Campbell named AAAS Fellow and garners Fulbright to study in NZ January 13, 2011
Dr. Diane Campbell, a Professor in EEB, has been named a Fellow by the American Association for the Advancement of Science. Campbell, a long-time member of the department, is known for her work on plant hybrid zones, the evolution of plant breeding systems, and the evolution of floral traits. To help her continue these studies , she has just been awarded a Fulbright fellowship to visit field sites in New Zealand. Congratulations to Diane!
Clegg is America’s ‘scientist abroad’ January 19, 2011
The UC Irvine ecology & evolutionary biology professor also is foreign secretary for the U.S. National Academy of Sciences, which means he’s on the road as much as he’s at home in Irvine. In one eight-week stretch last fall, he traveled to Mexico, Missouri, New York, Washington, D.C., two regions of India, Mexico again, Chile and Argentina.
Briscoe snaps cover photo for Journal of Experimental Biology January 13, 2011
Dr. Adriana Briscoe has a new publication in the Journal of Experimental Biology, which established that Monarch butterflies (Danaus plexippus) are flexible and proficient learners of new colorsbut display confusion of colors related to brightness. Briscoe and coauthors also show that monarch eyes contain heterogeneously distributed lateral filter pigments which, together with a green-sensitive visual pigment, permit discrimination of yellow and orange colors, like those found on the milkweed flower. Briscoe snapped the accompanying cover photo, whcich shows a monarch on milkweed.
Using powerful computer simulations, UCI’s Rommie Amaro and Robin Bush (EEB) created a method to predict how pocket structures on the surface of influenza proteins promoting viral replication can be identified as these proteins evolve, allowing for possible pharmaceutical exploitation. Their results were reported in a recent edition of Nature Comunications.
Hicks honored by the American Physiological Society May 31, 2011
EEB Professor Jim Hicks was awarded the 2012 August Krogh Distinguished Lectureship of the American Physiological Society, Comparative and Evolutionary Section. This prestigious award is given to a distinguished scientist who has made major and meritorious contributions to Comparative and Evolutionary Physiology.
Jessica Pratt (Mooney Lab) was awarded the 2011 UCI Most Promising Future Faculty Award. This campus-wide award is granted to the graduate student deemed most outstanding each year. It reflects Jessica’s outstanding scholarship, teaching and service contributions both on and off campus and includes a one semester fellowship. The award will be presented at the Annual Celebration of Teaching on May 26.
EEB investigators reveal the scale-dependency of diversity May 4, 2011
EEB Investigators Jen Martiny, Steve Allison, and their collaborators have tested how the causes of diversity vary with spatial scale in a manuscript published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Science. Their findings were reached by measuring bacterial beta-diversity patterns in salt marsh bacteria at spatial scales from centimeters to continental levels. This study suggests that, as for plant and animals, ecological drift may be an important mechanism driving the spatial heterogeneity of microbial diversity at local scales, even though microbes likely disperse much more widely than larger organisms. This conclusion has important ramifications for how researchers sample and interpret microbial diversity patterns.
Avise elected to the American Philosophical Society May 4, 2011
EEB Distinguished Professor John Avise was elected to the American Philosophical Society. The APS was founded by Ben Franklin in 1743 and is our country’s first learned Society. The APS promotes knowledge in the sciences and humanities through excellence in scholarly research, professional meetings, publications, library resources, and community outreach. The Society has about 1000 members in total, and John is one of about 35 members elected this year. Election to APS is an achievement of unusual distinction. Congratulations to John for this wonderful honor!
Memorial tribute for Walter Fitch on May 26 April 14, 2011
EEB and the School of Biological Sciences remembers the remarkable life of our longtime colleague Dr. Walter Fitch, who passed away on March 11. Walter meant a great deal to countless people on our campus and beyond. We will hold a memorial tribute on May 26 at the Arnold and Mabel Beckman Center of the National Academies of Sciences and Engineering. We hope you can attend and join in our reflection of a life well spent.
NSF Graduate Research Fellowship Awards to two EEB grad students April 5, 2011
Susan Finkbeiner (Reed Lab) and Kyle McCullough (Briscoe Lab) have been awarded NSF Graduate Research Fellowship Awards. Stephen Hatosy (A. Martiny Lab), Kristin Leigh Matulich (J. Martiny Lb), and Michell Nichole Ontiveros (Burley Lab) received honorable mention. Their success reflects well on their mentors and on our program.
Bowler chosen as the Outstanding Professor of 2011 March 30, 2011
Peter Bowler, EEB Senior Lecturer SOE, was chosen by the Graduating Class of 2011 as this year’s Outstanding Professor. Dr. Bowler will be honored by UCI Anthology Yearbook Staff at the Outstanding Professors Night on May 18, 2011.
