WWIAF Field & Stream “Heroes for a Day”

From Keith Tidball’s blog, Tidball@Cornell

As part of his Federal Formula Funds study Returning Warriors : A Study of the Social-Ecological Benefits of Coming Home to Nature, Keith Tidball recently participated in the Wounded Warriors in Action Foundation‘s habitat restoration activities at Camp Hackett in northern Wisconsin.  This activity was recognized by Field & Stream’s Hero for a Day project and was filmed by the Field and Stream crew to be highlighted here.

Local news media also covered the event.  See the below links:



My photographs from the event can be found here:


DNR grad selected for the Social Science Research Council’s Dissertation Proposal Development Fellowship

Laura Martin has been selected as one of twelve graduate students to receive the Social Science Research Council’s Dissertation Proposal Development Fellowship (http://www.ssrc.org/fellowships/subcompetitions/dpdf-fellowship/E7C6D5E8-0312-E111-9A56-001CC477EC84/D13B62DB-5214-E111-9A56-001CC477EC84/).

 Each year, the program offers dissertation proposal development under the leadership of pairs of tenured senior faculty in the US and abroad who define emerging or reinvigorated multidisciplinary research fields. These research field directors lead groups of 12 graduate students through two workshops during the fellowship cycle. The spring workshop prepares students to undertake summer preliminary research that will inform the design of more robust dissertation research in the future. The fall workshop helps students apply their summer research experiences to writing both dissertation and funding proposals. The fellowship includes summer research funding.

 Working together, research directors and graduate students design research that will help to shape evolving fields in the humanities and social sciences. Additionally, through the program’s ongoing collaboration with international research institutions, the DPDF creates a space for international as well as domestic network building among fellows.

New Rule Cracks Down On Bear Poaching In New York

Heidi Kretser, an assistant adjunct professor in DNR, was recently interviewed for an NPR story on a new rule in New York that would prevent the illegal trade of black bear parts. The parts are usually taken from bears in upstate NY and sold to Asian apothecaries and restaurants in NYC. There have been 66 complaints of black bear poaching in New York over the last few years, with some of the incidents resulting in a black bear that was harvest solely for its gall bladder and paws. The new legislation does not ban the trade of black bear parts, but rather, make it more regulated and require documentation from the trade.

Read the full article here.

The Co-Evolution of Insects, Plants and a Career

From Scientific American, April 16, 2012

The Co-Evolution of Insects, Plants and a Career

by Laura Jane Martin

A series of graduate student conversations with leading women biologists, at the Women in Science Symposium at Cornell April 2-3.

Insects are difficult to work with. First, they are small. While titan beetles can reach 15 cm, some parasitic wasps are smaller than a single-celled paramecium. Second, they are hard to differentiate. Even veteran entomologists refer to Microlepidopterans as “little brown moths” or “LBMs.”

Dr. May Berenbaum listed these difficulties at the start of her recent lecture at the Cornell University Frontiers in the Life Sciences symposium, an event celebrating the achievements of women biologists. But she quickly moved to the joys of working with insects and what we humans can learn from our tiny co-inhabitants.

Dr. Berenbaum’s lab at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign works with one little brown moth in particular, the parsnip webworm, Depressaria pastinacella, to study the co-evolution of insects and their host plants (in this case the wild parsnip, Pastinaca sativa). Their studies have revolutionized the field of plant-insect ecology, and Dr. Berenbaum’s awards include a Guggenheim Fellowship; US National Academy of Sciences membership; and for her ongoing commitment to science communication, the AAAS Public Understanding of Science and Technology Award.

At the symposium I had the opportunity to sit down with Dr. Berenbaum to discuss her path to entomology and success as a woman in science. Perhaps unsurprisingly, given her evolutionary interests, Dr. Berenbaum highlighted the role of contingency. She wanted to be a biologist from childhood – perhaps a mammalogist or ethologist or botanist – but she had no idea she would wind up an entomologist. In fact she was afraid of insects. But in her sophomore year at Yale, the only course that fit her schedule was Terrestrial Arthropods. It so engaged her that she was unable to choose between insects and her prior interest, plants. So she chose both.

In her first semester of graduate school, Dr. Berenbaum’s advisor, a leader in plant-insect interactions, handed her a dusty book on the Umbelliferae (the parsnip family), written entirely in French, and told her “if you can find a project in this book, I can fund your research.” Fortunately, Dr. Berenbaum knew a little French, and she planned a project. Since she didn’t have a car, she decided to study a wild parsnip patch in walking distance of the lab. So began her research program.

Dr. Berenbaum explains why she was car-less in Buzzwords, a collection of her humor columns for American Entomologist. Again she emphasizes the importance of contingency in her career:

In his masterful autobiography, Naturalist, the great evolutionary biologist E.O. Wilson speculated that physical limitations can determine the course of a life. In his case, a painfully close encounter with a pinfish during a childhood fishing expedition left him with a left eye that couldn’t focus at long distances; not coincidentally, he devoted his career to the study of ants and other small creatures that require magnification for close observation. I am an enthusiastic subscriber to this theory, because I know of at least one physical infirmity that I possess that has influenced the course of my own career…I’ve spent my entire research career to date working on organisms that live within walking distance of the laboratory because, since before I can remember, I’ve been exceedingly prone to motion sickness.

