Notable Faculty & Student Achievements
Eight faculty members in the natural sciences published a letter to the editor in the Williamson County Sunin the July 29th edition. “SU Scientists Refute ‘Hoax’ Climate Claim” was in reference to the Sun’s July 22 account of a community forum on the science of climate change. The letter was written by Professor of Biology Max Taub and co-signed by Professor of Chemistry Kerry Bruns, Professor of Biology Romi Burks, Professor of Biology Maria Cuevas, Assistant Professor of Chemistry Mike Gesinski, Associate Professor of Biology Martín Gonzalez, Professor of Kinesiology Scott McLean, and Professor of Biology Ben Pierce.
Associate Professor of Education Sherry Adrian, Professor of Education Michael Kamen, and Associate Professor of Education Alicia Moore, together with staff from Texas Parks & Wildlife, hosted the Texas WILD Forum over three days for 40+ participants in Mood-Bridwell. The Forum was an opportunity to demonstrate how to share conservation with young children with the intent to build a child’s sense of wonder with arts and crafts, music, reading, math, and conservation activities. Presenters demonstrated the importance of enhanced learning and development in all areas within the social, emotional, physical, linguistic, and cognitive domains,correlated with TEKS, Head Start, and National Association for the Education of Young Children (NAEYC) standards.
- Dr. Adrian spoke of differentiating instructional content and procedures to foster more successful inclusion of all students in her presentation “Diversity Is Nature’s Greatest Asset: Including All Children in Project WILD.”
- Professor of Biology Romi Burks presented the “ABCs of Apple Snails and eDNA.” She spoke about the basic ecology, diversity, and distribution of apple snails and how future monitoring efforts may incorporate environmental DNA.
- Dr. Kamen delivered a session titled “WILD Play and the International Play Crisis.” His session touched on the importance of play in development and learning for children and animals.
- Dr. Moore presented “The WILD Ones: Working to Identify Learning Pathways through Diversity,” which provided opportunities for participants to examine personal and cultural identities to enhance their teaching and learning.
Based on a pedagogical collaboration with the Center for Biodiversity and Conservation within the American Museum of Natural History, contributions made by Professor of Biology Romi Burks and several colleagues have been compiled and published in Lessons in Conservation: Volume VIII,a special “Student Learning” issue of the online journal. These materials are freely available to other instructors.
- Sterling, E.J, R.L. Burks, J. Linder, T. Langen, D.S. Fernandez, D. Ruby, and N. Bynum. 2018. Why is biodiversity important? An oral communication exercise. Lessons in Conservation 8:10–12. Available from http://www.amnh.org/our-research/center-for-biodiversity-conservation/resources-and-publications/lessons-in-conservation/lessons-in-conservation-volume-viii
- Sterling, E.J, R.L. Burks, J. Linder, T. Langen, D.S. Fernandez, D. Ruby, and N. Bynum. 2018. Selecting areas for conservation: an oral communication exercise. Lessons in Conservation 8:13–16. Available from http://www.amnh.org/our-research/center-for-biodiversity-conservation/resources-and-publications/lessons-in-conservation/lessons-in-conservation-volume-viiI
- Sterling, E.J, R.L. Burks, J. Linder, T. Langen, D.S. Fernandez, D. Ruby, N. Bynum, A. Bravo, and A.L. Porzecanski. 2018. Sharpen your oral communication skills! Lessons in Conservation 8:17–20. Available from http://www.amnh.org/our-research/center-for-biodiversity-conservation/resources-and-publications/lessons-in-conservation/lessons-in-conservation-volume-viii
Professor of Biology and Lillian Nelson Pratt Chair Ben Pierce gave an invited seminar on his research titled “Evolution and Ecology of the Georgetown salamander” to biology students and faculty at Richland College in Dallas, Texas, on Nov. 8, 2017.
Professor of Biology Romi Burks attended the Ecological Society of America meetings in Portland, Ore., with three of her research students, Carissa Bishop ’17, Madison Granier, class of 2019, and Sophia Campos ’16, Aug. 6–11. All three presented their own research posters at this national meeting attended by over 4,000 ecologists. Bishop shared her experience mentoring her peers in an Invertebrate Ecology lab taught by Burks. Her poster “Turning an RA into a TA: Case study in utilizing undergraduate research expertise to improve a molecular ecology course undergraduate research experience” evaluated a module made possible by funds from the Keck Foundation. Granier presented her poster titled “Snail Slime in Real Time: qPCR Detection of Environmental DNA from Apple Snails” which includes a collaboration with SU alumni Dr. Matthew Barnes ’06. This project extends her SCOPE research from the summer of 2016. Campos added the final samples to her analysis and presented a poster titled “Cryptic Yet Curiously Common: Population genetic structure and diversity of a cryptic Pomacea sp. and its better known congeneric P. canaliculata.” Co-authors include Dr. Ken Hayes from Howard University and Cristhian M. Blavijo and Fabrizio Scarabino from Uruguay.