Alumni & Friends

Message from the chair

 Diarmaid Ó Foighil
Dear Friends,

Fall greetings from Ann Arbor! As I enter my first academic year as the new chair of EEB, I’d like to pay tribute to my predecessors, John Vandermeer, who served as interim chair for the past year, and Deborah Goldberg, our founding and long-time head of department. John has been a faculty member at the U-M since 1970 and he embodies the sense of intellectual drive and enthusiasm that lies at the heart of EEB. Deborah has guided and shaped the department since its very beginning. I simply cannot imagine the EEB department without her input and she deserves the lion’s share of credit for the vibrant and inclusive academic community it has become. 

Our program in ecology and evolutionary biology continues to thrive and develop. Twenty-three new graduate students joined us this term. It was a real pleasure to get to know this talented and diverse cohort over a picture-perfect September weekend during our 30th EEB Retreat at the U-M Biological Station. I very much look forward to seeing them develop into accomplished scientists over the coming years. Our fantastic, award-winning EEB faculty members continue to excel. For instance, we cleaned up at the Ecological Society of America this year: 3/12 new ESA Fellows (Mark Hunter, Deborah Goldberg and John Vandermeer) plus the Robert T. MacArthur Award (Mercedes Pascual) were added to our preexisting ESA Early Career Fellow (Meghan Duffy). Most recently, Dan Rabosky won a Packard Fellowship, awarded to the 18 best early-career scientists and engineers in the nation. EEB research is in good hands amongst our very talented faculty and students!

I’m particularly pleased to announce two exciting new faculty hires. Chelsea Wood has just joined us as an assistant professor and Michigan Fellow. She studies the ecology of parasites and pathogens in freshwater and marine ecosystems. Nyeema Harris will join us in the fall of 2015 as an assistant professor. She studies the ecology of mammals and has extraordinary field experience both in North America and throughout Africa. Other faculty transitions this past year include the attainment of emeritus status by three of our long-term faculty: Professors William Fink, Philip Myers, and Earl Werner. As is the case with most of our emeriti, all three remain very much part of our EEB community.

Inside the fall 2014 issue of Natural Selections, you’ll find an up-close profile of EEB professor and director of the U-M Biological Station, Knute Nadelhoffer. The photo of a 26-year old Knute is not to be missed. His research on forest biogeochemistry is an important part of the climate change puzzle and Knute is also actively involved in public policy and outreach. I think you’ll enjoy learning about Hannah Reses, an honors student who just completed her undergraduate degree in biology, majoring in EEB. Her thesis work on terrapin conservation is compelling on a number of levels and is about to be published with her advisor, Alison Davis Rabosky.  This issue also features Jingchun Li, a recent Ph.D. graduate.  The article outlines her NSF postdoctoral fellowship research at Harvard on the evolution of solar-powered cockles as well as her Ph.D. research on the role of commensalism in a hyper-diverse marine bivalve radiation. And, don’t miss our ever-popular photo contest winners, in full color for the first time, on the back cover.

In closing, I’d like to say that I’m profoundly impressed by our talented faculty, graduate students and staff and look forward to working closely with them over the next three years. We have much to do but our future is indeed bright!

I look forward to hearing from you in the coming year. Please take advantage of the many electronic avenues now available to keep in touch with EEB people, news and events, including our website, Facebook, Twitter (#UMichEEB), EEBlog, YouTube channel, RSS newsfeed, and enewsletter.

With my best wishes for a peaceful holiday season and a happy and healthy new year!

Diarmaid ÓFoighil signature