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Department News

Spotting Scope, April 2016

Note from the Head:

This is the final installation of the Spotting Scope under my watch. When I initiated the Spotting Scope 12 years ago, it was with a simple goal in mind: to facilitate more open communication about issues involving FNR. In a multidisciplinary department like ours, it’s easy to lose sight of accomplishments in areas that fall outside of our own areas of focus. The Spotting Scope was conceived as a partial remedy to that sort of nearsightedness, and I hope that it has been at least somewhat successful in raising the profile for the diversity of activities and accomplishments of our department’s students, faculty, staff, and alums.

These are exciting times to be a member of the FNR family. The academic year that’s drawing to a close has been unprecedented in terms of the number and stature of awards bestowed upon faculty and staff; many of these are highlighted in the Awards section below. Faculty research performance and productivity reached an all-time high in 2015. And the future is bright, as we welcome Bob Wagner as our new Head. Bob brings experience, energy, and wisdom to the position, and he already has acquired a deep appreciation for the many attributes that make FNR academically excellent and a great place to work. Please join me in working with Bob to make a great department even better under his leadership!

Rob Swihart, professor and Head

Wagner named Head of Forestry and Natural Resources

Robert Wagner, Henry W. Saunders Distinguished Professor in Forestry and Director of the Center for Research on Sustainable Forests (CRSF) and Cooperative Forestry Research (CFRU) at the University of Maine, has been appointed professor and head of Purdue’s Department of Forestry and Natural Resources, effective October 1. He succeeds Rob Swihart, who is returning to his faculty role after serving as department head since 2004. Dr. Wagner received his bachelor's degree in forest management from Utah State University, his master’s in forest ecology/ silviculture from the University of Washington, and his PhD in silviculture/vegetation management from Oregon State University. He served as a program leader and senior scientist at the Ontario Forest Research Institute in Ontario Canada before joining the faculty in the School of Forest Resources at the University of Maine. At Maine he served as Director of the Cooperative Forestry Research Unit, Associate Director of the Forest Bioproducts Research Institute, and Director of the School of Forest Resources prior to his appointment as Distinguished Professor and Director of the Centers. “I could not be more excited about the future of the Forestry and Natural Resources department under Dr. Wagner's leadership” said Dean Jay Akridge. "I also want to say thank you and express my deepest appreciation to Dr. Rob Swihart for twelve great years of service as Head of Forestry and Natural Resources. He has been a tremendous leader for the department."


  • Cassens, Daniel, $2,141.91, Indiana Hardwood Lumberman’s Assn., voluntary support
  • Flaherty, Elizabeth, $27,129.12, AgSeed, “Functional role of native mice in Midwestern agroecosystems: Unwanted pests or friendly neighbors?”
  • Höök, Tomas, O, $25,550, Grand Valley State University, “Yellow Perch Stock Assessment in Drowned River Mouth Lakes and Nearshore Lake Michigan”
  • Jacobs, Douglass; McKenna, James, $2,000, The American Chestnut Foundation, voluntary support
  • MacGowan, Brian, $500, FTA Trappers College, voluntary support
  • Meilan, Richard, $71,300, Futura Gene Limited, voluntary support
  • Pijut, Paula​, $2,500 The Shannon Lumber Co., voluntary support
  • Pijut, Paula, $2,500 Turn Bull Lumber Co., voluntary support
  • Pijut, Paula, $2,500, Atlanta Hardwood Corporation, voluntary support
  • Pijut, Paula, $2,500, Emporium Hardwoods Operation Co., LLC, voluntary support
  • Pijut, Paula, Cole Hardwood Inc., voluntary support
  • Prokopy, Linda, $25,000, USDA/ARS-Natural Resources Conservation Service, “Develop guidance for watershed application for the Agricultural Conservation Planning framework”
  • Prokopy, Linda, $324,000; USDA/NIFA, “Lessons learned from five years of investment by USDA-NIFA into climate change and agroecosystems”
  • Prokopy, Linda, $40,000, Environmental Defense Fund, “Social science component of demonstration watershed project”
  • Prokopy, Linda, $51,347.95, Conservation Technology Information Ctr, “Assessing implementation of field print calculator in Big Pine and Indian Creek”
  • Prokopy, Linda; Höök, Tomas, O,, $92,335, US Geological Survey, “State Water Resources Research Institute Program Fiscal Year 2016”
  • Salazar, Kara, $50,116, Univ of IL/EPA, “Improving community resillency in the Great Lakes through applied research and extension”
  • Sepúlveda, Maria, S, $199,723.49, Great Lakes Fisheries Commission, “Assessing the resistance of sea lampreys (Petromyzon marinus) to TFM”
  • Sepulveda, Maria, S, $5,700, UI School of Medicine, CSTI GAP cost share
  • Swihart, Robert​; Kellner, Kenneth, $36,265, IN Department of Natural Resources, “HEE bird data”
  • Swihart, Robert; Smyser, Timothy; $17,000, Indiana University of Pennsylvania, “Developing a genetic catalog for Allegheny woodrat metapopulations in Pennsylvania”
  • Williams, Rod, $6,500, Fort Wayne Zoological Society, voluntary support
  • Williams, Rod, $60, Ronald Breeding, voluntary support
  • Williams, Rod. $20, Ronald Breeding, voluntary support
  • Williams, Rod; Kimble, Steven, $48,119, IN Department of Natural Resources, “Genetic assessment of crawfish frog population in Indiana”
  • Woeste, Keith, $8,000, American Chestnut Foundation, “Assessing the functional genetic diversity of blight resistance in Chinese chestnut by whole-genome resequencing of a diverse germplasm collection”
  • Zollner, P. & Flaherty, E.​  $2,750. Purdue Ag Alumni Trust Fund grant. Professional development and career networking for undergraduates through travel.


