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Faculty Research

Jeff Brady

Jeff Brady is Assistant Professor and Research Scientist with Tarleton and Texas A&M AgriLife Research. His research interests focus on genomics. He currently works with next-generation sequencing to characterize microbial communities. Example studies include changing rumen microbiota following dietary modifications, characterization and tracking of fecal pollution in watersheds, effects of differing agricultural practices on microbial diversity, and microbial/pathogenic contents of tick species. Other research projects are also diverse, including the characterization of genes to improve cereal crops for use as biofuels and characterization/exploitation of pathogenic protozoa for use as biocontrol agents for imported fire ants.

Jeff Breeden

Jeff Breeden is an Associate Professor in WSES at Tarleton. While an undergraduate, he was an intern in the Lower Rio Grande Valley at the Las Palomas Wildlife Management area for three summers assisting with management of white-winged dove. In addition, both his masters and doctoral research focused on Columbids. He has experience in habitat evaluation, abundance estimation, productivity, behavior, trapping, and radio tracking doves and pigeons. His current research focus includes the evaluation of habitat quality for threatened ungulate populations at Fossil Rim Wildlife Center. He teaches the introductory GIS course at Tarleton.

Hennen Cummings

Hennen Cummings is Associate Professor at Tarleton. Dr. Cummings has evaluated experimental herbicides, insecticides, nematicides, plant growth regulators, turfgrass paints and pigments, gypsum formulations, soil wetting agents, biostimulants, microbials, traffic injury abatement systems, new turfgrass cultivars and other plant varieties, and fertilizers using estimates of quality, injury, density, and control. He has access to regional golf courses with nesting blue herons, deer, wild hogs, armadillo, and numerous passerine species for studies of urban wildlife. The Tarleton State University Turfgrass Field Laboratory has 12 species of irrigated cool and warm-season turfgrasses maintained at various mowing heights. Dr. Cummings also has experience in environmental site assessment and environmental impact mitigation. The Hydrotron is a greenhouse that has an aquaponics system and several hydroponics systems. The aquaponics system has a 1750 gallon tank with Mozambique tilapia, a 350 gallon tank with channel catfish, and a 50 gallon brood tank. The fish water is recirculated under three 4 ft x 8 ft rafts. Solid waste filtered from the fish tanks is used to nourish freshwater tiger prawns in a 950 gallon tank. Tomatoes, peppers, cucumbers, and strawberries are grown in coco fiber (without soil) in hydroponics systems. Strawberries are grown in vertical towers. Herbs in hanging baskets are fertilized with fish water. Outside the Hydrotron are several composters and a media-based aquaponics system built using an IBC tote.

Eunsung Kan

Research Activities
  • Production of biofuels, bioproducts and biomaterials from dairy and agricultural waste
  • Removal of containaminants from dairy agricultural wastewater
  • Reuse of wastewater for agricultural irrigation and energy production
  • Capture and conversion of greenhouse gases to valuable products
Scholarly Activities
  • PI, US EPA, 2015-2016, Control of pathogens and pharmaceutical compounds by biochar-support photocatalysts under solar light irradiation
  • PI, USDA NIFA, 2013-2015, Capture and valorisation of CO2 in biogas by a novel biocatalyst/ nanoparticle- assisted foam bioreactor 

David Kattes

David Kattes is a Professor of Entomology and Crop Science in the Department of Wildlife, Sustainability, and Ecosystem Sciences at Tarleton. Dr. Kattes and his students are currently studying flies associated with dairy wastes, ear tick management at the Fossil Rim Wildlife Center, and cover crops as a way to enhance native bee diversity.

Heather Mathewson

Heather Mathewson is an Assistant Professor for WSES at Tarleton. She also serves as the Coordinator for Undergraduate Advising in WSES. Her research focuses on population biology, wildlife-habitat relationships, and avian ecology. She has experience researching doves and songbirds in Texas, Arizona, California, and Argentina. She has worked on management strategies for both game birds and endangered species, including willow flycatchers, golden-cheeked warblers and black-capped vireos. Before coming to Tarleton, she was a Research Scientist for Texas A&M AgriLife Research. She is currently researching white-tipped, white-winged, and mourning doves, and Northern bobwhite populations in Texas. She also is working on a foraging study on bison in Texas. She teaches population dynamics, avian ecology, and research design and analysis.

