Latest News from Sul Ross July 9, 2013

SUL ROSS SUMMER II SESSION BEGINS JULY 11
    Sul Ross State University’s Summer Session II classes will begin Thursday, July 11. The session concludes Thursday, Aug. 15.
    Classes, late registration and schedule changes begin Thursday, July 11. Students may move into the Lobo Village  residence halls beginning at noon Thursday, July 11. Students must check in at the main housing office before 5 p.m.
    Tuesday, July 16 is the last day for late registration and schedule changes for full-term classes. Tuesday, July 16 is also the fourth class day and Monday, July 22 is mid-term.
    Monday, Aug. 5 is the last day to drop a course with a “W.” Drops must be processed and in the Center for Enrollment Services (Lawrence Hall, Room 213) by 4 p.m.
    Final examinations will be administered Thursday, Aug. 15.
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MCNAIR SCHOLAR STUDIES LINKS OF SAXOPHONE, FOLK MUSIC
    by Steve Lang, News and Publications

    A love of saxophone music piqued Sul Ross State University student Rebecca Blomquist’s interest in its origin.
    While preparing for her senior saxophone recital, Blomquist decided to study the history behind the sound.
    Blomquist, Granger, has undertaken a McNair Program research project, “The Evolution of Folk Music from Various Cultures as Seen Through Music Composed for the Saxophone.”
    The Ronald E. McNair Postbaccalaureate Achievement Program is designed to encourage first generation, low-income students and minority undergraduates to consider careers in college teaching as well as prepare for doctoral study. Students who participate in the program are provided with research opportunities and faculty mentors.
    With mentoring from Christopher Dobbins, Sul Ross lecturer in Music, Blomquist studied the history, origin and ingenuity of the saxophone and music arranged for the instrument in the 20th century. Through her research, she also hopes to gain further musical understanding in the phrasing, musicality and performance techniques.
    With encouragement from Dobbins and McNair Program director Mary Bennett, recital requirements expanded into research.
    “When I was working on my senior recital, I ended up choosing a bunch of folk songs (for performance),” she said. “Since the recital requires providing program notes and historical background, the thought arose, ‘why not develop this further?’”
    Blomquist’s research reveals how Adolphe Sax’s invention (patented in 1846), designed as a bridge between brass and woodwind instruments, has proven to be adaptable to many musical forms, including military marches, jazz, chamber and folk.
    “The saxophone offers a really warm and yet varied range of sound,” she said. “It is a very diverse instrument and (musicians and composers) learned they could use it in many forms.”
    Blomquist, who began playing the saxophone as an elementary student, has played five of the instruments – soprano, alto, tenor, bass and baritone. She has experienced the versatility first-hand.
    “When I was in high school, we had a very small marching band, so I learned to make the baritone sax sound like a tuba,” she laughed. She added that she hoped to play soprano saxophone, “for the trumpet parts” in the Sul Ross Mariachi Band, but did not have the time to participate.
    Her study of the composers whose music she played in the senior recital – Maurice Ravel, Sergei Prokofieff and Ralph Vaughan Williams – revealed distinct musical styles, all incorporating the saxophone.
    “(While living), they were not generally considered to be serious composers,” Blomquist said, but noted opinions have since changed. “They did a lot of diverse things with music, experimenting with dissonance and different harmonies and are now considered to be classic composers.”
    Blomquist, who will graduate in December with a Bachelor of Arts degree in Music, will be student teaching in both her hometown of Granger and in  Georgetown during Fall Semester. She hopes to both teach music at the elementary level and also pursue graduate studies in music, distinctly different from her initial plans.
    “I came to Sul Ross as an equine science major; I wanted to be a large animal veterinarian,” she said. “Later, I had a gut feeling that this might not be what I wanted to do all of my life.”
    She said that former music faculty member Dr. Michael Lippard approached her one day. “He put a sax in my hands and told me to come and play and just hang out. I fell in love with it all over again.”
    In addition to music and McNair Program participation, Blomquist has maintained a more-than-full schedule throughout her collegiate career. She has worked for Student Support Services and Upward Bound as a mentor, helped with Lobo Days orientation, has been a Homecoming Queen candidate and participated in the Student Government Association.
    “I just wish I would have gotten involved with McNair earlier so I could have done more projects and become more ready for graduate school,” she said.
    “Sul Ross is a great community and the McNair Program offers an excellent opportunity for research opportunities. But I will caution it is not for the faint of heart if you don’t like to motivate yourself.”
    Named in honor of the astronaut who died in the 1986 space shuttle explosion, the McNair Program was established at Sul Ross in November 2007. It is funded through the Department of Education’s TRIO programs.    For more information, contact Mary Bennett, McNair Program director,  (432) 837-8478 or mbennett@sulross.edu.
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NATIONAL PARK SERVICE PARTNERS WITH SUL ROSS GEOLOGY FOR FOSSIL DAY
    The National Park Service (NPS) has included Sul Ross State University as one of their partners for National Fossil Day.
    Dr. David Rohr, Professor of Geology, has contributed a description of the some of the fossils of Glacier Bay National Park, Alaska, for the Park Service website at: http://nature.nps.gov/geology/nationalfossilday/paleozoic.glba.cfm.
    National Fossil Day is a celebration organized to promote public awareness and stewardship of fossils, as well as to foster a greater appreciation of their scientific and educational value. The fourth annual National Fossil Day will be observed Oct. 16 during Earth Science Week.
    The National Park Service has sponsored some of Rohr’s field work in Alaska, which has resulted in the discovery and naming of several new fossils.
    For more information, contact Rohr, (432) 837-8167 or drohr@sulross.edu.
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MCNAIR RESEARCH TRACKS BIG GAME MOVEMENTS THROUGH WATER USAGE
    by Steve Lang, News and Publications

