photo of students working in Dr. Locklin's lab

Belton High School student Ruopu Jiao and Temple College student Devin Garcia conduct research on zebra mussels in Dr. Jason Locklin’s lab.

Two current or former Temple College students will be presenting research at the 2017 meeting of the Texas Academy of Science, which will be held March 3-5 in Belton.

Current student Devin Garcia will give a presentation on her research project titled “Vertical Distribution and Seasonal Recruitment of Zebra Mussels in a Central Texas Reservoir.”

Garcia received a $1,000 grant from the Texas Academy of Science to fund this research. She conducted the research at Lake Belton with Dr. Jason Locklin, a Temple College biology professor who is also the current president of the Texas Academy of Science.

Garcia will present her research March 4 at 8:45 a.m. in Room 117 of the York Science Center at the University of Mary Hardin-Baylor. This will be the second year in a row that Garcia has presented a paper at the TAS meeting.

Garcia also worked with Locklin on another research project at Lake Belton titled “Recruitment, Growth, and Spatial Distribution of Zebra Mussels in the Flood Pool of an Infested Central Texas Reservoir.” Three students from Belton High School assisted with the research and will be at the meeting to present it.

“It is very rare for high school students to attend a TAS meeting, and even rarer for high school students to present at the meeting,” Locklin said.

The students will present this research at a poster session that will be held March 4 from 10-11:30 a.m. in the hallway of the UMHB Nursing Education Center.

Locklin and the students are still working on the zebra mussel research and expect to complete the project in May or June.

“The zebra mussel work has been interesting,” Locklin said. “We are still sorting through the extensive data set, but there have been several surprises relating to the distribution of mussels through the water column through time. Devin’s work helps to establish a baseline for additional studies at southern latitudes.”

Zebra mussels are a non-native species that first appeared in Lake Belton in 2013. Their colonization has led to several ecological and economic impacts, including the death of native mussels, a decline in food sources for native fish species, and damage to infrastructure such as water intake pipes. No successful eradication measures have been established, making zebra mussels one of the most invasive species in North America.

Also at the TAS meeting, Locklin and former student Josh Huckabee will present a poster on a research project titled “A Multi-year Analysis of Wing Loading in the Monarch Butterfly During the Fall Migration.”

Locklin and Huckabee have been studying monarch butterflies that migrate through Texas since 2010 as part of a broader effort to help the U.S. Department of the Interior determine if the butterflies need to be added to the Endangered Species List. In 2010, Huckabee became the first Temple College student to present a research poster at a TAS meeting. He has since given presentations at four other meetings. This will be the sixth presentation for Huckabee, who now works as a science lab assistant at Temple College.

In all, this year’s meeting of the Texas Academy of Science will feature 260 scientific presentations from students and faculty members across the state. For more information on the meeting, visit http://www.texasacademyofscience.org/assets/Meetings/2017Meeting/tas-120th%20annual%20meeting-short%20program.pdf