Nalini Puniamoorthy awarded a STRI pre-doctoral short-term research fellowship

Facebook | Photos of Nalini PuniamoorthyNalini Puniamoorthy who is now a doctoral candidate at the Institute of Evolutionary Biology and Environmental Studies, University of Zurich has been awarded a Pre-doctoral short-term research fellowship by the Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute.

This fellowship ‘provides funding for short-term research projects in the tropics in areas of STRI research, under the supervision of STRI Staff Scientists and Research Associates. The projects, of up to 3 months, are usually complete in themselves. Exceptional exploratory projects or pilot studies with well-defined goals are encouraged.’

Nalini’s project proposal title which was awarded the grant is “A comparative study investigating the population differentiation of reproductive behavior and sexual dimorphisms in the neotropical sepsid fly Archisepsis diversiformis or if you prefer, ‘Diferenciacion geografica entre poblaciones de la mosca Archisepsis diversiformis en cuanto a su comportamiento y morfologia’.

Her supervisors during this stint will be William G. Eberhard and John Christy.

Thanks to Janice who informed Nalini in typical style to say, “Hi babe, I asked Siva to help announce your stint at the Smithsonian Institute.

Fri 16 Jul 2010: 6pm @ NUS LT22 – The Wallace Talk: “An Inordinate Fondness for Beetles,” by Paul Spencer Sochaczewski

In conjunction with the International Year of Biodiversity 2010, the National Parks Board & Raffles Museum of Biodiversity Research at the Department of Biological Sciences, National University of Singapore jointly present a public talk:

Alfred Russell Wallace - reversed woodcut image“An Inordinate Fondness for Beetles: Alfred Russel Wallace and the Theory of Natural Selection”

By Paul Spencer Sochaczewski

Friday 16th July 2010: 6.00pm – 7.00pm
Please register for the talk with the registration form at this link:

Lecture Theatre 22, Faculty of Science
Science Drive 2, National University of Singapore

Click for map to LT22

About the talk
“The 150th anniversary of Charles Darwin’s Origin of Species was celebrated in 2009. It was a landmark book which dramatically changed how we think about ourselves and the world in which we live.

Charles Darwin has been lionized as one of the giants of western thought for his theory of evolution. But what about Alfred Russel Wallace, a contemporary of Darwin’s who independently developed the theory of natural selection during his eight-year sojourn in Southeast Asia? Why did Darwin become a household name while Wallace became a historical footnote?

I’ve been following Alfred Russel Wallace for some 30 years, retracing many of his voyages in the Amazon and Southeast Asia. In this presentation I will also review the nine productive months Wallace spent in Singapore collecting thousands of beetles in Bukit Timah and investigate the importance of Wallace’s “faithful companion”, Ali.

Malay Archipelago woodcut - 'Orang Utan attacked by Dyaks'Wallace was a self-taught (he left school at 13) naturalist, a self-described “beetle collector” who traveled some 14,000 miles in the mid-19th century through what are now Malaysia, Singapore and Indonesia. His travels through the Indonesian archipelago helped him develop his theory of island biology. He theorized that the animals he found in western Indonesia and Peninsular Malaysia were different to those in eastern Indonesia because of changing sea levels and a combination of shallow seas and deep oceanic trenches. This east-west boundary came to be known as the “Wallace Line”, the dividing point between Southeast Asian fauna (elephants, tigers, monkeys and apes, hornbills) and Austro-Malayan realm fauna (kangaroos, birds of paradise, marsupials).

During his epic eight-year journey Wallace caught, skinned and pickled 125,660 specimens of “natural productions” including 212 new species of birds, 900 new species of beetles and 200 new species of ants. Consider just the logistics — how could one man, on a limited budget and without governmental or organizational support, living rough in rainforests, mount and transport 8,000 bird skins and 100,000 insects?

Who was this man? What drove him? How did he break the cool Victorian mould by writing passionately about finding new butterflies and birds? How could he adopt an infant orangutan and raise it like a child (he orphaned the little critter when he shot the mother, one of 17 he killed) and then, in order to obtain a commercially-viable skeleton, calmly boil the animal’s bones when the baby died?

