Romi Lynn Burks

Notable Achievements

During the last weekend of February, Professor of Biology Romi Burks and Professor of Biology Ben Pierce took eight biologists to the Texas Academy of Sciences (TAS) Annual Meeting in Clear Lake, Texas. Southwestern student contributions included two posters and two oral presentations as well as an exciting second-place team finish in “Science Jeopardy.”

    • Two of Pierce’s research students, Sydney Cole ’23 and Claire Bason ’23, won second place for best undergraduate poster in the terrestrial ecology and management section for their work on chirping frogs and mites titled “Chigger Mite Prevalence in Texas Chirping Frogs Based on Citizen Science.” Additional student coauthors included Emma Kesterson ’23 and Gina Rameriz ’23. 
    • In the freshwater science section, Lillian Dolapchiev ’23 gave a talk titled “Filter Me … If You Can: Using Size Fractionation to Separate, Measure, and Determine the Size of Pomacea maculataeDNA.” Her coauthors included Cynthia Bashara ’23, Matthew Barnes ’06, and Burks. Dolapchiev earned first place for best undergraduate oral presentation within the freshwater science section.
    • In the same section, Bashara gave an oral presentation titled “Snail ( Pomacea maculata ) Days of Summer: Associations Between Reproductive Output, Snail Removal Efforts, and Environmental DNA (eDNA) Concentration,” which included Dolapchiev, Barnes, Burks, and Chris Vaughn from the San Antonio River Authority as coauthors. Bashara took the second place award in the category.
    • Together, Bashara and Dolapchiev presented their specific research objectives completed over the summer during SCOPE as a poster presentation titled “Stop Escargo in San Antonio: Developing Best Methodology for Detecting Pomacea maculataUsing Environmental DNA (eDNA).” This poster won second place for best undergraduate poster in the freshwater science section.
    • Two more research students of Burks, Kate Henderson ’25 and Abby White ’25, also presented a poster in the freshwater science section titled “Keep Austin Snail-Free: Ongoing Removal of Pomacea maculataand Evaluation by eDNA.” The poster was coauthored by Bashara, Dolapchiev, and Dave Christie, who owns a home in Austin that has been invaded by apple snails. Henderson and White put together this poster based on just a semester of lab involvement.
    • In addition to collaborating with Burks and coauthoring presentations with Bashara and Dolapchiev, Barnes, an associate professor at Texas Tech University, served as vice president of the academy and transitioned into his 2022–2023 role as president-elect. He will oversee the program at next year’s TAS meeting at San Angelo State University. His own undergraduate and graduate students from Texas Tech also won a poster presentation and a research grant award, respectively. 
    • Photos from the Awards Banquet can be seen on the TAS website
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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 2022: I will be teaching: 

BIO50-194 - Science of Chocolate (NSD, SJ)

BIO50-444 - Invertebrate Ecology with Lab

  • 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 2022: I will be teaching: 

    BIO50-194 - Science of Chocolate (NSD, SJ)

    BIO50-444 - Invertebrate Ecology with Lab

  • 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.

  •  

    2020

    • Burks, R. L. 2020. Setting Up Nonparametric Tests. Make Teaching with R in Undergraduate Biology Less Excruciating 2020, QUBES Educational Resources. doi:10.25334/PFE8-D888
    • Glasheen, P. M.*, S. R. Campos*, R. L. Burks and K. A. Hayes. 2020. First evidence of introgressive hybridization of apple snails (Pomacea spp.) in a native range. Journal of Molluscan Studies 86(2): 96-103. doi:10.1093/mollus/eyz035

    2019

    • Emery, N., A. Hunt, R. Burks, M. Duffy, C. Scoffoni, and A. Swei. 2019. Students as ecologists: Strategies for successful mentorship of undergraduate researchers. Ecology and Evolution: https://rdcu.be/btaia

    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

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    Southwestern students, staff, and faculty learn—and grow—abroad.

  • The Wonders of Chocolate

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