Spring 2008 Alumni Newsletter

Dear Alumni and Friends:

Welcome to our inaugural edition of the Friends of Biology Newsletter, which is aimed at alumni and friends of the former departments of biology, botany and zoology and the current UCLA Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology. Through this newsletter, we will help you stay in touch with the latest developments in biology. Never before have the biological sciences played such a pressing role in society, ranging from the innovations emerging from genomics and computational biology to the biological changes caused by global climate change and landscape alterations.

We continue to teach a conceptually broad and rigorous undergraduate curriculum for students in the following majors: biology, marine biology, and ecology, behavior and evolution. Many of our biology majors continue on to attain professional degrees. We offer the popular and stimulating Marine Biology Quarter and Field Biology Quarter. Students study local marine and terrestrial California ecosystems and visit a range of ecosystems around the world in places such as Australia, Ecuador, Kenya, Mexico and Tahiti.

Our graduate program attracts top students from all over, many of whom receive distinguished fellowships from the National Science Foundation, the Environmental Protection Agency and many other foundations. Our graduate student dissertations are conceptually based projects, often with field sites around the world, applying the latest tools and techniques. Students often pursue topics at the interface of ecology and evolution, and at the frontiers of other disciplines such as biomathematics, geography and engineering.

Our distinguished faculty members are recipients of many honors and awards for internationally recognized research accomplishments. As teachers, we are proud that members of our faculty have received UCLA's Distinguished Teaching Award for four years in a row.

It may have been a long or short time since you last experienced biology at UCLA. We hope this newsletter will inform you of the exciting new faculty, new research and new developments. As part of our academic community, you will be invited to talks and events. We will have a special section on alumni news, so please send us news about you and that of other UCLA Biology friends or alumni. Updating your contact information is very easy at http://www.eeb.ucla.edu/alumni2.php.

Thank you for reading this newsletter. We hope to hear from you.

Victoria Sork
Professor and Chair, UCLA Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology
Professor, Institute of the Environment


The UCLA Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology is seeking to partner with a group of distinguished alumni and friends willing to bring their expertise, perspectives, passion and support to form the UCLA Biology Council. The council will be committed to the importance of the study of biology, promote awareness of the excellence and prominence of the UCLA Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology (known variously in the past as the Department of Biology; Zoology; Botany; Organismic Biology, Ecology and Evolution), and support the department's missions in the areas of ecological and evolutionary research, conservation and the environment.


Save the date!The 11th Annual Biology Research Symposium will be held on May 21. The speaker will be Dr. Judith Bronstein, professor of ecology and evolutionary biology at the University of Arizona. In the Research Symposium, graduate students, undergraduates, faculty and other researchers in the Department of Ecology and Evolution present posters on their research and share conversation with current students and alumni. More details will be available soon.


Julianne E. Kalman Ph.D. '06 is the curator of Exhibits and Collections at the Cabrillo Marine Aquarium. Dr. Kalman was a student of Dr. Don Buth.

Alexis Wiktorowicz, one of Dr. Malcolm Gordon's students, received her Ph.D. at the end of fall 2007. She has just started a three-year postdoctoral fellowship in animal biomechanics at the Royal Veterinary College in the U.K.

On Feb. 11, Mark Gold '84, Ph.D. '94, president and CEO of Heal the Bay, spoke on "A Blueprint for Healing the Bay" as part of the Environmental Science Colloquia of the UCLA Institute of the Environment. Mark received his bachelor's and master's degrees in biology from UCLA, and a Ph.D. from UCLA in environmental science.

Bob Wayne gives us the following news from his lab:

"Gary Shin graduated this winter and now has a teaching position at Cal State Long Beach. His wife is expecting in March. We will all have to imagine Gary as a father!

"Deb Pires '93, Ph.D. 07 is the coordinator in the LS Core for Life Sciences 1. She was also recently married; clearly her life is on the upswing.

"Isabel Rosario , who graduated last year, has accepted a post-doctoral fellowship in Portugal to continue to work on insects of the Azores.

"Among current graduate students, Bridgett vonHoldt's molecular ecology paper on Yellowstone wolves was highlighted in Science magazine. See the article for a clever quote by Bridgett. Bridgett and Kerry Deere both won bioinformatics fellowships for fall.

"Finally, David Brown's paper in BMC Biology describing new giraffe species was highlighted in the popular press and will be featured in the National Geographic magazine."


