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Forestry and Natural Resources > Department News

 Spotting Scope - April 2015



  • Abts K.C., Ivy J. & DeWoody J.A. (2015) Immunomics of the koala (Phascolarctos cinereus). Immunogenetics, in press.
  • Anderson, S.J., E.M. Kierepka, E.K. Latch, R.K. Swihart, and O.E. Rhodes, Jr. 2015. Assessing the permeability of landscape features to animal movement: Using genetic structure to infer functional connectivity. PLOS ONE, in press.
  • Blythe, R., N.I. Lichti, T.J. Smyser, and R.K. Swihart. 2015. Selection, caching, and consumption of hardwood seeds by forest rodents: Implications for restoration of American chestnut. Restoration Ecology, in press.
  • Blythe, R., T.J. Smyser, and R.K. Swihart. 2015. Tree squirrel seed predation patterns may influence American chestnut restoration success. New Forests, in press.
  • Day, Casey, M. D. Westover, and B. R. McMillan. Seasonal diet of the northern river otter (lontra Canadensis): What drives prey selection? Canadian Journal of Zoology, 10, 1139 (published on the web 22 January 2015). 
  • Fahey A.L., Ricklefs R.E. & DeWoody J.A. (2015) Historical demography of bird populations from Hispaniola assessed by nuclear and mitochondrial gene sequences. Folia Zoologica, in press. Invited paper.
  • Ji Y., Marra N.M. & DeWoody J.A. ​(2015) Comparative analysis of active retrotransposons in the transcriptomes of three species of Heteromyid rodents. Gene, in press.
  • Leonard, O.D., J.W. Moore, J.K. Riegel, A.R. Meier, J.B. Dunning, Jr., and R.K. Swihart. 2015. Effect of forest-management practices on winter occupancy of Barred Owls and Eastern Screech-Owls in deciduous forests in the east-central United States. Journal of Field Ornithology, in press.
  • Palla, K.J. and Pijut, P.M. 2015. Agrobacterium-mediated genetic transformation of Fraxinus americana hypocotyls. Plant Cell Tissue and Organ Culture-Journal of Plant Biotechnology 120:631–641.
  • Smyser, T.J., S. Johnson, M.D. Stallard, A.K. McGrew, L.K. Page, N. Crider, L.R. Ballweber, R.K. Swihart, and K.C. VerCauteren. 2015. Evaluation of anthelmintic fishmeal polymer baits for the control of Baylisascaris procyonis in free-ranging raccoons (Procyon lotor). Journal of Wildlife Diseases, in press.
  • Stevens, M.E. and Pijut, P.M. 2015. Advancements in black walnut propagation. Walnut Council Bulletin 42 (2):18-19.
  • Tracy K.E., Kiemnec-Tyburczy K.M., DeWoody J.A., Parra-Olea G. & Zamudio K.R. (2015) Positive selection drives the evolution of a major histocompatibility complex gene in an endangered Mexican salamander species complex. Immunogenetics, in press
  • Yu, X., Pijut, P.M.​, Byrne, S., Asp, T., Bai, G., and Jiang, Y. 2015. Candidate gene association mapping for winter survival and spring regrowth in perennial ryegrass. Plant Science 235:37-45.


  • Elizabeth Flaherty​, Assistant Professor of Wildlife Ecology & Habitat Management, and Randy Creaser, Graduate Research Assistant. $3300. Photographic monitoring of the Western Hudson Bay polar bear population. International Association for Bear Research and Management.

