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Welcome to the incoming class of Fall 2018!

We are welcoming 12 new students this fall with diverse areas of interest.



The following is a list of all Ph.D. and M.S. students who received degrees dated, October 2015, January 2016 and May 2016. Their current professional affiliations are listed if known.
for a complete list of all alumni please check the alumni page

2016 Ph.D.

Ashley DeNegre
Project Leader
Health Economics and Outcomes Research
Medical Data Analytics
Parsippany, NJ
Dissertation title: Antibiotic Resistance Among the Aids-Immunocompromised: A model of its Influence on Microbial Evolution
Advisor: Dr. Nina Fefferman

Natalie Howe
Dissertation title: Soil Lichen Communities of the New Jersey Pinelands and thie Effects on Belowground Patterns and Processes.
Advisor: Dr. John Dighton

Katalin Malcolm
Dissertation title: Effects of Mercury on Phylloplane Funghi
Advisor: Dr. John Dighton

Molly MacLeod
Associate Medical Writer
Virtuoso Healthcare Communications
Parsippany NJ
Dissertation title: How do species abundance distributions influence plant ? pollinator networks?
Advisor: Dr. Rachael Winfree

James Vasslides
Program Scientist
Barnegat Bay Partnership
Toms River NJ 08754
Dissertation title: Using Ecosystem Models to Understand the Faunal Response to Non-Trophic Impacts in an Estuarine Ecosystem.
Advisor: Dr. Olaf Jensen

Talia Young
David H. Smith Conservation Research Fellowship
Princeton University
Princeton NJ
Dissertation title: You are More Than What You Eat: Using Biomarkers to Investigate Aquatic Trophic Dynamics at Multiple Scales.
Advisor: Dr. Olaf Jensen


2016 M.S.

Eden Buenaventura
Advisor: Dr. Richard Lathrop

Alexis Kleinbeck
Noxious Weed Specialist, Region 8
Noxious Weed Control Program
King County Washington
Seattle, Washington
Advisor: Dr. Steven Handel

Karen Leu
Program Associate / GIS Analyst
Rutgers Cooperative Extension Water Resources Program
Rutgers University
Thesis Title: Composite Datasets Facilitate Large Scale Conservation Planning: Application of a Regional Distribution Model to Protect an Imperiled Turtle
Advisor: Dr. Brooke Maslo

Taryn Pittfield
Sr. Lab Technician
SAS-DLS-Cell Bio & Neuroscience
Rutgers University
Thesis title: Habitat Use and Response of Freshwater Turtles to Human Presence in an Urban Canal of Central New Jersey
Advisor: Dr. Joanna Burger

Welcome to the incoming class of fall 2014:

They come from many varied backgrounds to work on both Master's and PhD degrees in many varied areas. We look forward to their arrival and their becoming members of the E&E family.

Paulina Arancibia comes to E&E as a Fulbright Scholar from Chile. Paulina's undergraduate degree
in marine biology and her Master's in marine ecology are from the Univerisad Catolica de la Santisima Concepcion. Paulina will be working towards her PhD in the Peter Morin lab.

Daniel Betz will be a Master's student working with Rebecca Jordan. Dan is a Rutgers undergraduate with a degree in ecology and natural resources.

Jeffrey Brown's undergraduate degree is in ecology and evolutionary biology from Rice University. Jeff will be working with Julie Lockwood towards his PhD.

Eden Buenaventura, a Rutgers undergrad with an degree in ecology, will be working towards her Master's in the Rick Lathrop lab.

Melissa Czinn comes to E&E from the University of Maryland ,College Park with a degree in environmental science and policy. Melissa will be working towards her Master's with David Ehrenfeld.

Christina Haskins has an undergraduate degree in marine biology from Rutgers. She will be working with Oscar Schofield on a Master's degree.

Jennifer Hoey will be a PhD student in the Malin Pinsky lab. Jennifer's undergraduate degree in integrative biology is from the University of California, Berkeley.

Alexis Kleinbeck will be working with Steven Handel on her Master's degree. Alexis's undergraduate degree in biology is from Northern Kentucky University.

Karen Leu, a Rutgers ecology undergraduate, will be working with Julie Lockwood towards her Master's degree.

Alex Mayberry's undergraduate degree is in biochemical engineering from Rutgers. Alex will be working towards his PhD in the Nina Fefferman lab.

Max Piana has an undergraduate degree from Wesleyan University in environmental science and a Master's in urban ecology from Yale. Max will be working on his PhD in the Steven Handel lab.

Agnesa Redere, an undergraduate in chemical engineering at Rutgers, has come to E&E to work on her PhD with Nina Fefferman.

Michael Roswell's undergraduate degree was a double major in linguistics and biology from Swarthmore. Mike will be working with Rae Winfree towards his PhD.

Joseph Rua's undergraduate degree was a double major from Rutgers in planning and public policy and political science. Joseph is working on his Master's with JeanMarie Hartman

Alexandrea Safiq comes to E&E with an undergraduate degree from Union College in environmental science. Alex will be working towards her PhD with Julie Lockwood.