Donald McGahan

Donald McGahan, Assistant Professor and Research Scientist with Tarleton and Texas A&M AgriLife Research, is a soil scientist/biogeochemist interested in identifying systematic variation in soils and their impacts on management. His research examines the slowly renewable natural resource, soil, on which the majority of life planet depend. He uses multiple low and high technology tools to investigate hows and whys to further understanding this diverse ecosystem. Knowledge of soil "in the environment and 'of the environment' is applicable to site-specific soil management(s) including both land use for agriculture and non-agricultural land use. Currently under investigation are phosphorus forms and contents on agricultural lands and the impacts and fates thereof as a result of both natural erosion and accelerated erosion.

Paula McKeehan

Paula McKeehan is an Assistant Professor in WSES at Tarleton. She is a Registered and Licensed Dietitian. Mrs. McKeehan has experience as an FCS AgriLife Extension agent, a clinical dietitian, and in community nutrition with Texas WIC program. Her interests include general Medical Nutrition Therapy, Community Nutrition and Nutrition Education. Her role within the department focuses on sustainable nutrition and consumer behaviors. She is passionate about food consumer education.

James P. Muir

James P. Muir is RegentsProfessor with Tarleton and Texas A&M AgriLife Research. He is a grasslandecologist focusing on the plant/animal interface. He has on-going research inPernambuco Brazil and throughout Texas. His students have undertaken researchor presented their data in many countries, including Argentina, Senegal, SouthAfrica, Brazil and the USA. His long-term focus has been legumes, bothcultivated and natural, and their myriad roles in pastures, rangeland, prairies,and savannahs. His multi-national team looks at the many facets of legumecondensed tannins as they affect plant survival, herbivory, and carbonsequestration, as well as animal and environment health. His students currentlyfocus on domesticating native Texas legume ecotypes for many uses, includingprairie restoration and roadside revegetation.

T.Wayne Schwertner

T. Wayne Schwertner is an Assistant Professor and Head for WSES at Tarleton and is a research wildlife biologist with Texas A&M AgriLife Research. He has extensive experience conducting research related to the management of game bird populations, including doves. Prior to coming to Tarleton, Dr. Schwertner had a twelve-year career with the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department, including duties as the Statewide White-winged Dove Program Leader. During this time, he played a key role in implementing Texas's first statewide white-winged dove survey, as well as the ongoing white-winged dove banding project. Dr. Schwertner has experience in modeling population dynamics and habitat relationships for a number of vertebrate species.

Roger Wittie

Roger Wittie is Professor and Executive Director of Faculty Research at Tarleton. He is an ecologist focusing on reclamation and restoration ecology, process diversity, and plant-herbivore interaction. His current research includes studies of plant-insect interactions, watershed protection, native plant development, and invasive species. Dr. Wittie also serves the program as a statistician and assists students with research design and data analyses. As Executive Director, he assist faculty with development of external funding requests.


Alisa McAnally

Under the direction of Dr. T Wayne Schwertner and Dr. Heather Mathewson, I am studying the American bison located at Caprock Canyon State Park. Our study will track the movements of bison via GPS telemetry to scrutinize habitat selection and avoidance. The goals of the project are to help the park with further management of the herd and conduct theoretical analysis regarding habitat selection on a small scale.

Amy Okichich

Cottonseed products have been used as a feed supplement for ruminant livestock and white-tail deer (Odocoileus virginianus) for many years. Although cottonseed products are nutritious, they also present possible risks due to the presence of gossypol. Gossypol, a secondary plant compound found in cotton (Gossypium ssp.), is known to be toxic to a variety of animals, particularly monogastric mammals and birds. However, there are no published data regarding the effects of gossypol on northern bobwhites (Colinus virginianus), which may encounter cottonseed products in the environment and subsequently ingest gossypol. The primary purpose of my study is to evaluate the acute toxicity and physiological effects of gossypol ingestion on northern bobwhites.

