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Faculty Research

Barbara Bellows

She is currently involved in research focusing on soil aggregate stability and other soil health factors associated with enhancing plant diversity and carbon sequestration. She is also working with TIAER researchers and Tarleton social scientists to identify and assess environmental, socioeconomic and policy-based risk factors and indicators of sustainability affecting water quality, particularly in peri-urban zones or areas undergoing urban expansion.

Jeff Brady

Dr. Brady is 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

Dr. Breeden's 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.

Don Cawthon

Ongoing activities include a USDA-funded project entitled “Green Thumbs, Green Plates and Green Attitudes for a Well Fed Future that will increase campus and regional awareness of the health benefits associated with the use of fresh food; call attention to the importance of reducing food waste; introduce students and local communities to the benefits of life-long gardening through on-campus and community vegetable and fruit plots; and recruit undergraduate and graduate students into food-related careers.

Hemanta Kafley

Currently Dr. Kafley is expanding research in occupancy analysis of multiple species in Chitwan National Park Nepal. Dr. Kafley is also establishing a new research in Bhutan that will explore the role of sacred groves, religious unused forest patches, in biodiversity conservation and cultural preservation in rural Bhutan. In addition Dr. Kafley is also opting for two other research projects pending funding decisions- (1) Analyzing stress patterns on working elephants (Elephus maximus) that are primarily used for elephant safaris and wildlife patrolling activities in Chitwan National Park Nepal, and (2) Assessing status and distribution of kit fox (Vulpes macrotus) and developing predictive models for kit fox distribution in Texas.

Eunsung Kan

Dr. Kan is currently conducting research in the following areas; Production of biofuels, bioproducts and biomaterials from dairy and agricultural waste, removal of contaminants from dairy agricultural wastewater, reuse of wastewater for agricultural irrigation and energy production, capture and conversion of greenhouse gases to valuable products. 

David Kattes

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

Dr. Mathewson's research focuses on population biology, wildlife-habitat relationships, and avian ecology.  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.

Donald McGahan

Dr. McGahan's 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. 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.

Darrel Murray

Dr. Murray's current research projects include conversion of species-poor mesquite savannas to more native diverse grasslands, using citizen science to map Monarch butterfly and native Texas milkweed occurrence, and using ecological niche data to map rare plant species along Texas roadways. Dr. Murray also has an interest in using prescribed fire for restoration and has a core group of students that participate in prescribed burning.

James P. Muir

Dr. Muir has on-going research in Pernambuco Brazil and throughout Texas. His long-term focus has been legumes, both cultivated and natural, and their myriad roles in pastures, rangeland, prairies,and savannahs. His multi-national team looks at the many facets of legume condensed tannins as they affect plant survival, herbivory, and carbon sequestration, as well as animal and environment health. His students currently focus on domesticating native Texas legume ecotypes for many uses, including prairie restoration and roadside revegetation.

T.Wayne Schwertner

Roger Wittie

Dr. Wittie current research includes studies of plant-insect interactions, watershed protection, native plant development, and invasive species.


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.

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 Land Cover 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!