News Archives March 6, 2012

News for March 6, 2012



A $1 million gift from Peggy and Dan Allen Hughes, Jr., San Antonio/Beeville, has established the first-ever endowed position at Sul Ross State University.

The Peggy and Dan Allen Hughes, Jr. Endowment Fund will enable Sul Ross to establish the Dan Allen Hughes, Jr., Endowed Director for Borderlands Research. Dan Allen Hughes is a member of the Borderlands Research Institute (BRI) Advisory Board of Directors. In 2009, he was appointed by Gov. Rick Perry to a six-year term on the Texas Parks and Wildlife Commission.

He serves as president of Dan A. Hughes, Company, LP; is president of Hupecol Operating Company, LLC and CEO of Maverick American Natural Gas, LLC. He is also a member of the Texas A&M University College of Geosciences Advisory Council. Dan Allen (1980) and Peggy (1982) Hughes are both Texas A&M graduates.

"Peggy and I are very pleased we are able to make this gift," he said. "The BRI, with the assets of Sul Ross State University, is currently conducting and will continue to conduct much-needed research on the wildlife of the Trans-Pecos Region. By endowing the executive director’s position at the BRI, that person will be able to spend most of his or her time overseeing and growing the institute."

The BRI, organized in 2007 and located at Sul Ross, presently manages about 30 student research projects, totaling more than $2 million in grants. Projects include various wildlife studies (mule deer, quail, desert bighorn sheep, black bear, mountain lion, pronghorn) as well as range restoration and native seed propagation.

The BRI seeks to provide land managers with the most current scientific information on the management of the natural resources of the area through research.

"We are extremely grateful for this most generous gift," said Sul Ross President Dr. Ricardo Maestas. "Mr. and Mrs. Hughes’ love of wildlife and their abiding interest in land stewardship dovetail with the Institute’s science-based research and education projects."

Dr. Louis Harveson, BRI director, said, "Dan Allen has been with the Institute since day one and has truly helped us gain a solid footing in our research efforts. This endowment will greatly enhance our ability to educate students, undertake more research projects and increase our focus in various areas of conservation."




Geoscientists from across the south-central U.S. and beyond will convene at Sul Ross State University this week (March 5-10) for the South-Central section meeting of the Geological Society of America.

Technical sessions will cover the tectonic history of the Trans-Pecos, the Rio Grande, west Texas aquifers, geoarchaeology, petrology, cave processes, minerals and fossils. The program highlights new research, expands on existing science, and explores the geologic and hydrologic processes which shaped and continue to influence the landscape and resources of the Trans Pecos and the Permian Basin.

Sul Ross faculty, students and research center directors will present on technical and contemporary topics alongside academic and professional Geological Society peers. Geology faculty member and Rio Grande Research Center Director Dr. Kevin Urbanczyk and Chris Burnett of the University of Texas at Austin, will present, "Fear and Learning in Big Bend: Is it Safe to Take a Field Trip Down There?" This paper, presented at 1:45 p.m. on Friday, March 9, addresses perceptions and facts of safety and risks related to border violence that increasingly impede educational field trips to the border.

Robert Mallouf and William A. Cloud, retired and present director, respectively, of the Center for Big Bend Studies, will present "A Historical Perspective on the Search for Paleoindians in the Big Bend," at 1:45 p.m. on Friday, March 9. This paper sets the stage for the geoarchaeology symposium, highlighting current and past geoarchaeological work in the Big Bend area.

The agenda also includes a symposium, "Big Bend National Park and Vicinity: A Decade of Research," on Friday, March 9, 9 a.m.-12:10 p.m. in the Espino Conference Center, Morgan University Center. Conveners are Don Corrick, Big Bend National Park; Dee Ann Cooper, The University of Texas at Austin; and Roger Cooper, Lamar University.

This special session includes presentations on a new and improved fossil exhibit in Big Bend National Park; mysteries of the sixty-one giant Platyceramus platinus (Cretaceous bivalve molluscs) concentrated in a patch along one bedding plane in the Boquillas Formation east of Lajitas, Texas; the proposed connection between storms and microbes in the Del Rio Formation of west Texas; and more.

