BRI’s Dr. Louis Harveson Honored by Texas State University System Regents
BRI Director Dr. Louis Harveson accepts the Regents' Professor Award from Charlie Amato, Texas State University System Regent (left), and Sul Ross State University President Dr. Bill Kibler (right).
T he Texas State University System Board of Regents honored Dr. Louis Harveson with a prestigious Regents’ Professor Award at their board meeting earlier this month. Dr. Harveson is the Dan Allen Hughes, Jr., Borderlands Research Institute Endowed Director and professor of Wildlife Management at Sul Ross State University. The proclamation approved by the board on Nov. 16 states that Regents’ Professors recognize exceptional professors who have achieved excellence in teaching, research, publication and community service along with unwavering dedication to their students, universities and communities. The proclamation notes that Dr. Harveson has been teaching at Sul Ross since 1998, has been honored with numerous awards from various organizations, has been published more than 100 times, and has secured more than $7 million in research funds. Sul Ross State University published a Q&A with Dr. Harveson, which is posted on the university’s website.
Student Profile: Maribel Glass
B orderlands Research Institute graduate student Maribel Glass is thrilled to be studying range and wildlife management at Sul Ross State University. As early as elementary school, she knew she wanted to pursue a profession connected with wildlife. Her father helped her explore options, and before she even got to middle school, she knew she wanted to be a wildlife biologist. Her father helped her research different universities, and by the time she was in high school, she knew she wanted to attend Texas A&M-Kingsville, known for its wildlife management program. Her father also encouraged her to think beyond a bachelor’s degree from a very early age.
“I can remember him telling me that in the field I was interested in, I would need a master’s degree for people to take me seriously, that everyone I would be competing with for jobs would have at least a bachelor’s degree,” she recalled. “So, from the time I was in elementary school, I knew I would pursue a master’s degree at the very least.”
In 2017, she was thrilled to be accepted as a graduate student for the fall semester.
“I am honored to be able to continue my studies and pursue my passion for conservation at Sul Ross State University,” she said.
USFWS and BRI Investigate the Potential of Knotgrass as Food for Migratory Birds
Above: Snow geese on migration stopover at Bosque del Apache in New Mexico. Below: An expansive swath of knotgrass at Bosque del Apache.
T he United States Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) has enlisted the help of the Borderlands Research Institute to investigate the effects of invasive knotgrass in wetlands managed for the benefit of migratory birds. The Bosque del Apache National Wildlife Refuge manages a series of controlled wetlands across approximately 3,800 acres of Rio Grande floodplain. The primary purpose of these managed wetland units is providing food to tens of thousands of migrating birds during fall and spring. In recent years, biologists have noticed an increase of knotgrass in wetland units.
“We really have no idea if the increase of knotgrass is a good or bad thing,” says BRI graduate student Maribel Glass, who is researching the topic for her thesis. “If the thousands of sandhill cranes, snow geese, and ducks are eating knotgrass, then there’s not much to worry about. But if the knotgrass reduces diversity of foods available, and is not preferred by the birds, then we have to come up with a solution.” 
To address these questions, Maribel will be collecting roughly 150 core samples from the wetlands and determining the proportion of knotgrass seeds in each sample. She will also be collecting a sample of the more common bird species on the refuge and conducting crop analyses to see if these birds are eating knotgrass. 
“The results of this study will directly address some of the questions the refuge has regarding the spread of knotgrass in the wetlands,” she said.
Fun Fact: Stock Tanks and Ponds as Valuable Bird Habitat
H ave you ever wondered how often waterfowl and wetland birds make use of ranch stock tanks and ponds? Or maybe you’ve flushed a group of ducks or shorebirds from one or even used your own stock tank for hunting or birdwatching. We know that these man-made bodies of water can be valuable to waterfowl as sources of food. Researchers have studied the phenomenon and even developed stock tank management plans to make these structures into ideal waterfowl habitat.

But what’s happening with birds and stock tanks in arid regions like West Texas? As natural bodies of water dry up, are we essentially replacing them with our man-made versions? Does this have an effect on waterfowl and wetland bird migration? How many stock tanks and ponds are there in the region, and how many of them are useable to migrating water birds? These are great research questions to pursue. In the meantime, be on the lookout next time you’re near one of these often overlooked watering holes!
BRI Mentorship Program Showcases Undergraduate Researchers
Left to right at the mentorship symposium this September: BRI Mentorship Program leader Thomas Janke; students Hunter Hopkins, Daniel Botello, Katherine Haile, Faith Hille, Julie Schmidt, Margaret Downing, Erica Dunn, Cody Putman; and BRI Director Dr. Louis Harveson.
I n September, the fourth annual Borderlands Research Institute Undergraduate Mentorship Program Symposium took place, with nine students participating. The program is designed to encourage undergraduate students to continue their education after they graduate. The program combines hands-on learning opportunities with a set of broader responsibilities that reflect the challenges of graduate and post-graduate research. Students write research proposals, perform the required field and lab work, and analyze the resulting data, before finally getting the opportunity to present that data and showcase themselves and their projects. Julie Schmidt was one of the students presenting on Sept. 14, and her project was featured by Sul Ross State University’s press office.
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Borderlands Research Institute | 432.837.8225 | bri@sulross.edu
P.O. Box C-21, SRSU, Alpine, Texas 79832