Newsletter 2018-1 October 21, 2018

Your Contributions Do So Much!

In this ever tightening time for research funding, our friends and alumni do so much by supporting our Graduate Student Research Funds. The Lawrence B. Slobodkin fund supports graduate student research in ecology. The Robert R. Sokal fund supports studies in evolution and biometry. The George C. Williams fund supports research in behavior and evolutionary studies. Your contributions have funded many students this past year. Here are a few vignettes.

Thank you so much for considering this! See the contribution panel below.

Alumni and friends we hope you remember how important an early financial boost was in the success of your graduate research. Just select the link below, search for the name of the fund and.....DONATE! THANK YOU VERY MUCH!
Please  donatedonate to the Lawrence Slobodkin Fund for Ecological Research.
Give to the George Williams Fund for Student Research. Donate Now
Give to Ecology and Evolution Award for Student Excellence. Donate Now

How much? Suggested donations. Full professors: >= $250, Associate Professors: >= $100, Assistant Professors and Postdocs: >= $50 Please get used to giving annually. We need your help. Thanks so much!!
EE Retreat 2018, features EE Graduate
Toni Lynn Morelli
We had our annual Retreat in March and the usual complement of faculty and student talks were presented.      

We have continued our tradition of inviting a graduate to honor and this year we were lucky to haveToni Lyn Morelli present her thoughts on ecology. 

Toni Lynn  obtained her Ph.D. in Ecology and Evolution in 2007, focusing on lemur ecology and behavior, studying under Pat Wright. She was awarded an NSF Bioinformatics Postdoctoral Fellowship, based at UC Berkeley. There she was part of the Grinnell Resurvey Project, surveying mammal population shifts in the Sierra Nevada over the last century. She has also worked for the U.S. Forest Service, both as a Research Ecologist in California and as the Central Africa Technical Advisor in the Democratic Republic of Congo. Her current role is as USGS Research Ecologist with the Northeast Climate Science Ce nter and Adjunct Assistant Professor at the University of Massachusetts in Amherst. Her research focuses on understanding the impacts of climate change on and developing climate adaptation strategies , primarily in montane ecosystems. She has published nearly 40 scientific articles and her research has been featured on numerous media outlets, including NPR and Mother Jones. Learn more about her current work.
Events, Honors, Passages

Bilgecan Sen, student of Resit Akcakaya  won the Best Oral Presentation award at the  Ecology and Evolutionary Biology Symposium  in İzmir, Turkey.

Anusha Shankar, student of Catherine Graham, competed in the Stony Brook University 3 minute thesis presentation and won third prize. She also  presented  a live Explorer Classroom talk, sponsored by National Geographic, on YouTube to some middle and elementary school classrooms about her work on

Peter Park, former student of Mike Bell was promoted to the rank of Associate professor with tenure at Nyack College, New York. Windsor Aguirre, another student of Mike's was promoted at DePaul University in Chicago.

Bento Goncalves, student of Heather Lynch,  was among six PhD students selected (from a very large and competitive pool of applicants) for a 2017 Institute of Advance Computing Science Jr. Research Award. His topic is "Autonomous panAntarctic Pack Ice Seal Census using Remote Sensing and Deep Learning."

Jeffrey Levinton was the Plenary Speaker at the 2018 Annual Meeting of the Benthic Ecology Society. Only one other plenary address has been arranged for this society in its 40 year history, and Jeff was there as well sharing the podium with Paul Dayton.

Catie Foley and Maureen Lynch, first and second authors, respectively, of a manuscript on the Endangered Species Act was featured on the cover of BioScience.

Elise Lauterbur, student of Liliana Davalos, has just won a research award in Ecological, Evolutionary and Conservation Genomics of the American Genetic Association. Elise has also won Best Talk at the Student Conference on Conservation Science-New York.

David Charifson, student of Diana Padilla, received the Melbourne R. Carriker Student Research Awards in Malacology from the American Malacological Society. This award is for his research on studies of phenotypic plasticity in shell microstructure in gastropods.

Fred's Vencl's paper, with colleagues, was just awarded the Julie Denslow Award for Excellence in Tropical Biology. [Vencl FV, Ottens K, Dixon MM, Chandler S, Bernal XE, Estrada C, Page RA (2016) Pyrazine emission by a tropical firefly: an example of chemical aposematism? Biotropica 48(5): 645655; DOI: 10.1111/btp.12336 ***(cover illustration; Editor's choice; ATBC 2016 Julie Denslow Award).]