Callie Zoeller

I graduated from Oklahoma State University in 2016 with a B.S. in Plant and Soil Science. I will be working under Dr. Darrel Murray and with Texas Parks and Wildlife on a mob grazing study to suppress the growth and invasion of Texas wintergrass (Nassella leucotricha) in North Central Texas. Mob grazing is known as utilizing livestock in ultra-high stocking densities in order to improve the landscape. In our study we plan to measure biomass removal, seed production, the effects of trampling from livestock, litter, nutrient cycling and determine changes in soil microbiome. We hope to see a decrease in Texas wintergrass stands and more favorable soil conditions for native grasses to become established.

Conor McInnerney 

Under the direction of Dr. Heather Mathewson. White-winged dove (Zenaidia asiatica, WWDO) populations have expanded over the last few decades and are now associated with urban environments more than rural ones (81.2% and 19.8%, respectively; TPWD). Given their increasing importance as a game species, TPWD expanded monitoring efforts in 2008 to provide a statewide Urban Dove Survey (UDS). Objectives of my study are to 1) Increase the efficiency of the UDS by identifying areas that are over/under sampled, 2) update the urban classification for Texas as the original survey was designed using the National Landcover Database from 1992, and 3) estimate the density of urban WWDO, mourning dove (Z. macroura), and Eurasian-collared dove (Streptopelia decaocto) across Texas. To accomplish this, we will conduct a Multi-Response Permutation Procedure (MRPP) analysis using band recovery data to delineate populations of WWDO within Texas. Using Program DISTANCE 7.0 for density estimates, we will address the survey effort issue based on the MRPP analysis. And using ERDAS Imagine or similar software, we will update the urban classification for the state.

Jared Hall

Under the leadership of Dr. Heather Mathewson, Jared is using banding and hunter recovery data collected by Texas Parks and Wildlife from 2003-2015 to investigate the factors that impact annual survival and understand breeding chronology of white-winged doves in Texas.

Joseph Wilson

I am using 13 years of Texas mourning dove banding data provided by Texas Parks and Wildlife. By analyzing banding data beginning in 2003, variables effecting annual survival of mourning dove will be identified. Top models will be produced with the combination of covariates most effecting survival and be used in an adaptive harvest management plan. The management implications of using this method to estimate population status are monumental and will use much less resources annually, saving the state and its citizen’s money.

Julia (Roze) Shipman

I graduated from Tarleton in December with a Bachelor’s of Science in Wildlife, Sustainability and Ecosystem Science. Now I am pursuing a Master’s degree in the same field. The research project I am working on with Dr. Jim Muir, is the conversion of monoculture Bermuda pastures to ranges with native grasses and legumes for livestock grazing as well wildlife habitat.
Another graduate student began this first phase of this project two years ago, his research was suppression of the Bermuda grass. Now I will be partnering with another graduate student to prepare the soil, select appropriate native species and compare different seeding methods as well as mowing vs. mob grazing.

Melissa Hopkins

Under the direction of Dr. Jeff Breeden and Dr. T. Wayne Schwertner, I am investigating the effects of Reticuloendotheliosis Virus (REV) using northern bobwhite quail as a model. Specifically, my project will establish whether or not northern bobwhites are susceptible to REV infection (as it has never been documented in this species), and if the virus effects the bobwhites' reproduction, as REV has been known to cause reproductive suppression in similar species.

Seth Hamby

TxDoT Rare and Endangered Plants Project: A joint effort between the Botanical Research Institute of Texas  and Tarleton to compile data on 56 rare and endangered plants from herbarium and citizen science records. The data will then be mapped in GIS to determine which locations within the TxDoT Districts of Waco and Austin will be most likely to contain these plants based upon geology, soil, rainfall, temperature, etc. The maps will then be utilized by TxDot for road planning and roadside management.

TPWD Conservation License Plate Milkweeds and Monarchs Project: Data will be compiled on native milkweed plants in the 115 Texas counties within the monarch butterfly central fly zone. This data will be mapped in GIS and a record of monarch migration patterns will be overlaid in order to determine which counties are in most need of milkweed restoration.

Sarah Shawver

Sarah Shawver participated a student research project focusing on soil microbial genomics. Along with others, Sarah was invited to Poland to share her work. She won the Grand Prix award at the VIP International Scientific Symposium for best research. Tarleton is on the forefront of research and our students are playing a huge role. Check out our video on research student, Sarah Shawver!