In its first year of existence, the Texas Sea Grant Scholars Program sent three of its initial class to present their research findings to Texas legislators.
Cyrenea Millberry, a senior at Texas A&M University, and the team of Josh Carter and Raven Walker — both seniors at Texas A&M University at Galveston (TAMUG) — represented their respective institutions at Texas Undergraduate Research Day at the state capitol in Austin on April 26.
The event is designed to showcase the research experiences of undergraduate students for Texas legislators and the public and highlight how research conducted by undergraduate students positively impacts Texas through the theme, “Transforming Texas Through Undergraduate Research.”
Millberry, with guidance from Wildlife and Fisheries Sciences (WFS) Assistant Professor Masami Fujiwara, studied how the combination of freshwater from river discharges and changes in tides affect populations of white and brown shrimp in Texas estuaries. “Freshwater inflows can determine salinity and temperature in estuaries, which affect shrimp growth,” Millberry says. “This is important to Texans because if you live in this state you are in some way affected by the economic impacts of the Gulf of Mexico shrimp fishery. If shrimp populations are affected, then other estuarine-dependent species might be as well.”
She presented part of her results in January to a meeting of the Texas Chapter of the American Fisheries Society in Conroe.
Carter and Walker used the economic principle of supply and demand, and “ephemera” like newspaper ads and restaurant menus to infer the population health of commercially valuable animals in the Chesapeake Bay area through a timeline of their prices going back to 1850 — 100 years before the federal government began recording catch data. The pair, under the mentorship of Marine Sciences Professor Glenn Jones, found that the price for most of the species rose faster than the inflation rate, indicating that these populations were in decline long before official records began. Millberry, Carter and Walker are three of six students chosen to undertake independent research projects as part of the inaugural Texas Sea Grant Scholars Program — which is a cooperative effort between the Texas Sea Grant College Program at Texas A&M and the Undergraduate Research Scholars Program administered by Texas A&M’s Honors and Undergraduate Research (HUR) Office. The Texas Sea Grant Scholars Program is open to students at Texas A&M and TAMUG.
For more information about the Texas Sea Grant Scholars Program, see http://texas-sea-grant.tamu.edu/WhatWeDo/UndergraduateResearchScholarsProgram2013.html..