Congratulations to Heather Lynch for her new multi-investigator NSF award on "ICEBERG: Imagery Cyberinfrastructure and Extensible BuildingBlocks to Enhance Research in the Geosciences".

Jannet Vu, student of Resit Akcakaya, was awarded an NSF Graduate Fellowship, one of four to be awarded to Stony Brook graduate students this past year.

Congratulations to Bob Thacker on receipt of his NSF Award from the Biological Oceanography Section of the National Science Foundation.

Congratulations to Jeff Levinton on the receipt of his new NSF Multi-Investigator Award from NSF to study the reproductive and thermal ecology of fiddler crabs in the context of latitude and climate change.

Congratulations to Jose Moscoso, student of Diana Padilla, who won a fellowship to work at the Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute this summer, to study coral larval biology.

Dr Rebecca (Becky) Grella, former Ph.D. now teaching at Brentwood High School on Long Island, was just selected as one of the 40 Under 40 for Stony Brook Which includes alumni who have done great things. Becky has a BS and MA in Biology and PhD from Ecology and Evolution at Stony Brook. She worked with Larry Slobodkin and then did her dissertation work with Jessica Gurevitch. Becky has been honored for her work with high school education in biology.

Alyssa Liguori, student of Diana Padilla received a Lerner Grey Fellowship from the American Museum of Natural History.

Dan Hare, former SBU PHD student, had a long career in chemical ecology at UC Riverside. He has retired and relocated to the east Bay area.

Marie Josee Fortin, PhD graduate of E&E working with Bob Sokal, was elected to the Royal Society of Canada. She joins James Thomson and former SBU Biology grad A. Richard Palmer as members. 

Passing  of a Stony Brook Conservation Pioneer, 
AMOS BIEN (1951-2017)
Amos Bien a native of Long Island, came to Stony Brook as a masters student in the 1970s, but his heart was in the tropical forests, which he knew to be in peril and wanted to save. He was especially interested in Costa Rica where forests were spectacularly diverse and being cut down rapidly. He spent time at Stony Brook working in several labs but he dreamed of moving to Costa Rica. And he did! He was brilliant in gathering funds to buy a large tract of land, near Las Horquetas de Sarapiquí, easily reached by bus, taxi or car from the capitol San Jose, but followed by a hair-raising trip by tractor up a muddy track and over rickety river bridges. Bob and Rosy Smolker, faculty member of E&E and administrator of the Quarterly Review of Biology respectively, donated much and visited Amos often to encourage his efforts. 

Bien quickly realized that administering a sustainable forest was too long term a project for him; the trees grew to majestic heights at very slow rates. So he shifted his efforts to tropical ecotourism and education. He established an ecotourism hotel facility, Waterfall Lodge,  with trails and knowledgeable guides who knew the biodiversity and dangers of the terrain. He also established a far more simple facility, El Plastico, geared to visits by student groups and (I think) converted from a prison facility. The beds were straw but the staff was just as friendly and knowledgable as at the hotel. Rara Avis became internationally known as a world-class ecotourism resort and education facility and still thrives. 

Amos was a major force in conservation and ecotourism in Costa Rica. He founded Rara Avis, was  a founding member of the Sarapiquí Conservation Learning Center Board, and was a leader in helping to establish the guidelines and criteria for sustainable tourism certification and worked with organizations such as the Global Sustainable Tourism Council and the Instrument for Environmental and Social Management (IUCN). He will be sorely missed by his family in Costa Rica and on Long Island. 

Many of us remember him at Stony Brook, but also in visits to Rara Avis. He was helpful, genuinely kind, and extended his household in San Jose to my son Nathan and me, and to so many others. We will miss him terribly.
Amos doing field work on Long Island, 1976. photo by Jeff Levinton.

