West Texas A&M University

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Department of Life, Earth and Environmental Sciences

Department of Life, Earth and Environmental Sciences

students in a lab Are you planning to attend college in the near future?  Do your interests lie in the fields of biology, geology or environmental science?  If the answers to these questions are YES, then you need to give serious consideration to the many programs offered by the Department of Life, Earth and Environmental Sciences.  West Texas A&M University has been providing quality education since 1910 as the Texas Panhandle's premier university.  Many of the Texas Panhandle's physicians, dentists, chiropractors, physical therapists, optometrists, biologists, pharmacists, medical technologists, environmental scientists, geologists and biology teachers are proud graduates of WTAMU.  Our department boasts an exceptional, student-oriented faculty who take pride in their product - YOU, the student.  This site provides you with a thumbnail sketch of the educational opportunities in the biological, geological and environmental sciences offered at WTAMU.

David Sissom, Ph.D.
Department Head


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? For more on this research project, read the New Mexico Game and Fish article here.

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.

"Dr. Bouma is one of our star contributors in departmental matters. Each year, she provides valuable and detailed assessment information for several of her courses for LEES Program Assessment. She always volunteers when it comes time for Discover WT, and she serves regularly on several departmental committees... Dr. Bouma had an outstanding year in terms of professional service, continuing a trend she established when she arrived at WTAMU in 2006. She is diverse in the service she performs, helping the university, the department and college, and the community. Her contributions in professional service truly stand out."
- Dr. David Sissom, Department Head Life, Earth, and Environmental Sciences

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WT Faculty Help Encourage Early Interest in the STEM Fields

Doppler Dave OliverWest 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).

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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.

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.

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.




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.


WTAMU Professor Collects Aerosol Samples for Cloud Formation Research

Dr. Naruki HiranumaCANYON, Texas—It 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 Grad Student is Poster Winner at AMS Conference Kimberly Cory

CANYON, Texas—Kimberly 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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