FIU SEEDs Chapter, G.L.A.D.E.S, visits Archbold Biological Station

A guest post by Marie Colom:

GLADES member, Marie Colom, inspects an at the Archbold Biological Station for wasp galls.  Photo by Dustin  Angell of the Archbold Biological Station.


Students from the FIU undergraduate ecology club and SEEDS chapter, GLADES, gathered with members of other SEEDS chapters from Florida Atlantic University and Bethune Cookman University during the weekend (November 12-15, 2015) at the Archbold Biological Station for a 4-day field trip that consisted of workshops, field projects, data analyses, and a career panel- not to mention bonfires, star-gazing and relaxing by the lake!

During the trip we learned about the Florida scrub ecosystem and participated in a research project led by Dr. Reed Bowman, director of the Avian Ecology Lab at the Archbold station.  In order to determine if oak galls are affecting acorn production, and thus Florida Scrub Jay abundance and dietary habits, we were sent out to the field to collect data by counting the number of galls on each of 16 tagged oak trees. These data were then combined with already existing data to be analyzed and presented to the Archbold faculty.  Although the project yielded some interesting results, it seemed like more data need to be collected.

As SEEDs students, we received advice and encouragement from the Archbold faculty to pursue careers in the ecological sciences.  A career panel consisting of faculty from local universities, such as University of South Florida and University of Central Florida, along with several state agency professionals gave us insight into the different paths we can take as ecologists or environmental scientists.

We also enjoyed a tour of the Buck Island Ranch, a working cattle ranch at the MacArthur Agro-ecology Research Center. One of the major studies conducted at this site is the “Ecology on a Working Landscape” which deals with methane emission from wetlands and grazed grasslands. One surprising result, so far, suggests that more methane is produced in the ungrazed wetlands compared to the grazed wetlands during the wet season.

The trip ended with a visit to Lake Annie; the water was warm, a group of us tried to catch water beetles, others read and the rest relaxed next to the lake. It was both a meaningful and inspiring trip for us all.

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Students from FIU, FAU and BCU enjoy a tour of the Archbold Biological Station and MacArthur Agro-Ecology Research Center at Buck Island Ranch.  Photo by Dustin Angell of the Archbold Biological Station.

See some more pictures HERE.


Faculty position at FIU in Plant Biochemistry and Natural Products Chemistry

Plant Biochemistry and Natural Products Chemistry: The Department of Biological Sciences at Florida International University is seeking applicants for an OPEN RANK tenure track position in PLANT BIOCHEMISTRY AND NATURAL PRODUCTS CHEMISTRY. Applicants working at the interface of plant chemistry and plant-insect interactions are particularly encouraged to apply. A Ph.D. in biochemistry, chemistry, biology or a closely-related field is required. The Department of Biological Sciences – in the School of the Environment, Arts, and Society within the College of Arts and Sciences – has 4,700 majors and 120 graduate students in fields ranging from cell and molecular biology to evolution and ecology. The successful candidate will become core faculty in the International Center for Tropical Botany (ICTB), a collaborative effort between FIU and the National Tropical Botanic Gardens to develop programs in research, education and outreach in tropical plant biology. The ICTB is building a world-class headquarters with offices, laboratories and meeting rooms, adjacent to the Kampong botanic gardens on Biscayne Bay in historic Coconut Grove. The candidate will be expected to conduct research including but not limited to: plant biochemistry, plant natural products, or plant secondary compounds. We are particularly interested in candidates who will utilize the living collections in the network of tropical botanic gardens sponsored by the NTBG and collaborators around the globe. The successful candidate will be expected to maintain an externally funded research program, supervise graduate students in our Ph.D. program, as well as teach undergraduate courses including Biochemistry and other courses in her/his area of expertise. Qualified candidates are encouraged to apply to Job Opening ID 510478 at and attach a cover letter, curriculum vitae, and statements of teaching philosophy and research interests in a single PDF file. Candidates will be requested to provide names and contact information for at least three references who will be contacted as determined by the search committee. To receive full consideration, applications and required materials should be received by November 20, 2015. Review will continue until position is filled. FIU is a member of the State University System of Florida and is an Equal Opportunity, Equal Access Affirmative Action Employer. All qualified applicants will receive consideration for employment without regard to race, color, religion, sex, national origin, disability status, protected veteran status, or any other characteristic protected by law.

Postdoc opportunity at FIU with Dr. C. Baraloto

Please help to spread the word…

We have an exciting opportunity for an indefinitely renewable postdoctoral position in tropical plant biology with a collegial group based in Miami.

We are seeking a post-doctoral scholar in tropical plant functional ecology in the International Center for Tropical Botany and the Department of Biological Sciences at Florida International University. The position will be based in the Tropical Plant Diversity lab of Chris Baraloto (, in collaboration with Ken Feeley ( The ICTB is a new, collaborative effort between FIU and the National Tropical Botanical Gardens to develop programs in research, education and outreach in tropical plant biology ( The ICTB is building a world-class headquarters with offices, laboratories and meeting rooms, adjacent to The Kampong botanic gardens on Biscayne Bay in historic Coconut Grove (

The post-doctoral scholar will help lead several projects exploring the functional diversity of tropical plants, but will also be encouraged to develop their own research program. Core projects could include (i) examinations of Amazonian tree functional strategies, with an emphasis on traits related to drought tolerance; (ii) meta-analyses of tropical tree databases integrating functional traits, species distributions, and performance (growth, mortality); (iii) surveys of plant functional diversity across the world’s tropical botanical gardens.

