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EEB Graduate Program Inaugural Newsletter

Ecology Building
News from the DGS

Welcome to the inaugural edition of the EEB Graduate Program Newsletter. I am pleased to report on the Ecology, Evolution and Behavior graduate program as the Director of Graduate Studies. I have now served as the Director for one full year. The program continues to expand, both in size and research areas. As a result of this, the program graduated seventeen PhD and two MS students this past year. We have added three new graduate faculty, they are Dr. Frank Albert (Dept. of Genetics, Cell Biology and Development), Dr. Valery Forbes (CBS Dean and Ecology, Evolution and Behavior faculty) and Dr. Jessica Hellmann (Institute on the Environment, Director). The expansion of the graduate program has allowed students to continue to produce high-quality research in a wide variety of fields. The excellent funding we have been able to provide for students has allowed them to carry out this level of research, which we hope to be able to continue in coming years.

Finally, we say a fond “good bye” to Dr. Scott Lanyon as he has assumed the position of Vice Provost & Dean of Graduate Education. We thank Scott for the many things he has done for the Program and Department, and wish him well in his new position. We look forward to working with Scott in his new leadership position with the Graduate School.

— Dr. Jacques Finlay


Travisano Awarded Outstanding Advisor 
Michael TravisanoThis year, the EEB graduate students are pleased to announce that Dr. Mike Travisano received the Outstanding Mentorship Award. This award recognizes EEB faculty members who exemplify the role of adviser and mentor to both their own advisees and the broader EEB graduate community. To receive this award, at least three letters of support from graduate students both in the nominee's lab and in the broader EEB community must demonstrate explicitly how the faculty member has gone above and beyond what is expected of advisors. Congratulations to Mike, and a thank you to all of our outstanding mentors in the department!  


Program News

2016 EEB Incoming Graduate StudentsThe EEB graduate program has admitted twelve incoming students for matriculation this fall semester. Students are: Sarah Daws, University of Tennesee, Knoxville (Peter Kennedy, Advisor); Saumya Gupta, Indian Institute of Science Education & Research (Mark Bee, Advisor); Sarah Hammarlund, University of Washington (William Harcombe, Advisor); Sarah Huebner, University Northern Iowa (Craig Packer, Advisor); Hongyu Li, Sichuan University (Mark Bee, Advisor); Anthony Massaro, Gustavus Adolphus College (Mike Wilson, Advisor); Erin Mittag, St. Olaf College (Jacques Finlay and Sarah Hobbie, Advisors); Amanda Muehlbauer, University of Minnesota (Ran Blehkman, Advisor); Naomi Rushing, Grinnell College (Rush Shaw, Advisor); Craig See, SUNY College of Environmental Science (Sarah Hobbie and Peter Reich, Advisors); Samuel Weaver, St. Olaf College (Ken Kozak and Suzanne McGaugh, Advisors); Amod Zambre, Tata Institute of Fundamental Research (Emilie Snell-Rood, Advisor).

The EEB graduate program was able to award $172,000 in summer salaries, $38,000 for research funding and $27,000 in travel fund to attend conferences.

Three students have been awarded the Doctoral Dissertation Fellowship for the 2016-17 school year, they are Jake Grossman (advised by Ruth Shaw), Virginia Heinen (advised by David Stephens) and Carl Stenoien (advised by Karen Oberhauser).

Virginia Heinen, a 5th year graduate student advised by Dr. David Stephens was awarded the 2016 Elmer Birney Fellowship. Virginia is researching foraging and social learning in blue jays, and signaling in starlings.

Graduate student Sarah (Winnie) Winikoff has been awarded a 3-year Environmental Protection Agency Fellowship. Sarah is examining how removing accumulated, eroded sediment in restored agricultural wetlands influences ecosystem function. Sarah also worked with her adviser, Dr. Jacques Finlay, to secure state support for the project through the Environment and Natural Resources Trust Fund. The three-year study will be conducted in partnership with the United States Fish and Wildlife Service.

Four EEB students have been awarded NSF Graduate Fellowships. They are 2nd year student, Rachel Olzer, advised by Marlene Zuk; 3rd year student, Daniel Ackerman, co advised by Dr. Jacques Finlay and Daniel Griffin (Geography), and incoming students Sarah Huebner and Caroline Daws.

Second-year student, Rachel Olzer, has been awarded the 3-year Ford Foundation Fellowship and the 3-year NSF Graduate Research Fellowship. Rachel is studying the evolution of host-parasite relationships with Dr. Marlene Zuk. Specifically, Rachel is interested in the role of "cheating behavior" in the Pacific field cricket, Teleogryllus oceanicus, as a means for driving the evolution of sexual signals.

Third year student, Tyler Imfeld, has been awarded the 2016-17 Dayton Fellowship by the Bell Museum. Tyler is studying taxonomic and temporal patterns of morphological evolution and species diversification in New World songbirds, and is advised by Dr. Keither Barker.

Alumni News

Dr. Maria Rebolleda-Gomez has recently accepted a postdoc position at the University of Pittsburgh.

Dr. Charlotte Riggs has recently accepted a Data and Performance Management Specialist position with the Department of Natural Resources.

Dr. Justin Becknell is a Postdoctoral Fellow at the Institute at Brown for Environment and Society at Brown University, and has been since June 2015. He studies ecosystem processes in secondary tropical forests.

Dr. Muir Eaton is an Associate Professor of Biology and the Curator of Vertebrates at Drake University, and has been since August 2007.

Dr. Ian C. Gilby is an Assistant Professor in the School of Human Evolution and Social Change at Arizona State University, and has been since 2014.

Dr. Jim Hood is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Evolution, Ecology, and Organismal Biology at The Ohio State University. He started in January 2016.

Dr. Chih-Ming Hung is an Assistant Research Fellow at the Biodiversity Research Center at Academia Sinica in Taiwan. He has been in this position since January 1, 2016. 

Dr. Ted Kennedy is employed as a Research Ecologist by the Department of the Interior, U.S. Geological Survey at the Grand Canyon Monitoring and Research Center. He has been in this position since November 2004. 

Dr. Dan MacNulty is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Wildland Resources at Utah State University and has been since July 2011. He oversees various projects related to the ecology of predator-prey interactions involving wolves, bears, and other large mammals in Yellowstone, Utah, and the High Arctic.

Dr. Emily Mohl is an Assistant Professor of Biology and Education at St. Olaf College. She has been in this position since Fall 2014. From Emily Mohl: “I would also like to announce that I would like to invite other educators to participate with their students in a distributed research project testing for local adaptation in common milkweed. I think it’s a great opportunity to incorporate current issues with monarch conservation into an authentic research project with students. Requirements for participation are pretty minimal: a source of naturally occurring local milkweed, a site to plant 16 milkweed plants, and willingness to follow protocols. More information is available online.”

Dr. Gina Quiram works at the University of Minnesota as a Lecturer and Academic Advisor for the Master of Biological Sciences Program. She started in this position in December 2014.

Dr. Alison Pearce Stevens has been a self-employed science writer for kids since 2011.

Please consider supporting the EEB Graduate Program Travel Fund. This fund enables students to attend conferences to enhance their research. Contact Reede Webster for more information on making a gift.

We want to stay in touch with you.  Please email us with any position updates ( and join the EEB LinkedIn group.

Ecology, Evolution and Behavior Graduate Program
1987 Upper Buford Circle
St. Paul, MN 55108

Dr. Jacques Finlay, Director of Graduate Studies

Dr. Michael Travisano, Director of Graduate Admissions

Lisa Wiggins, Program Coordinator

Contact to share your news and updates.
December, 2016