An ecology graduate student myself, I have similar stories about how I’ve chosen my field study systems. Like Dr. Berenbaum, in my sophomore year of college I took what turned out to be a life-changing class – Plant Taxonomy – and I choose local experiments to avoid driving. But such origin stories, while tidy, can obscure the painful moments and critical decision points of a career, the mixtures of difficulty and joy.

Dr. Berenbaum’s advice to women in the sciences is to “hang in there” and to seek out supportive friends, mentors, and campus groups committed to the retention of women scholars. She also suggests the importance of anticipating challenges, especially funding. “Funding is a constant challenge for everyone,” she says, “there’s a low probability of success, and it’s a constant source of worry, particularly when you have people depending on you.” She notes that balancing responsibilities, even when those different responsibilities are “equally pleasant alternatives,” is a constant and dynamic process: “There are always responsibilities like professional service, research, and teaching – and I will never ignore a call from my daughter.”

Too often the phrase “women in science” evokes images of Rachel Carson and Marie Curie – clearly important women, but not necessarily the faces of the new generation. And role models matter. Research suggests students may be influenced by the relative omission of women scientists in textbooks. By highlighting the contributions of contemporary women researchers, journalists can play a large role in promoting gender equality in the sciences.

Dr. Berenbaum believes good scientists and good journalists share many attributes. Both are devoted to accuracy, and both work to improve their storytelling skills. “Scientists are often uncomfortable with the idea that storytelling is key to convincing a reviewer that a paper is worth publishing, or a granting agency that research is worth funding,” she notes, “But narrative matters.”

For more on Dr. Berenbaum’s research, visit http://www.life.illinois.edu/berenbaum/default.htm


CALS Land Grant Graduate Fellowships

DNR graduate student Christine Moskell has been selected to receive a two-year Land Grant Graduate Fellowship from CALS. Four fellowships were awarded this year. Christine  was selected primarily because her “active engagement in extension programming was well-planned and had identifiable and measurable goals.”

According to Christine:  “My research and extension project will focus on the development of engagement strategies and educational outreach tools for increasing residents’ participation in urban tree planting and in the post-planting maintenance and stewardship of trees. My research and extension project aims to enhance the coordination between local government, non-profit organizations, cooperative extension, and residents for urban forest management so that the environmental, health and community benefits provided by urban trees can be sustained.”


Call for abstracts – Human Dimensions Conference

Professor Dan Decker, director of the Human Dimensions Research Unit (HDRU), is co-chair for Pathways to Success, an international Human Dimensions Conference. The mission of the conference is to increase professionalism and effectiveness in the human dimensions of fisheries and wildlife management. This year’s theme is Integrating Human Dimensions into Fish and Wildlife Management: An Essential Component of Adaptive Capacity. Dan is organizing a plenary session for the conference, and is serving, with HDRU Senior Research Associate Bruce Lauber, as co-editor of an associated special issue of the Human Dimensions of Wildlife journal. The conference will take place in Breckenridge, Colorado, September 24-27, 2012 and is a cooperative effort between Cornell University and Colorado State University.

Visit the conference website at www.hdfwconference.org to learn more.

Conference Themes:
Biodiversity and Coupled Social-Ecological Systems
Fish and Wildlife Governance
The Changing Nature of Wildlife Conservation
Enduring Issues in HDFW
Improving HDFW Science
Increasing HDFW Capacity
Working with the Public
Implications of Global Change
Human Wildlife Conflict
Wildlife in an Ecosystem Services Paradigm
Discourses about Wildlife
Demographics and Fish and Wildlife Policy

DNR grad student, Elizabeth Craig, selected as CALS Outstanding TA

DNR graduate student, Elizabeth Craig, was selected as this year’s CALS Outstanding Graduate Teaching Assistant in the Department of Natural Resources.  Teaching Assistants have a very important role in the University’s instructional program, and this award is an opportunity to recognize Elizabeth’s performance in this role.



Marianne Krasny attends White House Summit on Environmental Education

 Prof. Marianne Krasny was invited to the White House Summit on Environmental Education on April 17. She is the leader of EPA’s National Environmental Education Training Program. Akiima Price is one of four top advisors on this 5 yr, $11 million program.

The purpose of the Summit was to launch an inter-agency task force on environmental education with EPA, USDA, Dept of Education, Dept of Interior, Small Business Administration, and other agencies involved. Both Secy of Education Arne Duncan and EPA Chief Administrator Lisa Jackson presented at the Summit. The Summit was organized by EPA Deputy Administrator Bob Perciasepe, DNR ’74.