Susanne Ruemmele

"Evolution in Action" poster exhibition will showcase student research and creativity

Event Flyer | Event date: April 28, 2017 9 AM – 3 PM

Ryan Batt takes a reading of oxygen levels in a Center for Limnology study lake in Northern Wisconsin. Photo courtesy of STEVE CARPENTER

When it comes to extremes, biology puts up bigger numbers than the environment

Story about the paper | UW-Madison Press Release | Paper DOI

Photo: stilt legged fly; photo taken in Costa Rica during the 2015 Bioblitz; Image courtesy of Lena Struwe (CC BY-NC-SA 2.0)

Personal Bioblitz starts on March 1 – how many species can you find?

More Information about the Personal Bioblitz 2017

student examining a bat

Brooke Maslo to investigate if rapid evolution rescues bats infected with white-nose syndrome

See the SEBS/NJAES News Room coverage about this bat research

Amanda Sorensen

Sorensen wins Outstanding Student Paper Award at AGU Conference

See the full story about Amanda Sorensen.

Winter Ecology Students Experience the Snowy Central Adirondacks

Winter Ecology Story | Life in the Cold Song

Photo: A fig exposing its many tiny matured, seed-bearing gynoecia; image courtesy of schleichpost0

Rutgers undergraduates improve public access to scientific knowledge through Wikipedia

See the full story at this link.

Photo: Nymphaea alba; image courtesy of Lena Struwe (CC BY-NC-SA 2.0)

Lena Struwe elected council member to the International Association of Plant Taxonomists (IAPT)

See the full story at this link.

4H Rutgersience Saturday

Bhattacharya lab hosts 4-H Rutgerscience Saturday on Coral Reef Genomics

See the full story at this link.

Photo credit: Simon Thorrold

New paper from the Pinsky lab: where did Nemo go?

See the full story at this link.

bat house building day 2016

The Maslo Lab Goes Batty on Halloween

Story | YouTube Video

Photo: Henry John-Alder

Henry John-Alder Named AAAS Fellow

Story | SEBS/NJAES News Room

Myla Aronson attends international workshop on urban
invasion ecology

See the full story at this link.

Photo: Cara Faillace

Faillace and Morin publish in Nature Ecology & Evolution

See the full story at this link.

Photo: Malin Pinsky. Photo courtesy of Malin Pinsky

National Geographic profiles Malin Pinsky and the lab's climate change research

Profile in National Geographic.

Photo: ducks

Students use Instagram to document evidence of sex in the natural world

See the full story at this link.

Photo: Senior Capstone students group

Kim Russell takes senior Capstone students to the Student Conference on Conservation Science at AMNH

See the full story at this link.

Photo: Cambridge Meeting 2016, photo courtesy of Julie Lockwood

Julie Lockwood attends international workshop on the future of invasion science in Cambridge University


Photo: Brooke Maslo.

Brooke Maslo illuminates restoration of the floodplain projects in 30 minute interview on Greenable Woodbridge TV

Story  |  Video

Photo: Photo: Paulinella chromatophora

The Bhattacharya lab shows how an amoeba transforms into an alga through endosymbiosis

Rutgers Today |  PNAS Paper

Photo: Peter Morin

Peter Morin Advises Helmholtz Association of German Research Centres

See the full story at this link

Photo: Multi-sector data example

Moore Foundation Grants $1.2 Million to Support Progress on Mid-Atlantic Ocean Data Portal

See the full story at this link

Mark Vodak receives the W.D. Hagenstein Communicator Award for 2016 from the Society of American Foresters

See the full story at this link.

Photo: multi-sector data example

NOAA-NERRS supports collaborative research on the inter–connectedness of climate change, coastal salt marshes, and mosquitos

See the full story at this link.

Photo: Jill Azzolini

EENR alumni Jill Azzolini lands coveted herbarium job in California

See the full story at this link.

Photo: Research team at NJ beach. Image courtesy of Julie Lockwood

Can we grow oysters and have red knots along New Jersey's Cape Shore?

