CASNR leaders award nine prestigious 2021 undergraduate research grants
By: Norman Martin
In order to give more opportunity to engage undergraduates in research activities, Texas Tech University College of Agricultural Science and Natural Resources officials have selected nine standout students to receive 2021 Undergraduate Research Grants.
“These students are really outstanding individuals,” said Christy Bratcher, CASNR's Associate Dean for Research. “Seeing CASNR students get involved in research at the undergraduate level encourages me that we will continue to have excellent students transitioning into our graduate programs.”
The funding will support wages for undergraduate research activities or for supplies to conduct research projects. After completing the project, the student will submit an abstract to a professional society meeting or to a symposium or research conference supported at Texas Tech.
This year's winners are:
Annie Braack, a junior natural resources management major from Pilot Point, Texas. Braack's research will focus on an assessment of small mammal diversity, population demography, occupancy, and damage among three irrigation systems in row crops on the Southern High Plains. The study will assess multiple season occupancy, diversity, population size, and demographics of small mammals in fields with various irrigation types, assessing damage of subsurface drip irrigation tubing within study plots, and assessing if burrowing patterns and burrow concentrations match irrigation line layouts. Field work will be conducted in both Lubbock and Hale County in sorghum fields for two crop seasons. Her project director is Blake Grisham, an associate professor in the Department of Natural Resources Management.
Brock Buckingham, a sophomore mechanical engineering major from Wheeler, Texas. Buckingham's research will focus on unmanned aerial system application in precision agriculture. The study will evaluate different unmanned aerial systems platforms and sensors, including a Phantom Pro 4 and a Phantom Pro 4 RTK (real-time kinematic) with 4k cameras, three-dimensional topographic data acquisition. The accuracy, precision, and efficiency of these systems will be assessed as a basis for practical application in precision agriculture. His project director is Wenxuan Guo, an assistant professor of crop ecophysiology and precision agriculture in the Department of Plant and Soil Science with a joint appointment with Texas AgriLife Research.
Ashlyn Crimm, a senior agricultural leadership major from San Angelo, Texas. Crimm's research will focus on better understanding the role of team-centered learning in college classrooms. Her work will include interviewing CASNR students to discover the strengths, challenges, and opportunities of working in groups and teams and will be instrumental in future research focused on the role of group dynamics, artifacts, and impactful practices associated with group work. As college students graduate and enter the workforce, they are often not prepared to work effectively in team environments due to often difficult experiences encountered during college. Her project supervisor is Laura Fischer, an assistant professor with the Department of Agricultural Education and Communications.
Justin Dawsey, a senior natural resources management major from Howe, Texas. Dawsey's research will focus on mapping of silverleaf nightshade (Solanum elaeagnifolium Cav.) growth patterns for simulating invasion dynamics in a novel environment. The study aims to determine the factors that influence the ability of silverleaf nightshade to invade an area and successfully outcompete the native plants already there. Data will be analyzed statistically to determine silverleaf nightshade growth patterns, and will entered into the EDYS plant growth model to look at long-term patterns of the plant's invasion success. His project director is Cade Coldren, an assistant professor of ecological modeling in the Department of Plant and Soil Science.
Lauryn Flores, a junior animal science major from El Paso, Texas. Flores' research will focus on the effect of eicosapentaenoic acid in bovine adipocyte metabolic function and inflammatory response. She will be trained in sample collection and processing; cell culture protocols and cell differentiation in vitro; design and planning of in vitro assays with bovine adipocytes; development of lipolysis assay; extraction of RNA, synthesis of cDNA, and qPCR analysis; and standardization of an in vitro functional assay for evaluation of insulin sensitivity in bovine adipocytes. Her project supervisor is Clarissa Strieder-Barboza, an assistant professor with the Department of Veterinary Sciences.
Ava Hale, a first year student plant and science major from Spring, Texas. Hale's research will focus on understanding the dynamics of alien chromosome transmission from the wild allotetraploid species, Oryza latifolia Desv. to cultivated rice. The study aims to validate preliminary observations and limited available data on the presence of genetic mechanisms for chromosome elimination in O. latifolia. Among Hale's duties will be setting-up and maintaining of the experimental materials in the greenhouse; manual emasculation and pollination of the experimental materials; and harvesting and planting of the F1 seeds in plug trays. Her project director is Rosalyn Shim, an assistant professor of plant breeding and genetics in the Department of Plant and Soil Science.
William Hall, a first year agricultural and applied economics major from Miami, Texas. Hall's research will focus on the impacts of COVID-19 on low-income families. The study will develop a household model of consumers by incorporating consumption of food, income from work, and leisure. The researchers will optimize this model and undertake comparative statics to examine the effects of income loss and government food assistance programs due to the Coronavirus. By comparing the results of with and without food assistance programs, the researchers will be able to ascertain how much poor households benefit from these programs. His project director is Stephen Devadoss, Emabeth Thompson Endowment Professorship with the Department of Agricultural and Applied Economics.
Bradi Harral, a junior agricultural and applied economics major from Edgewoo, New Mexico. Harral's research will focus on exploring the relation between course and instructor characteristics on course selection and college students' ratings of professors. The study will use utilize survey-based experimental methods used in agricultural economics and marketing; thus, providing a unique and novel perspective to the study of teaching evaluations and course selection. Her project supervisor is Carlos Carpio, a professor with the Department of Agricultural and Applied Economics.
Yasmim Freire de Mendonca Saes, a sophomore animal and food sciences major from Dallas, Texas. Saes' research will focus on ruminal microbial metabolomics modulation using a continuous culture system. The study will evaluate the potential of pre-selected bacteria inside the cattle rumen to improve ruminal microbial efficiency. It is known that the ruminal microbiota of cattle intermediates more than 85 percent of the total energy available to the host, and so current research is unprecedented and promises great advances to the cattle industry. Her project supervisor is Jhones Sarturi, an associate professor of beef cattle nutrition and metabolism in the Department of Animal and Food Sciences.
CONTACT: Christy Bratcher, Associate Dean for Research, College of Agricultural Sciences and Natural Resources, Texas Tech University at (806) 742-2808 or firstname.lastname@example.org