Accomplishments tallied for 2021 Davis College Undergraduate Research Grants
By: Norman Martin
The nine standout students receiving 2021 Undergraduate Research Grants have completed their tasks, and Davis College of Agricultural Sciences & Natural Resources leaders took a moment this week to look back at the scientific work of these talented participants.
“It is great to see students getting involved in research at the undergraduate level,” said Christy Bratcher, CASNR's Associate Dean for Research. “This is a wonderful opportunity to learn skills needed for graduate level work in the future.”
The funding for the undergraduate grants supported wages for research activities or for supplies to conduct research projects. After completing the project, the students submitted an abstract to a professional society meeting or to a symposium or research conference supported at Texas Tech.
Annie Braack, a natural resources management major from Pilot Point, Texas. Braack's research focused 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 assessed 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. Among the results were an abstract to the Texas Chapter of the Wildlife Society Meeting in November, and a poster at the group's annual meeting in February. In addition, she had a poster presentation at the Texas Tech Undergraduate Research Conference in March and a presentation at the NRM Research Day in April. Her project director was Blake Grisham, an associate professor in the Department of Natural Resources Management.
Brock Buckingham, a mechanical engineering major from Wheeler, Texas. Buckingham's research focused on unmanned aerial system (UAS) application in precision agriculture. The study evaluated the performance of different UAS platforms and sensors, including a Phantom Pro 4 and a Phantom Pro 4 RTK (real-time kinematic), in determining three-dimensional elevation for precision agriculture applications. Among the results was a presentation by Buckingham, Zhe Lin, and Wenxuan Guo, titled Comparing Two Unmanned Aerial Systems in Determining Elevation at the Field Scale at the International Conference on Agricultural Drone Technology in San Francisco. Buckingham's project director was Wenxuan Guo, an assistant professor of crop ecophysiology and precision agriculture in the Department of Plant & Soil Science with a joint appointment with Texas A&M AgriLife Research.
Ashlyn Crimm, an agricultural leadership major from San Angelo, Texas. Crimm's research focused on better understanding the role of team-centered learning in college classrooms. Her work included interviewing Davis College 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. Among the results were submission of the research project to the Western AAAE Conference, and preparation of a manuscript for NACTA Journal. Her project supervisors were Jason Headrick and Laura Fischer, assistant professors within the Department of Agricultural Education & Communications.
Justin Dawsey, a natural resources management major from Howe, Texas. Dawsey's research focused on mapping of silverleaf nightshade (Solanum elaeagnifolium Cav.) growth patterns for simulating invasion dynamics in a novel environment. The study aimed to determine the factors that influence the ability of silverleaf nightshade to invade an area and successfully outcompete the native plants already there. Among the results were a presentation at the Texas Tech Undergraduate Research Conference in March, and a poster presentation in April at the Plant & Soil Science Student Research Symposium. His project director was Cade Coldren, an assistant professor in the Department of Plant & Soil Science.
Lauryn Flores, an animal science major from El Paso, Texas. Flores' research focused on fat depot-specific differences on adipocyte metabolism in beef cattle. She was trained in sample collection and processing; cell culture protocols in vitro; design and planning of assays with bovine adipocytes; extraction of RNA, synthesis of cDNA, and qPCR analysis; and standardization of imaging assays for measuring cell size, proliferation, and lipid accumulation. Among the results was a poster presentation at the Texas Tech Undergraduate Research Conference in March and co-authorship in a manuscript currently under preparation. Her project supervisor was Clarissa Strieder-Barboza, an assistant professor of adipose tissue biology and metabolism with the Department of Veterinary Sciences.
Ava Hale, a plant and science major from Spring, Texas. Hale's research centered on understanding the dynamics of alien chromosome transmission from the wild allotetraploid species, Oryza latifolia Desv. to cultivated rice, as well as on the multi-dimensional responses of upland cotton to low temperature stress during seedling establishment. The studies focused on validating preliminary observations towards understanding genetic mechanisms underlying chromosome elimination in rice and cold stress responses in cotton. Among the results were an abstract and poster to the Plant Genomes, Systems Biology, and Engineering Meeting organized by Cold Spring Harbor, Max Planck, and the Carnegie Institution for Science. Her project director was Rosalyn Shim, an assistant professor of plant breeding and genetics in the Department of Plant & Soil Science.