See the full story at this link.

Photo: Alga Glaucocystis bhattacharyae. Image courtesy of Takahashi, Toshiyuki and Tuji, Akihiro.  Link to license: The image has been cropped and a reference letter was removed.

Say hello to Glaucocystis bhattacharyae, a newly named alga.


Photo: Green Frog (Lithobates clamitans) image courtesy of Bruce J. Mohn (CC BY-NC)

2016 Personal Bioblitz breaks many records, thousands of species found

See full story | Results on | Personal Bioblitz Facebook page

Photo: Symposium flyer

Debashish Bhattacharya co-organizes Royal Society meeting on algal genomics in the United Kingdom

Event link

Aquarium in the Centre Scientifique de Monaco. Image courtesy of Eric Tambutté

Rutgers symposium leads to coral evolution paper in eLife using a massive new genome database

Rutgers Today | NSF Feature | Paper in eLife | Biomineralization paper in Proc Roy Soc B

Photo: Beach

Climate & fisheries research from Pinsky lab in the Wall Street Journal

Read more  |  See the full article in the Wall Street Journal

2016 senior graduation award winners

2016 Senior Graduation Award Winners

See the student portraits at this link

Photo: Ben Bobowski.

Alumnus Ben Bobowski is the new Wrangell St. Elias National Park and Preserve Superintendent

See the full story in the SEBS/NJAES Newsroom

Photo: Maslo Lab students Michelle Aris, Leslie Tsen, Brian Schumm, Amanda Bevan and Rutgers alum Kathleen Kerwin

Four undergraduates in Brooke Maslo's lab present poster at the NEAFWA Conference

See the full story at this link .

Photo: deer.

Spring Planting with Deer in Mind

See the full story in the SEBS/NJAES Newsroom

screen shot of the Restoration Explorer app

CRSSA works with TNC and partners to develop Restoration Explorer app

See the full story at this link .


Discovery of fused genes forged by primary endosymbiosis

See the full story at this link.

Nicholas Lorusso

Faillace and Lorusso present at American Society of Naturalists

See the full story at this link.

Photo: Fishing boats.

Malin Pinsky publication in Nature Climate Change

Fish and other important resources are moving toward the Earth's poles as the climate warms, and wealth is moving with them, according to a new paper by scientists at Rutgers, Princeton, Yale, and Arizona State universities.
Article   |   See the full story at Rutgers Today

Siobain Duffy

Siobain Duffy receives NSF CAREER award

See the story about Soibain's CAREER award in the SEBS news.

Trapped in amber for at least 15 million years


Copyright for both images above: George Poinar, Jr.

Photo: Dr. Lena StruweStrychnos electri is a newly discovered species of the tropical flower genus Strychnos, and the first flower of the giant asterid clade of flowering plants to have been found in neotropical amber. Lena Struwe, a professor in our department, and collaborator George Poinar published their find in Nature Plants.

The fossil is encased in amber that is at least 15 million years old, but looks like it could have fallen off a plant just a few days ago. The Strychnos genus includes many toxic plants, and is part of the Loganiaceae family in the order Gentianales, the same group as coffee, milkweeds, and gentians, a group of plants Lena has worked on for the last 25 years. Rutgers Today

How pathogens made organelles

Photo: Debashish BhattacharyaEver wonder how the two most important energy producing machines on our planet, the organelles mitochondrion and plastid got their start? DEENR faculty member Debashish Bhattacharya and his colleagues Steven Ball and Andreas Weber propose in their new Perspectives piece in Science magazine that the endosymbioses that led to their formation were made possible by the role of pathogens. Read More SEBS news

Willard Mbewe wins 3rd place poster award

Photo: old system of organization

Award winner Willard Mbewe and presenting the award is Claude Fauquet

Willard Mbewe, a PhD research scholar from the Makere University in Uganda visiting Siobain Duffy's lab won a 3rd prize award for the best poster during The First World Congress on Root and Tuber Crops in Nanning, China, in January 2016. The conference was held to discuss the significance of roots and tubers, emphasizing cassava as a means to reduce poverty and increase food security for poor farmers and growing populations in developing countries. The award-winning poster was titled Variability in P1 gene redefines phylogenetic relationships among Cassava brown streak viruses (Ipomovirus; Potyviradae). Willard's research indicates there could be a third species of Cassava brown streak virus. The species is not yet named, though the collaborators are calling it Cassava brown streak Tanzania virus.