​Faculty Honors and Awards

    FNR Learning Community Instructors
    FNR Learning Community Instructors
  • Congratulations to Linda Prokopy, Associate Professor of Natural Resources Social Science, on being promoted to Professor of Forestry and Natural Resources! As Head, I’ve learned that the amount of time spent in presenting a candidate to the Area Promotions Committee is often inversely related to the strength of the candidate’s qualifications. Thanks to her record of accomplishment, my presentation of Linda’s candidacy was short and sweet. Congratulations, Linda!
  • Congratulations to Marisol Sepúlveda, Professor of Ecology and Natural Systems, for being named a 2015 University Faculty Scholar! Marisol was one of four College of Ag faculty members who were recognized for being on an accelerated path to academic distinction. Others named were Ian Kaplan (Entomology), Shihuan Kuang (Animal Sciences), and Roberto Lopez (Horticulture & Landscape Architecture). Congratulations, Marisol!
  • Congratulations to the FNR Learning Communities instructors Julie Pluimer, Administrative Manager of the Office of Student Services and Academic Advisor, Robert Swihart, Department Head and Professor of Forestry and Natural Resources, Linda Prokopy, Associate Professor of Natural Resource Social Science, Jeffrey Dukes, Professor of Forestry and Natural Resources and Biological Sciences, and Walter Mills, Associate Professor of Forestry for winning the University Academic Connection Award for their course, The Nature of Wild Things, LC! The Academic Connection award “recognizes a Learning Community instructor team who excelled at planning events and activities that directly connect classroom learning with hands-on experiences.” This is the second year in a row the FNR Learning Communities group has won a University award. Congrats team!
  • Dan Cassens, Special Award
    Dan Cassens received the Robert D. Burke Special Award
  • Congratulations to Rob Swihart, Department Head and Professor of Forestry and Natural Resources, on receiving the Indiana Arborist Association Distinguished Service Award for “his contributions to Urban Forestry and support of the IAA partnership.” The award is presented to individuals “who have given of themselves to the benefit of the Indiana Arborist Association or to Arboriculture as a whole.” Congratulations, Dr. S.!
  • Congratulations to Dan Cassens​, Professor of Wood Products and Director of FNR Extensnion, on receiving the Robert D. Burke Special Award for supporting the Indiana Tree Farm Program!

​Faculty in the News

  • Center for Global Soundscapes - In a Bolier Bytes video, Bryan Pijanowski, Professor of Human-Environment Modeling and Analysis Laboratory, and Amandine Gasc​, Post Doc Research Associate, talk about how their soundscape recordings are made all around the world and how they would like to build a global library for scientists to share. You can also learn about recording your own soundscape and sending it to the Center for Global Soundscapes. Check out the Boiler Bytes video (their part of the program begins at 18.50). More information can be found on the Center for Global Soundscapes site.

Graduate Honors and Awards

  • Congratulations to Ken Kellner, Ph.D. student working with Dr. Robert Swihart, on being selected the winner of the 2015 FNR Teaching Academy Graduate Teaching Award!
  • Congratulations to Alison Coulter, Graduate Research Assistant working with Dr. Reuben Goforth, who has accepted a postdoctoral position with Jim Garvey at Southern Illinois University beginning in late May. Off to a new adventure!
  • Congratulations to Janna Willoughby​, Ph.D. student working with Dr. Andrew DeWoody, on receiving the Anna M. Jackson Award from the American Society of Mammalogists! According to the letter from ASM, Janna and her fellow awardees “represent the best and brightest new mammalogists in ASM.” Janna will present her research at the annual meeting in the first plenary session. Her name will be announced at the annual banquet. A monetary award also comes with this honor.
  • Congratulations to Randy Creaser, M.S. student working with Dr. Liz Flaherty, on being selected to attend the International Youth Forum “Arctic Expedition” with 150 other students from member countries of the Arctic Council, held this past February in Russia. The Forum is a week of educational programs, where competition and education are combined “to develop leadership and ingenuity in young participants.”