  • Abdel-Moneim A​, Coulter D, Mahapatra CT, Sepúlveda, MS. (2015) Intersex in fishes and amphibians: Population implications, prevalence, mechanisms and molecular biomarkers. Journal of Applied Toxicology 35:1228-1240.
  • Abdel-Moneim A, Mahapatra CT, Hatef A, Sepúlveda, MS. (2015) Ovarian structure protein 1: A sensitive molecular biomarker of gonadal intersex in female Japanese medaka after androgen exposure. Environmental Toxicology and Chemistry 34:2087-2094.
  • Chen S, McKinney GJ, Nichols KM, Colbourne JK, Sepúlveda, MS. (2015) Novel cadmium responsive microRNAs in Daphnia pulex. Environmental Science and Technology 49:14605-14613.
  • Flaherty, E.​​., C. A. Eckrich, and M. Ben-David. 2015. Engaging students in a mock town hall discussion: case study of the Big Thorne Timber Sale. Natural Sciences Education 45:1-10.
  • Fuentes D, Reyes J, Sepúlveda, MS, Kinsella M, Mironov S, Cicchino A, Moreno L, Landaeta-Aqueveque, Troncoso I, Gonzalez-Acuña D. (2015) Gastrointestinal and external parasites of the white-crested elaenia Elaenia albiceps chilensis (Aves, Tyrannidae) in Chile. Revista Brazilera de Parasitologia Veterinaria 24:276-282.
  • Gao J, Sepúlveda, MS, Klinkhamer C, Wei A, Mahapatra C. (2015) Nanosilver coated socks and their toxicity to zebrafish (Danio rerio) embryos. Chemosphere. 119:948-952.
  • Hua, J., Buss, N., Kim, J., Orlofske, S. and Hoverman, J. T. Population-specific toxicity of six insecticides to the trematode Echinoparyphium sp. (2016). Parasitology.
  • Leet JK, Sassman S, Amberg JJ, Olmstead AW, Lee LS, Ankley GT, Sepúlveda, MS. (2015) Environmental hormones and their impacts on sex differentiation in fathead minnows. Aquatic Toxicology 158:98-107.
  • Madenjian CP, Ebener MP, Sepúlveda, MS. (2015) PCB concentrations of lake whitefish (Coregonus clupeaformis) vary by sex. Journal of Great Lakes Research. In Press.
  • Shaui Chen, Garrent J. McKinney, Krista M. Nichols, and Sepúlveda, MS. (2015) In silico prediction and in vivo validation of (Daphnia pulex) microRNAs. PLOS ONE. DOI 10.1371/journal.pone.0083708
  • Willoughby J.R., Wijayawardena B.K., Sundaram M., Swihart, RK & DeWoody J.A. (2016) The effects of experimental procedures on the detection of aquatic species using eDNA. Molecular Ecology Resources, in press.
  • Wirbisky SE, Weber GJ, Sepúlveda, MS, Xiao C, Cannon JR, Freeman JL. (2015) Developmental origins of neurotransmitter and transcriptome alterations in adult zebrafish exposed to atrazine during embryogenesis. Toxicology 333:156-167.
  • Zenobio JE, Sanchez BC, Leet JK, Archuleta LC, Sepúlveda, MS. (2015) Presence and effects of pharmaceutical and personal care products on the Baca National Wildlife Refuge, Colorado. Chemosphere 120:750-755.


