Study into Extreme Heat at Palo Duro Canyon Being Conducted by WT Students


Students from West Texas A&M University are taking the lead in a summer-long study of extreme heat in Palo Duro Canyon State Park. Heat-related illness among hikers and other visitors is a common experience each summer in the canyon, where temperatures can soar more than 12 degrees higher than in Amarillo or Canyon. “Despite its beauty, Palo Duro Canyon can be a very dangerous place,” said Jeff Davis, assistant park superintendent. “While visitors worry more about venomous snakes or trips and falls, heat and dehydration are the real danger here. Our partnership with WT will be a critical step in educating our visitors about the dangers of heat at the park.”

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WT Graduate, Undergraduate Student Scholars Honored at Student Research Conference


A graduate student from the Republic of Benin was given the first WT 125 Research Award at the recent Student Research Conference at West Texas A&M University. Erasme da Cruz, a natural sciences graduate student, won the new award for his oral presentation “Environmental Crisis in the Panhandle of Texas: The Tale of Buffalo Lake.” Thirty-three graduate and undergraduate students participated in the 27th annual conference on April 14 and 15, presenting their work in paper, oral or poster presentations.

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WT Student Groups to Host Earth Day Event for Regional Schools


West Texas A&M University students will help regional elementary students celebrate Earth Day with hands-on activities. The Environmental Science Society at WT will lead several activities April 21 to help third- and fourth-grade students from Thomas R. Helton Elementary School in Wheeler and Wildorado Elementary School learn more about the importance of protecting the environment. “We all live on Planet Earth, and we all need to do our best to keep it in the best shape possible. That starts with education. That’s the first step in making progress,” said Damaris Washington, ESS vice president and junior environmental science—geology major from Borger.

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WT Grad Student’s Research Helps Understanding of Precipitation in Texas Panhandle


Research that recently was published in Atmospheric Chemistry and Physics might lead to better understanding of precipitation across the Panhandle and beyond, including more efficient ways to modify the weather.

Hemanth Sandeep Vepuri, a student from Hyderabad, India, who is pursuing his master of science degree in environmental science, is the primary author of the research into ice-nucleating particles (INPs) — the microscopic material in the air that water vapor condenses around to form ice crystals that make up clouds.

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Xcel Energy Archives Now Preserved at PPHM Through WT’s Center for the Study of the American West

student-brownDecades’ worth of material charting the history of one of the region’s most prominent industries have been preserved, thanks to the efforts of two West Texas A&M University student interns and WT’s Center for the Study of the American West.

In a collaboration established by Wes Reeves of Xcel Energy and Alex Hunt, director of CSAW, the interns preserved and established an important collection of materials for the archives of Panhandle-Plains Historical Museum.

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WT Professor Part of Major Study on Tortoise DNA Published in Science Magazine


Dr. Peter A. Scott is the lead author of a study of the DNA of Mojave desert tortoises that appeared as the cover story of the Nov. 27 issue of Science.

“It’s pretty wild,” said Scott, an assistant professor of wildlife biology. “It’s not something I ever thought studying some tortoise DNA would get me. Part of that is that these results stem from a side project, so one of the main lessons is to listen to what the data says and be flexible enough to go where it tells you. Sometimes, you get an unexpected but powerful result.”

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LEES Faculty and His Research Group Received the 2019 University & College Intellectual Contributions Excellence Award

LEES_Hiranuma_GroupDr. Naruki Hiranuma earned a Ph.D. in atmospheric science from Texas A&M University and joined the faculty at WT in 2016.

“The receipts of a Department of Energy Career Award of $750,000 in 2018 and a National Science Foundation Career Award of $500,000 in 2019 highlight his intellectual contribution accomplishments,” said Dr. David Sissom, chair of the Department of Life, Earth, & Environmental Sciences.

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WT's Hiranuma is Awarded by the National Science Foundation

hiranuma-pineWest Texas A&M University’s Dr. Naruki Hiranuma (aka Dr. Seonggi Moon) has been awarded the highly-coveted CAREER Award from the National Science Foundation (NSF). The $500,000 grant will support a five-year project led by Dr. Hiranuma, assistant professor of environmental sciences. The funds will be used to hire two graduate students to boost research efforts in the University's environmental science program, as well as research expenses and teaching activities.

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Drs. Johnson and Fritzler Take to the Field in New Mexico

New Mexico Game and Fish ResearchDrs. James B. Johnson and Jason Fritzler, both Assistant Professors of Biology, recently had the opportunity to team up with New Mexico Game and Fish to conduct research centered on the questions: 1) What strains ofchytrid fungus and ranavirus are currently present in two drainages in southwestern New Mexico where this sensitive species of frog occurs; 2) Is there any evidence of the presence of chytrid fungus or ranavirus in water and soil used at nurseries that grow the sorts of plants that could be used for restoration projects?



Dr. Carolyn Bouma, Associate Professor of Biology, is the recipient of the 2018 University & College Professional Service Award

Dr. Carolyn BoumaDr. Carolyn Bouma, associate professor of biology, received the University award for Professional Service. Since 2006, Bouma has contributed to WT by supporting students in roles such as coordinator of the Texas Tech Mentor Program, advisor for the Pre-Healthcare Club, past-chair of the Texas Association of Advisors for the Health Professions, a mentor in the Joint Admission Medical Program, a statewide scholarship program for pre-medicine students, and as an academic adviser. Bouma not only assists students enrolling in courses, but she also supports students through the medical school application process, which amounts to approximately 40 pre-medical students annually.

