Don Kobayashi Appointed New Chair of the Department of Plant Biology and Pathology

Don Kobayashi.

Don Kobayashi.

Announcement from Robert M. Goodman, Executive Dean of the School of Environmental and Biological Sciences

It is with great pleasure that I announce the appointment of the new chair of the Department of Plant Biology and Pathology, Don Kobayashi, who has been a faculty member of the department since 1990. Don has agreed to accept a 3-year appointment as chair, effective July 1.

Most recently, Don has served the school and department as the plant biology undergraduate program director. He has also been the undergraduate program director for biotechnology and for the agriculture and food systems majors. In addition, he has served on the executive committee of the Department of Plant Biology and Pathology for the past four years.

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What’s your summer reading list?

Rutgers Today wondered what books are on the top of faculty’s and staff’s must-read lists for the next few months. Some of the answers are below… Joan Bennett, professor, Department Plant Biology and Pathology, and senior faculty adviser in the Office for the Promotion of Women in Science, Engineering, and Mathematics, New Brunswick:  "A former student sent me a paperback copy of Arrowsmith by Sinclair Lewis. Although I have read it before, because it is the best novel ever written about a microbiologist, I plan to read it again." Thomas Leustek, associate dean for Academic Administration and Assessment, School of Environmental and Biological Sciences, New Brunswick: I am planning to read Concrete Planet: The Strange and Fascinating Story of the World’s Most Common Man-Made Material, by Robert Courland. Mark Gregory Robson, Board of Governors Distinguished Service Professor and chair of Plant Biology and Pathology at the School of Environmental and Biological Sciences: I have two books for my global travels. First is Forty Chances: Finding Hope in a Hungry World by Howard Buffett. The second book is The Teenage Brain: A Neuroscientist’s Survival Guide to Raising Adolescents and Young Adults by Frances E. Jensen. 

Read the entire article at MyCentralJersey.com »

Bioinformaticist Yana Bromberg Receives Prestigious NSF CAREER Award

Yana Bromberg

Yana Bromberg

Yana Bromberg, associate professor in the Department of Microbiology and Biochemistry, received a prestigious Faculty Early Career Development Program (CAREER) award from the NSF. Bromberg is the principal investigator of the project, “Molecular functional diversity of microbes and microbiomes,” which is being supported by $1,091,177 in NSF funding.

Microbes dominate life on Earth and evolutionary pressure exerted on microbial communities by environmental stressors such as climate change and pollution has global impact. Understanding the environment-specific microbial molecular functions is, therefore, a critical challenge. [Read more…]

The Jersey Shore and rising environmental threats

The effects of Superstorm Sandy still reverberate to this day. The storm highlighted the need to better prepare for major weather events, as well as the need to implement more effective rebuilding strategies so that residents and vacationers alike won’t relive the treacherousness of four years ago. Today on Radio Times, we discuss how the governments and the residents of the Shore are preparing for another potential disaster, and the likelihood of that taking place. We discuss all of this with College of New Jersey professor of sociology DIANE C. BATES. We’ll also be joined by Rutgers University’s DAVID ROBINSON who is the state climatologist for New Jersey, and by reporter MARYANN SPOTO who covers Monmouth and Ocean Counties for NJ.com The Star-Ledger.

Read the entire article at WHYY »

Perth Amboy partners with Rutgers in hopes to enhance park

Richard Alomar has a vision for Rudyk Park: Flee markets, barbecues, exercise stations… The 54-year-old Rutgers assistant professor in landscape architecture has been working on-and-off for three months with two others in the hopes of not only making the municipality’s northeast side park bigger, but also making it more accessible. “This would be a great way to expand the park,” Alomar said, pointing to diagrams of the proposed expansion of the area, which currently consists of a playground, a baseball and soccer field and basketball courts.

Read the entire article at NJ.com »

Rutgers Awarded Three of Seven Grants Totaling $5 Million to Study Climate Impacts on Commercial and Recreational Fisheries

Grace Saba, assistant professor, Center for Ocean Observing leadership, Department of Marine and Coastal Sciences.

Grace Saba, assistant professor in the Department of Marine and Coastal Sciences.

NOAA’s Climate Program Office and its Coastal and Ocean Climate Applications (COCA) program—in partnership with the National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) Office of Science and Technology—competitively awarded seven grants projects last year that focused on increasing the understanding of climate-related impacts on fish stocks and fisheries. Three of the seven grants totaling roughly $5 million were awarded to Rutgers faculty members, Grace Saba, assistant professor in the Department of Marine and Coastal Sciences, Enrique Curchitser, associate professor in the Department of Environmental Sciences and Malin Pinsky, assistant professor in the Department of Ecology, Evolution & Natural Resources.