  • Congratulations to Zhao Ma on her promotion to Associate Professor effective July 1!
  • Congratulations to Sam Guffey, aquatic lab manager, and Kara Salazar, sustainable communities extension specialist, on receiving promotions through the College of Agriculture Advancement process!


  • Congratulations to Jackie Doyle who has accepted a tenure-track faculty position at Towson University. Best wishes from FNR to Jackie, Steve and Josephina!
  • Congratulations to Marisol Sepúlveda, professor of ecology and natural systems, who was named Chair for the W2045 Multistate Project Agrochemical Impacts on Human and Environmental Health: Mechanisms and Mitigation. Marisol was also elected to be a member for the Great Lakes Fishery Sea Lamprey Research Board.
  • Congratulations to Rod Williams, associate professor and associate heaf for extension, for being mentioned in the University’s most recent Annual Research Report. The title of the article is “Saving North America’s Largest Salamander” and has a great picture of Rod and his hellbender. Check out page 21 of the Report.
  • Congratulations to Guofan Shao, professor of forestry, who has been appointed as the Editor-in-Chief for Journal of Biodiversity Management & Forestry!
  • Congratulations to Phil Pope on being named Professor Emeritus of Forestry and Natural Resources.
  • Congratulations to Rick Meilan, professor of genetics, and Linda Prokopy, professor of natural resource social science, for being recognized as members of the university’s “Millionaire’s Club”, due to their Midas touch in acquiring financial support for their programs!
  • Congratulations to Mysha Clark, Ph.D. student of Zhao Ma, on being elected as a new student representative to the Council for the International Association for Society and Natural Resources. Congratulations also to Dr. Kristen Floress who also joined the Council. Kristen is a former student of Linda Prokopy. This organization is the main natural resource social science professional organization. Way to go social science group!
  • Congratulations to Yanzhu Ji on successfully defending her dissertation on February 25!
  • Congratulations to Stephanie Trapp who successfully defended her thesis on Friday, January 29!
  • Morgan Sussman, wildlife undergrad, featured in ExperiencePurdue along with having her photo on the front of the Agriculture Administrative building. 


Rob Swihart
  • Congratulations to Linda Prokopyprofessor of natural resource social science, on being named a University Faculty Scholar. This prestigious award recognizes mid-career faculty who are on an accelerated path to academic distinction. Way to go, Linda!
  • Congratulations to Rod Williams, associate professor and associate heaf for extension,​on being named this year’s Charles B. Murphy Outstanding Undergraduate Teaching Award winner! Rod received the news from David Nelson and many students and FNR staff during a surprise visit to the weekly FNR heads/business office meeting. 
  • Congratulations to Jeff Dukes, professor and director of CCRC, Reuben Goforth, associate professor of aquatic ecosystems, Julie Pluimer, administrative manager and academic advisorLinda Prokopyprofessor of natural resource social science, and Rob Swihart, professor and department head, Learning Community instructors for The Nature of Wild Things LC for receiving the 2015-2016 Learning Community Real-World Experience Award! The Real-World Experience Award “is given to Learning Community Instructors who especially succeed at planning events and activities that offer introductions to various opportunities within their respective academic fields.” This is the third year in row that the FNR LC team has won an award.
  • Congratulations to Liz Flaherty​​, assistant professor of wildlife ecology and habitat management, who has been selected to receive the 2016 College of Agriculture Richard L. Kohls Early Career Teaching Award!​
  • Congratulations to Reuben Goforth, associate professor of aquatic ecosystems, on being selected to be the inaugural recipient of the Unsung Diversity Hero Award! Dr. Goforth will be recognized at the College of Agriculture Spring Awards Program on April 27th.
  • Congratulations to Rod Williams, associate professor and associate heaf for extension,​ on being selected as the recipient of the Emerging Faculty Impact Award! This has really been quite a year for Rod!
  • Congratulations to Rob Swihart, professor and department head, on receiving the Hoosier Wildlife Award from the Indiana Chapter of the Wildlife Society “for making significant contributions to professional wildlife conservation in Indiana”.