Francisco J. Ayala Graduate Fellowship Program Begins February 3, 2011
The Francisco J. Ayala Fellowship and School of Medicine Dean’s Fellowships will recruit and recognize academically superior doctoral students exhibiting outstanding promise as scientists, researchers, and public leaders. The fellows will receive a $15,000 award during the first year of graduate study. Each recipient will receive $5,000 during the first quarter of graduate study, and a second stipend of $10,000 will be made at the completion of the first year of study. These fellowships provide funding in addition to existing support, and may not be used as a substitute for other university support. Each department or program will nominate their top graduate applicants. The Associate Dean(s) for Graduate Studies will review the nominations and make the fellowship offers.
Cooperation is one of the great challenges to evolutionary theory. This Sackler Colloquium will focus on empirical work in these new areas rather than tread old ground. We will begin with a session on the foundations of cooperation based on selfish-gene thinking. We will then move on to see how the promise of the early work has been fulfilled by the study of real genes for social behavior. The third session will look at the role of cooperation in disease, as pathogens, selfish genetic elements, and cancers exploit their hosts. The final session will explore how this evolutionary perspective sheds light on the human condition. Organizers: Joan E. Strassmann, David C. Queller, John C. Avise and Francisco J. Ayala, Beckman Center of the National Academies, Irvine, CA.
EEB Remembers Richard Wetts October 25, 2010
EEB Lecturer Dr. Richard Wetts passed away October 8 at the Ronald Reagan UCLA Medical Center after a valiant 10-month battle with leukemia. Born in Green Bay, Wisconsin, he grew up in Southern California, graduating from USC in 1978. Earning his Ph.D. in genetics at Yale University in 1982, he did post-doctoral work at the Universite de Montreal and Johns Hopkins University. He was a Senior Research Fellow at the California Institute of Technology and Research Fellow at the City of Hope from 1991-1999. Here at UCI, he was an Assistant Research Physiologist in the Department of Physiology and Biophysics from 1985 – 1991 and Lecturer since 1999. In addition to his love of research and teaching, Richard was an avid sportsman who earned a black belt in karate and bicycled to UCI each day. Richard is survived by his daughter Rachel, his wife Megan, his parents Wayne and Hazel Wetts, his brother Bruce Wetts and his sister Leeann Davis. A memorial service will be held at 10:00 am, November 20, at the Good Shepherd Lutheran Church, 4800 Irvine Center Drive. All are welcome. In tribute to Richard, his karate studio has set up a Richard Wetts Memorial Award. Donations may be sent to: J. Long, 2670 Dietrich Drive, Tustin, CA. 92682-1358, with “CM dojo” on the notation line. Alternately, tax-deductible donations can be sent to: Jonsson Comprehensive Cancer Center, 10833 Le Conte Ave., Los Angeles, CA. 90045, designated for Dr. Gary Schiller and the Bone Marrow Research Unit, in memory of Richard Wetts.
EEB highly ranked by the National Research Council September 17, 2010
The National Research Council has released its ranking of academic programs, and the Dept. of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology at UC Irvine has fared well. The NRC rankings consist of a 95% confidence interval, based on a slew of data that includes publications for faculty, grants, and student outcomes. EEB earned a confidence interval that includes a top rank of 7 out of 94 programs in Ecology and Evolutionary Biology. The rankings were based on data gathered in 2006. The previous ranking, which was produced in 1995, ranked EEB as 22nd in the country. The NRC rankings and data can be downloaded or perused at the Chronicle of Higher Education (subscription required).
EEB faculty Long, Rose and Thornton published in Nature September 17, 2010
EEB faculty Tony Long, Michael Rose and Kevin Thornton have collaborated in a study of sequence variation in Drosophila melanogaster that have been evolved in long-term experimental populations. The study was led by EEB graduate student Molly Burke.
Adam Martiny, jointly appointed in EEB and ESS, is the principal investigator of a $3M grant award from the new NSF Dimensions of Biodiversity program to study plankton biodiversity and its effects on oceanic nutrient cycling. The group, which includes EEB faculty members Steve Allison and Simon Levin (also of Princeton), will sample oceanic plankton throughout the world for the next five years. They will monitor the composition of Nitrogen, Phosphorus and Carbon in these samples and relate this to changes in genetic diversity. Ultimately, the group hopes to learn how taxonomic, genetic and functional biodiversity helps to control the chemical composition of the world’s oceans.
EEB faculty awarded $2.3M to study micro-organismal response to climate change August 11, 2010
Researchers in Ecology and Evolutionary Biology and Earth System Science were recently awarded $2.3M to study the response of micro-organisms to climate change and nitrogen pollution. The project is funded by the US Department of Energy, and will use advanced molecular tools to identify the microbes that control the flow of carbon through Southern California soils. This work is important for understanding how ecosystems in this region will respond to drought and pollution, and may reveal novel microbial genes useful for biofuel development or other industrial applications. Members of the research team include professors Steven Allison, Adam Martiny, Jennifer Martiny, Kathleen Treseder, and Michael Goulden of UCI. They will be collaborating with Dr. Eoin Brodie of the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory on the three-year project.