How to reorganize 140,000 flowering plant specimens

Photo: old system of organization

The old organization in the herbarium needs to be updated; here are three aquatic plant families that have gotten new family numbers as a result of phylogenetic DNA analysis of plants worldwide.
Photo by Lena Struwe.

Photo: students working in the Chrysler Herbarium The Chrysler Herbarium here at Rutgers University contains over 200 000 specimens of plants, algae and fungi, and is the only remaining major herbarium in the State of New Jersey. Last week a group of a dozen eager undergraduate students, our own 'herbarium army', started the reorganization of the part of the herbarium containing the flowering plants from the old 1980s system into the modern DNA-based family classification.

Photo: herbarium cases

Rutgers' invaluable scientific plant collections are stored in special herbarium cases in the Chrysler Herbarium.
Photo by Fiona Zheng.

In the old system, related plants were not always kept in close proximity to each other within the collection. The whole reorganization is expected to take about 2 months. Afterwards, all folders, family labels, and tags will be updated to prepare for the digitization of the collection in conjunction with a nationwide digitization program. You can follow the students' progress and many botanical discoveries on the new Chrysler Herbarium Facebook page, which is managed by Herbarium Director Lena Struwe, a professor in our department. If you are interested in volunteering, contact Dr. Struwe directly ().

STUDENT PROFILE: Tina Harrison from Rachael Winfree's research lab

Photo: Tina Harrison Graduate student Tina Harrison has collected more than 140 different bee species from field sites located throughout New Jersey, Pennsylvania and upstate New York. She has found that pollinator communities in urban landscapes are less variable from site to site compared to pollinator communities in forested or agricultural landscapes.

Photo: Lasioglossum female

Like most bees, this solitary Lasioglossum stores pollen with her eggs in sealed nest cells. She will die before her offspring emerge. Photo by Tina Harrison

This suggests that, even though urban bee communities are often locally diverse, continued urban expansion threatens regional pollinator biodiversity. Tina is currently supported by a competitive fellowship funded by our Department's GAANN fellowship program (US Department of Education), titled "Ecology and Evolution in Urban Environments".

Photo: bee specimen collection

Tina's 11,000 bee specimens will eventually be deposited at museums, where they will contribute to future education and research. Photo by Tina Harrison

Next year, Tina will become a post-doctoral research associate in collaboration with Dr. Rachael Winfree and New Jersey DEP on a project funded by a federal SWAP (State Wildlife Action Plan) grant. The goal of that project is to identify rare or vulnerable New Jersey bee species and use their distributions and life histories to inform future conservation efforts.

Richard Lathrop appointed as new endowed chair for water resource studies

Photo: Richard LathropRutgers Board of Governors named Professor Richard G. Lathrop the inaugural holder of the endowed Johnson Family Chair in Watershed Ecology and Water Resources. In addition to being Professor of Ecology, Evolution, and Natural Resources, Director of Rutgers Ecological Preserve, and Director of the Grant F. Walton Center for Remote Sensing and Spatial Analysis, Rick serves as co-Director of the Sustainable Raritan River Initiative, a joint program of the Edward J. Bloustein School of Planning and Public Policy and the School of Environmental and Biological Science. As Johnson Chair, Rick's keystone project will be to work through the Sustainable Raritan River Initiative with stakeholders in the watershed to balance social, economic and environmental objectives toward the common goal of restoring the Raritan River, its tributaries and its estuary for current and future generations.

Personal Bioblitz results elucidated in paper by Lena Struwe and students

Photo: bird in hand - banding.