As chair of the College Health Professions Advisory Committee, she prepared 24 evaluation letters for 17 students applying to graduate schools, scholarships, full-time employment and summer programs in 2019. On average, more than 50 percent of WT students who applied to medical school were accepted, above the 42 percent national average.

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WT Faculty Help Encourage Early Interest in the STEM Fields

don-harrington-logoWest Texas A&M University partnered with the local meteorology community to host "Weathering the Storm: The Science of Severe Weather," an annual educational event for kids about severe weather patterns, at the Don Harrington Discovery Center (DHDC). Dr. Naruki Hiranuma, assistant professor of environmental science at WT, John Harris, chief meteorologist at KAMR-TV, and Jason Boggs, an experienced storm chaser, demonstrated various labs for more than 300 students from local elementary schools in the all-day event earlier this month.

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Fascinating Course at WTAMU Takes Campus by Storm

Doppler Dave OliverBetween the arts and sciences, many stick to one for their degree requirements. But whether a student demonstrates aptitude in either is not exclusive to the deep appreciation students have for one of the most favored courses at West Texas A&M University - meteorology.

The percentage of students majoring in environmental science is modest, but the buzz around taking an elective focused on understanding the weather is keeping classes full and growing for meteorologist instructor Dave Oliver. Currently, a general meteorology course is available for spring and fall semesters, but increased demand may open up options to specialties in severe weather and climate change.

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University Receives NSF Grant to Support Low-Income STEM Students

West Texas A&M University is the recipient of a federal grant totaling almost $1 million through the National Science Foundation (NSF) to support the recruitment, retention and graduation of low-income students interested in careers in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM).

"Our world’s increasing reliance on technology and data means strong STEM-focused minds will continue to be in high demand, and we should give students in these fields every advantage to succeed," John Cornyn, U.S. senator from Texas, said. "I applaud area leaders for their work to obtain this grant, and I’m grateful to the Trump administration for supporting students at West Texas A&M."

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WTAMU Professor Receives DOE Early Career Award

Dr. Naruki HiranumaDr. Naruki Hiranuma, assistant professor of environmental sciences at West Texas A&M University, is one of 84 scientists selected from across the nation to receive significant funding for research as a 2018 Early Career Award recipient through the DOE Office of Science. The Early Career Research Program, now in its ninth year, is designed to bolster the nation’s scientific workforce by providing support to exceptional researchers during the crucial early career years, when many scientists do their most formative work. The recipients include 30 scientists from DOE’s national laboratories and 54 from universities across the United States.

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WTAMU prepares grads for fast-changing energy industry

At the epicenter of the oil industry, Texas is the leading state for opportunities in oil and gas exploration. For decades, a sure way to begin a career in fossil fuels included a degree in geology, but as the industry advances, so must the college curriculum. Fortunately, West Texas A&M University has restructured to fit this need with an environmental science and geology program.

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Earth Day at Amarillo Zoo

Earth day at Amarillo Zoo Three faculty members and students from the Department of Life, Earth and Environmental Sciences at West Texas A&M University provided hands-on activities and demonstrations to local students in celebration of Earth Day at the Amarillo Zoo.

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Earth Day at Don Harrington Discovery Center

West Texas A&M University faculty members Dr. Nick Flynn and Dr. Naruki Hiranuma provided hands-on activities and demonstrations to area elementary students at the Discovery Center on April 20th to celebrate Earth Day. The theme for this year’s annual event was Marine Chemistry and was selected by the American Chemical Society.

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WTAMU Senior Achieves Record-Setting MCAT Score

Senior Amanda Bell, double-majoring in biochemistry and biology, has achieved one of the top two Medical College Admission Test (MCAT) scores ever earned at West Texas A&M University. “I hadn’t taken biochemistry yet when I took the MCAT,” Bell said. “I studied for about two months, but my adviser, Dr. Carolyn Bouma, was one of the biggest reasons I got into med school. She reviewed parts of my application and gave me tips as an expert. She and Dr. Donna Byers really helped me with cell biology, too.”Bell, who is from Midland, received invitations to interview at eight of the 10 medical schools in Texas, and she is the first traditional WTAMU student to receive an interview at the only private medical school at Baylor College of Medicine. She received early acceptance from Texas Tech University (TTU) and University of Texas at Houston McGovern. Ultimately, she decided on TTU.


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WTAMU Grad Student is Poster Winner at AMS Conference

 Kimberly CoryKimberly Cory, a graduate student in biology at West Texas A&M University, is the  winner of the student presentation competition at the 98th annual conference of the American  Meteorological Society in January in Austin. Her winning poster was titled "Laboratory Investigation on  the Immersion Freezing Behavior of Arctic Aerosols Collected in Ny-Alesund, Svalbard."

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WTAMU Professor Collects Aerosol Samples for Cloud Formation Research

hiranuma-arctic-1It could easily be said that Dr. Naruki Hiranuma has his head in the  clouds. Literally. It’s a good thing, too, because the West Texas A&M University professor has traveled as far as the Arctic to gather aerosol samples—fine solid or liquid particles suspended in the air— for extensive research on cloud formation and composition in his Atmospheric and Aerosol Measurement Lab at the University’s Killgore Research Center.

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WTAMU Box 60872, Canyon, TX  79016