Dr. Steven Hubbell joined us in fall 2007 from the University of Georgia as a Distinguished Professor. He is well known for his theoretical work concerning species diversity of tropical forests, presented in his recent book, "The Unified Neutral Theory of Biodiversity and Biogeography," and is the author of more than 150 scientific papers. In addition, professor Hubbell is the co-founder of a program that establishes and coordinates tropical forest diversity plots all over the world, and is also the co-founder of the National Council for Science and the Environment, which provides scientific information for environmental policy. He is the recipient of numerous awards including the National Marsh Prize of the British Ecological Society, the Cooper Prize of the Ecolo-gical Society of America and the 2008 Kempe Award for Distinguished Ecologists. http://www.eeb.ucla.edu/indivfaculty.php?FacultyKey=8416

Dr. Patricia Gowaty joined us in fall 2007 from the University of Georgia as a Distinguished Professor. Her research interests include evolutionary ecology, the evolution of behavior, sexual behavior, mating systems, sexual conflict, parental behavior, maternal effects, developmental plasticity, sex allocation, genetic parentage and ornithology. Professor Gowaty is well-known for her long term research program on mating systems in eastern bluebirds, but has studied behavior in a diverse group of organisms ranging from Drosophila to mallard ducks. Dr. Gowaty is a fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science. She is also the editor of the book, "Feminism and Evolutionary Biology: Boundaries, Intersections and Frontiers." http://www.eeb.ucla.edu/indivfaculty.php?FacultyKey=8418

Dr. Lawren Sack arrived in fall 2007 from the University of Hawaii as an associate professor. His research interests include the ecology and physiology of plant species' coexistence; the hydraulics of plant water transport; the evolution and functional consequences of diversity in leaf size, shape and venation; forest dynamics and eco-hydrology, and conservation physiology. His research is funded in part by a grant from the National Science Foundation, titled "The Coordination of Leaf Hydraulics, Structure and Gas Exchange." He has also received a three-year grant from the Australian Research Council, titled "Tolerance of Temperature Extremes under Drought: Linking Physiological Processes with Morphological Constraints on Leaf Function." http://www.eeb.ucla.edu/indivfaculty.php?FacultyKey=8417

Dr. John Novembre will arrive in spring 2008 after a post-doctoral position at the University of Chicago funded by a National Science Foundation Bioinformatics Post-doctoral Fellowship. He received his Ph.D. from UC Berkeley. His recent honors include summer fellowships from the Japanese Society for the Promotion of Science and a Howard Hughes Medical Institute Pre-doctoral Fellowship. His research expertise is in theoretical population genetics and evolutionary genomics. Dr. Novembre's interests include measuring dispersal in continuous habitats using multi-locus genetic data, the evolutionary history of advantageous alleles, the effect of mutational bias on synonymous-site evolution, and recombination-rate variation and haplotype blocks. http://www.eeb.ucla.edu/indivfaculty.php?FacultyKey=10202

Dr. Patricia Halpin has joined us from UC Santa Barbara as a lecturer. She received her Ph.D. from Brown University. At Santa Barbara, she served as deputy director of Marine Outreach, as the academic coordinator for the RISE and CAMP programs and as an assistant research biologist/program scientist, in addition to her teaching duties. http://www.eeb.ucla.edu/indivfaculty.php?FacultyKey=9664


Dan Blumstein and graduate students, Lucretia Olson and Tina Wey, were featured in an extra feature about marmots that was included in the 15th anniversary release of the film "Groundhog Day."

Peggy Fong has been selected by the Academic Senate Committee on Teaching as the recipient of the 2008 Distinguished Teaching Award for Undergraduate Mentoring. Dr. Fong joins these previous winners of the Distinguished Teaching award from our faculty: Drs. Blaire Van Valkenburgh (2007), Kenneth Nagy (Mentoring, 2006), Elma Gonzalez (Mentoring, 2005), Peter Narins (1990), Joseph Cascarano (1970), George Bartholomew (1966) and E. A. Carlson (1965).

Malcolm Gordon was elected treasurer of the International Union of Physiological Sciences (IUPS) in June 2007. IUPS is the umbrella organization for over 70 national societies of physiologists worldwide.

Thomas B. Smith recently received a grant from the Environmental Protection Agency entitled "The Role of Avian Host Dynamics and Anthropogenic Stressors on the Transmission of West Nile Virus and the Implications for Human Health and Biodiversity." He also received a four-year NIH grant entitled "Effects of Avian Migration and Anthropogenic Change on the Distribution and Transmission Risks of Avian Influenza."

Charles Taylor has received a grant from the National Institutes of Health entitled "Dynamics of Transposable Elements in Mosquito Vectors."

Robert Wayne was quoted in a Science magazine commentary (Feb. 15, 2008) on the removal of wolves from the Endangered Species List, after millions of dollars were spent to establish an effective recovery plan for wolves when they were on the brink of extinction. Many are concerned that the animals will be in jeopardy again soon as a result of this action. Professor Wayne's laboratory played a significant role in studying the genetic basis of the re-introduction and recovery plan.

Cheryl Ann Zimmer received the Departmental Faculty Teaching Award in June 2007.

Richard Zimmer and Cheryl Ann Zimmer were named Whiteley Scholars at the Friday Harbor Laboratories, University of Washington, in October 2007.


In the last two years or so, many of the faculty of the department have retired and will be sorely missed. They include Elma Gonzalez, William Hamner Ph.D. '65, Kenneth Nagy, Park Nobel, Richard Vance and Eduardo Zeiger.