Photo courtesy of Allison Anholt

In a truly collaborative effort, Professor Lena Struwe guided a group of graduate and undergraduate students to the publication of their paper describing the Personal Bioblitz in the most recent issue of BioScience,

Photo: Rhodobryum roseum

Photo courtesy of
Lena Struwe

the journal of the American Institute of Biological Sciences. Personal Bioblitz is the annual species 'scavenger hunt' envisioned and organized by Lena and her team of collaborating students to counter "species blindness" and to foster excitement in observing and learning about everyday biodiversity. The Rutgers Personal Bioblitz was conducted over a period of 75 days starting March 1, and included voluntary participants from all walks of life: from undergraduates to faculty, family, and alumni. The research paper, which was co-authored by six members of the Department of Ecology, Evolution, and Natural Resources (four graduate students, one undergraduate, and one faculty member) and one graduate student from Plant Biology, reports results of Personal Bioblitzes conducted in both 2014 and 2015 (with 11,748 observations from 78 participants in 2015!) and provides information on how to start a personal bioblitz on your own using iNaturalist and other social media tools. Most of the reported species were relatively large, 'charismatic' species of birds, mammals, and large plants, but participants reported "increased ability to "see" species and to identify new groups" regardless of size and taxon. A large majority of participants were eager to join the next personal bioblitz. The authors of the paper were Nicholas B. Pollock, Natalie Howe, Ivelisse Irizarry, Nicholas Lorusso, Ariel Kruger, Kurtis Himmler, and Lena Struwe.

STUDENT PROFILE: Rachel Paseka from Peter Morin's research lab

image of Rachel Paseka

Crepidostomum isostomum
Photo courtesy of
Rachel Paseka

microscopic image of Crepidostomum isostomum. Photo credit: Rachel Paseka

Photo: Rachel PasekaRachel Paseka is an Ecology and Evolution PhD candidate working in Dr. Peter Morin's lab. She studies host-parasite interactions through the lens of ecological stoichiometry, a conceptual framework that describes the balance of elements and energy in biological systems. By taking this perspective, Rachel aims to understand how environmental nutrient availability influences parasite success, as well as the effects of parasitism on nutrient recycling in freshwater ecosystems. Although Rachel is partial to all freshwater systems, the majority of her dissertation research is focused on fish and their parasites in streams of the New Jersey Pine Barrens. Crepidostomum isostomum (Platyhelminthes: Trematoda), lives in the intestines of several species of fish in the NJ Pine Barrens.

First bioinformatics research retreat held between SEBS and Camden Campuses

image of Debashish BhattacharyaDebashish Bhattacharya (SEBS) and Desmond Lun (Rutgers Camden) organized a research retreat on October 9, 2015 at the Waterfront Technology Center in Camden. The event was sponsored by the Center for Computational and Integrative Biology in Camden and SEBS. The primary goal was to share research ideas and explore the potential for a jointly administered PhD program in bioinformatics and computational genetics. Five speakers from each campus - including Siobain Duffy and Debashish from DEENR - presented their work, followed by a breakout session to discuss common research areas and possibilities for joint training grants and teaching opportunities. The field of evolution was considered to be a key unifying theme across the diverse interests represented at the workshop that spanned ecology to genomics to computer science and engineering.

Dr. Brooke Maslo and colleagues awarded grant to study the effects of White-nose Syndrome on bats

image of Dr. Brooke MasloDespite catastrophic declines in North American bat populations from White-nose Syndrome, some bats appear capable of tolerating and surviving repeated infection. image of a little brown bat (Myotis lucifugus) hibernating in Hibernia Mine, Rockaway, NJ. Photo credit: Eden BuenaventuraBrooke Maslo is interested in finding out why, and with the help of two federal grants from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, she has the tools to do it. In the first project, Maslo and her departmental colleagues, Malin Pinsky and Nina H. Fefferman, will explore the potential for bats to evolve rapidly under natural selection in the face of disease. The second project is focused specifically on how White-nose Syndrome affects the federally threatened Indiana bat.

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