Doug Futuyma Retires

    A memorable, sometimes raucous, retirement celebration was held in honor of Doug Futuyma, one of the founding members of the Department of Ecology and Evolution. A whole-day honoring symposium was filled with memories, acknowledgements of a distinguished career, and some good stories told by old friends, students and colleagues. This is the culmination of celebrations, including a celebratory toast following Doug's last lecture in his famed undergraduate course in Evolution, and a memorable research seminar, which Doug presented this past academic year. What can we say? We are losing one of the cornerstones of our Department's history. But not really! Doug is still here, working hard on a new book and still coming in daily to his office (when he is not birding on Long island or some far-flung continent).

Here is a brief biography.

Doug Futuyma (b. 1942) was raised in the Bronx, New York City, where he
Doug Futuyma Photo by Bob Holt

became a naturalist at an early age, through visiting the Bronx Zoo and the American Museum of Natural History (AMNH) and by roaming the city parks, where he became a birder at about age 11. He received a classical education from the Jesuits at tuition-free Regis High School in Manhattan. He received his B.S. in Conservation (focused on vertebrate zoology) at Cornell University in 1963, and during this time spent three summers as a student intern at the AMNH field stations in Deer Park, Long Island, and Portal, Arizona. As a Masters and Ph.D. student in Zoology at the University of Michigan, his focus shifted from herpetology to ecology and evolution, and he became a student of Lawrence Slobodkin. During this time, he studied for several months under Richard Lewontin at the University of Chicago and taught the first of many field courses in tropical biology for the Organization of Tropical Studies in Costa Rica.  He received his Ph.D. in 1969 and started a faculty position at the State University of New York at Stony Brook (now Stony Brook University) in the Department of Ecology and Evolution, which Slobodkin established in 1968. Except for a two-year interlude as Professor and Chair of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology at the University of Michigan (2002-2004), he has remained at Stony Brook, advancing to Associate Professor in 1976, Professor in 1983, and Distinguished Professor in 2001.
At Stony Brook, Doug initiated undergraduate and graduate courses in evolution and ecology, and a research program on genetic variation in herbivorous insects, in relation to their use of different host plants. The evolution of plant-herbivore interactions became the lasting theme of his research and that of most of his 21 Ph.D. students. In 1969, Sinauer Associates published the first of seven editions (so far) of his undergraduate textbook Evolutionary Biology (later Evolution), which has been translated into ten languages and led to his appointment as Editor of the journal Evolution (1981-1983). Reacting to the rise of creationism, he published a popular book, Science on Trial: The Case for Evolution (Pantheon) in 1982, beginning an occasional engagement with public education and reception of evolution. He has published 111 scientific articles and book chapters and more than 42 book reviews.
Among his professional positions, Doug has served as President of the Society for the Study of Evolution (1987), the American Society of Naturalists (1994), and the American Institute of Biological Sciences (2007), Editor of Evolution (as noted earlier) and Quarterly Review of Biology, member of the editorial boards of Science and Proceedings of the National Academy of Science (2008-present), and has been the Editor of Annual Review of Ecology, Evolution, and Systematics since 2002. Since 1987. he has given invited lectures in 25 countries other than the U.S., where he has given about 108 lectures at 63 institutions. He received the SUNY Chancellor's Award for Excellence in Teaching (1974), the Sewall Wright Award of the American Society of Naturalists (1997), and the Joseph Leidy Award of the Academy of Natural Sciences (2012). He has been a Guggenheim Fellow (1992-93), a Fulbright Senior Scholar (1999-2000), and was named an Honorary Doctor of the National University of Mongolia (2013). He is a Fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science and was elected member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences (1996) and of the National Academy of Sciences of the U.S.A. in 2006. Doug continues to be an avid naturalist and has seen more than 70% of the species of birds.


10:00 am
Welcoming remarks
Robert Thacker
Professor and Chairperson, Department of Ecology and Evolution,
Stony Brook University, Stony Brook, NY


10:05 am
Reflections on the impacts of Doug Futuyma and some science
Fred Gould
William Neal Reynolds Professor of Agriculture, Entomology and Plant Pathology, North Carolina State University, Raleigh, NC

10:25 am
Further adventures in host range evolution
Matthew Forister
McMinn Professor of Biology, Department of Biology, University of Nevada, Reno, NV

10:45 am
Insect adaptation in a transgenic landscape
Aaron Gassmann
Associate Professor, Department of Entomology, Iowa State University, Ames, IA
11:20 am
The evolution of dioecy in spinach: baubles, spandrels, and seed
Edward Golenberg
Professor, Department of Biological Sciences, Wayne State University, Detroit, MI

