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Biology Students Receive Recognition at State Science Gathering

 
BROWNSVILLE, TEXAS – APRIL 9, 2014 – Two graduate students in the Department of Biological Sciences at The University of Texas at Brownsville recently received recognitions at the annual Texas Academy of Science Meeting in Galveston.
 
Krysten Dick of Plain City, Ohio received first place and Leah McIntosh of Apple Valley, Minn. received an honorable mention.
UT Brownsville graduate Biology students Krysten Dick and Leah McIntosh
 
“The recognition of these students’ research at a large scientific conference underscores the high quality ecological research that students and professors have been conducting in our department,” said Dr. Heather Alexander, Assistant Professor of Ecology in the Department of Biological Sciences. “Over the last few years, the number of graduate students in our department has more than doubled, and students have been pursuing field-based, experimental research projects with increasing frequency. All of these projects are addressing scientific questions with broad implications both logically, regionally and internationally.”
 
Krysten Dick, a graduate student in biology scheduled to graduate in December, received first place for her research “Survival and Growth of Thornscrub Seedlings in Response to Multiple Restoration Strategies.” Dick is advised by Alexander.
 
Dick studied restoration methods for the Tamaulipan thornscrub ecosystems prevalent in southern Texas and northeastern Mexico located at Laguna Atascosa National Wildlife Refuge in Cameron County. She found seedlings placed in protective tubes create a more favorable microclimate for growth.
 
“It means a lot to attend and present at these conferences in Texas because it is local research being given back to the people who live in Texas,” said Dick. “It is an opportunity to share what I have learned and apply it to the lives of those who may or may not get to experience what I study. It is very rewarding to see the appreciation of our research and the ecosystem we are trying to restore.”
 
Dick has a bachelor’s degree in wildlife science from The Ohio State University in Columbus, Ohio.
 
Leah McIntosh, a graduate student in biology scheduled to graduate in December, received an honorable mention for her research “Macroinvertebrate Community Composition of a Re-Flooded Resaca as a Potential Indicator of Successional Stage.” McIntosh is advised by Dr. Alejandro Fierro Cabo, Assistant Professor in the Department of Biological Sciences.
 
McIntosh studied macroinvertebrates, such as gastropods, to determine successional stages of resacas and how they can be used to assess the status of ecosystems. She found more established resacas had more invertebrates but the lowest diversity while newer resacas had the lowest amount of invertebrates but greater diversity.
 
“It was a really great experience to be able to present this research about one of our local ecosystems here in Brownsville to the greater Texas science community,” said McIntosh. “We have a really unique and interesting environment here in south Texas and it’s rewarding to be able to share what I’ve learned so far with others.”
 
McIntosh has a bachelor’s degree in biology from Winona State University in Winona, Minn.
 
The Texas Academy of Science was formed three different times in 1880, 1892 and 1929. The society is made of undergraduate students, graduate students and faculty in different parts of the state.

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