Weller elected President of the Botanical Society of America August 11, 2010
Professor Steve Weller is the new President-elect of the Botanical Society of America (BSA). The BSA’s mission is to promote botany, the field of basic science dealing with the study and inquiry into the form, function, development, diversity, reproduction, evolution, and uses of plants and their interactions within the biosphere. The Society was established in 1893, and is one of the world’s largest societies devoted to the study of plants and allied organisms. The Officers of the Society can be viewed at http://www.botany.org/about_bsa/officers.php.
Simon Levin, George M. Moffett Professor of Biology and affliate of the Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology, will receive this year’s Eminent Ecologist Award from the Ecological Society of America. This honor is awarded to a senior ecologist in recognition of an outstanding body of ecological work or sustained ecological contributions of extraordinary merit.
UC Irvine will rename its Science Library the Francisco J. Ayala Science Library in recognition of our colleague’s considerable scientific achievements and contributions to the campus. In addition, Dr. Ayala has pledged to donate his Templeton Prize award of $1.5 million to UCI to fund Francisco J. Ayala Graduate Fellowships in the School of Biological Sciences. A $100,000 portion will support research in ecology & evolutionary biology, including the evolutionary genetics program.
It has long been hypothesized that birds and other insect-feeding animals may protect plants by keeping plant-feeding insects in check in accordance with the adage “the enemy of my enemy is my friend” . A recent paper in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Science by Ecology and Evolution Assistant Professor Kailen Mooney and collaborators provides the most comprehensive support of this hypothesis to-date; summarizing the results of more than 100 experiments conducted on four continents, they show that insect feeding species of birds, bats and lizards increase plant growth by reducing the abundance of plant-feeding insects and the damage they do to plants.
Eco Evo Assistant Professor Kailen Mooney and colleagues reported this finding in the journal Science (online on March 26) from a study of 16 species of milkweed. This study examined relationships between plant growth, how plants defend themselves against plant-eaters (with thorns and toxins, for example), and the protection plants receive from predators such as ladybugs that eat plant-hungry insects. The herbivores – in this case bright yellow aphids – damage plants; ladybugs can act as bodyguards, helping plants by eating aphids. They found that milkweeds that grow quickly (a desirable trait) are more vulnerable to insects that feed on them (an undesirable trait), making those plants more dependent upon predators for their survival. In other words, you can be either a hard-to-eat, slow growing plant that doesn’t need bodyguards, or a tasty, fast-growing plant that relies on outside protection.
University Professor Francisco Ayala awarded Templeton Prize March 26, 2010
Francisco Ayala, a University Professor and member of EEB, will receive the John Templeton prize. The award, which was announced in a press conference in Washington DC, is given annually for a living person who has made an exceptional contribution to affirming life’s spiritual dimension, whether through insight, discovery, or practical works. The Prize was created by the late Sir John Templeton and first awarded in 1973. Ayala has been awarded the prize on the basis of not only his sterling scientific career but also for his contributions to ethics and the philosophy of science. Read more about it here, and here.
Alan Thornhill was recently named as the Science advisor to the Director of the Department of the Interior’s Minerals Management Service. An alumni of both the bachelor’s and doctoral degree programs in the Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology, this latest achievement highlights Thornhill’s leadership in the field of conservation biology. This appointment follows what has been a tremendously successful career both in, and out, of academia. Congrats Alan! Read more about Thornhill’s new appointment here.
Three EEB Professors elected as AAAS Fellows January 2, 2010
Three members of the department have been elected as AAAS Fellows. Their election was announced in the journal Science in the Dec. 18 issue. The three are Steven Frank, who develops mathematical, computational, and conceptual models to study the evolution of phenotype; Tony Long, who studies the inheritance of complex evolutionary traits; and Steve Weller, who examines plant population biology and evolutionary genetics of plant reproductive systems. These three join the total of 12 faculty in the department who have been awarded this distinguished honor.
McHenry awarded an NSF CAREER award January 1, 2010
Dr. Matt McHenry, an assistant professor in EEB, was awarded a prestigious CAREER grant from NSF. The grant entitled “The Sensory Biomechanics of the Lateral Line System” has a duration of five years. During this time, the McHenry Lab will explore the physics of hydrodynamic sensing. Using a combination of experimental and computational approaches, this work aims to understand how fish use water flow as a source of information to respond to changes in their environment.
Jim Hicks educates on giraffes and space August 26, 2009
Faculty member Jim Hicks will be featured in a BBC and National Geographic special on the circulatory system of giraffes. See a sneak preview in this Youtube feature that includes postdoc Tomasz Owerkowicz. Things do not turn out well for their British visitor! http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Tos50Wx41p4