New Hires at BRI Bolster Capacity for Research Efforts

The Borderlands Research Institute (BRI) at Sul Ross State University is expanding its team with the addition of two new hires in January 2023.

Bill Adams has come aboard as Associate Director of Operations, a new role designed to provide support to the growing organization. Dr. Maureen G. Frank also joined the team in January as the James A. “Buddy” Davidson Charitable Foundation Endowed Professor and Associate Professor of Conservation Biology.

Since its inception 15 years ago, BRI has expanded its research and outreach capacities and added new programs such as the Center for Land Stewardship and Stakeholder Engagement.

“There’s so much to do. It really speaks to the conservation need of the region and we’re fortunate to be able to pull together such quality people with the help of our endowments and donors,” noted Dr. Louis A. Harveson, who is the Dan Allen Hughes, Jr., Endowed Director of BRI.

Frank brings new breadth to BRI’s bird conservation program. She first came to Texas for her undergraduate degree and graduated with a B.S. in Wildlife Ecology from Texas A&M University in 2012. She then moved to Logan, Utah, for graduate school. Her dissertation focused on the ecology of three migratory waterbirds—eared grebes, Wilson’s phalaropes, and red-necked phalaropes—that rely on Great Salt Lake as a staging area before flying south for the winter. She graduated from Utah State University with her Ph.D. in 2016 and returned to Texas to work for the Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service as a Wildlife Extension Specialist. Her extension work focused mainly on non-game species and helping small-acreage landowners understand wildlife management options. She was also involved in efforts to connect landowners with ecotourism opportunities such as birding.

Frank looks forward to focusing on conservation issues facing the Trans-Pecos region. “I’m intrigued by how much remains unknown out here. There are so many niche habitats, like the riparian areas which are so fascinating and valuable in a desert setting,” said Dr. Frank.

Frank’s primary interest remains connecting people to the land in a way that encourages conservation, and her research interests include grassland bird research, working lands conservation, and science communication.

The newly created Associate Director of Operations role was designed to boost organizational capacity and efficiency. The position will support all aspects of BRI’s mission, which is to help conserve the natural resources of the Chihuahuan Desert Borderlands through research, education and outreach.

Adams brings experience from a twenty-plus-year career in wildlife management spanning from Florida to multiple regions across Texas. His move to Alpine marks the achievement of a lifelong dream to return to the area, after first encountering the region as a Range and Wildlife Management graduate student at Sul Ross State University in 1999.

In his extensive work as a biologist and project leader with Texas Parks and Wildlife Department he worked on diverse projects, including quail research, habitat management, public hunting opportunities, public outreach, and habitat restoration. He, his team, and partners managed approximately 275,000 acres of habitat supporting wildlife populations, public hunting opportunities, and research projects scattered among eight wildlife management areas in East Texas. In addition to on-the-ground conservation, Adams was responsible for a wide variety of operational and administrative processes.

“I’m looking forward to facilitating the conservation of native wildlife and habitats in the Trans-Pecos and I’m here to serve,” Adams said.