  • Congratulations to Casey Day on being named the winner of the 2016 FNR Teaching Academy Graduate Teaching Award!​


  • Congratulations to Julie Pluimer, administrative manager and academic advisor, who was nominated for the 2015-16 Learning Community Advocate Award! The Learning Community Advocate Award is given to Learning Community Instructors and Resident Assistants who demonstrate a commitment to their students and in recognition of their efforts in going above and beyond expectations in fulfilling their duties with regard to Learning Communities.
  • Congratulations to Christine Hofmeyer for receiving the Purdue Academic Advising New Professional Award! The Award is given to advising professionals with 3 or less years of experience in the profession.

2016 FNR Research Symposium Awardees

Below is a listing of poster award recipients for the FNR Research Symposium:

First Place ($100): Mekala Sundaram
Second Place ($50): Jun-Hyung Lee
Honorable Mention: Timothy Malinich

First Place ($100): MaryAm Ghadiri

First Place ($100): Katherine Pochini
Second Place ($50): Margaret Hutton
Honorable Mention: Jennifer Serafin

First Place ($100): Sarah Abercrombie
Second Place ($50): Sabrina Schuler
Honorable Mention: Melody Mount

Congratulations to all of the winners!

FNR would like to thank all of those who participated in the competition, those who judged the competition and those who participated in many other ways, including hauling the easels and boards. And most especially the department would like to thank Professor Rick Meilan who organizes the competition each year. There is a HUGE amount of work and time involved in this. Thank you, Dr. Meilan!

Poster Awards Poster Awards

FNR Awards Night

Students and faculty gathered on the evening of Wednesday, April 20th for the announcement of the following scholarships and awards. Congratulations to our award winners!

  • Glenn R. Allison Scholarship: Colton Prechtel, Lyndsey Snider, Zach Truelock
  • Gladden Scholarships: Jared Deininger, Lexington Eiler, Cullen Kurgan, Landon Neumann, Jameson Pierce, Karly Rushmore, Kylie Schofield, Sabrina Schuler, Jessica Shallenberger, Morgan Sussman, Faith VonGunten, Lucas Voorhees
  • John Oliver Holwager II Memorial Scholarship: Lillie Berger, Paige Weldy
  • Ewbank-Bishop Endowed Scholarship in Forestry and Natural Resources: Ryan Bartlett, Joseph Littiken, Nicholas Uecker, Sean Verkamp, Stephen Volz
  • Roy C. Brundage Memorial Scholarship: Stewart Hamilton, Evan Watkins
  • Indiana Chapter of the Society of American Foresters Forestry Summer Practicum Scholarship: Sean Verkamp
  • Pike Lumber Company Scholarship: Drew Wilhelm
  • Coal Creek Wildlife Habitat Scholarship: Rebekah Lumkes
  • Indiana Arborist Association Ramsey Scholarship: Casey Johnson
  • Charles H. Michler Scholarship for the Outstanding Graduate Student Researcher in Forest Biology: Kyle Earnshaw
  • Kirkpatrick Memorial Graduate Student Award: Janna Willoughby
  • Teaching Academy Graduate Teaching Award: Casey Day
  • Fischer Forestry Fund Graduate Scholarship: Laura D’Acunto, Jennifer Lesko
  • Academic Merit Awards: Samuel Armstrong, Lexington Eiler, Stewart Hamilton, Samantha Helt, Erin Hipskind, Neil Osborn, Kylie Schofield, Sabrina Schuler, Faith VoNGunten,, Evan Watkins, Grace Weisenbach, Shannon Wiltzius
  • Leadership Award: Emily Fekete, Jordan McGuckin, Matthew Voorhees, Evan Watkins, Grace Weisenbach
  • Society of American Foresters Senior Award: Erin Hipskind
  • William A. Rafferty Award: Sarah Abercrombie
  • L. David Mech Distinguished Undergraduate Research Award: Sarah Meronk
  • Stanley Coulter Leadership Award: Sarah Meronk
  • Durward Allen Memorial Award: Paige Weldy
  • Outstanding Camper Award: Dominique Turney (FAQS), Kelton Verble (WLDL), Even Watkins (FORS)
  • Outstanding Undergraduates: Landon Neumann, Sabrina Schuler, Morgan Sussman, Ardith Wang

