Research by UTPA biology students recognized at Texas Academy of Science annual meeting
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Posted: 03/18/2011
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A number of students in the Department of Biology at The University of Texas-Pan American was recognized for their research presentations at the 114th Annual Meeting of the Texas Academy of Science.

The students and faculty from the biology department at UTPA made up one of the largest contingents from universities across the state to attend the meeting held March 3-5 at St. Edward's University in Austin.

Pictured at the 114th Annual Meeting of the Texas Academy of Science held March 3-5 at St. Edward's University in Austin are students and faculty from the biology department at UTPA. They made up one of the largest contingents from universities across the state to attend and participate.
The 21 poster presentations and 12 oral presentations by UTPA conducted there represented the work of 56 students and 10 faculty members in the department. The presentations by UTPA students were in seven of the 14 sessions the academy covers - environmental science, freshwater science, marine science, terrestrial ecology, botany, cellular and molecular biology and conservation biology.

Students from UTPA who were recognized for their research presentations at this year's meeting include:

• Edgar Armando Casillas, 1st Place, Undergraduate Oral Presentations - "Spread of Chagas Disease in North America due to Climatic Change."

• Thomas A. Eubanks, 2nd Place, Undergraduate Student Poster - "Isolation and Characterization of Arsenic-Tolerant and Arsenic-Oxidizing Bacteria from the Laguna Madre."

• Ashish and Adarsh Mamachen, Yuridia Patricia Gandy and Ruth Colyer, Honorable Mention, Undergraduate Student Poster - "Effects of leaf excision on spectral reflectance by the giant reed, Arundo donax."

• Jacqueline Valencia, Honorable Mention, Graduate Oral Presentation - "Comparison of the soil chemistry and the microbial communities in the rhizosphere of native and non-native grasses of the Lower Rio Grande Valley."

The oral and poster presentations by students are awarded based on a panel of judges and presented at a banquet held at the meeting. Students participating and winning in the undergraduate and graduate competition receive a certificate and a cash award.

According to its website, the Texas Academy of Science is a statewide organization that promotes scientific research in Texas colleges and universities, encourages research as a part of student learning, and enhances the professional development of its members. The academy's annual meeting provides a statewide forum for students, professional scientists, and professors to present the most recent research findings of Texas interest, exchange information and ideas, and network.

At the meeting, UTPA's Department of Biology faculty members served as section leaders of the following: Marine Science, Dr. Hudson DeYoe, professor, chair and Dr. Brian Fredensborg, assistant professor, vice-chair; and Environmental, Dr. K. Rod Summy, associate professor, chair. Elected at the meeting to serve as the new chair and vice chair of the Environmental Science Section were Dr. Frank J. Dirrigl and Dr. Kristine Lowe, both assistant professors.

The Department of Biology has a long standing history with the Texas Academy of Sciences and its meetings. DeYoe is a past academy president and Dr. Robert Edwards, professor, and Dr. Frank Judd, research professor (retired), were past editors of the Texas Journal of Science, the academy's peer-reviewed publication. In 2005, at the 108th meeting of the academy held at UTPA, Judd was named as a Texas Distinguished Scientist for his many contributions to the natural history of Texas. In addition, DeYoe, Edwards, Judd as well as Dr. Timothy Brush, professor, and retired faculty members Robert Lonard and Jacobo Ortega have all been recognized as Fellows of the Texas Academy of Science. Past biology graduate student, Joseph Kowalski has been recognized also as a fellow.

The Department of Biology at UTPA serves more than 1,300 undergraduate and graduate students majoring in biology and environmental science leading to a Bachelor of Science degree or pursuing a Master of Biology degree. Undergraduate students may elect a curriculum for a major in biology, premedical, pre-dental, pre-optometry, or teaching certification in elementary or secondary education.

Learn more about the Texas Academy of Science at their website. To obtain more information about the Department of Biology and its programs, go to their website.