12th Annual UCD Graduate Student Symposium in Ecology (GSSE)

Saturday, February 9, 2019
100 Hunt Hall, UC Davis

Registration is open for the 2019 Graduate Student Symposium in Ecology!


See Event Information for the symposium schedule and abstracts.

EGSA’s annual Graduate Student Symposium in Ecology is a unique forum for sharing research ideas across graduate programs, departments, and labs, and fostering new collaborations. With at least 17 graduate programs and departments at UC Davis that conduct ecological research, the Graduate Student Symposium in Ecology provides an ideal place for graduate students to practice giving scientific presentations to the broader ecological community on campus. Each year the symposium features talks and posters from UC Davis graduate students working in any field of ecology, a prominent, student-nominated ecologist as keynote speaker, and a photo contest. Check out previous winners and abstracts below and in the archive.

This year we are pleased to welcome Dr. Asmeret Asefaw Berhe from UC Merced as the symposium’s keynote speaker.Originally from Eritrea, Dr. Berhe’s research is focused on the effects of erosion, fire, and climate change on soil organic matter dynamics. She also has a background in political ecology, specifically the environmental impacts of armed conflict.

Registration deadlines for presentations:

Talks:  11:59pm, February 4, 2019
Posters:  11:59pm, February 4, 2019

Registration is accepted on a rolling basis, however we will prioritize abstracts submitted prior to the deadline. (Please register even if you only plan to attend the symposium. We use these numbers to plan meals.)

Art + Photo Contest

Don’t have a presentation or poster but still interested in participating? We are having an ecology-inspired art competition as well. This is a new idea where you can share your photographs, paintings, crafts or other artsy things with the greater community at UCD. Conference attendees will vote for their favorite entry, and there is even going to be a PRIZE*!


  • Photos of your work should submitted digitally as attachments to <modland@ucdavis.edu>
  • The subject of the email should be LastName_2019ArtContest
  • Photos should be submitted no later than February 6th, 2019
  • Photos should be submitted as JPG, TIF, PNG, or GIF files that are large enough to be 8”x 10” prints without being grainy. If you have an alternative piece contact us to arrange something.
  • Include in the body of the email the following information:
    – Your first and last name
    – Your department/graduate group
    – A caption explaining your entry that will be displayed with your entry
  • Please limit submissions to those that are appropriate for a professional and public event!

2018 Highlights

Keynote Speaker – Dr. Meg LowmanCalifornia Academy of Sciences – Using Canopy Research as a Hook to Inspire Forest Conservation
Best Talk – Martha Wohlfeil – Potential mechanisms of within-season elevational movement of songbirds
Best Poster – Breanna Martinico – “Merlin (Falco columbarius): Population genetics in the post-DDT era”
Art Contest Winner – Amanda Coen – “Full Speed Ahead,” Pipe cleaner sculpture of a common dolphin
Photo Contest Winner – Max Odland – “Mutual Attraction,” Moths pollinating Dichelostemma capitatum in the northern central valley


Mutual Attraction
© Max Odland

2017 Highlights

Keynote Speaker – Dr. Joel Abraham, California State University, Fullerton – “Supporting undergraduate student success through computer-based instruction and assessment”
Best Talk – Ash Zemenick – “Ecological diversity: Alpha, beta…human?”
Best Poster – Cate Quinn – Distribution & connectivity of Sierra Nevada red fox in the Oregon Cascades”
Art Contest Winner Kate Borchardt – “Melissodes sp., Male”
Photo Contest Winner – Rob Blenk – “Brillante coroniver”

2016 Highlights

Keynote Speaker – Dr. Erika Zavaleta, University of California, Santa Cruz“What are the consequences of losing biological diversity?”
Best Talk – Ash Zemenick: “How do flower visitors shape floral microbe communities?”
Best Poster – Corey Clatterbuck “Heavy metal and organic contaminant loads in California Least Tern and Western Gull eggs across the Southern California Bight.”
Art Contest Winner – Lauren Mitchell
Photo Contest Winner:

Gabe Ng -- Winter Swell
Winter Swell
© Gabe Ng


2015 Highlights

Keynote Speaker – Dr. Kimberly Tanner, San Francisco State UniversityBeyond Assessing Biological Knowledge – Card Sorting, Superheroes, and Moving Towards Measuring Biological Expertise among Undergraduates
Best Talk – Evan Eskew: Both sides of the coin: host and pathogen influence disease outcome in an emerging amphibian disease.
Best Poster –
Tyler Mackey:
 Microbial mat morphology as a record of environmental change in perennially ice-covered Lake Joyce, Antarctica
Matt Whalen: Consumer diversity and flow variability influence water filtration in fouling communities
Art Contest Winner – Kate Ingram

Photo Contest Winner –


Juvenile Japanese macaque, Jigokudani Hot Springs, Japan. ©Emily Miller A pika gathers food…winter is coming. ©Eric Payne


2014 Highlights

Keynote Speaker Dr. Mark Bertness, Brown University:  Are salt marshes and salt marsh die-off consumer driven alternative states?
Best Talk – Matt Savoca: Marine plastic debris as an olfactory trap for procellariiform seabirds.
Best Poster – Dave Harris: Predicting species composition when environmental drivers are missing.
Art Contest Winner (tie):

  • Rosemary Hartman
  • Allison Simler

Photo Contest Winner:

It’s not easy to make a living in Evolution Basin, Kings Canyon National Park.
© Mary Clapp


2013 Highlights

Keynote Speaker Dr. Mary Power, University of California, Berkeley: Food webs in river networks: towards predictive mapping
Best Talk – Katie Holzer: Frog use of urban and agricultural landscapes in Vietnam
Best Poster – Marshall McMunn: The dark side of plant defense: Comparing nocturnal and diurnal defensive induction in big sagebrush

Photo contest winners:

Nature Research in Action
Jumping spider eating a hover fly. © Rachel Graham Paddy rice production demo. © Elias Marvinney
Jumping spider eating a hover fly. © Rachel Graham Paddy rice production demo. © Elias Marvinney


2012 Highlights

Keynote Speaker Dr. Rob Dunbar, Stanford University: Past climate change from the tropics to the poles: what’s the scoop with natural variability versus modern anthropogenic warming

Best Talk (tie)

  • Kevin Ringleman: Dearest neighbors: adaptive nest clustering in waterfowl
  • Matt Savoca: Evidence for a marine tri-trophic interaction mediated by an induced defense: examining 50+ years of diet data in a Southern Ocean seabird assemblage

Best Poster: Sacha Heath – -The Effects of Bird and Bat Arthropod Predation on Sapling Black Cottonwoods in the Context of Restoration

Photo contest winners:

Nature Research in Action
© Evan Eskew Nighttime predator sampling. © Matt Young
Parachuting red-eyed leaf frog. © Evan Eskew Nighttime predator sampling. © Matt Young

Find all our previous years’ programs, abstracts, and highlights in the archive.

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