June 2015

Emily Zefferman received the Shapiro Family Award for Excellence in Science based on the quality of her dissertation and outstanding academic and research record. This award was established in 2007 by Howard and Nancy Shapiro, to recognize the most outstanding Ph.D. graduates from four UC Davis programs: the Department of Plant Sciences, Agroecology, the Graduate Group in Nutritional Biology and the Graduate Group in Ecology.

Alex Webster was awarded a $10,000 Sustainable Agriculture Scholarship from Annie's to support her work using hydrologic and isotopic tracers for an in-depth analysis on nitrogen removal in riparian hedgerows along agricultaral ditches on farms in the Central Valley

The 2014-2015 Hillyer Service Award was awarded to Erin Satterthwaite for her dedicated service to the Graduate Group in Ecology. Erin has been actively involved in the Graduate Group in Ecology since entering the program and has served in a variety of roles. She was EGSA co-president for two years, co-leader for the annual Ecology silent auction event, a Picnic Day volunteer, and a Graduate Student Association representative. Erin has also played integral roles with GGE admissions and recruitment.

The 2014-2015 Spurr Service Award was awarded to Christine Sur for her outstanding accomplishments in outreach. Throughout Christine's graduate studies, she has pursued teaching,volunteer, and leadership roles to share science beyond academia and to engage with diverse communities. In the last year, she has been deeply involved with three different groups that conduct outreach to the broader community: California Phenology Project at the Stebbins Cold Canyon Natural Reserve, CAMEOS, and an outreach program at Bodega Marine Lab where she had the opportunity to travel to Indonesia!

April 2015

Seven current GGE students receive NSF awards: Connor Dibble, Max Kern, Marina LaForgia, Risa Pesapane, Shelby Reinhart, Rachel Struch, and Matthew Williamson!

Three UC Davis ecologists are being recognized nationwide: Alan Hastings, newly elected to the National Academy of Sciences; and Sharon Strauss and Peter Wainwright, newly elected to the American Academy of Arts and Sciences.

March 2014

Meredith Niles was awarded a Giorgio Ruffolo post-doctoral fellowship in Sustainability Science at Harvard University to begin September 2014. Her proposal, “Assessing Knowledge and Innovation for Climate Smart Agriculture” will explore how farmers in the developing world are innovating and adopting practices to mitigate and adapt to climate change. She will work with Bill Clark in the Kennedy School of Government.

February 2014

Meredith Niles was part of a successful grant submission with colleagues in New Zealand titled, “Impacts, Indicators and Thresholds: Adaptation turning points in New Zealand sheep and beef land-management systems. Submitted to the New Zealand Ministry for Primary Industries Sustainable Land Management and Climate Change Research Program the $150,000 grant will help explore how sheep and beef farmers in Hawke’s Bay New Zealand are perceiving adaptation and responding to climate change.

January 2014

Iara Lacher (Ph.D. 2013) received a U.S. Fulbright Scholar Grant for proposed work in the Brazilian Cerrado, a sub-tropical grassland in south-central Brazil. She is partnered with the Universidade Federal de Goiás in Goiânia, Brazil under Dr. Thiago F. Rangel. Her work focuses on developing a prioritization framework for conservation of the Cerrado by combining biodiversity estimates under climate change with threats, predicted development, and the needs of local conservation organizations and governments.

Matt Savoca received a Grant-in-aid of Research from the Society of Integrative and Comparative Biology to fund his graduate work, described below:
There is a great deal of work quantifying how much plastic debris there is in the marine environment, what organisms are consuming it, and the harm it may cause them as a result. However, there is not much work done asking why these marine organisms ingest plastic debris in the first place. My research investigates the sensory mechanisms behind the ingestion of marine plastic debris by procellariiform seabirds and marine fish.