Following the meeting, a field trip of the geology of Colorado Canyon (Saturday, March 10) is planned. The conference is only open to registered participants. For more information and to register visit:

For additional information contact Kevin Urbanczyk,(432) 837-8110 or E-mail:<




Sul Ross State University was represented by 16 student presenters and several faculty mentors at the 115th Annual Texas Academy of Science Meeting, held March 1-3 at Sul Ross.

Over 430 professionals and students attended the meeting, held for the first time in the Big Bend region. The meeting began on Thursday, with a social, several workshops, and a movie screening of the PhD movie. Friday was dominated by scientific presentations in the Warnock Science Building and posters in the Gallego Center.

Dr. Christopher Ritzi, associate professor of Biology and interim Dean of the School of Arts and Sciences, hosted the meeting. In addition, he was elected to serve as the Academy’s Vice President, a position that will rotate through Vice President, President-Elect, President, and Past President over the next four years. Ritzi was also inducted as a Fellow of the Texas Academy of Science, for his contributions to science and education to the Academy and the State of Texas.

The talks presented ranged over various categories, including anthropology, biology, geology, science education, and mathematics. A breakdown of the students and faculty from Sul Ross who presented and their presentation titles follows.

Dr. William A. Cloud, Dr. Robert Mallouf, Richard Walter, Roger Boren, Robert Gray, Samuel Cason, Elizabeth Baker, Dawnella Petry, and David Keller. Paleoindians in the Big Bend: Preliminary investigations at the Genevieve Lykes Duncan Site (41BS2615), O2 ranch, Brewster County. Oral Presentation

Melinda Dooley and Ritzi. Arthropod Ecology of Carrion Resources in the Trans-Pecos Region of Texas. Oral Presentation.

Claudialina Duque, Karen Little, and Ritzi. Identification and quantification of DAAB bacterial consortium using fluorescence in situ hybridization (FISH). Oral Presentation.

Anne Marie Hilscher and Ritzi. The impact of saltcedar biocontrol along the Rio Grande on a non-target species, Tamarisk aphylla. Oral Presentation.

Diana Hulsey, Dr. Martin Terry, and Dr. M. Abul Kalam. Clinal geographic variation in mescaline concentration among Texas populations of Lophophora williamsii (Cactaceae). Oral Presentation.

Kody Kubala and Ritzi. Ectoparasite Diversity and Rickettsia Testing of Ectoparasites on Feral Swine (Sus scrofa) and Collared Peccaries (Pecari tayacu) in the Davis Mountains of Texas. Oral Presentation.

Asher Lichtig. Environmental Preferences of the Cretaceous turtles of the San Juan Basin, New Mexico. Poster.

Lizbeth Marquez and Ritzi. A survey of Ectoparasites of Small Mammals from Honduras. Oral Presentation.

Judith Loya and Dr. Lloyd Moyo. Picard’s iterative scheme for initial value problems. Oral Presentation.

Desire Melton, Anthony Morales, Kubala, Ritzi, and Jackie Denson. An analysis of the prevalence of Trichinella sp. Found within feral swine (Sus scrofa) and javalina (Pecari tajacu) of Trans-Pecos Texas. Poster.

Morales, Melton, Kubala, Ritzi, and Jackie Denson. A survey of Influenza A within feral swine (Sus scrofa) and javalina (Pecari tajacu) of Trans-Pecos Texas. Poster.

Moyo. Evaluation of the generalized Fresnel’s integrals. Oral Presentation.

Joel Natividad and Ritzi. A Survey of Ectoparasites of Small Mammal from Guatemala. Poster.

Jonathon Navarette, Jodi Carnes, Kubala, Ritzi, and Denson. A survey of West Nile Virus (MNV) within feral swine (Sus scrofa) and javalina (Pecari tajacu) of Trans-Pecos Texas. Poster

Karin Nilsen and Ritzi. Survey of vertebrate communities in invasive saltcedar (Tamarix spp.) monocultures in Presidio County, Texas. Oral Presentation.

David Price Rumbelow, Ritzi, and Dr. Steven Platt. A Look at the Mexican Spotted Owl in the Davis Mountains of Texas. Poster.