Required qualifications (By start date of early 2016):

  • Ph.D in tropical botany, plant ecophysiology, plant ecology or a related field,
  • Appreciation and competence for sorting of tropical plant morphological diversity,
  • Evidence of success in development of independent research initiatives,
  • Excellent oral and written communication skills,
  • Record of publication in peer-reviewed journals,
  • Working knowledge of two or more of English, Spanish, Portuguese, and French
  • Enthusiasm for field work in remote tropical sites

Appointment: This position will report to Dr. Christopher Baraloto. The initial appointment will be for 100% time for two years with the indeterminate possibility of extension based on performance.

Salary: $45 – 50k, depending on experience and qualifications. This position provides FIU’s excellent benefits package.

Applications: Interested applicants should send a 3-page CV and a cover letter detailing the candidate’s research record and qualifications for the project, to before 30 November.

We will then hold telephone interviews for final candidates, who will be asked to provide names with contact information for three individuals who have agreed to provide a reference for this specific position.

James A. Duke grant to support ethnobotanical studies of the Amazon and Andes

The Amazon Center for Environmental Education and Research (ACEER) is now accepting application for their James A. Duke grant to support ethnobotanical studies of the Amazon and Andes by Latin American graduate students (including Latin American students enrolled at US Universities).  Guidelines are available HERE.  If you have any questions, please contact ACEER’s director, Dr. Nora Bynum.

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what each of us can do to protect biodiversity

Team alumnus, Brian Machovina, recently published a very nice article about the role of meat consumption in biodiversity conservation.  The article appears in the online magazine Ensia and is entitled “THE NUMBER ONE THING EACH OF US CAN DO TO PROTECT BIODIVERSITY”

Agriculture expansion is the leading driver of natural habitat loss worldwide. However, most of this growth is not to produce vegetables, fruits or grains to be eaten by people. Ecosystems are destroyed overwhelmingly to feed livestock…to keep reading please click HERE.

Small meat portion on plate of vegetables, grains and legumes

Illustration from the article. Image by Kelsey King

Dr. Mark Bush visits FIU

Invited by the FIU Biology Graduate Students Association and hosted by the Feeley Lab, Dr. Mark Bush from Florida Institute of Technology came to give a Bio-Seminar at FIU.

Dr. Bush is a world expert in the study of biogeography through the use of palynology (the study of pollen). However his interests do not stop there; he has undergone wide research on topics that vary from the collapse of the Pleistocene megafauna, to the recent megadroughts in the Amazon forest, and the impact of global events of climatic variability in past and current vegetation.  He is a lead investigator in the Andes Biodiversity and Ecosystem Research Group and he has collaborated with Ken Feeley on one of our most important papers: “Upslope migration of Andean trees”.

Even more, during relaxed conversation he can talk about the future of science, the ecology of South Florida, and he even showed us a new app that he has developed for frog-call identification – “WhatFrog?”. He definitely has a broad range of interests.

Bio-Seminar FIU

Bio-Seminar FIU

His talk:  “Forests and Megafauna in the Ice-Age Amazon-Andes” was one of the most crowded of this year’s Bio-Seminar Series.  In his talk it was again obvious the variety of topics that interrelate in his research, from past to present interactions of plants and animals, to the impact of humans.

In addition to the talk, Dr. Bush day at FIU was packed with meetings with people who wanted to talk to him and get an insight on his research. He gave very valuable advice to graduate students such as: “remember that you are doing a thesis, not the thesis”- which I will have in my mind from now on.

From everyone in the Feeley Lab, we thank you Dr. Bush for sharing your day with us.

Going Graduate?


The final semesters of an undergraduate education are an exciting time for many students as they are confronted with how to apply their education. Volunteering, interning, and jobs are usually the first things that come to mind for soon-to-be graduates, but members of FIU’s GLADES Club were curious about what it takes to pursue a graduate degree. This past Tuesday GLADES undergraduates organized a panel of current graduate
students and professors to discuss the processes of searching for and applying to graduate ecology programs. The panel included PhD students Belén Fadrique, Jeremy May, and Timothy Perez (me), while professors were represented by Drs John Kominoski, Ken Feeley, and Lidia Kos.  Below are some of the important items we discussed
that many people pursuing graduate school are unaware of:

  • Don’t pay for Grad School! Unlike undergraduate degrees you should not pay for graduate school. In most graduate programs, students are actually paid a modest salary – typically through scholarships, teaching assistantships, and research assistantships. However, tuition is typical for professional degrees like MDs, DDSs, etc., but not PhDs.
  • You DO NOT need a master’s degree to pursue a PhD. In fact, masters programs are becoming increasingly harder to find and fund. Anyways, sometimes research experience is as valuable as a master’s degree…
  • Get research experience! Good grades and great GRE scores are always helpful, but there is no substitute for doing actual science. Grad school is a lot of research, so get practice now! This will help you decide if you actually want to go to grad school too. You will also likely get practice writing and presenting research, which are valuable skills for graduate school. Shameless plug: Feeley lab now looking for undergraduate research assistants! Contact us for details!
  • Apply to the Advisor and the Program – not necessarily the school. When you apply to a graduate program, at least in ecology, you are really applying to work with the advisor. In other words, make sure you are familiar with and interested in a potential advisor’s research. It is just as important that you get along with your potential advisor – send your potential advisor emails, Skype, and make a visit to their lab if you can to see if it is a good fit. Of course, a supportive and collaborative department or program is also an important consideration.
  • Network. Like most professions, academia has its fair share of networking. By being interested in others’ research, talking to co-workers, forming collaborations – basically being a curious and gregarious person – you will increase gain a leg-up on competition via word-of-mouth opportunities.

Lastly, I offer my own two cents. I recommend recent graduates to thoroughly explore their interests before applying to grad school. Graduate school can be a lot fun, but it is also a lot of work, requires lots of dedication, and takes multiple years to complete. Before you decide to apply to a graduate program ask yourself if is really what you want. If you can’t imagine yourself doing anything else except graduate school, then get those applications ready!