November 2013

Meredith Niles was awarded Board Member of the Year for the National Association of Graduate-Professional Students (NAGPS) for 2013. Meredith served as the Director of Legislative Affairs for NAGPS in 2013 where she directed graduate and professional student advocacy representing more than 600,000 students across the nation. As part of her position, Meredith coordinated two 4 day advocacy trainings and Congressional meeting events with students from across the nation. In total, more than 120 students were trained from dozens of schools in graduate and higher education policy issues, effective advocacy, and the policy process in Washington D.C. in March and September 2013. Meredith also coordinated a Congressional reception for members of Congress and staffers to learn more about graduate education and its benefits and meet a diversity of graduate/professional students. Meredith was also quoted in Inside Higher Ed, Reuters, and Huffington Post in conjunction with her work for NAGPS.

September 2013

Patrick Grof-Tisza was named as a Fellow for the Professors for the Future Program. More information on the Professors for the Future Program can be found here.

Rachel Wigginton was awarded a Delta Science Pre-doctoral Fellowship. Rachel's Delta Science research focuses on the impacts of invasive perennial pepperweed (Lepidium latifolium) on ecosystem functions in tidal marshes of the San Francisco Bay-Delta. She will examine the relationship between density of the invasive plant and the impacts it has on ecosystem functions such as trophic transfer, biogeochemical cycling, and invertebrate community dynamics. By examining the problem from a multi-functional perspective, she hopes to gain a more thorough picture of how the invasive plant has become integrated into the native ecosystem. Additionally, understanding these dynamics as they relate to plant density will allow land managers to make informed decisions when considering eradication and control of this weed. She is advised by Ted Grosholz, and her Delta Science Community mentor is Dr. Brenda Grewell of the USDA ARS. Find more information here:

July 2013

Erin Satterthwaite received a grant from the Neubacher Fund for Marine Science through Point Reyes National Seashore. Erin's work is described below:
Many marine species depend on their planktonic, free swimming, babies (larvae) to replenish the adult population. Since the planktonic phase of numerous marine populations is a dispersing phase, the connectivity among various populations plays a central role in the management of marine species. Few studies have linked the planktonic (larvae) and benthic (adult) phases of marine organisms to provide a holistic understanding of how populations changes overtime. It is important to understand the relative influences of biological and physical factors in the benthic and planktonic habitats and the connectivity among populations to better manage populations of marine species. Therefore, I am using field and modeling data to determine how the physical and biological factors present in both the benthic and planktonic habitats affects the population dynamics and dispersal of an intertidal crab, the Flat Porcelain crab. Erin is advised by Steven Morgan at Bodega Marine Lab.

May 2013

Meredith Niles was awarded Best Student Poster at the New Zealand Climate Change Conference held in Palmerston North, New Zealand. Her poster, “Not Everyone Believes in Climate Change”, which details her research with farmers in California and New Zealand to understand farmer’s perceptions of climate change and their likely adoption of climate change mitigation and adaptation practices. In conjunction with this work she was interviewed by Radio New Zealand and her work was featured in the New Zealand Dominion Post, see here.

Meredith Niles was awarded a Switzer Foundation Fellowship, which recognizes PhD and masters level students for the environmental leadership. The Switzer Foundation typically awards 10 fellows in California and New England each year. Meredith has used some of the funding from the Switzer Foundation Fellowship to continue and expand her research working with farmers in New Zealand on climate change adaptation and mitigation. She returned to New Zealand in October 2013 to work with the New Zealand Institute of Economic Research to work on developing an agent-based model that couples environmental and social data in agricultural systems to predict how different environmental policies will impact land use and farming.

April 2013

Patrick Grof-Tisza was named a Teaching Assistant Consultant for the Center for Teaching and Excellence in Learning at UC Davis. Read more about the CETL here.