Laura Tang, Carnes, Rachel Milan, and Denson. A survey of the microbial diversity from two distinct locations within the Chihuahuan Desert Research Institute: a perpetual spring and a desert soil site. Poster.

At the annual awards banquet, the Sul Ross faculty, staff, and students who helped to organize and put together a great meeting were recognized and thanked. "Next year’s meeting will be held in Kerrville at Schreiner University, so we hope to continue to make a strong showing and let the rest of the state remain aware of Sul Ross and its contributions to math and science," said Ritzi.

For more information, contact Ritzi at (432)837-8420, or e-mail




Over 20 Sul Ross State University students from Natural Resource Management, Biology, and Range and Wildlife Management traveled to Fort Worth Feb. 24-26 to participate in the 44th Annual Meeting of the Texas Chapter of The Wildlife Society (TCTWS).

Sul Ross students mingled and interacted with state, federal, and private wildlife biologists throughout the state and listened to two and a half days of scientific papers. In addition, students presented scientific papers, participated in a wildlife disease workshop, and were acknowledged at the Awards Banquet.

Laura Loeser, Alpine, presented a paper, "Use of Black Bears (Ursus americana) and Mountain Lions (Puma concolor) as Umbrella Species for Biodiversity Conservation in the Trans-Pecos Region of Texas." Loeser also presented a poster, "Transboundary Movement and Habitat Use by Black Bears (Ursus americana) in the Chihuahuan Desert of Western Texas and Northern Coahuila, Mexico."

Justin Hoffman, Bellevue, presented two papers, "Assess the Survival of Restored Pronghorn in the Trans-Pecos, Texas," and "Post-Release Movements of Translocated Pronghorn in the Trans-Pecos, Texas."

Kody Kubala, Hondo, presented a paper, " Ectoparasite Diversity and Rickettsia Testing of Ectoparasites on Feral Swine (Sus Scorfa) and Collared Peccaries (Pecari tayacu) in the Davis Mountain of Texas."

Ron Thompson, Alpine, Ariz., presented a paper "The North American Model of Wildlife Management: A Modification and Application South of the U.S. Border (Albeit Still in North America!) to Large Carnivore Conservation." Ron also presented a poster, "Genetic Analysis of Feces Reveals Minimum Number, Sex, and Diet of Mountain Lions on Kofa National Wildlife Refuge, Arizona."

Thomas Janke, Bartlett, presented "An Overview of the History of the Texas Desert Bighorn: An Account of Their Rise, Fall, Restoration, and Current Success."

John Stone, Beaumont, presented a paper, "Effects of Hunting pressure, Meteorological and Lunar Conditions on Whitetail Deer Use of Supplemental Feed Stations."

Kendall Smith, Johnson City, presented a poster "Effects of Prescribed Fire on Pronghorn Habitat in Desert Grassland Communities in the Trans-Pecos."

James Weaver, Point, presented a poster, "An Evaluation of Pronghorn Fawn Survival in the Trans-Pecos."

John Edwards, Chickashaw, Okla., presented a poster, "Small Mammal and Vegetative Response to Wildfire in the Trans-Pecos, Texas."

At the Awards Banquet, the TCTWS acknowledged John Clayton Campbell, Castroville, as an Outstanding Student Member of the Sul Ross Range and Wildlife Club. Other students in attendance included Justin and Megan Boatwright, Alpine; Andy James, Gatesville; Lalo Gonzalez, Chihuahua, Mexico; Richard Temple, Minden, La.; Joe Christensen, Nampa, Id.; Reagan Gage, Jarrell; Katie Dennison, Quincy, Mass.; Jack Turney, Sonora; Bryce Thompson, Alpine; and Tanner Regan, Midland.




The Sul Ross State University Concert Choir, Mariachi Ensemble, and Wind Ensemble will present their first concert of the spring season Thursday, March 8.

The concert will begin 7:30 pm in Marshall Auditorium and is free and open to the public. All three groups will be performing standard literature and new pieces, including the world premiere performance of a piece by Dr. Donald Callen Freed.