Colleen Smith has an undergraduate degree in ecology from the University of Michigan Ann Arbor. Colleen will be working in the Rae Winfree lab towards her PhD.

Oliver Stringham's undergraduate degree is from Rutgers in ecology. Oliver will be working on his Master's in the Nina Fefferman lab.

LaShanda Williams has a dual undergraduate degree from Virginia Commonwealth University in anthropology and sociology. LaShanda received her Master's in anthropology from New York University.
She will be working with Siobain Duffy and Rob Scott on her PhD.

Welcome everyone!


E&E has much to celebrate this spring (2014)!

Congratulations to two E&E students on their National Science Foundation Graduate Research Fellowship proposals!

Rachel Paseka, in the Mike Sukhdeo lab, was awarded a National Science Foundation Graduate Research Fellowship (NSFGRF) for her proposal.

Jennifer Blake, in the Lena Struwe lab, received an Honorable Mention on her NSFGRF proposal.

E&E Student receives Fulbright!

Congratulations to Liz Ballare on her receipt of a Fulbright to study orangutans in Indonesia. Liz works with Erin Vogel in the Department of Anthropology.

Liz was selected for a 2014-2015 Fulbright IIE U.S. Student Award to Indonesia. During this time she will be working on her dissertation research which involves the health of rehabilitated and released orangutans in Central Kalimantan, Borneo.

Specifically, Liz will investigate dietary protein balance, cortisol (stress) levels, and immuno-responsiveness (cytokines) in orangutan urine and gastrointestinal parasites in feces. Samples will be collected by Liz at the Borneo Orangutan Survival Foundation’s Nyaru Menteng Rehabilitation Centre from orangutans waiting to be released into a protected forested area (Bukit Batikap). Upon release, assistants working at Batikap will collect samples from the same individuals. This will allow Liz to monitor the health of these individuals pre- and post-release. Using these biomarkers, Liz will also conduct a comparative study between the released orangutan population and the wild population studied by her advisor, Dr. Erin Vogel.

Graduate Program Receives GAANN Grant for PhD Fellowships

thumbnail of a statueThe Graduate Program in Ecology and Evolution has been awarded a Graduate Assistance in Areas of National Need (GAANN) graduate fellowship grant from the U.S.Department of Education. The training theme of this grant is ecology and evolution in urbanized environments, including cities themselves and the extensive terrestrial and aquatic environments affected by them. The GAANN provides up to three years of Ph.D. funding for each of five students. The first recipients of the fellowships are Tina Harrison and Rafael Valentin. Additional applications are solicited for 2014-2015


The following is a list of all Ph.D. and M.S. students who received degrees dated, October 2014, January 2015 and May 2015. Their current professional affiliations are listed if known.
For a complete list of all alumni please check the Alumni page.

2015 Ph.D.

Faye Benjamin
Dissertation title: Wild bees for agriculture and agriculture for wild bees a view from New Jersey
Advisor: Dr. Rachael Winfree

Curtis (John Curtis) Burkhalter
Postdoctoral Researcher
National Audubon Society
Audubon Rocky Mountain Regional Office
Fort Collins CO
Dissertation title: Decision making in ecology and its applications to animal conservation
Advisor: Dr. Julie Lockwood

Jeremy Feinberg
Smithsonian Institution Senator Daniel Patrick Moynihan Fellow
National Museum of Natural History and the National Zoological Park
Dissertation title: An Unexpected Journey: Anuran Decline Research and the Incidental Elucidation of a New Cryptic Species Endemic to the Urban Northeast and Mid-Atlantic US.
Advisor: Dr. Joanna Burger

Brian Johnson
Senior Research Officer
Entomology/Vector Biology
James Cook University
Cairns, Australia
Dissertation title: Proximal factors driving the local dynamics of West Nile virus transmission
Advisor: Dr. Dina Fonseca

Paul Reiss
Acute Angling
Hillsborough, NJ
Dissertation title: Aspects of the Life History of Cichla temensis (Percifomes: Cichlidae) and It?s Relationship to the Amazon Basin?s Flood Pulse
Advisor: Dr. Ken Able

John Ruppert
Academic EHS Officer
Lab Coordinator and Instructor
Saint Peter?s College
Jersey City NJ
Dissertation title: Ecosystem Services in Scientific Literacy: What One Needs to Know in Order to Be Scientifically Literate about Ecosystem Services
Advisor: Dr. Ravit Golan-Duncan

Laura Shappell
Wetland Ecologist
New York Natural Heritage Program
Department of Environmental Conservation
Albany NY
Dissertation title: Urban wetland structure and its relationship to exotic plants, biodiversity, and West Nile virus risk
Advisor: Dr. Lena Struwe

Christopher Zambell
National Technical Systems (NTS)
Tinton Falls, NJ
Dissertation title: Common Greenbrier (Smilax Rotundifolia L.) as a Model for Understanding Fungal Community Organization in the Phyllosphere
Advisor: Dr. James White.

