The Gratton Lab crew used the sad occasion that our postdoc Heidi is leaving us for Sewanee to have a party at la casa di Gratton. We also had to say goodbye to our LTEs Chase and Forrest who were a great help to us especially during the field season.
Last week I had the good fortune to be invited to Rutgers University by my friend and colleague Cesar Rodriguez-Saona. Cesar and I go back a long ways to our days in California when we were graduate students. We met a Gordon Research Conference on plant-insect interactions in 1997 and have remained friends since. Cesar is now an associate professor of extension entomology working mostly on blueberries, and little bit on cranberries. He is stationed most of the time at the PE Marucci Research Center for Blueberry and Cranberry Research. There they have a wonderful facility with several other faculty all working on various aspects of these crops. They have some very nice experimental “bogs” (marshes here in Wisconsin!) that they can manipulate at will – I wish we could do that here! Right now they are working a lot on Brown Marmorated Stink bug and Spotted wing Drosophila.
Getting to the research station from the Philly airport took me through a well trodden path that I had been on many times. From my days in Maryland and working on the NJ shore’s salt marshes in Tuckerton, we would drive the 4 hours from College Park in NJ, hang a right at the HW 70 exit in Marlton and barrel through the pine barrens before hitting the coast. Little did I know at the time that I was coming within a few miles of the research center! The drive in the area took me back to the old days (though we didn’t have time to go to the coast). Incidentally, we drove though the town of Hammondton (not the “usual” road I had taken) which has a strong Italian heritage. Lots of Italian restaurants down Main street and many of the berry growers in the area have names that harken back to the homeland.
I had a great time hanging out with Cesar and his lovely family (including Renzo and Marcelo – expert in NASCAR at the young age of 8!). The next day I went to the main campus in New Brunswick to give a talk in the Entomology department. It was lively affair and folks were asking questions throughout – nice interactive group. The students at the lunch afterwards were equally engaged. I very much enjoyed my visit with old friends and the campus. Perhaps little known is that my former post-doc mentor Bob Denno had been on the faculty at Rutgers for a couple of years in the 70’s before going down to Maryland. Thanks again Cesar – it was a brief visit, but very enjoyable!
Posted by Claudio Gratton
With the Autumnal Equinox just around the corner (Saturday the 22nd in fact…) we find the Fall semester here at UW-Madison well under way. The Gratton Lab has is saying “Farewell!” to our postdocs David, who has already left for NEON, and Heidi who will be leaving us shortly for Sewanee. We’ve also added a new Master’s student in agroecology Emma Pelton who happens to like deserts among other things.
Switching gears, the Iceland Team has recently released their debut music video that we share with you below… Enjoy!
Interested in graduate school? Want to work at an exotic, remote field site near the arctic circle? Interested in the linkages between lakes and land. Then read on!
PhD Research Assistantship in Terrestrial Food Web Ecology
University of Wisconsin – Madison
We are looking for a motivated student interested in pursuing a PhD at the UW-Madison as part of the Gratton Lab studying the interactions between aquatic and terrestrial ecosystems. This work takes place at a biologically rich and scenic area in northeast Iceland, centered on Lake Myvatn. An ideal candidate needs to have a solid background in biology or ecology, have some prior research or field experience, and be able work in Iceland for summer field work. Candidates should have interests in arthropod food web ecology, community ecology, aquatic-terrestrial linkages, linkages between below- and above-ground food webs and/or the role of arthropods in ecosystem processes.
This research is part of a broad collaborative effort including Claudio Gratton (Entomology), Tony Ives (Zoology), Randy Jackson (Agronomy), Phil Townsend (Forestry and Wildlife Ecology), and Jake Vander Zanden (Center for Limnology/Zoology) at the University of Wisconsin. Students will be applying through the Zoology program. Graduate support would include a mix of research and teaching assistantships.
To apply, please complete this cover sheet and send this with a cover letter outlining your research interests, prior experiences and why you want to go to graduate school and join our group, CV, and names of 3 references as a single pdf file to Claudio Gratton (firstname.lastname@example.org). Deadline: Fall 2013 TBD.