    For nearly five months, Sul Ross State University student Jose Etchart hunted big game – via camera -- across the Nine Point Mesa Ranch in southern Brewster County.
    With the aid of field cameras at more than 20 artificial watering sites, Etchart, El Paso (Burgess High School), monitored movements and water usage of desert bighorn sheep, elk, mule deer, aoudad and javelina as his McNair Program research project. In addition, he captured photographic glimpses of predators, including golden eagles, coyotes and mountain lions.
    The Ronald E. McNair Postbaccalaureate Achievement Program is designed to encourage first generation, low-income students and minority undergraduates to consider careers in college teaching as well as prepare for doctoral study. Students who participate in the program are provided with research opportunities and faculty mentors.
    Etchart’s research, “Water Utilization of Desert Big Game at Nine Point Mesa Ranch, Texas” added to the natural resource management experiences he has had since enrolling at Sul Ross. He is mentored by Dr. Louis Harveson, director of the Borderlands Research Institute and professor of Natural Resource Management. Etchart is also a technician on a quail and desert bighorn sheep research projects by graduate students, and hopes to join a mountain lion research project in Big Bend National Park during Fall Semester.
    His goal is to earn a Ph.D. in wildlife management and work on a private ranch.

 

Jose Etchart sets trail camera at artificial watering site on Nine Point Mesa Ranch. (Photo Courtesy Jose Etchart)

    “I have loved the (McNair) program,” he said. “It has given me all the support I needed and helped me a lot in preparing for graduate research. I have learned a great deal from it.”
    From mid-December 2012 to early May, Etchart tracked the movements of big game animals at 22 artificial watering sites, gathering data from field cameras at each location. His final research will include data from 14 sites, due to camera malfunctions elsewhere.
    “I monitored the water useage relative to the time of day,” he said. “We learned which sites were used, the activity patterns of both big game and predators, and the chances of predation. The only big game we found that was a victim of predation was the javelina. Since javelina, like mountain lions and coyotes, are nocturnal animals, they were the most exposed to predation.”
    Other research showed that mule deer frequented the watering sites most often in late evening hours. Aoudad utilization on past studies was found to be in the morning and evening hours.     
    “Our success in getting photos of bighorn was low,” Etchart said. “They may be getting their water elsewhere, from natural sources.”
    Etchart said the research added important data about the activity patterns of all the animals. “Nine Point Ranch provided a real good study site with so many artificial (water) sources,” he said, adding that he would study monthly and seasonal data and how the water useage occurred.

Bighorn sheep, mountain lion, elk photographed at artificial watering sites. (Photos Courtesy Jose Etchart)
     “Jose has done an outstanding job with this project. He has evaluated over 150,000 pictures and the results are very interesting,” Harveson said. “No one else has studied water use by sympatric big game species at this level.  We found some real patterns that help explain how these animals interact and compete with each other.”
    He also praised the McNair Program.
    “After 15 years at Sul Ross, I truly believe the McNair Program is hands down the best program available to undergraduate students on campus. Where else can you get the personal attention from faculty combined with the practical application of science?”
    Named in honor of the astronaut who died in the 1986 space shuttle explosion, the McNair Program was established at Sul Ross in November 2007. It is funded through the Department of Education’s TRIO programs.  For more information, contact Mary Bennett, McNair Program director,  (432) 837-8478 or mbennett@sulross.edu
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SUL ROSS FACULTY MEMBER ESTEPP HONORED AT NACTA CONFERENCE
    Dr. Christopher Estepp, Sul Ross State University assistant professor of Animal Science, received the E. B. Knight Journal award at the North American Colleges and Teachers of Agriculture (NACTA) conference, held June 25-28 in Blacksburg, Va.
    Estepp, who attended the conference with Dr. Rob Kinucan, Dean of the College of Agricultural and Natural Resource Sciences, received the award for the outstanding journal article. Estepp wrote “An Experiential Learning Model of Faculty Development to Improve Teaching“ published in the NACTA Journal in 2012.
    Estepp also gave two oral research presentations and presented a poster. The presentations were “The Relationship of Professor/Student Rapport with Undergraduate Students’ Change in Motivation and Engagement,” which was a piece of Estepp’s doctoral dissertation; and “The Development of Best Practices in Mentoring Undergraduate Research,” which reported research conducted at Sul Ross that was co-authored by Dr. Byron Housewright, assistant professor of Animal Science, and Mary Bennett, director of the McNair Program.
    His poster presentation was  “Fostering Critical Thinking Skills through Use of Reflections in an Undergraduate Agricultural Issues Course.
    The NACTA conference is aimed at promoting the scholarship of teaching and learning among university agricultural instructors. Plans are already underway to submit research at next year’s conference, to be held at Montana State University, Bozeman.
    For more information, contact Estepp, 432) 837-8210 or cestepp@sulross.edu.  

 

NACTA award

Dr. Chris Estepp (left), Sul Ross assistant professor of Animal Science,  received  the E.B. Knight Journal Award during the North American Colleges and Teachers of Agriculture (NACTA) conference in Blacksburg, Va. (June 25-28). Neil Douglas (right), NACTA Journal Awards Committee Chair, made the presentation.  (Photo Courtesy Rob Kinucan

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