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Southwestern Students, Faculty Members Presenting at Texas Academy of Science Meeting

  • News Image
    This photo, titled "Eggstravagant," is one of three that Biology professor Romi Burks submitted for the "Art from the Republic of Science" exhibit at the 2013 Texas Academy of Science meeting. The photo, which was taken by 2006 graduate Matt Barnes, shows an up-close magnification (25x) of the individual eggs in a clutch of snail eggs.
  • News Image
    This photo titled “Snail Drama” depicts the visual perspective of a tiny snail (1 mm) starting out on its own in a sea of pink. The photo was taken by 2006 graduate Matt Barnes and printed on canvas by Biology professor Romi Burks for display at the 2013 Texas Academy of Science meeting.
  • News Image
    This photo titled “Snail Surreal” is the third of three that Biology professor Romi Burks printed on canvas for the art exhibit that will on display at the 2013 Texas Academy of Science meeting. The photo, which was taken by 2006 graduate Matt Barnes, depicts a young snail struggling in a sea of slightly salted water which gives off a wave pattern.
  • News Image
    Biology professor Romi Burks made this snail-themed mobile to display at the exhibit titled “Art from the Republic of Science” that is being held in conjunction with the 2013 Texas Academy of Science meeting.
  • News Image
    Senior Kira McEntire submitted this ceramic piece titled “Diatom Vase” for the "Art from the Republic of Texas" exhibit.

Meeting includes scientific presentations and a science-themed art exhibit

The scientific and artistic talents of Southwestern students, alumni and faculty members will be on display Feb. 28-March 2 at the 116th Annual Meeting of the Texas Academy of Science being held in Kerrville.

Southwestern students will give five oral presentations and one poster presentation at the conference.

Erick Bauman, a senior computer science major, will present his work with faculty mentor Rick Denman titled “Wolfscript: A programming language for Android.”

Kira McEntire, a senior biology and environmental studies major, will present part of her undergraduate research titled “Nocturnal or diurnal? Day and night activity patterns of the Georgetown Salamander (Eurycea naufragia).” The presentation is based on research conducted with Ben Pierce, professor of biology.

McEntire and three other students who have worked with Pierce will also present a poster titled “Potential use of natural melanophore patterns for recognition of individual Georgetown salamanders (Eurycea naufragia).” This project uses a software recognition program to individually identify salamanders. The other students who contributed to this research include Jenifer Harren, Alexandria Hill and Rachel Cross.

Students who have worked with Romi Burks, associate professor of biology, will give three presentations at the conference. Allyson Plantz will discuss her research in South America in a presentation titled “The apple doesn’t fall far from the tree: Reproductive characterization of the newly renamed apple snail, Pomacea megastoma.” Cristhian Clavijo, Fabrizio Scarabino and Ana Elise Rohrdanz made up the team of researchers on this project, along with 2012 graduate Katie Gibson.

In collaboration with the Pierce lab, Plantz and 2012 graduate Tracy Day also conducted research with Jonathan Miley who will present a talk titled “Double trouble for local salamanders: Substrate and food availability for two populations of the endangered Georgetown salamander, Eurycea naufragia.”

Day will share the stable isotope research that she conducted in Hawaii last summer in an oral presentation titled “My omnivore dilemma: Diet flexibility in two different apple snails, Pomacea maculata and P. canaliculata.”

Burks and McEntire also will have pieces in an exhibit titled “Art from the Republic of Science” that has been put together in conjunction with the conference. The gallery exhibit for the conference was inspired and curated by Hayley Gillespie, a visiting faculty member in Biology as part of her business, Art.Science.Gallery.com

Burks has four pieces of science-themed artwork in the exhibit − three snail-related photos taken by 2006 graduate Matt Barnes that she put on canvas and a snail mobile. Burks said the she picked the three photos because they show the natural beauty of apple snails despite their status as an exotic invasive species.

The first photo, “Eggstravangant,” shows an up-close magnification (25x) of the individual eggs in a clutch.  The second photo, “Snail Drama” depicts the visual perspective of a tiny snail (1 mm) starting out on its own in a sea of pink. The last image, “Snail Surreal,” depicts a young snail struggling in a sea of slightly salted water which gives off a wave pattern. 

McEntire, who is minoring in art, had a ceramic piece titled “Diatom Vase” accepted for the exhibit. Part of the proceeds from the art exhibit will be donated to help fund competitive research awards for students.

In addition to serving as Past President of the Texas Academy of Science, Burks also will be giving a workshop at the conference titled “How ‘Connected’ Do Scientists Need to Be?” The workshop will cover the responsibilities scientists have to engage in social media and the advantages of getting science out to the public through new mediums such as Facebook, Twitter and blogs. 

Burks said that collectively, the efforts of Southwestern students and faculty members help promote the strategic plan of TAS, which is to increase the visibility of the Academy in promoting strong science in Texas.