Did you know that one of the department's emeritus faculty is considered the father of skiing in Southern California? Dr. Walter Mosauer came to Southern California in 1932 as a professor of zoology at UCLA. He went on to found the UCLA ski team in 1933 and the Sierra Club Ski Mountaineers in 1934, and in addition to his teaching duties at UCLA was one of the first ski instructors in Southern California, introducing the Arlberg technique. His enthusiasm and ability to inspire others who loved the sport to develop and support it here is largely responsible for the beginning of the growth and development of skiing in Southern California.

You probably know that the UCLA Botanical Garden was named for Dr. Mildred Mathias, but did you know that she was responsible for introducing many of the plants that are found in Southern California gardens today? In addition to being the director of the UCLA Botanical Garden, she was also one of the founders of both the UC Natural Reserve System and the Center for Tropical Biology at UCLA. Dr. Mathias led natural history tours abroad until a few months before her death in 1995 at the age of 88.

A list of our emeriti can be found at our Web site, along with a departmental history and some photographs of current and former faculty as you may remember them. http://www.eeb.ucla.edu/alumni_emeriti.php


Recent doctorates in Ecology and Evolutionary Biology:

Peter Adam (Blaire Van Valkenburgh)
Ryan Ferrer (Richard Zimmer)
Alex Gilman (Phil Rundel)
Brenda Larison (Greg Grether)
Terence Lee (Greg Grether)
Yoosook Lee (Charles Taylor)
Nicholas Manoukis (Charles Taylor)
John McCormack (Tom Smith)
Mike Moradian (Cliff Brunk)
Debra Pires (Robert Wayne)
Jameal Samhoui (Richard Vance)
Joshua Samuels (Blaire Van Valkenburgh)
Gary Shin (Robert Wayne)
Alexis Wiktorowicz (Malcolm Gordon)
Todd Zimmerman (Peggy Fong)

Master's degrees were awarded to:

Changde Cheng (Charles Taylor)
Stephen Estes (Don Buth)
Amber Glover (Don Buth)
Jane J. Lee (Bill Hamner)
Amy Nichols (Richard Zimmer and Cheryl Ann Zimmer)
Akane Nishimura (Phil Rundel)
Gwen Noda (Bill Hamner)
Joshua Olson (Don Buth)
Kelly Walters (Dan Blumstein)


On May 9, 2007, the department held a tribute to Professor George Bartholomew in conjunction with the Annual Research Symposium. On Oct. 2, 2006, George A. Bartholomew, distinguished emeritus professor in the UCLA Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology, passed away at the age of 87 of complications from cancer. Known as "Bart" to his students, colleagues and friends, Dr. Bartholomew was an outstanding scientist of international renown, a distinguished mentor of graduate students and played important roles in shaping the history of his department and of the life sciences at UCLA. He earned his Ph.D. at Harvard in 1947 and joined the UCLA faculty shortly thereafter, devoting his entire academic career of more than four decades to UCLA until his retirement in 1989.

We are saddened to report that Leonard Muscatine, emeritus professor of biology, passed away at his home on Tuesday, April 10, 2007, after a long fight with cancer. Professor Muscatine was a distinguished scientist and a valuable member of our faculty throughout his career. Memorial services will be in May 2008. We send our condolences to his friends and family. He will be greatly missed.

Joseph Epperson '07, a member of the 2006 Spring Field Biology Quarter, died on Oct. 13, 2007, in an automobile accident. Majoring in ecology, behavior and evolution at UCLA, he made many close friends, particularly during the Field Biology Quarter, which spent time in the Mojave Desert and Santa Cruz Island. Dr. Travis Longcore, one of the course instructors, commented that "he had incredible promise, quiet confidence and unwavering dedication to his academic work." He worked for three years in the laboratory of Professor Victoria Sork, both as a work-study student assistant and an undergraduate researcher. Professor Sork remembers him as a gentle spirit, an extremely careful researcher and a fun member of her lab group. Others in the department recall his passion for being in nature and his love of animals. Since his graduation, Joe had been working in a veterinary hospital and preparing to apply to vet school, his long-time dream.

In his memory, the UCLA Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology has established a scholarship fund of $500 to support an outstanding student with financial need who would like to participate in one of the Field Biology Quarters next year. Anyone wishing to contribute to that fund can do so by going to https://giving.ucla.edu/Standard/NetDonate.aspx?SiteNum=132.

Please select "Biology Endowment for the Chairs' Unrestricted Funds" and in the comment box at the bottom of the form, please specify that this gift is for the "Joe Epperson FBQ Scholarship." If you prefer to send a check, please mail it to Professor Victoria Sork, payable to "UC Regents." All funds will be added to the scholarship and not put into an endowment.


If you are interested in giving to the UCLA Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology, please visit http://www.eeb.ucla.edu/giving/index.html.


Invigorate Your Bruin Spirit at UCLA Day, May 17 http://www.ucladay.ucla.edu/

For Everyone You Call Family: Bruin Family Experience, Aug. 7-9 http://www.uclalumni.net/TravelRec/bruinfamily/2008/home.cfm

UCLA Alumni Association
James West Alumni Center
Los Angeles, CA 90095-1397