Fall 2015-Summer 2016 News main content.

RGGS Fall '15/Summer '16 News

RGGS Updates

The Society of Systematic Biologists Graduate Student Research Awards were recently presented to Rachel Welt and Spencer Galen (RGGS) and Julia Tejada (Columbia). 

Arianna Kuhn (CUNY) won the Society for the Study of Reptiles and Amphibians Seibert Award for Systematics/Evolution for her talk on “Comparative Phytogeography of Malagasy Snakes” at the 2017 Joint Meeting of Ichthyologists and Herpetologists.

Kelly Speer (RGGS) won the Outstanding Student Paper Award at the American Society of Parasitologists. 

Amber Paasch (RGGS) won the Robert T. Wilce Graduate Paper Award at the annual Northeast Algal Symposium and the Theodore L. Jahn and Eugene C. Bovee Award at the International Society of Protistology conference in Moscow.

Bernardo Santos (RGGS) received extensive recent press coverage for his recent work with school children from Washington Heights to name a new Dominican wasp (Diario Libre - a daily newspaper from the Dominican Republic; WNYC – radio and online; DNAinfo.com; Telemundo; NY Daily News). See here and here

10 PhD Defenses for Academic Year 2015-2016. Congratulations to Andre de Carvalho (RGGS Comp Bio), Stephanie Loria (RGGS Comp Bio), AAron Veicht (AMNH-Columbia Astro), Silvia Pavan (AMNH-CUNY EEB), Jianye Chen (AMNH-Columbia DEES), Natalia Rossi (AMNH-Columbia E3B), Lauren Oliver (RGGS Comp Bio), Graham “Gray” Kanarek (AMNH-Columbia Astro), Camilo Sanin (AMNH-Columbia E3B), and Aki Watanabe (RGGS Comp Bio)!

RGGS alumnus Dr. Pedro Peloso named a new Amazon frog after a mythical monster. The amphibian, which lives in Brazil's Floresta Nacional de Pau-Rosa, gets its name from a tall beast said to lurk in the rain forest.

Anna Holden's research highlights La Brea Tar Pits insects as paleoenvironmental indicators.

Leg-wing Coordination in Baby Birds, Dinosaurs is Key Transition in Origin of Flight, Study Suggests - New paper published by RGGS-Paleo Postdoc Ashley Heers

Paleontologists Gain New Insight to "Telescoping" Crocodile Eyes - New study published in the journal PLOS ONE by RGGS Dean John Flynn, Columbia University-RGGS Grad Fellow student Julia Tejada, et al.

Great news from two new PhD Students, entering Fall 2016: Kaiya Provost has received a grant from the American Ornithologist's Union and Melissa Ingala earned an Honorable Mention for her NSF GRFP proposal!

Congratulations to Grace Musser (Columbia E3B/AMNH Ornithology), former REU students Grace Avecilla and Daniel Paluh and to AMNH Post-baccalaureate Helen Fellow Jordan Koch for receiving the NSF GRFP award - and to Madison Hansen for her GRFP Honorable Mention!

The Museum's newest exhibit, Dinosaurs Among Us, has received a great deal of media attention, and RGGS students and postdocs have been at the forefront. Here are just a few samples of articles about the exhibit featuring interviews with Danny Barta (current RGGS PhD candidate), Eugenia Gold (recent RGGS PhD graduate) and AMNH-RGGS postdoc Ashley Heers:

Ed Stanley

New paper on the diversity of tropical lizards published by RGGS Alumna Edward Stanley (RGGS PhD), David Grimaldi, et.al.

Isabelle Vea

Exciting and high profile Divergence Time Paper from RGGS Alumna Isabelle Vea and faculty member David Grimaldi has been published!

Photo Credit: Adriano Gambarini

The Brazilian Society of Zoology announced on March 8, 2016 that RGGS Comparative Biology PhD Program alumnus Dr. Pedro Peloso has won the Rodolpho von Ihering Award for best doctoral thesis defended between 2014 and 2015.  This prestigious award was conferred at the opening ceremony for the XXXI Brazilian Congress of Zoology held in Cuiabá, Brazil. 

Dr. Peloso was advised by Dr. Darrel Frost. He successfully defended his doctoral dissertation entitled “Phylogeny, Systematic Review, and Evolution of Narrow-Mouthed Frogs (Anura, Microhylidae)” on August 22, 2014 and his degree was conferred at the October 2014 Commencement Ceremony for the RGGS @ AMNH.

Congratulations to both Pedro and Darrel!

RGGS Ph.D. alumna Eugenia Leone Gold received extensive press coverage beginning Feb 24, 2016 for her article with Mark Norell documenting that extinct dodo birds were smarter than typically perceived (had much larger brains than expected).