11:40 am
The horseshoe crab: at the intersection of ecology and evolution
Jennifer Mattei
Professor, Department of Biology, Sacred Heart University, Fairfield CT
12 noon
The classic case of peripatric speciation: the paradise kingfishers of New Guinea
Gregory C. Mayer
Professor of Biological Sciences, University of Wisconsin-Parkside, Kenosha, WI

2 pm
A long look at pollination deficits in a subalpine lily
James Thomson
Professor, Ecology and Evolutionary Biology, University of Toronto
2:20 pm
The Ring Cycle, Samuel Adams, and codon bias
Brian Verrelli
Associate Professor and Director, Center for Life Sciences Education, Virginia Commonwealth University, Richmond, VA
2:40 pm
The role of the naturalist in today's and tomorrow's biology
L. Lacey Knowles
Robert B. Payne Collegiate Professor, Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology, Curator of Insects, Museum of Zoology, University of Michigan
  3:15 pm
Douglas Futuyma and Alexander Von Humboldt in the navel of natural history
Jeffrey Levinton
Distinguished Professor, Department of Ecology and Evolution, Stony Brook University, Stony Brook, NY
3:35 pm
Distilling the essence from the vat: Futuyma as the eau de vie of evolution and ecology
Douglas E. Gill
Professor Emeritus, Department of Biology, University of Maryland, College Park, MD
Read by: Robert K. Colwell, Distinguished Research Professor, University of Connecticut, Hartford, CT
3:55 pm
The home that Doug created and its attendant flourishing tree
Margaret Saks
Visiting Senior Research Scientist, Department of Biochemistry, University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign, IL
Peggy Saks

4:15 pm
Closing Remarks
Douglas Futuyma

And here was the evening program:

Toasts and Celebrations, led by Jeff Levinton

Letter from Carol Burke, Doug's sister
Read by: Dianna Padilla, Professor, Department of Ecology and
Evolution, Stony Brook University, Stony Brook, NY

"Seeing Into the Life of Things" 
Robert K. Colwell, Distinguished Research Professor
Department of Entomology, University of Connecticut, Hartford, CT

Letter from Robert D. Holt
Eminent Scholar and Arthur R. Marshall, Jr. Chair in Ecology
Department of Biology, University of Florida, Gainesville, FL
Read by: Jessica Gurevitch, Professor, Department of Ecology and
Evolution, Stony Brook University, Stony Brook, NY
The microphone was open for numberous spontaneous tributes and toasts.

Gift Presentation by Donna DiGiovanni, Assistant to the Chair
Doug delights in his gift, presented by Donna DiGiovanni (rear); James and Barbara Thomson in foreground.

Liliana Dávalos - Double Honor
Liliana Davalos

Promotion to Full Professor

Liliana Davalos has been promoted to the rank of Full Professor. Liliana came to Stony Brook as an Assistant Professor in the Department of Ecology and Evolution in 2008, in association with the Consortium for Inter-Disciplinary Environmental Research (CIDER) and was promoted to the rank of Associate Professor in 2014. She has become a world renowned expert in biogeographic history of the Caribbean and the broad understanding of the evolution and ecology of bats. Her work has wide implications for the understanding of the role of sensory innovations in evolutionary diversification, and the phylogeny and structure of diverse mammalian communities past and present. She has been well funded by the National Science Foundation, and is a co-PI in a nearly 3 million dollar innovative graduate education grant, "Interdisciplinary Graduate Training to Understand and Inform Decision Processes Using Advanced Spatial Data."  We congratulate you Liliana on this wonderful recognition.

But, that is not all! Liliana has been  recently 
named a recipient of the National Science Foundation Award for " Understanding the Rules of Life." Dávalos' award-winning research addresses the "Genomics of exceptions to scaling of longevity to body size." 
Her project is funded through NSF's Early-concept Grants for Exploratory Research (EAGER) program and represents exploratory work in its early stages on untested but potentially transformative research ideas or approaches. This was the first round of a highly competitive program. Again, many congratulations to Liliana!

Contacts: Chair Bob Thacker, Graduate Program Director Stephen Baines, or
the Newsletter Editor, Jeff Levinton