2015 M.S.

Daniel Betz
Research Assistant
Human Ecology Department
Rutgers University

Melissa Czinn
Turtle Back Zoo
West Orange NJ

Sean Griffin
Thesis title: Wild bee community change over a 26 year chronosequence of restored tallgrass prairie
Advisor: Dr. Rachael Winfree

Christina Haskins
Senior Engineering Assistant II
Applied Ocean Physics & Engineering
Woods Hole Oceanographic Institute
Woods Hole, MA
Advisor: Dr. Oscar Schofield

Jenny Paterno
Program Coordinator
Haskin Shellfish Research Lab
Port Norris, NJ
Thesis title: Faunal community use of enhanced and natural oyster reefs in Delaware Bay a field ??study and classroom inquiry
Advisor: Dr. David Bushek

Cameron Pineiro
AmeriCorp Watershed Ambassador
Advisor: Dr. Michael Sukhdeo

Sarah Stewart
Advisor: Dr. Rebecca Jordan

E&E students receive awards from the Graduate School-New Brunswick.

Jeremy Feinberg (pictured below) received a Dean's Award for Excellence in Research from the Graduate School-New Brunswick for his discovery of a new species of leopard frog on Staten Island.

Jeremy Feinberg

New Frog Species in Metropolitan New York:.

Reported in the New York Times on March 14, 2012, Jeremy and his co-authors published the findings in an issue of the journal Molecular Phylogenetics and Evolution, currently available online. Read the New York Times article here.

Orion Weldon received an Honorable Mention from the Graduate School -New Brunswick for Undergraduate Teaching by a Graduate Student.

The awards will be presented at a reception on April 24th. Anyone interested in attending should contact the Graduate School.

Congratulations to both Jeremy and Orion!

Congratulations to Dr. Carl Safina, Ph.D 1987, recipient of the 2013 GSNB Alumnus Award for the Biological Sciences.

Carl completed his Ph.D. with Joanna Burger in 1987. His dissertation is titled “Ecological interactions among prey fish, bluefish and common terns in a coastal Atlantic system”.

Carl has moved from the field into policy and communicating science to the general public. He is founder of the Blue Ocean Institute., a MacArthur Fellow, a Pew Scholar, a member of the Explorers Club and author of six books on ecology and the environment.

He has been instrumental in banning driftnets, working towards conservation of the many fishes and fisheries stocks, and  working on a global fisheries treaty, to name only a few of his accomplishments.

His popular publications for the general public include:
Song for the Blue Ocean,  a New York Times Notable Book of the Year.
Eye of the Albatross, winner of the John Burroughs Medal for nature writing and National Academies of Science’s year’s best book for communicating science.
Voyage of the Turtle
Nina Delmar: The Great Whale Rescue, a children’s book
The View from Lazy Point, winner of the 2012 Orion Book Award.
A Sea in Flames: The Deepwater Horizon Oil Blowout.

He is also host of the PBS series Saving the Ocean.

Steven N. Handel has been selected for the Theodore Sperry Award by the Society for Ecological Restoration International.The Sperry Award is given only every other year to an individual who has made significant advancements to the science or techniques of restoration practice. It is the highest research award for ecological restoration in the world. Handel will receive the Sperry Award at the next World Conference for Ecological Restoration, to be held in Merida, Mexico, in August


The following is a list of all Ph.D. and M.S. students who received degrees dated from January 2013 through May 2013. Their current professional affiliations are listed if known.

2013 Ph.D.

Julian Avery
Pennsylvania State University
State College, PA
Dissertation title: Cryptic introductions and geographical patterns in bird color [electronic resource] : implications for the study of evolutionary divergence
Advisor: Dr. Julie Lockwood

Wesley Brooks
STEM Policy Fellowship
Congressional Hispanic Caucus Institute
Washington, D.C.
Dissertation title: Factors affecting the community invasibility of tropical dry forests and the implications for ecological restoration
Advisor: Dr. Rebecca Jordan

Lea Johnson
Visiting Professor of Plant Ecology
Bates College
Lewiston, Maine
Dissertation title: Long-term outcomes of ecological restoration and management in urban forest patches
Advisor: Dr. Steven Handel

Linda Rohleder
Director of Land Stewardship
NY-NJ Trail Conference
Dissertation Title: The vertical dimension of deer browse effects on forest understories
Advisor: Dr. Claus Holzapfel

Elena Tartaglia
Assistant Professor
Bergen County Community College
Dissertation title: Hawkmoth-flower interactions in the urban landscape: Sphingidae ecology, with a focus on the genus Hemaris
Advisor: Steven Handel

2013 M.S.

Michael Garzio
Advisor: Dr. Oscar Schofield

Suzanne Rose
Continuing to Ph.D. in University of Nebraska, Lincoln
Thesis title: Isolation and characterization of lipid rafts in Emiliania huxley [electronic resource] : key players in host-virus interactions
Advisor: Dr, Kaye Bidle

Lauren Spitz
Continued on to Ph.D. in E&E
Thesis title:
Advisor: Dr. Lena Struwe

Michele Talmadge
Natural Land Steward
Mt. Cuba Center
Hockessin, DE,
Advisor: JeanMarie Hartman