And what led Wallace to develop his contributions to the theory of evolution, first the Sarawak Law (written with the support of the White Rajah of Sarawak, James Brooke), and then the famous Ternate Paper in which he outlined the concept “the fittest shall survive.” Wallace sent the Ternate Paper to Darwin (who up to that point had not published one word on evolution) and at that point the conspiracy theorists get involved. Did Darwin and Wallace arrive at their similar ideas independently? Or did Wallace inadvertently give Darwin the “key” to evolution and subsequently get ripped off by the more prominent and well-placed Darwin?”

About the Speaker

Paul Spencer SochaczewskiPaul Spencer Sochaczewski joined the U.S. Peace Corps in 1969, following graduation from George Washington University with a degree in psychology. He served as an education advisor in Sarawak and then worked as a creative director of JWT advertising agency in Singapore and Indonesia, living 13 years in Southeast Asia.

He joined WWF International as head of creative services in 1981 where he created international public awareness campaigns to protect rainforests, wetlands, plants and biological diversity; and also helped create various fundraising campaigns and strategies. He then managed the WWF Faith and Environment Network. From mid-1992 to mid-1993 he wrote articles on environmental problems in the Pacific for the Environment Program at the East-West Center in Honolulu (under a MacArthur grant). He now writes and advises international NGOs on fundraising and communications – his clients include McCann Healthcare, BirdLife, Sarawak Biodiversity Centre, and Singapore Health Promotion Board.

He has lived and worked in some 70 countries, speak Bahasa Indonesia and French. Currently resident in Bangkok, Thailand, he has more than 600 by-lined articles published and co-authored (as Paul Spencer Wachtel with Jeffrey A. McNeely), Soul of the Tiger: People and Nature in Southeast Asia (1988), Eco-Bluff Your Way to Instant Environmental Credibility (1991) and published a collection of about 70 articles penned over the years as The Sultan and the Mermaid Queen (2008).

Seminar on Tue 13 Jul 2010: 2pm – Jaboury Ghazoul on “Is REDD the new green? Reconciling conservation conflicts”

“Is REDD the new green? Reconciling conservation conflicts.”

By Jaboury Ghazoul
Professor of Ecosystem Management
ETH Zurich, Switzerland

Tue 13 Jul 2010: 2pm-3pm

DBS Conference Room 1
Block S2, Level 3 [map]
Department of Biological Sciences
National University of Singapore

Host: Prof. Navjot Sodhi

Jaboury GhazoulAbout the speaker – Jaboury Ghazoul is Professor of Ecosystem Management at ETH Zurich. His interests lie in plant ecology, and specifically plant-animal interactions underlying plant reproduction, a subject he approaches from the perspectives of land use change, and conservation, as well as basic ecology. Although initially a marine biologist, Jaboury obtained his PhD in evolutionary ecology and then went on to specialize in tropical forest ecology, working in the forests of Vietnam, Thailand, and Costa Rica and now spending most of his time in India, Malaysia and the Seychelles.

After eight years at Imperial College London he moved to ETH Zurich where he established the current Professorship in Ecosystem Management. He is Editor-in-Chief of Biotropica and recently published, with Douglas Sheil, a book titled “Tropical Rain Forest Diversity, Ecology and Conservation“.

About the talk

“Reduced Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation (REDD) is the latest attempt to reconcile global carbon management, conservation and land use objectives into a universal win-win scenario.

Its appeal arises from the fact that it allows developed countries to atone for their carbon profligacy by paying developing countries to stop deforestation – itself a major source of carbon emissions.

In the process, conservationists are kept happy by virtue of the consequent forest, and hence biodiversity, conservation.

While very much in support of such measures, I also contend that the successful implementation of REDD is likely to be fraught with difficulties associated with future demand for competing land uses, as well as less direct effects on national and regional economies. I explore these possibilities and by doing so highlight possible current and future challenges that REDD schemes may have to overcome.”