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Faculty Research


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.

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

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

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

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

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



Student Research

 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.


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.


John Palarski

John will be working on his M.S. degree evaluating restoration efforts of Northern bobwhite quail (Colinus virginianus) in Erath County. John is relocating quail from healthy source populations in western Texas to a private ranch in western Erath County. He will be monitoring vital rates of relocated quail, as well as assessing habitat components that may contribute to a successful relocation. This project will be part of a larger collaborative effort to help extend quail populations further east in Texas. He will be co-advised by Dr. Heather Mathewson (Tarleton State) and Dr. Dale Rollins (Rolling Plains Quail Research Foundation).


Rinchen Wangchuck

KUZUGZANGPOLA!  Rinchen is currently working on his Thesis Research looking at how the management of local Heritage Forest Landscapes contributes towards overall biodiversity conservation and cultural preservation in Bhutan. Rinchen’s field work was supported through the Student Travel Grant of the Tarleton State University, Stephenville, Texas equipment support granted from my parent Department of Wildlife, Sustainability, and Ecosystem Sciences and IDEAWILD, Colorado. The Research Assistant for data collection was supported by Rinchen’s parent office Ugyen Wangchuck Institute for Conservation and Environmental Research based in central Bhutan. TRASHI DELEG


Susanna Husbands

Under the direction of Dr. Jeff Breeden, Susanna is studying the effectiveness of using pelleted feed to enhance the nutrition of free-range white-tailed deer. They are also studying the social and hierarchical behavior around feed stations. The specific objectives are: 1) Determine the portion of the buck population that uses supplemental pelleted feed during the antler growing season and how much is consumed by each. 2) Determine which age classes of bucks use supplemental pelleted feed. 3) Determine if there is a difference between time spent by bucks and doe at supplemental feeders. 4) Determine supplemental feed use by females during the gestation and lactation seasons.


Katherine Hood

Under the direction of Dr. Murray, Kathrine is studying the effects of a single-season, high-stock, short-duration grazing on Texas wintergrass in an attempt to reduce its dominance in overgrazed areas and those afflicted with mesquite encroachment. This grazing system has seen benefits that include increased nutrient availability and forage yields via carefully timed defoliation events. They are targeting this grazing in the winter months during Texas wintergrasses growing season to stress plants and reduce seed production while providing (potentially) usable soil nutrients for the warm season grasses in order to provide better wildlife habitat structure and forage for cattle.


Lauren Selph

 Lauren holds a BS in Plant and Soil Sciences concentrated in Crop Production and Management and a minors in Botany and Pest Management from Oklahoma State University. Her thesis research focuses on the use of biochar as a soil amendment. Biochar possesses physical and chemical properties which enhance soil properties and enriching biochar with additional nutritients can further enhance its value. The objectives of her study, conducted under the direction of Dr. McGahan, are to test the effects of dairy manure biochar with and without enrichment and to compare the influence of plant and manure-derived biochars on soil and forage grass growth.