Plant Genomics-Dr. Erin Schuenzel
The main focus of my work is population genetics and genomics of bacterial plant pathogens. The organisms that I am currently working with are bacterial plant pathogens that infect a variety of economically important fruit and vegetables; Candidatus Liberibacter sp. (citrus, potato), Xyllela fastidiosa (citrus, grapevine, almonds), Xanthomonas campestris (peppers, cabbage), Acidovorax avenae (rice, corn, watermelon, squash), and Psuedomonas syringae (tomato, pepper, kiwi). Projects in my lab would examine plant host-bacterial pathogen adaptation, bacterial taxonomy through molecular mean, rapid disease diagnostics and bacterial genomics. All projects in my lab would include learning how to extract, amplify and sequence DNA. DNA analysis includes gaining familiarity with computer programs and biological databases to answer questions about how bacterial populations evolve. Students will also learn how to optimize classical polymerase chain reaction and optimize real-time polymerase chain reaction.
Specific research projects include development of DNA fingerprint databases, also known as multi-locus sequence analysis, for Candidatus Liberibacter, Pseudomonas syringae and Acidovorax avenae. Development of these databases allows for specific identification of pathogens, tracking of disease outbreaks and understanding the evolution of the different species. Host adaptation studies of Xylella fastidiosa involve sequencing of candidate genes and creating knockout mutants of these same genes to understand their function in pathogenicity trials. Other projects include determining the taxonomic classification of Candidatus Liberibacter sp. and Xanthomonas sp. using gene sequence and genomic information.
Environmental Science Training-Dr. Frank J. Dirrigl, Jr.
Undergraduate and graduate students will be trained in environmental science techniques related to the biomonitoring of terrestrial and aquatic (freshwater and marine) habitats and how this information can guide land and water management. Because the lower Rio Grande River region of south Texas supports industry, a rapidly growing US-Mexico border population, and long history of agriculture, students will have the opportunity to develop individualized research projects in: environmental health, pollution reduction and control, natural resources and biodiversity, and sustainable agriculture and irrigation.
Hands-on training will include field and laboratory use of specialized water quality sampling and testing equipment. Students will learn to collect physical and chemical data, such as nutrients and metals, and use different parameters to conduct functional assessments of engineered structures used for irrigation, flood control, stormwater management, water improvement and conservation, and municipal use or discharge. The technical skills and knowledge learned will prepare students for professional careers in biology, environmental science, and natural resource and agricultural sciences.
Texas A&M Kingsville Citrus Center-Dr. Eliezer S. Louzada
Eliezer S. Louzada receied his Ph.D. from Federal University of Rio De Janeiro/University of Florida. He was appointed to the faculty at Texas A&M University-kingsville Citrus Center, Weslaco. In 1997 and currently holds the rank of Associate Professor in the Department of Agronomy & Resource Sciences. Eliezer teaches Advances in Plant Biotechnology, and advances in Plant Cell and Tissue Culture. He initiated in 2000 a hands-on research internship program to provide training in molecular biology to undergraduate students
Mammalian Reproduction Physiology and Breast Cancer-Dr. Robert Dearth
The female reproductive system is based on a cascade of complicated events,requiring the aid of several different organs, culminating to maintain reproductive vitality and fertility. Exogenous and endogenous-induced disruptions during critical points in a women's life (i.e. puberty and pregnancy) can dictate her well-being for the rest of her life (induction/protection from cancer and infertility). My goal (as a neuroendocrinologist) is to aid in the discovery of new/improved ideologies that will advance female reproductive sciences. Specifically, my current and future research will focus on two main areas: 1.) Reproductive factors that affect breast cancer, and 2.) toxicological effects on female reproduction.