Both commercial and recreational fisheries provide an important source of jobs, food, recreation and economic activity for the nation and it is vital that these fisheries remain sustainable and resilient. Climate-related impacts have negatively affected marine life and the people, businesses, communities and economies that depend on them. In order to better prepare and respond to these changes, key decision makers from the groups affected need more information.

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Plant invaders threaten North Jersey landscape

As peak gardening season lures North Jersey homeowners to landscape supply centers, they buy and cart home many shrubs and trees that – just over the state line in New York – are prohibited in suburban yards… Steven Handel, an ecology professor at Rutgers University, is a member of the state’s Invasive Species Council, which was created in 2004 and issued a report listing steps the state should take to reduce invasives. "To stop selling these invasives would be a big step forward," Handel said. "And there are some beautiful native plants that are low maintenance and protect our preserved natural areas. "Our job as educators is to let the public know there are better plants to use in their yards than the ones that have traditionally been used," he said. "A yard can look green and lush – but still be dangerous."

Read the entire article at The Record »

In Memoriam: Professor and Extension Specialist George Wulster (1949-2016)

George Wulster inspecting poinettias in greenhouse.

George Wulster inspecting poinettias in greenhouse.

George Wulster, professor and extension specialist in floriculture in the Department of Plant Biology and Pathology at Rutgers, died on June 14 at the age of 66. A resident of Lebanon, NJ, he retired after 36 years at Rutgers as a professor emeritus in January 2014.

Wulster received his Ph.D. in post-harvest physiology from Rutgers in 1981 and worked closely with the New Jersey commercial floriculture industry as a consultant, in addition to his research and teaching. He also oversaw the production of more than 100 varieties of poinsettias in the Rutgers Floriculture Greenhouse on the Cook Campus.

Wulster, who taught many graduate students over the years, deeply enjoyed mentoring young people and was considered a thoughtful, intelligent and remarkably decent person by his colleagues.

Wulster began his career as a grower manager at Wright’s Roses in Cranbury, where he’d previously worked in high school. After retirement, he and his wife formed Custom Floral Postharvest Solutions LLC, with a special focus on tulip preservation.

A memorial service will be held Saturday, June 25 at 11 a.m., at Church of the Holy Spirit, 3 Haytown Road, Lebanon, NJ, and will be officiated by Reverend Philip Carr-Jones. Family, friends and former colleagues are invited to a luncheon at the church immediately following the service.

In lieu of flowers donations in Wulster’s name may be made through In Memory Of to benefit the following: Hobart & William Smith Colleges, The George Wulster Memorial Music Program, c/o Church of the Holy Spirit, 3 Haytown Road, Lebanon, NJ 08833, and the Melanoma Research Foundation.

Barnegat Bay still troubled: 9 things to know

From tourism dollars to property values, Barnegat Bay has a huge economic influence on the Jersey Shore. As the population around the bay continues to grow, concerns remain about its health… Oxygen in the water is essential for fish – the report rated the amount of oxygen in Barnegat Bay as "good." Rutgers Professor Michael Kennish questioned the accuracy of the report on this point, saying more data was necessary.

Read the entire article at Asbury Park Press »

Turfgrass Breeder William A. Meyer Named the First C. Reed Funk Endowed Faculty Scholar

Dean Goodman & Dr. William Meyer cropped 2William Meyer, professor in the Department of Plant Biology and Pathology, has been named the first C. Reed Funk Endowed Faculty Scholar in Plant Biology and Genetics at Rutgers University. This is a tremendous honor for Meyer and the Rutgers Center for Turfgrass Science, which is celebrating its 25th anniversary. Executive Dean Bob Goodman presented the award to Meyer at the Rutgers Golf Classic Fundraiser at Fiddlers Elbow Country Club on May 2 in front of over 350 golf industry professionals from eight states and Canada. This is an annual event that has raised over $1.5 million for turfgrass research over the past 20 years.

Meyer joined the Center as director of the Turfgrass Breeding Program in 1996 after 21 years spent as a commercial turfgrass breeder and corporate president. He is widely recognized as one of the world’s leading breeders of cool-season turfgrasses. “Since coming to Rutgers in 1996, Bill Meyer has taken the Rutgers Turfgrass Breeding Program to a whole new level,” said Bruce B. Clarke, director of the Center for Turfgrass Science. “The turf breeding program was already recognized as the top program in the world during Reed Funk’s tenure, but Bill has really raised the bar in terms of developing new turfgrass cultivars with enhanced pest and stress tolerance that require less fertilizer and water.”

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