Graduate News

    McCallen Baby
    Warren Wallace McCallen
  • Emily McCallen, Ph.D. student working with Dr. Rod Williams, is featured in an article in the latest edition of Student Science. Read the entire story on the Society for Science site​
  • Zach Feiner, PhD student working with Dr. Tomas Höök, shares research showing adult smelt are maturing at smaller sizes which leads to fewer eggs and less healthy hatclings. Causes of Great Lakes smelt population decline are complex by Anjanette Riley and Keith Robinson, Purdue Agriculture News, February 24, 2015.
  • Chris Cheek will be joining the lab of Reuben Goforth, Associate Professor of Aquatic Ecosystems, this fall. While he is working on his Ph.D., he will be a Sloan Scholar. Chris comes to us from Farmington NM where he is a fisheries biologist for the Navajo Nation. Welcome, Chris!
  • Congratulations to the McCallens on the birth of Warren Wallace McCallen born at 4:05 a.m. Thursday, March 12! Momma Emily McCallen,​ Ph.D. student working under Dr. Rod Williams, shared that Warren was 20.25 inches (Dr. Williams pointed out that this is the size of an adult hellbender) and weighed 7 lbs. 10 oz. The entire family is resting and doing well! Love that cap, Warren!

Undergraduate Honors and Awards

  • Joseph Eisinger, undergraduate student working with Dr. Liz Flaherty, was one of fourteen students awarded a travel grant to attend the annual meeting of the American Society of Mammalogists. Joseph will be giving a poster presentation entitled “An examination of regional variation in southern squirrel ultrasonic communication.”

FNR Award Ceremony

On March 25, FNR held its award ceremony during our Coffee Hour, and the following award winners were recognized:
  • Pat Zollner, Associate Professor of Wildlife Science, was named the 2014 William L. Hoover Exemplary Faculty Service Award winner. Excerpts from the nomination statement include: “in the past year, Pat has provided exceptional counsel to graduate students on whose committees he serves. He also has actively promoted recruitment of Native American students to FNR via his ties to the Sloan program at Purdue…Pat co-taught a course in which students were prepared to attend a national TWS meeting and take full advantage of the opportunity…The reflection essays that the students wrote about their experiences were uniformly positive (glowing is more accurate), and for many the class was truly transformative…Pat also has developed a great mentoring system for undergraduate and graduate students…His Ph.D. students are expected to mentor undergraduate students on research…Pat also has served as the FNR representative on the Purdue Animal Care and Use Committee…He has served on the Visiting Scientist and Seminar Speakers committee, the FNR Career Fair committee, the web committee (chair), the ad hoc social committee, and the computer committee. He also serves as associate editor for Journal of Mammalogy.”
  • Melissa Widhalm, U2U Project Manager, was the recipient of the FNR Outstanding A/P Staff Member Award. Comments received include: “Melissa Widhalm is the Project Manager for U2U…Melissa is single-handedly to thank for all of the U2U successes…Every year the U2U team is externally evaluated and several people always mention Melissa by name when asked what is going well with the project…Melissa is extremely proactive and anticipates issues before they arise…U2U is a very complex project with numerous working groups composed of people across several institutions. She keeps everyone on track and enthused about the work…Her biggest and most significant contribution to the department, however, was the lactation room which was completed in 2012.”
  • Michael Loesch-Fries, Farm Worker VIII, was named the FNR Outstanding Clerical/Service Staff Member. “Michael has gone well above and well beyond his required duties to assist fellow members of FNR and serve as a steward of our woodland properties…Michael has also been instrumental in the planning and implementation of the invasive plants training and treatment days on FNR properties. He helped to initiate this program, and when Josh Shields, a former graduate student, completed his degree Michael took over the program to insure that it continued. He did the planning, came in on the weekend to oversee the students, and even cooked pancakes for breakfast and venison chili with cornbread for lunch for all participants…Michael is a very easy going person who does not seek credit or accolades for what he does…He greatly deserves recognition from this department.” Another person wrote “Michael has always been very kind and patient and taught me how to use equipment in a safe manner while also explaining what methods may be the most useful for my project…Michael is not only a good instructor, but he has also come to the rescue of number of times for my project. For example, when my site was hit by a severe windstorm that knocked down over 30 mature trees on my research plot at FNR Farm, he helped to cut the trees and get the deer exclosure fence that had been crushed back up within half a day…He has also helped with a number of other departmental events such as the Invasive Species Day and standing in the freezing rain to help direct traffic at the ceremony to rename FNR Farm.”
  • Casey Day​, Ph.D. student working with Dr. Zollner, was named the FNR Exemplary Graduate Student Service Award winner. “During the past year Casey has mentored 7 different undergraduate students in research projects. Including two students who received a grant from the Indiana Academy of Sciences to support the larger undergraduate research program he is mentoring…Casey also co-taught the class for the student chapter of TWS students who attend the National meeting…He did all of this while still doing his normal TA duties for Pop Dyn a class which is very demanding on the TA’s time. Casey also went to camp to help teach students during my week again…Casey is also serving as the graduate student mentor for the FNR student chapter of TWS…Casey is a member of the American Society of Mammologists Graduate Education Committee. In that capacity he organizes the meal with a mammologist at the annual meeting of that society. In terms of volunteer work he is proficient in American Sign Language and has made a trip down to the Indiana School for the deaf to give a presentation to students there on careers in wildlife ecology.”

