Current Research

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Conservation Biology

Currently, We do not have any active projects.

Current Academic Paper(s)

Vitamin D3 and the Effects of Apoptosis


Understanding the importance of apoptosis in the cell life cycle is the basis for understanding how cancer is produced and controlled There are two main pathways for programmed cell death: extrinsic and intrinsic (Atay et al., 2021). Vitamin D3 is most known for its regulation of Calcium and Phosphorus and impacts on metabolisms (Jeremy et al., 2019). Vitamin D3 may reduce the risk of cancer by regulating the apoptotic pathways (Lui et al., 2018; Varghese et al., 2021). For this study, testing vitamin B3 on the rate of apoptosis within a cell line will undergo analysis of control for area and diameter growths differences compared to the testing groups. To answer the question does vitamin D3 affects the growth rate of U937 cells experiments 1 and 2 assessed different concentrations of Vitamin D3 for density, diameter, and area. To verify that Vitamin D3 has effects on the DNA of the cells PCR. With ANOVA: single-factor analysis and Post Hoc Tukey test results show significance in all groups compared to all groups. However, due to error, the results are inconclusive.

Past Research

Individual Correlates of Conservation Behaviors and Perceptions of Drought

Perceptions of weather affect effects more than just our outdoor plans. Perceptions of weather may also affect longer-term behaviors associated with the effects of that weather. Having a stronger sense of weather severity is being shown to correlate with conservation and environmental behaviors. However, most of this research has been conducted using cross-sectional data, which are not suitable for assessing causal relationships. Using panel survey data in Oklahoma, we find that perceptions of future drought frequency are positively related to water conservation behaviors. By using this framework we can understand more about how our perceptions evolve our behaviors.

Past Research Proposals

Characterization of Nectar Microbiome of Impatiens capensis and Impatiens pallida 

Expected Results

In order to read the data of the diversity and abundance of both species in the locations, comparing the diversity and abundance not only among the same species at all locations but also with the other species at all locations. This will show the changes in diversity and abundance of microbials not only on the species level but also on the location level. From the experimental design there could be three outcomes:   

There will be no difference in microbials between either species at any location. This would mean that the Impatiens do not differ structurally and do not differ in nectar chemistry to have significant differences within pollinators and therefore have the same microbiome no matter the population. The Impatiens species will share the same microbials at all locations due to the similarities in nectar chemistry and pollinators. There will be no difference in diversity and abundance between either species or location.  

There will be a difference between populations growing together than populations growing alone. The population growing together would share microbiomes due to sharing pollinators. 

 Whereas the populations growing separately have fewer chances of sharing pollinators with the other species and therefore will not share a microbiome with the opposite species. This may be seen as the shared population having its own distinct microbiome different from either species in individual populations. There will be a higher diversity and abundance between shared populations 

There will be a difference between the species microbiome themselves due to individual species differences. There will be a difference between species within a shared population which will be mirrored within the individual population of the same species. This may be from differences in pollinators and nectar chemistry. In order to confirm this outcome, the shared populations will have different distinct microbiomes that are reflective of the same species growing alone.  

Impact of Heavy Metals on Growth and Mortality in a Freshwater Bivalve (Epioblasma brevidens)


Contaminants not only affect the drinking water used by many people around the world, but also the ecosystem that is living and trying to survive in human’s unconscious disregard. Plastics, litters, and oils are commonly spotted on the banks and shores of rivers, creeks, and tributaries all over the Southern Appalachian. The visibility of these pollutants may draw the attention of most conservationists and environmentalists, but it is the unseen contaminants that hold the real danger.  

Tiny particles of metals float in the aquatic ecosystem. At low percentages, these metals are considered harmless. However, larger quantities of metals can turn dangerous and deadly to the ecosystem. These metals are commonly found after a human-made pollutant crisis or commonly known as a spill. Many industries have documented spills into freshwater systems all over the Southern Appalachians (Skeen 2011). Some of which were deemed “safe” but still had fall-out effects not foreseen at the time.  

The Southern Appalachian region is known to be one of the world’s richest and most biodiverse freshwater aquatic ecosystems. The biodiversity of mussels, fish, and crayfish is without equal to any other aquatic system in the world (Stein et al. 2000). Over 100 aquatic species in the Southern Appalachians are listed as threatened or endangered mainly due to the degradation and segmentation of the population. Other factors could also have effects on the population struggles of the aquatic systems (Stein et al. 2000). 

In 2016, one study led by Baragona (2016), suggested that there was a loss of over 80% of an abundant species of freshwater mussels found in a major Tennessee river system in the Southern Appalachians (Baragona et al. 2019). The justification for the mass population loss is still unknown but many can speculate on the causes. During Haag’s (2019) study on the topic, he suggested that among many other factors, pollution, metals, and human-made complications can cause disturbances within the fragile population of freshwater mussels.  

There is a noticeable decline in the population of freshwater mussels all around the world. In an interview with NPR, in December of 2019, Rott estimates that hundreds of thousands of individuals have been dying off since 2016. The causes remain undetermined according to Rott. He goes on to compare freshwater mussels to “nature’s Brita filter”, implying that the loss of this vital creature may be the downfall of freshwater ecosystems around the world (Rott 2019). Presumably, the niche for freshwater mussels is to filter out the toxins from the water as well as feed the ecosystem. 


2022: TBA

2021: Boland Symposium “Individual Correlates of Conservation Behaviors and Perceptions of Drought”

2020: 2020 Virtual Baylor University McNair Research Conference & 8th Annual Black Doctoral Network Conference “Impact of Heavy Metals on Growth and Mortality in a Freshwater Bivalve (Epioblasma brevidens)

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