Romi Lynn Burks

Notable Achievements

Shellsea Miller ’20 and Lauren Muskara ’20 presented their research on environmental DNA (eDNA), “A Snail out of Water: Hitting the Target on Primer Optimization for Apple Snails,” as a poster presentation at the annual meeting of the Society of Freshwater Science in Salt Lake City, UT. Their work uses a molecular ecology application to detect the presence of nonnative apple snails. The research started with SCOPE 2018 and continued through the 2018–2019 academic year, during which both Miller and Muskara completed a number of novel experiments using the quantitative polymerase chain reaction thermocycler in the Keck Molecular Biology Center. This work represents part of the ongoing collaboration between Professor of Biology Romi Burks and SU alumnus Dr. Matthew Barnes ’06 of Texas Tech University.

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Expertise

Aquatic ecology, molecular ecology, wetland science, apple snails, invertebrate biology and CHOCOLATE

Hi! I’m @ProfRomi, an aquatic ecologist at Southwestern University. Visit my comprehensive webpage at www.profromi.com to learn more about my integration of research, teaching and a special interest in teaching with chocolate.  

In my science life, I work as an aquatic ecologist interested in how ecological life histories influence behavior, diversity and distribution of freshwater invertebrates. My lab has adopted a number of applications of molecular ecology to study freshwater snails.

My research at Southwestern focuses primarily on a group of large freshwater snails - commonly called apple snails because they can reach the size of an apple. In Texas, one species, Pomacea maculata (formerly P. insularum), occurs as a non-native, invasive species but has native populations in South America. 

 

My Teaching Philosophy rests on 3 main pillars:

1. Teach who you are

2. Make your classroom a lab (experiment!)

3. Make your lab a classroom (teach critical thinking!)

 

For Spring 2019, I’m teaching the following:

Conservation Biology

Investigations into Genetics Lab

Methods in Ecology and Evolution - with a focus on R with the help of Datacamp

  • Hi! I’m @ProfRomi, an aquatic ecologist at Southwestern University. Visit my comprehensive webpage at www.profromi.com to learn more about my integration of research, teaching and a special interest in teaching with chocolate.  

    In my science life, I work as an aquatic ecologist interested in how ecological life histories influence behavior, diversity and distribution of freshwater invertebrates. My lab has adopted a number of applications of molecular ecology to study freshwater snails.

    My research at Southwestern focuses primarily on a group of large freshwater snails - commonly called apple snails because they can reach the size of an apple. In Texas, one species, Pomacea maculata (formerly P. insularum), occurs as a non-native, invasive species but has native populations in South America. 

     

    My Teaching Philosophy rests on 3 main pillars:

    1. Teach who you are

    2. Make your classroom a lab (experiment!)

    3. Make your lab a classroom (teach critical thinking!)

     

    For Spring 2019, I’m teaching the following:

    Conservation Biology

    Investigations into Genetics Lab

    Methods in Ecology and Evolution - with a focus on R with the help of Datacamp

  • Overall, my undergraduates and I focus on:

    1. Examining the genetic diversity found in native and non-native populations of apple snails
    2. Investigating whether hybridization occurs among Pomacea spp.
    3. Using freshwater snails to understand the ecology of eDNA
    4. Uncovering patterns of cryptic diversity among apple snails in Uruguay
    5. Looking for morphological patterns to tell apart species

     

    My research has included an international collaboration in Uruguay where native apple snails occur and current partnerships with Dr. Kenneth Hayes to study patterns of diversity and distribution of apple snails, with Dr. Matthew Barnes at Texas Tech to investigate applications of environmental DNA and with Dr. Russ Minton at Gannon University to tackle similar questions associated with mysterysnails.

    I obtained by PhD from the University of Notre Dame in 2000 and my BS and BA from Loyola University Chicago in 1995. Find out more about undergraduate research, project descriptions and collaborators on my website.

  • 2018

    2017

    • Perez, K. P., V. G. Gamboa, C. M. Schneider* and L. Burks. 2017. Resaca supports invasive apple snails (Pomacea maculata, Perry, 1810; Caenogastropoda: Ampullariidae) within the Rio Grande Valley, Texas. CheckList 13(3): https://doi.org/10.15560/13.3.2134
    • Glasheen, P. M.*, C. Clavo, M. Meerhoff, K. A. Hayes and L. Burks. 2017. Survival, recovery, and reproduction of apple snails (Pomacea spp.) following exposure to drought conditions. Freshwater Science 36(2): 316 - 324.
    • Burks, R. L., J. Bernatis, J. E. Byers, J. Carter, C. W. Martin, W. G. McDowell and J. van Dyke. 2017. Identity, reproductive potential, distribution, ecology and management of invasive Pomacea maculata in the southern United States. Pages 293-334. 2nd edition of Global Advances in Ecology and Management of Golden Apple Snails.

    2016

    • Sterling, E., A. Bravo, A. Porzecanski, Burks, J. Linder, T. A. Langen, D. S. Fernandez, D. Ruby and N. Bynum. 2016. Think before (and after) you speak: Practice and self-reflection build student confidence and bolster performance in oral communication skills in ecology and conservation biology classes. Journal of College Science Teaching 45(6): 87-99.
    • Burks, R. L., Miller* and A. Hill*. 2016. CABI Compendium project on Pomacea maculata. (Not traditional peer-review): http://www.cabi.org/isc/datasheet/116486
    • Perez, B. J.*, A. H. Segrest*, S. R. Campos*, R. L. Minton and L. Burks. 2016. First record of Japanese Mystery Snail Cipangopaludina, CheckList 12(5): http://dx.doi.org/10.15560/12.5.1973.
  • Recent Ecological Society of America Presentation  - Wait, don’t leave me? How to maintain research productivity with undergraduates after they graduate


In the News

  • The Wonders of Chocolate

    Professor of Biology and chocolate expert Romi Burks  talks chocolate with Bloomberg Radio.