Staff Honors and Awards

Staff News

Welcome to FNR!

The Department of Forestry and Natural Resources congratulates Andrey Zhalnin, who has accepted the offer of a courtesy appointment with our Department. Andrey currently works as a Data Analyst for Purdue’s Center for Regional Development. Andrey is a graduate of our department – with an MS in May 2000 and a PhD in May 2004. He also holds an MS in Botany and Plant Taxonomy from Kharkov State University in Kharkov, Ukraine. Welcome back to FNR, Andrey!
Soybean Sniffs
Soyb​ean Sniffs Team

Purdue University Student Soybean Product Innovation Competition

Winners from this year’s competition were awarded on March 24 at an awards ceremony in the Indiana Roof Ballroom in Indianapolis. The winning team project was Soy Sniffs, a soy-based air freshener. The winning team consisted of students, Sean Anderson (Forestry), Evan Anderson (ABE) and Sara Richert (PR & Strategic Communications). Team advisors are Rick Meilan, Professor of Genetics, and Matt Ginzel​, Associate Professor of Entomology and Forestry and Natural Resources. The Soybean Product Innovation competition encourages students to come up with new and innovative ways to use soybeans. Thirteen student teams finished the competition this year. First prize was $20,000. This competition is co-sponsored by Purdue and the Indiana Soybean Alliance. Pictured below are (left to right) Evan Anderson, Sara Richert, and Sean Anderson. Evan and Sean are brothers.​ Read more about their success on the Purdue Ag News page.

Center for Global Soundscapes

In a Bolier Bytes video, Bryan Pijanowski, Professor of Human-Environment Modeling and Analysis Laboratory, and Amandine Gasc​, Post Doc Research Associate, talk about how their soundscape recordings are made all around the world and how they would like to build a global library for scientists to share. You can also learn about recording your own soundscape and sending it to the Center for Global Soundscapes. Check out the Boiler Bytes video (their part of the program begins at 18.50). More information can be found on the Center for Global Soundscapes site.

Earth Day - Wednesday, April 22, 2015

This Earth Day, join NICHES Land Trust, Purdue Department of Forestry and Natural Resources, Purdue Department of Botany and Plant Pathology, The Nature Conservancy, Tippecanoe County Park & Recreation Department, The IDNR Division of Nature Preserves, INPAWS (Indiana Native Plant & Wildflower Society) West Central Chapter, and its RIP (Remove Invasive Plants) Squad volunteer group for a day of education, conservation and recreation in western Tippecanoe County.

The John S. Wright Forestry Center is located at 1007 North 725 West in West Lafayette. It is on the site of Martell Forest, approximately 7.5 miles west of the West Lafayette campus.