The Richard Gilder Graduate School Achieves a Major Milestone

The Richard Gilder Graduate School is accredited by the New York State Board of Regents and the Commissioner of Education, and has been since 2009 (prior to 2009, the School was authorized upon is founding in 2006 by the Regents). In 2014, the School underwent its first re-accreditation process by the Regents. On December 1, 2015, the Regents Advisory Council on Institutional Accreditation voted to recommend re-accreditation for a period of ten years - the longest period possible. The Board of Regents endorsed and adopted the Advisory Council’s recommendation at its meeting on January 12, 2016. The Gilder Graduate School's accreditation is now valid to January 11, 2026. This is a significant affirmation of the success of the School to date, and a major accomplishment for the Museum and the School.
(RGGS Partner student, Columbia University) - Avian mixed flocks & assembly in the Solomon Islands (Advisor Dr. Joel Cracraft)

Latest congratulations go out to:

Michael Tessler, who, along with a team comprised of [email protected] faculty and affiliates including Dr. Mark Siddall, just published the first study of leech anatomy using CT scanning technology here at the Museum. Their findings were also recently discussed in a New York Times article.

RGGS PhD Graduate Ansel Payne for his article on boll weevils in TIME.

Columbia RGGS Partner Student Jianye Chen - A new @SciReports paper by AMNH/Columbia student Jianye Chen on incredible spade-foot frog fossil from Mongolia!

Santiago Claramunt, Postdoctoral Fellow Alumnus for his research article with AMNH Curator Joel Cracraft, published in Evolutionary Ecology on "A New Time Tree Reveals Earth History's Imprint on the Evolution of Modern Birds"

Stephanie Loria for her National Geographic Young Explorer’s Grant to visit the Indonesian islands of Sualwesi and Halmahera for her project "Patterns of Diversity and Endemism of Indo-Pacific Island Scorpions"

Kelly Speer for winning the Koopman Best Student Paper Prize at the 2015 North American Symposium on Bat Research!

Kelly Speer bat

recently presented the talk "Evolution of convergent functional systems in a hyperdiverse clade of parasitic wasps (Hymenoptera, Ichneumonidae, Cryptini)" at two conferences: the Evolution meeting in Guarujá, Brazil and the Linnean Society Biannual meeting in Oxford, UK.

Bernardo Santos
Courtesy of Bernardo Santos

Bernardo is also describing a new species from the genus Necolinoceras from the Dominican Republic. He worked with the Urban Advantage program at the AMNH to have sixth grade students from a school in Washington Heights, a neighborhood with New York City’s largest Dominican population – choose the name for the new species. After a morning of activities with the students talking about the importance of taxonomic biodiversity research, they chose "La Luz Brillante," meaning "the bright light".

Anna Holden’s paper on fossil galls has been published in Quaternary Research and is also now featured on the AMNH blog. Anna also gave two oral presentations and a poster presentation at The Willi Hennig Society Conference 2015. In addition, Anna received significant funding support from UC Irvine to continue her work on radiocarbon dating and stable isotopic research of Rancho La Brea insect chitin at the W. M. Keck Mass Spectrometry Laboratory, thanks to Dr. John Southon from the W. M. Keck Lab; she also received funding from The Natural History Museum of Los Angeles County/La Brea Tar Pits and Museum for travel to conduct lab research.

Anna Holden
Courtesy of Anna Holden

Eugenia Gold

The Diamondback profiled RGGS graduate Eugenia Gold.

Phillip Barden and André Luiz Carvalho Featured

The New York Times featured students in this story about the RGGS program.

2015 Ph.D. Graduates Profiles

Phil BardenCarly TribullEugenia Gold - Andre de Carvalho

Welcome to the New RGGS Students and Postdoctoral Fellows!

The Richard Gilder Graduate School hosted its Annual Staten Island Yankees outing on September 4, 2015 to welcome the new students and postdocs.

Staten Island Yankees 2015

Staten Island Yankees mascot with graduate students and staff

Richard Gilder Graduate School 2015 Incoming Students:

A group of five people shown in front of a baseball field.

L to R: Anna Ragni, Madison Hansen, Jeremy Frank, Julia Tejada (Columbia DEES-AMNH Graduate Fellow) and Kelly Speer

Biology and Physical Sciences REU 2015

The Richard Gilder Graduate School had its 2015 Biology and Physical Sciences Research Experience for Undergraduates Summer Internship Program.  An exceptional group of students presented their work at the Annual REU Symposium on August 5th and 6th.  Our congratulations to them and another successful REU summer!

Biology REU Program 2015

BIO REU Group 2015


Physical Sciences REU 2015

Student group poses in front of the museum.