BRI Undergraduate Mentorship Program Students Showcase Their Projects

Borderlands Research Institute

The most recent cohort of BUMP students, pictured left to right: Jason Crosby, Ty Goodwin, Janette Martinez, Ryan Keeling, and Juan Celaya.

At the end of April, Borderlands Undergraduate Mentorship Program (BUMP) students gave presentations about the projects they have been working on this past year.

The purpose of BUMP is to better retain and prepare undergraduate students for serving in the natural resource and agriculture industries. This program is supported by Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo and the many organizations that fund BRI projects.

BUMP is designed to enhance experiential learning opportunities for undergraduates and provide graduate students the opportunity to mentor these students in conducting their projects. Each BUMP student is mentored by a BRI graduate student. Typically, the BUMP student helps the graduate student on various parts of their research project, such as collecting data in the field, grinding plants in the lab, or analyzing data points in GIS. Each BUMP student has an individual project that relates to their mentor’s research project.

The BUMP undergraduate students are in a unique position, as they are able to work closely with graduate students, ranch managers, and resource professionals on unique research and management activities. This makes BUMP a great opportunity to gain knowledge, experience, and professional connections.

“Not only do students build technical skills in the field, they gain valuable professional soft skills, such as effective written and verbal communication skills,” said Dr. Stacey Dewald, BUMP Coordinator and Research Scientist for BRI. “These are the skills that make them great professionals and are essential to being successful in the real world.”

BUMP currently has five undergraduate students whose work is supported by the Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo. A brief description of their projects follows:

Ty Goodwin is composing a field guide of forbs found in the Trans-Pecos region using micro histology methods in the lab and taking pictures of forbs in the field. This guide will help people correctly identify forbs. Ty’s project is also supported by Texas Parks and Wildlife Department’s pronghorn restoration program.

Jason Crosby is using camera traps to determine lamb-at-heel estimates for a sample aoudad population in the Trans-Pecos. This research project will be used to model estimates that can inform future management decisions. Jason’s project is also supported by the West Texas Chapter of Safari Club International.

Juan Celaya is comparing color, shape and surface characteristics of fecal samples between aoudad, desert bighorn sheep, and mule deer. The purpose of this project is to help understand diet overlap of the three species. Juan’s project is also supported by the West Texas Chapter of Safari Club International.

Janette Martinez analyzed the impact hashtags have on the BRI Instagram. This project helps the BRI communications team better use targeted outreach methods and gain a larger following. Janette’s project is also support by donations received through the BRI Stewardship Program.

Ryan Keeling is observing Montezuma quail flushing behavior and determining environmental correlations for quail sightings in the Davis Mountains. Ryan’s project is also supported by Park Cities Desert Quail Coalition.

“I enjoyed the presentations by our BUMP students,” said Dr. Louis Harveson, BRI Director. “They all did a great job and have come a long way on their understanding of their projects and their ability to communicate effectively. I look forward to seeing what’s next for these young men and women!”

For more information about BUMP, please visit https://bri.sulross.edu/about-bri/undergraduate-assistants/.

Ryan BUMP presentation

Ryan Keeling presented on the initial stages of her project on quail flushing behavior.

Ty BUMP presentation

Ty Goodwin discussed his efforts on forb collection in the Marfa Grasslands.