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Giri Akkaraju, Professor and Biology Department Chair, was the recipient of the TCU Wassenich Award for Mentoring in the TCU Community announced at the Virtual TCU ConvocationRead the article on how Dr. Akkaraju shows students how to learn.   


Ryan Seymour, a M.S. student (Biology 2020) in the lab of Dr. Ray Drenner and Dr. Matthew Chumchal presented an oral presentation at the 150th Virtual Annual Meeting of the America Fisheries Society earlier this month. The meeting originally scheduled to be in Columbus, Ohio in early September was moved online due to the COVID-19 pandemic. His presentation titled, “Spatial Patterns of Methyl Mercury Contamination of Trophy-sized Largemouth Bass in the Southeastern, United States” presented research conducted for his master’s thesis at TCU. The research evaluated the risk that methyl mercury, a widespread aquatic contaminant, poses to Largemouth Bass in 15 states of the Southeastern, United States. The study is the first to show that in most aquatic water bodies of this region, trophy-sized (>64 cm TL) Largemouth Bass have methyl mercury concentrations high enough to adversely affect the fish’s behavior and reproduction. Ryan is currently finishing his master’s thesis this fall at TCU and plans to pursue a career as a fisheries manager after graduation.

Dean Williams was featured in TCU Endeavors for his work to reverse the decline of the Horned Lizard.

Maddy Hannappel (Biology BS 2017; MS 2019) was awarded 2nd place poster presentation at the American Arachnology Society meeting last month. Her poster, "Effect of spider taxa and body size on MeHg concentrations in shoreline spiders: Implications for their use as sentinel species" presented research conducted during her master's thesis at TCU with advisors Drs. Matt Chumchal and Ray Drenner. Maddy is continuing her research on mercury in spiders while completing her PhD at the University of North Texas, Denton. 

Congratulations to our 2020 biology graduates!  Congratulations to our Biology majors Jacey Elliot and Madison Johnson on their graduation and distinction as a Clark Society Scholars!

The Biology Department hosted a Zoom event for our May and August 2020 graduating MS and PhD students to celebrate their hard work and success!  Our graduating students give us a brief overview of their research projects and their future plans. Christine Hurd has been selected as the Outstanding Biology Graduate Teaching Assistant for 2020. Austin Chipps (Co-advisors: Amanda Hale and Dean Williams) and Julie Krzykwa (Advisor: Marlo Jeffries) have been selected for the Outstanding Biology Graduate Student Award for 2020. Congratulations to the winners and to all involved in mentoring them! Congratulations to our 2020 graduates!

Leah Thornton Hampton (Biology MS 2015) successfully defends her PhD dissertation and obtains a position with the Southern California Coastal Water Research Project. Leah, a PhD student in the Department of Biological Sciences at the University of North Texas co-advised by Dr. Barney Venables (UNT) and Dr. Jeffries (TCU) successfully defended her dissertation entitled “The Consequences of Early Life Stage Thyroid Suppression on Immune in the Fathead Minnow (Pimephales promelas)” via video conference. Her dissertation research, which was conducted primarily at TCU, developed and optimized methods for assessing cellular immune function in fathead minnows, characterized global gene expression changes experienced by fish infected with a bacterial pathogen in an effort to identify key immune process for further study in this species, and demonstrated the long-term outcomes of early life stage thyroid disruption on various aspects of immune function measured from the molecular to whole-organism levels. Her work has advanced the utility of the fathead minnow as a model system for the study of immunotoxicity and contributes to our understanding of the role that thyroid hormones play in development of the immune system. Over the entirety of her graduate career, Leah delivered 22 presentations at regional, national and international meetings, received 6 presentation awards, obtained over $7000 in research and travel funding, and published 5 papers. She currently has three manuscripts in review, two of which are related to her dissertation work, and an additional paper in the final stages of preparation. Leah has accepted a position at the Southern California Coastal Water Research Project (SCCWRP) as a Scientist in the Department of Toxicology where she will utilize her skills to investigate the biological impacts of exposures to microplastics in a wide variety of aquatic organisms. To learn more about Leah, see the attached profile that SCCWRP published in their Spring 2020 Director’s Report.  (April 2020)

TCU's first candidate for a Ph.D. in biology defended her thesis this month! Julie Krzykwa's dissertation, "Development of Cardiovascular Neurodevelopmental Metrics as Sublethal Endpoints for the Fish Embryo Toxicity Test," was successfully defended on April 21st. Read more: ➡️

Dr. David Knight was able to make it to TCU virtually this semester (April 2020 to discuss his Global Health work in Liberia and his Loupes Around the World Foundation. If you like to see the session, click here…/38JSIr7a2nlLUInkw1DHe7ExAN_0aaa8h3AZ-… (Access Password: H0@40+1$)

Matt Chumchal and Laura Luque published an article on study aboard experiences for Pre-Health students in the 2020 edition of Apply Magazine. Apply Magazine is published by the Texas Health Education Service to help applicants to medical, dental and veterinary school become more competitive by understanding the application process on a deeper level.


The Williams lab gave four presentations at the 5th Horned Lizard Conservation Coalition meeting held at the Fort Worth Zoo on Feb. 19, 2020. These meetings are composed of all the groups working on Texas horned lizard captive breeding and reintroduction efforts including zoos in Texas, Oklahoma, and New Mexico, Texas Parks and Wildlife, managers of Texas WMAs, and various academics. Alenius, Mirkin, Rhoads, and Tucker are all graduate students in the Department of Biology and Williams is a faculty member in Biology.
Rhoads*, D. and D.A. Williams. 2020. Plant-stem litter mimicry and substrate color-matching in the Texas horned lizard.
Mirkin*, S., M.R. Tucker*, and D.A. Williams. 2020. Predation release of Texas horned lizards living in small towns.
Alenius*, R. and D.A. Williams. 2020. Stable isotopes confirm generalized diets of Texas horned lizards in small towns.
Williams, D.A. 2020. How many Texas horned lizards need to be released in order to maintain genetic diversity?
* denotes graduate students
The Williams lab published two papers. One paper resulted from a collaboration with the USDA to develop biological control for the invasive Brazilian peppertree in Florida and the other paper was the thesis work of Anna Frankel (M.S. 2011).
Jones, E., D.A. Williams,, and G.S. Wheeler. 2019. Life history and host range determination of Paectes n. sp. - a potential classical biological control agent of Brazilian peppertree in the United States. Biocontrol Science and Technology 30:1-18.
Frankel* AM, & DA Williams. 2020. Multiple paternity in a reintroduced rookery of Kemp’s Ridley Sea Turtles on South Padre Island, Texas. Journal of Herpetology 54:50-56.