image of Rachel Paseka
Photo: dna
Brooke Maslo and her student banding a little brown bat at a maternity colony in Sparta, NJ.
image of Natalie Howe and Alexis Kleinbeck studying pokeweed, Phytolacca americana, during the Plant Systematics graduate class
Photo: cassava
Photo: halictus bee
Photo: field course
Photo: sampling under water
Photo: trees
Photo: banding
Photo: class in Rutgers Gardens

Willard Mbewe wins 3rd place poster award

Photo: old system of organization

Award winner Willard Mbewe and presenting the award is Claude Fauquet

Willard Mbewe, a PhD research scholar from the Makere University in Uganda visiting Siobain Duffy's lab won a 3rd prize award for the best poster during The First World Congress on Root and Tuber Crops in Nanning, China, in January 2016. The conference was held to discuss the significance of roots and tubers, emphasizing cassava as a means to reduce poverty and increase food security for poor farmers and growing populations in developing countries. The award-winning poster was titled Variability in P1 gene redefines phylogenetic relationships among Cassava brown streak viruses (Ipomovirus; Potyviradae). Willard's research indicates there could be a third species of Cassava brown streak virus. The species is not yet named, though the collaborators are calling it Cassava brown streak Tanzania virus.

How to reorganize 140,000 flowering plant specimens

Photo: old system of organization

The old organization in the herbarium needs to be updated; here are three aquatic plant families that have gotten new family numbers as a result of phylogenetic DNA analysis of plants worldwide.
Photo by Lena Struwe.

Photo: herbarium cases

Rutgers' invaluable scientific plant collections are stored in special herbarium cases in the Chrysler Herbarium.
Photo by Fiona Zheng.

The Chrysler Herbarium here at Rutgers University contains over 200 000 specimens of plants, algae and fungi, and is the only remaining major herbarium in the State of New Jersey. Last week a group of a dozen eager undergraduate students, our own 'herbarium army', started the reorganization of the part of the herbarium containing the flowering plants from the old 1980s system into the modern DNA-based family classification. Photo: students working in the Chrysler Herbarium In the old system, related plants were not always kept in close proximity to each other within the collection. The whole reorganization is expected to take about 2 months. Afterwards, all folders, family labels, and tags will be updated to prepare for the digitization of the collection in conjunction with a nationwide digitization program. You can follow the students' progress and many botanical discoveries on the new Chrysler Herbarium Facebook page, which is managed by Herbarium Director Lena Struwe, a professor in our department. If you are interested in volunteering, contact Dr. Struwe directly ().

STUDENT PROFILE: Tina Harrison from Rachael Winfree's research lab

Photo: Tina Harrison Graduate student Tina Harrison has collected more than 140 different bee species from field sites located throughout New Jersey, Pennsylvania and upstate New York. She has found that pollinator communities in urban landscapes are less variable from site to site compared to pollinator communities in forested or agricultural landscapes.

Photo: bee specimen collection

Tina's 11,000 bee specimens will eventually be deposited at museums, where they will contribute to future education and research. Photo by Tina Harrison

This suggests that, even though urban bee communities are often locally diverse, continued urban expansion threatens regional pollinator biodiversity. Tina is currently supported by a competitive fellowship funded by our Department's GAANN fellowship program (US Department of Education), titled "Ecology and Evolution in Urban Environments".

Photo: Lasioglossum female

Like most bees, this solitary Lasioglossum stores pollen with her eggs in sealed nest cells. She will die before her offspring emerge. Photo by Tina Harrison

Next year, Tina will become a post-doctoral research associate in collaboration with Dr. Rachael Winfree and New Jersey DEP on a project funded by a federal SWAP (State Wildlife Action Plan) grant. The goal of that project is to identify rare or vulnerable New Jersey bee species and use their distributions and life histories to inform future conservation efforts.