If you are planning on attending the 2013 Ecological Society Meeting in Minneapolis, MN, we can try to schedule a meeting there.
From the UW site: Claudio is co-PI on this new effort.
$3 million grant to train new scientists to collaborate on conservation challenges
By Nicole Miller
A new type of forest is taking root in Puerto Rico’s abandoned sugar cane fields. The new stands are full of invasive trees, but they harbor large numbers of endangered native bird species. From the perspective of conservation science, are these forest parcels good or bad? And how should they be managed?
The world’s conservation biologists are struggling to deal with new situations like this-where major shifts in climate and land use are creating novel ecosystems and no-analog climates. UW-Madison is gearing up to help train more graduates students to deal with these complex problems, with the support of a $3 million grant from the National Science Foundation.
“We’re moving into uncharted territory, where past trends are no longer good predictors of what will happen in the future, which makes things very difficult for conservationists,” says Volker Radeloff, a professor of forest and wildlife ecology who is leading the effort. “The grant will allow us to train a new generation of scientists to be proactive in this changing world-to focus on finding solutions, and not just better ways to measure how things are changing.”
A novel feature of the five-year Integrative Graduate Education and Research Traineeship grant is that the 24 doctoral students it will support will be collaborating with scientists outside of their home disciplines. Traditionally, conservation biologists train as ecologists and then pick up skills in other fields-such as genetics, statistics or remote sensing-as needed to complete their projects. But Radeloff likens this go-it-alone approach to cello virtuoso Yo Yo Ma deciding to pick up the violin or the trombone.
“Yo Yo Ma doesn’t try to play other instruments, but he can play very nicely with others,” says Radeloff, noting Ma’s work with symphonies, the Silk Road Orchestra and an all-star bluegrass group. “That’s what we want to try to emulate as a model for our graduate education. We want people who are superbly trained in their field, but who also have great collaborative skills.”
“We need true geneticists, statisticians, computer scientists, biologists, ecologists, botanists. We need all of these folks who are at the cutting edge of their fields to work together on these problems,” says Radeloff.
The first cohort of IGERT trainees will be selected this fall and start their fellowships next January. In addition to conducting research, they will participate in weekly IGERT lab meetings and have opportunities to work with outside clients, such as the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources, to study and address real-world conservation issues.
This summer, a group of faculty, staff and students connected to the IGERT project will take a bus tour around the state, visiting sites where landscapes are changing and where notable conservation efforts are taking place. Starting this fall, the group will gather for monthly “conservation salons,” and there will be courses available to help prepare starting graduate students to become IGERT dissertators down the line.
Radeloff hopes that the grant will foster a culture of collaboration within the university’s diverse conservation community that lasts far longer than the grant itself. His wish seems possible, given that many of the involved faculty had already been meeting to discuss their work and collaborating on projects for a number of years before applying for the grant. The IGERT was the first opportunity for the whole group-which Volker describes as “a good orchestra”-to work together on something.
“The awarding of this IGERT grant is a tribute to the creativity and hard work of the principal investigators,” says Rick Lindroth, associate dean for research at the College of Agricultural and Life Sciences. “It will ensure that we remain front and center in the training of scientists to grapple with these complex and critically important issues.”
IGERT faculty include Volker Radeloff, forest and wildlife ecology (FWE) (principal investigator); Anthony Ives, zoology (co-PI); Susan Millar, Morgridge Institute, Wisconsin Center for Education Research (co-PI); Adena Rissman, FWE (co-PI); Claudio Gratton, entomology (co-PI); Jennifer Alix-Garcia, agricultural and applied economics; Murray Clayton, plant pathology; Katherine Curtis, community and environmental sociology; Noah Feinstein, School of Education; Michael Ferris, computer sciences, Wisconsin Institutes of Discovery; Patty Loew, life sciences communication; Holly Gibbs, geography; Erika Marin-Spiotta, geography; Peter McIntyre, Center for Limnology; Francisco Pelegri, genetics; Anna Pidgeon, FWE; Tim Van Deelen, FWE; Jake Vander Zanden, Center for Limnology; Dan Vimont, atmospheric and oceanic sciences; Jack Williams, geography.
Posted by Claudio Gratton