Chase Hall, an agricultural and applied economics major from Miami, Texas. Hall's research focused on the impacts of COVID-19 on low-income families. The study was aimed at developing a household model of consumers by incorporating consumption of food, income from work and leisure. Hall attempted to optimize the model and undertake comparative statics to examine the effects of income loss and government food assistance programs due to the Coronavirus. Hall's research project was used in a grant proposal submitted to the National Institute of Food and Agriculture's Agriculture and Food Research Initiative. His project director was Stephen Devadoss, Emabeth Thompson Endowment Professorship with the Department of Agricultural & Applied Economics.
Bradi Harral, an agricultural and applied economics major from Edgewood, New Mexico. Harral's research focused on exploring the relation between course and instructor characteristics on course selection and college students' ratings of professors. The study utilized survey-based experimental methods used in agricultural economics and marketing. Among the results were a poster presentation at the Texas Tech Undergraduate Research Conference in March. In addition she was selected for an oral presentation in February at the Southern Agricultural Economics Association Conference in New Orleans. The poster and presentation were titled, Factors Affecting Students' Teaching Evaluations: A Survey Experiment. Her project supervisor was Carlos Carpio, a professor with the Department of Agricultural & Applied Economics.
Yasmim Freire de Mendonca Saes, an animal and food sciences major from Dallas, Texas. Saes' research focused on ruminal microbial metabolomics modulation using a continuous culture system. The study evaluated the potential of pre-selected bacteria inside the cattle rumen to improve ruminal microbial efficiency. Among the results was a second place award for an oral presentation at the Texas Tech Undergraduate Research Conference in Mach. Her project supervisor was Jhones Sarturi, an associate professor of beef cattle nutrition and metabolism in the Department of Animal & Food Sciences.
Looking ahead, Bratcher noted that Davis College officials have selected a dozen students to receive 2022 Undergraduate Research Grants. They include:
- Tyler Brimager, a junior natural resources management major from New Braunfels, Texas (Mentor: Aaron Norris)
- Kylie Farmer, a senior agricultural education and communications major from Chowchilla, California (Mentor: Laura Fischer)
- Jackson Galvan, a first year student plant and soil science major from Weslaco, Texas (Mentor: Wenxuan Guo)
- Steven Iida, a junior natural resources management major from Spring, Texas (Mentor: Caitlyn Cooper-Norris)
- Jessica Kennedy, a sophomore biochemistry major from Windhoek, Namibia (Mentor: Gunvant Patil)
- Alexandra Novak, a senior plant and soil science major from Lewisville, Texas (Mentor: Joey Young)
- Katherine Pearson, a senior plant and soil science major from Cypress, Texas (Mentor: Scott Longing)
- Sarah Peters, a senior animal and food science major from Shiner, Texas (Mentor: Jhones Sarturi)
- Alexandra Salinas, a junior agricultural education and communications major from Mission, Texas (Mentor: Jason Headrick)
- Rachel Self, a junior animal and food science major from Nacogdoches, Texas (Mentor: Amy Petry)
- Christian Stephens, a sophomore plant and soil science major from Karnack, Texas (Mentor: Rosalyn Shim)
- Alexandra Tegeler, a senior vet science major from Huntsville, Texas (Mentor: Clarissa Strieder-Barboza)
CONTACT: Christy Bratcher, Associate Dean for Research, Davis College of Agricultural Sciences & Natural Resources, Texas Tech University at (806) 742-2808 or firstname.lastname@example.org
- Agricultural & Applied Economics
- Agricultural Education & Communications
- Animal & Food Sciences
- Landscape Architecture
- Natural Resources Management
- Plant & Soil Science
- Veterinary Science
Editor: Norman Martin
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