Meghan Skaer Thomason was awarded a Research Exchange Grant from the Global Invasions Network. This award supported Meghan's travel to Utrecht University in the Netherlands to work with Dr. Maarten Eppinga on developing a resource competition model describing interactions of rangeland weeds in California. Meghan's experience and research is featured on the Global Invasion Network website:

Jens Stevens received a Graduate Research Innovation Award from the Joint Fire Sciences Program.
Jens' work is described below:
Winter snowpack in the Sierra Nevada of California is an important ecological process that provides water storage and influences forest productivity and fire potential during the dry summer months. However, little is known about the ways in which fuel treatments and wildfire affect winter snowpack dynamics through their effects on forest canopy cover. We extend an existing study of fuel treatment effects on ecological processes to measure changes in snowpack accumulation and depletion rates across fuel treatment boundaries, both at unburned sites and at sites that have burned in wildfires. We are taking snowpack depth measurements at 600 points at 5 sites in the Sierra Nevada to relate this data to forest canopy closure, topography, and fuel moisture depletion during the snow- free season. This work will have important implications for our understanding of the interaction between forest management, wildfire, and snowpack dynamics in montane forests of western North America. Read more about Jens' work here.

March 2013

Jennifer Balachowski received a Fulbright Fellowship for work in France. Jennifer's research is described below:
I am working at CNRS-CEFE in Montpellier, France on a collaborative project that asks how different species and ecotypes of California native perennial grasses respond to and persist during periods of drought. Currently, we are measuring both functional and physiological traits to characterize the tradeoffs that define different drought survival strategies. We are also interested in how the prevalence of these strategies changes across environmental gradients, and between California and the Mediterranean Basin. We plan to use our results to make planting and breeding recommendations for rangeland/pasture management and Mediterranean-type grassland restoration in the face of increasing drought stress.

Lydia Beaudrot received a UC Davis Dissertation Year Fellowship (UCD Office of Graduate Studies). Read about Lydia's research here.

Spring 2013

Karl Frost was awarded a Doctoral Dissertation Improvement Grant from the National Science Foundation and a Fulbright Fellowship for proposed work in Canada. Karl's research is described below:
I research the genetic and cultural evolutionary dynamics of religion and ritual, specifically looking at how socially learned behaviors hijack relatively universally developing human behavioral dispositions to facilitate cooperation and altruism in ways that genetic evolution by itself can not. I pursue these question through a mix of gene-culture coevolution models, behavioral experiments with artificial rituals, and qualitative field research in North West First Nations communities and environmental activist circles. My other professional hat is that of experimental theater director, and i explore similar questions of the interrelationships between the body, functional values, and how we choose to live our lives through my company, Body Research.

Eric LoPresti and Allison Simler were awarded Graduate Research Fellowships from the National Science Foundation.
Eric studies the interaction between plants and insect herbivores, as mediated by environmental factors (e.g. salinity, rainfall) and also wonders about shape variation in birds' eggs.
Allison's research focuses on how forest structure and regeneration are influenced by two interacting disturbance forces: wildfire and an emerging invasive disease, Sudden Oak Death. Using data collected following the 2008 Basin Complex fire, Allison is investigating whether disease impacts post-fire successional trajectories and, in turn, how wildfire has influenced local and landscape-level disease dynamics. Allison's work is conducted in a long-term monitoring network located in the redwood-tanoak and mixed evergreen forests of Big Sur, CA.

January 2013

Patrick Grof-Tizsa received a Mildred E. Mathias Grant through the University of California Natural Reserve System. This grant will fund Patrick's research, described below:
My research concerns how trophic forces and movement interact to structure the spatial distribution of populations. My study system consists of a generalist herbivore, a tiger moth (Platyprepia virginalis; Lepidoptera: Arctiidae), and its primary parasitoids and host plants. A twenty-plus year data set exists for the populations of P. virginalis within the Bodega Marine Reserve on the northern California coast. Combining this historical data set with my ongoing manipulative field experiments and observational studies provides a rare opportunity to identify and possibly explain long-term patterns and gives context to more recent population trends.