Professor of Biology Ben Pierce and former Southwestern students Areli Gutierrez ’15 and Samuel Guess ’17 published an article titled “Within-Spring Movement of the Georgetown Salamander (Eurycea naufragia)” in the August 2018 issue of Herpetological Conservation and Biology. This project was a part of research conducted by Dr. Pierce and Southwestern University students on the ecology of the Georgetown salamander, a species of conservation concern found only in the immediate vicinity of Georgetown, Texas. Southwestern students contributed much of the research that was used by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service in 2014 to declare the species threatened under the Endangered Species Act. The research reported in this latest paper began as Areli’s Animal Behavior capstone project. Sam and Ben then added additional data and analyses, all of which went into the final paper.


Several of our SU graduates work with faculty to publish their research. We asked Areli to reflect on the process of turning her Animal Behavior Capstone into a publication:

What did you think of the publication process?
“The publication process was a first for me. It was a lot more collaborative than I realized with the reviewers. Some of the reviewer’s comments were incorporated into the next draft, while some comments received a direct response back from us. The level of feedback varied by reviewer, but all helped focus the writing to best represent our findings and data.”
How did doing undergraduate research further your own aspirations?
“My undergraduate research with Dr. Pierce gave me my first experience with both field work and the scientific writing process. I learned how to read through articles as well as structure my own writing around previously published research and our own findings. I was directly able to apply what I learned during this time to my time in graduate school. I was able to go into my Master’s program with a sense of my own competence in regards to being able to see a project from its inception to its completion, with all the work in the middle that it entailed.”
What would you advise a student about scientific writing?
“Do not skip out on article reviews. Those kinds of assignments help you think critically about scientific writing, especially if you look at articles in your specific field. Once you become more familiar with their formats, you can apply that structure to your own writing. While scientific writing is very formatted, you can use that to your advantage and focus on representing your research and studies in a very focused manner.”
To learn more, check out the publication: