Current Topics in Ecology and Evolution Spring 2015

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EEB 3894 Course Objectives:

The purpose of this course is to explore the ecology and evolutionary biology research being conducted by top researchers in these fields. The Ecology & Evolutionary Biology Department invites the highest caliber scientist to UConn as part of a weekly seminar series. Our class with have the opportunity to meet with these researchers in a comfortable, round-table table discussion each week. Prior to each discussion, as a group we will examine related scientific literature, learning how to critically read and interpret data from a variety of study systems. Following our discussions with the visiting researchers, we will attend the their formal lecture to the Ecology & Evolutionary Biology Department. Students will become critical readers of primary scientific literature, will be familiar with major research avenues in ecology and evolutionary biology, and will become comfortable asking questions and interacting with visiting scientists.

Be sure to consult the SyllabusPdficon small.gif


Nora Mitchell                                                     Jimmy Bernot
Office: BioPharm 302                                          Office: TLS 478
Email:                        Email:


This is a discussion-based class centered on the EEB Seminar Series. As such, you are expected to:

  • Attend class every week and actively participate in discussion (TLS 171b)
  • Attend the EEB seminar every week (4-5pm in BPP 131, except for Teale Seminars at Dodd Center 2/26, 3/26, 4/16)
  • Read an assigned article from the primary scientific literature every week
  • Write a one-page response to the above-mentioned article
  • Contact the speaker and lead discussion one week of the semester


See the provided documents to help with your assignments:


Meeting Time

Thursday 2:30PM–5:00PM
Bamford Room (TLS 171b)

Additional information about seminar speakers available at

Date Speaker Background Lecture Title Discussion Leader
Jan. 22 Yang Liu Bryophyte phylogeny and evolution of organelle genomes Mitochondrial Genome Evolution and Phylogenomics of Early Land Plants
Jan. 29 Daniel Ksepka Avian paleobiology March of the Fossil Penguins: Paleobiological Insight into the Evolution of Sphenisciformes Pdficon small.gif Jimmy/Nora
Feb. 5 Stephen Pacala Climate change, ecosystem biology, and plant community ecology The fate of the land carbon sink:Pdficon small.gif Nora/Jimmy
Feb. 12 Daniel Simberloff Invasive species dynamics and community ecology What’s New in Invasion Biology and Management, and Why are They Controversial:Pdficon small.gif Brian
Feb. 19 Michael Donoghue Plant evolution and phylogenetics Viburnum Evolution Turned Upside Down: Implications for Diversification and Biome Shifting:Pdficon small.gif Haley
Feb. 26 Seth Borenstein Associated Press national science writer Dispatches from a Hotter Planet & a Cooler Cosmos Shilla
Mar. 5 David Hillis Evolution, molecular systematics, and phylogenetics The Tree of Life and Evolution of Animal Nervous Systems:Pdficon small.gif Ian
Mar. 12 Robert Ricklefs Evolutionary ecology of birds, avian blood parasites Intrinsic Dynamics of the Regional Community :Pdficon small.gif Lauren
Mar. 19 Spring Break: No Class
Mar. 26 Gregg Mitman Science history, the environment, and human health Ecological Imperialism Revisited: Entanglements of Disease, Commerce and Knowledge in a Global World Khyati
Apr. 2 Gene Likens Ecosystem ecology, biogeochemistry, human impacts on ecosystems Acid Rain: The Long, but Unfinished Journey from Discovery to Political Action :Pdficon small.gif Jill
Apr. 9 Susan Wessler Genome evolution Deciphering the Strategies Used by a Very Successful Transposable Element :Pdficon small.gif Omikya
Apr. 16 Tyrone Hayes Amphibian development and environmental contamination From Silent Spring to Silent Night: A Tale of Toads & Men Corey
Apr. 23 Mimi Koehl Physiology and mechanics of marine organisms Locomotion in A Turbulent World: Recruitment into Marine Communities Thomas
Apr. 30 Peter Raven Botany, conservation, and sustainability Saving Plants, Saving Ourselves Sarah