Alumni Award

John Castrale​ (BS 1976, Distinguished Ag Alum) received the Sagamore of the Wabash in February. The Sagamore of the Wabash is the highest honor the governor can bestow, and is only presented to distinguished Hoosiers who have made significant contributions to Indiana. John is a retired IDNR wildlife biologist who led efforts to reintroduce peregrines, bald eagles and ospreys to the state. Congratulations John!!

A Visit to Japan

Rick Meilan, professor of genetics, visited Utsunomiya University in Japan on April 13-17.  He was a part of a six-member Purdue delegation exploring ways to foster the exchange of students and faculty between the two universities.  During his visit at Utsunomiya, Dr. Meilan presented a seminar entitled, “Altering the Phenylpropanoid Pathway to Improve the Conversion Efficiency of Poplar” at a symposium hosted by the Faculty of Agriculture.​


Rick Meilan presented the keynote address at the XII International Symposium on Plant Biotechnology on April 6.  The Symposium was hosted by the Plant Biotechnology Institute in Santa Clara, Cuba.  The title of his presentation was, “Improving the Conversion Efficiency of Bioenergy Crops.”

Rod Williams receives Murphy Award​

Rod Williams.Rod Williams, associate head of Purdue Extension and associate professor of wildlife science, has been named the recipient of a 2016 Outstanding Undergraduate Teaching Award in Memory of Charles B. Murphy. Williams was surprised with the news on March 9.

Distinguished Agriculture Alumni Award 2016 - Mary Beth Adams, BS '80, MS '82​

The award honors mid-career alumni who have a record of outstanding accomplishments, have made significant contributions to their profession or society, and have exhibited high potential for professional growth.​ Mary Beth Adams is a research soil scientist for the USDA Forest Service, based in Morgantown, West Virginia.

6 honored with Purdue ag alumni's top award​

Six agricultural leaders received Purdue University Agricultural Alumni Association's top award during the group's annual Fish Fry in Indianapolis.The Certificate of Distinction recognizes contributions to agriculture - and society in general - that go well beyond the requirements of a job or profession.

Read more.​

Ag Connections shares article of FNR first department head and gift from FNR alumni

Alumni from the Department of Forestry and Natural Resources celebrates over 100 years of excellance with FNR teaching in the outdoors, FNR 370-Summer Practicum. Lost Lake group dedicates "The Letter," drawing by FNR alumni and artist Fred Montague, BS-wildlife science 1967.​

Read more.​

The passing of FNR professor Herbert C. Krauch

The Spotting Scope is sad to report the passing of former FNR Professor Herbert C. Krauch, March 25, 1925 – January 24, 2016.

Read more.​

​The Wildlife Society shares FNR course, preparing FNR students for annual TWS conference

As part of the course, students are required to attend meetings every couple of weeks. “During those classes, we talked about how to prepare for the conference, made schedules for when they attend, and researched who was going to be there,” said graduate student Casey Day, who ran some of the mandatory meetings in the first year along with Assistant Professor of Wildlife Ecology and Management Liz Flaherty and Associate Professor of Wildlife Science Patrick Zollner.

Read more.​

Listen to WBAA as they interview shrimp farmers along with Purdue aquatic extension specialist

Bob Rhode, Purdue aquatic extension specialist, leads sold-out one-day shrimp farming workshop. There are more than 70 people at this standing-room-only workshop, a testament to the interest in the industry. 

Read more.​

FNR graduate research, woodrats, shared in The Wildlife Society newsletter

“The reason for the chestnuts’ decline is chestnut blight,” said Timothy Smyser, a biologist in the wildlife genetics program at the National Wildlife Research Center. “It’s a fungal pathogen that was introduced from Asia, like white-nose syndrome from Europe. It became airborne and then spread rapidly throughout the range.”

Read more.​