The day will begin at 9:00 a.m. at the John S. Wright Conference Center at Martell Forest, which will serve as our base of operations for the day, with an educational session focused on the work being done in the natural areas west of Lafayette by the above listed collaborators and the emerging threat of Japanese stiltgrass in Tippecanoe County.

Following the educational session, representatives from the groups listed above will lead volunteers through designated areas to scout for emerging stiltgrass populations from SR 26 down to the confluence of Little Pine Creek and the Wabash River. Any stiltgrass found will be marked for control later in the summer when efforts will be more effective.

The afternoon will hold opportunities to join in on garlic mustard pulls in the area with NICHES Land Trust and students from Purdue’s BTNY 110 course at a NICHES property or with INPAWS (Indiana Native Plant & Wildflower Society) West Central Chapter, and its RIP (Remove Invasive Plants) Squad volunteer group at Ross Hills Park. This will also be a great opportunity to spend some time exploring the fantastic and diverse local natural areas that we are working hard to protect! More information on garlic mustard pulls and possible organized hikes will be available the day of the event. Or visit the and plan your own afternoon adventure.

IMPORTANT NOTE – Please make sure that your shoes are free of any possible exotic seed that might be introduced or spread during the workday. If you plan to hike anywhere in the afternoon after scouting for stiltgrass, please consider bringing an extra pair of shoes and bagging the first pair for cleaning at a safe location.

Contact Bob Easter for any questions about the event or to confirm your involvement as a group leader or participant. For more information view Earth Day celebration at the Wright Center Schedule.

Alumni News

    Chris Kaiser
    Chris Kaiser
  • Congratulations to Mark Graveel (B.S. Forestry 2012) for receiving employee of the year for “his exemplary service to the Arkansas Forestry Commission and the State of Arkansas” and “for outstanding work representing the AFC through his interaction with private landowners and assisting other agencies such as the Natural Resources Conservation Service.” Mark is responsible for a 16 county area. His district (District 3) is the largest district in Arkansas and he is responsible for 12 personnel. Congratulations, Mark!
  • Congratulations to Andy Ritter (BSF 2011)! Andy was just promoted to Forest Manager for the Delphi Unit of the Washington State DNR. According to Ralph Johnson, former FNR visiting faculty member, Andy “is excellent as a practicing forester.” Andy “will be supervising 3 to 4 foresters and works on State Trust Lands.” Andy is married to Jessica (Callahan) Ritter who was a 2011 FNR wildlife grad. Andy and Jessica live near Olympia, Washington.
  • Chris Kaiser (PU BSF 2013) is leaving Plum Creek to take a position with Weyerhaeuser. Chris loves Plum Creek but is moving closer to his family members (in the Olympia, Washington area). Chris is very enthusiastic about both Plum Creek and Weyerhaeuser and welcomes opportunities to talk to students about working for either company. Chris said he is “passionate about seeing Purdue foresters in the industry.” He highly recommends Purdue grads to apply for Plum Creek postings. Congrats on the new position, Chris!
  • Seth Harden (B.S. Forestry 2010) bid farewell to his job
    Seth Harden
    Seth Harden
    as a Regional Manager for Indiana Farm Bureau on March 13th and has begun a new position as the Educational Specialist in Advocacy and Literacy for the National FFA organization in Indianapolis. Seth said that “this is a newly formed position that seeks to strategically align the need for advocacy and literacy with existing FFA and agriculture education programming.” He will be developing new programs and initiatives to train and educate their members, advisors and chapters on “how to educate and influence decision makers.” He said it is an “opportunity to work with agriculture, advocacy, policy, education, and people.” Congratulations on the great new job, Seth!


Upcoming Calendar Events

  • FNR Department meeting, April 14, 2:30-4:00 p.m., PFEN 120
  • FNR Department meeting, May 8, 2:30-4:00 p.m., PFEN 120
  • Classes end, Saturday, May 2
  • Final Exams Week, May 4-9
  • College of Agriculture commencement, Friday, May 15, 8:00 p.m., Elliott Hall of Music