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Jack Ewel, Emeritus Faculty, elected as Honorary Fellow of the Association for Tropical Biology & Conservation

Published: May 29th, 2015

Joining the ranks of Theodosius Dobzhansky, George Gaylord Simpson, et alia, Jack Ewel has been elected as an Honorary Fellow of ATBC! This is the highest honor conveyed by the society, and recognizes long, sustained service to tropical biology. Jack served as Director of the U.S. Forest Service’s Institute of Pacific Islands Forestry, but has also worked in tropical forests in Venezuela, Costa Rica, Puerto Rico, and Guatemala. He is an expert in ecological succession in the tropics, including restoration ecology and effects of invasive species. Jack is both a UF Botany graduate alumnus (MS) and emeritus faculty member! Please join me in congratulating Jack on this well-deserved recognition. Jack, you lend us grace.

Evolution Sci

Creating Scientific Knowledge

Published: May 26th, 2015

In this invited “Soapbox Essay”, Eminent Scholar Robert D. Holt explains how we arrive at explanations for scientific phenomenon using climate change as an example. He uses a metaphor of “collecting colored eggs” to make his point about synthesizing strains of evidence. The journal liked the metaphor so much they called for a cover photograph— taken by staff members Vitrell Sherif and Andy Kratter, using the bird egg collection from the Florida Museum of Natural History! Read Bob’s essay here:

Congratulations to Keith Choe, recipient of an NSF CAREER Award

Published: May 12th, 2015

Keith Choe, Assistant Professor of Department of Biology has received a National Science Foundation CAREER Award for his project entitled “Using C. elegans to Understand how a Fundamental Cellular Stress Response is Integrated into a Tissue System at the Interface with the Environment and to Improve Education”. IOS (Division of integrative organismal systems), 15 May 2015-30 April 2020.

UF researchers analyzed potential designs for the Sierra Leone Trial

Published: Apr 20th, 2015

Development of a safe, effective Ebola vaccine is an important goal for bringing the current epidemic under control and minimizing future outbreaks. Before a vaccine can be given to at-risk populations, however, it must be tested to determine whether it is safe and assess the level of protection it provides. Ebola vaccine trials are currently underway in Guinea and Liberia, two of the three hardest-hit countries in the ongoing Ebola epidemic, and the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) will soon be starting a vaccine trial in Sierra Leone. The Ebola epidemic has been declining in Sierra Leone and the rate of decline varies in different regions. A team of researchers led by Steve Bellan at The University of Texas at Austin, and including University of Florida researchers Juliet Pulliam and Carl Pearson, has analyzed potential designs for the Sierra Leone trial, taking into account recent trends in Ebola case numbers. They have found that the trial CDC had originally planned in Sierra Leone – a so-called ‘stepped-wedge’ design – would be unlikely to be informative, with a 6 months study leaving researchers uncertain as to whether the vaccine was effective. In contrast, a trial similar to the design that CDC announced on April 15 is much more likely to be able to detect an effective vaccine. This work also emphasizes that any trial implemented in Sierra Leone needs to begin as soon as possible, as the informative power of any trial is decreasing substantially as the epidemic continues to decline.  See the article here.


Systematic Reviews of Forestry & Landscapes Management Workshop

Published: Apr 13th, 2015

Biology’s Jack Putz and Claudia Romero organized a Systematic Reviews of Forestry & Landscapes Management Workshop in collaboration with the Florida Climate Institute and the REDD+ Forest Policy & Economics Working Group. The workshop’s goals were to use a hands-on approach, participants will be guided through the stages of preparing a systematic review to support policy questions for which evidence is required. Twenty people from ten different countries participated, with a spread of disciplinary and research interests. The keynote speaker was Gillian Petrokofsky from Oxford University’s Biodiversity Institute. Thank you, Jack and Claudia, for providing this wonderfully international workshop!


Congratulations to Robert Johnson and Bonnie Kircher!

Published: Apr 1st, 2015

Delighted to report that Robert Johnson of the Bjorndal lab, and Bonnie Kircher of the Marty Cohn’s lab for winning the NSF GRFP Award.

Great job, Robert and Bonnie!

Congratulations to Catalina Pimiento!

Published: Mar 30th, 2015

Please join me in congratulating Catalina Pimiento on winning an Online Education Excellence Award for her course BSC 2009L. The committee thought her class was particularly excellent with respect to engaging student learners. I’m particularly proud to see Biology’s tradition of teaching excellence continuing with our online efforts: last year Nicole Gerlach, this year Catalina!

Keep up the good work and thank you to all who work to make Biology a great department.


Kudos to Luke Trimmer Smith

Published: Mar 24th, 2015

Please join me in congratulating Luke on his Emerging Pathogens Institute (EPI), A Vertebrate Model System to Decipher Environmental Impacts on Viral Host Jumps ($40,000).

Great job, Luke!


Congratulations to Jake Ferguson and Jose Miguel Ponciano!

Published: Mar 18th, 2015

Grad student Jake Ferguson and Biology faculty member José Miguel Ponciano recently had an article appear in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences

“Environmental stochasticity” is an important theoretical concept in Ecology that embodies the recognition that, over time, the environmental conditions for animal population growth vary widely, often in unpredictable ways. Here we propose a stochastic model that measures how such environmental variation affects competition among individuals. Previously, such effects remained poorly studied and consequences on extinction risks were generally unknown. We apply our model to a large database of time series of animal abundances and compare it to other models. The field evidence supported our modeling efforts. Coupling stochastic models with statistical inference allowed us to draw useful insights for the practice of conservation biology regarding the fate and regulation of these populations.

Our latest Biology grad student success!

Published: Mar 2nd, 2015

Catalina Pimiento is the winner of the 2015 Association for Academic Women Emerging Scholar competition which is held in conjunction with the Lockhart Dissertation Fellowship competition.  This recognition includes a cash award of $2000 from the AAW Emerging Scholar fund. Catalina was selected from a large and very strong group of applicants and we are pleased to recognize her achievement! Great job Catalina and congratulations to mentor Bruce MacFadden, too!