Where the Weeds Are: Plant Biodiversity in Rutgers Parking Lots

Rutgers undergraduate Alisa Sharma and doctoral student Lauren Frazee examine weeds in a parking lot on the George H. Cook Campus.

Rutgers undergraduate Alisa Sharma and doctoral student Lauren Frazee examine weeds in a parking lot on the George H. Cook Campus.

The idea of investigating weeds in a parking lot may not look very exciting, but to a botanist –and especially to an urban ecologist interested in plants and biodiversity – this car-filled area represents an extreme, urban treasure trove of thriving and flowering plants. These are mostly the same species as those pesky weeds that spring up in the cracks of our driveways at home that we can’t wait to remove with the latest weed killer. Yes, those very weeds. Hundreds of species bear seeds, produce flowers and propagate in parking lots all over the country, but not much is known about their survival and persistence.

In the spring of 2014, Lauren Frazee, Ph.D. student in the graduate program of Ecology and Evolution, found herself taking on a project investigating the biodiversity of weeds in Rutgers parking lots that was launched in 2012 by Lena Struwe, associate professor in the departments of Ecology, Evolution and Natural Resources as well as Plant Biology and Pathology, and her other graduate student, Jennifer Blake-Mahmud. A global botanist, Struwe is one of two co-advisors to Frazee in her doctoral program, along with Steven Handel, professor in the Department of Ecology, Evolution and Natural Resources.

Frazee’s interest is in urban plants and how urbanization affects plant life. “Parking lots are fascinating, since they can serve as a proxy for answering many questions about extremely disturbed urban ecosystems.” [Read more...]

Graduate Students Affiliated with Haskin Lab Score Scholarship “Trifecta”

Amanda Wenczel

Amanda Wenczel

Three Rutgers graduate students affiliated with the Haskin Shellfish Research Laboratory, Amanda Wenczel, Jason Morson and Jenny Paterno, have each been awarded a George Burlew Scholarship Grant from the Manasquan River Marlin and Tuna Club to help support their marine science research. This grant was previously awarded to high school students and college students but today is only awarded to full- or part-time graduate students pursuing marine-related studies.

Jason Morson

Jason Morson

Wenczel’s research focuses on the study of the potential feeding interactions of native New Jersey shellfish while Paterno’s research interests are restoration ecology in aquatic systems and community science education. Morson’s research explores the application of targeted biological and ecological data to reduce uncertainty in fisheries stock assessment model parameters.

Jenny Paterno

Jenny Paterno

The George Burlew Scholarship Grant was first awarded in June 1979 in honor of Captain George Burlew, who was a member of the Manasquan River Marlin and Tuna Club and a pioneer of sport fishing on and out of the Manasquan River. Captain Burlew was a well-known fishing guide and a long-time owner of Burlew’s Anchorage in Manasquan.

 

In Memory of Danny: Nutritional Sciences Preschool Grad, Now Rutgers Student, Returns Years Later to Restore Dedication

Jaclyn Daddio (l), with her mother Susan in front of the newly renovated mural at the Rutgers Nutritional Sciences Preschool.

Jaclyn Daddio (l), with her mother Susan, in front of the newly renovated mural at the Rutgers Nutritional Sciences Preschool.

How much of our early childhood do we remember? How much exposure from when we were three or four years old do we carry with us into adulthood? For the Daddio family of South River, NJ, who sent all three of their children to the Rutgers Nutritional Sciences Preschool at the School of Environmental and Biological Sciences, it appears that their attendance forged a link that stayed with them years later. [Read more...]

Belleville High School students participate in summer science program

Samsung awarded 16 Belleville High School students, along with 40 youth from New Jersey, a full scholarship to participate in the 4-H Samsung Summer Science Program at Rutgers University-New Brunswick campus in early July…These students were to learn about science, technology, engineering, and math; explore research occurring on Rutgers campus; and gain a better understanding of opportunities available in STEM fields. The students would also explore opportunities at Rutgers University, experience campus-life, and gain a better understanding of how to best prepare for post-secondary education.

Read the entire article at NorthJersey.com »

Picture of the Week: Io Moth Caterpillar

This is the caterpillar of an Io moth, a species of silk moth that so intrigues entomologist Andrei Sourakov that he’s endured a number of the larva’s bee-like stings while studying various specimens…The Io moth also symbolizes this year’s National Moth Week, which kicked off this past Saturday and continues until July 27th (the event has actually gone international). This is “the year of the silk moth,” says co-founder Dave Moskowitz (Enotomology graduate student in the School of Environmental and Biological Sciences at Rutgers University), and on the day SciFri spoke with him, he singled out the Io as his favorite moth.

Read the entire article at ScienceFriday.com »