August 16, 2015


by Steve Lang, Sul Ross News and Publications

Seven students presented research at the first Borderlands Research Institute (BRI) Undergraduate Research Symposium Friday (Aug. 14) at Sul Ross. Pictured (from left) are: Thomas Janke, program coordinator; Hunter Dickens (Texas A&M Commerce); Felicia Rocha (Sul Ross); Jacquie Evans (Arizona State); Jill Morgan (Sul Ross); Carolina Medina-Nava (Sul Ross); Alec Ritzell (Sul Ross); Michael Stangl (Sul Ross); Dr. Louis Harveson, BRI director. (Photo by Bobby Allcorn)

Sul Ross State University’s undergraduate research opportunities have expanded.

Buoyed by the success of the Ronald McNair Program, and adding a few innovations, the Borderlands Research Institute (BRI) held its first symposium Friday (Aug. 14) at the Turner Range Animal Science Center.

Seven undergraduates, both from Sul Ross and other universities, presented research findings from plants to pronghorns, along with deer, mountain lions, skunks and other regional wildlife. A matching grant from the Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo enabled the BRI to establish the program this past January.

Projects are funded seasonally or annually, and are available to any interested undergraduate student who fulfills the required qualifications, including students from other universities. Each student has a graduate student mentor. Sul Ross graduate Thomas Janke, Granger, serves as program coordinator.

Participants, their hometowns and projects were:

* Jill Morgan, Camp Wood (Sul Ross), “Dietary Overlap Among Pronghorn, Cattle, and Prairie Dogs in Trans-Pecos, Texas,” Justin French, Bryan, graduate mentor.

* Jacquie Evans, Gilbert, AZ (Arizona State University), “Comparison of Common Methods Used in Wetland Seed Bank Analyses,” Ryan Anthony, Chandler, AZ.

* Carolina Medina-Nava, Monterrey, Nuevo Leon, Mexico (Sul Ross), “Trail Preference Use and Large Carnivore Encounters by Visitors of Big Bend National Park,” David Price Rumbelow, Van.

*Hunter Dickens, Emory (Texas A&M, Commerce), “Habitat Evaluation of Parturition Sites of Pen-Reared White-Tailed Does Following Liberation,” Daniel Tidwell, Sachse.

*Alec Ritzell, Katy (Sul Ross), “Long-Term Response of Vegetation to Spike 20P Treatment, Elephant Mountain Wildlife Management Area, Texas,” James “JD” Eddy, St. George, UT.

* Michael Stangl, Austin (Sul Ross), “Use of Camera Traps to Determine Distribution of Four Species of Skunks in Big Bend National Park,” Skyler Stevens, Midland.

* Felicia Rocha, Del Rio (Sul Ross), “Comparison of Eipdermal Microstructures Between Same-Species Plants from Different Areas, Trans-Pecos, Texas,” French.

Dr. Louis Harveson, professor of Natural Resource Management and BRI director, said the McNair Program served as the inspiration to develop this program. “McNair is one of the best programs on campus for undergraduate opportunities,” he said, adding that he is confident the program will be highly beneficial for recruiting throughout the College of Agricultural and Natural Resource Sciences.

“One reason for establishing this program was to instill the same sense of pride in the undergraduate program that exists with our graduate students,” said Harveson. “Extending the opportunity to students outside Sul Ross will enable these students to share their experience and help with our recruiting.”

“In addition, the addition of a graduate student working with each undergraduate provides leadership and management skills,” said Harveson. “Overall, this (initial seminar) far exceeded our expectations. I am very proud of how well the whole system worked.”

Two of the graduate mentors, Rumbelow and Tidwell, are former McNair Scholars, and Mary Bennett, Sul Ross McNair Program director, was a consultant in developing the BRI undergraduate program.

“This is just phenemonal,” Bennett said of the initial symposium. “This will expand research opportunities for students who don’t meet McNair’s federal eligibility requirements. This is a wonderful way to incorporate more students in research.”

Janke called the program “a win-win-win” advantage.

“Undergraduate students have the opportunity to be in graduate students’ shoes (for research). Graduate students can work in an advising capacity, and the institute is getting additional research,” he said.

For more information, visit the BRI Undergraduate Research Program Page.