Researchers from several departments within the Texas Tech College of Agricultural Sciences and Natural Resources discussed their research fields, interests and goals with local media.

The Department of Animal and Food Science, the Department of Plant and Soil Science, the Department of Landscape Architecture, the Department of Natural Resources Management, the Department of Agricultural Education and Communication and the Department of Agricultural and Applied Economics were represented by researchers at this media day, which took place from 1 p.m. to 3 p.m. on Sept. 5 at the City Bank Room in the United Spirits Arena. 

Nathan Hall, assistant professor of companion animal science, Jhones Sarturi, associate professor in AFS, Dale Woerner, associate professor in AFS, and Michael Orth, chair and professor of AFS, were the men speaking on behalf of the Department of Animal and Food Science.

In the meat science and biology group within the college, researchers focus on meat quality, Woerner said. However, they are also a part of the International Center for Student Ministry, which focuses on national and domestic issues along with low versions of meat. 

The goal in this area of the department is to produce higher quality of meat products that are safe for people to eat, Woerner said.

Matt Becker, assistant professor in the Department of Plant and Soil Sciences, said researchers and faculty in the department focus on several areas, such as plants, crops and soils.

An important part of the research is publishing high-impact papers, which are related to the metal speciation and the contaminated soils, Becker said. This is so there is an understanding on how heavy metals and contaminants are going to be transported.

“The goal of our research is to provide a fundamental understanding of soil chemistry so that we can use that information to solve field scale problems,” Becker said.

Some problems might consist of a plant suffering from a mineral deficiency, Becker said. In response to these issues, he said Tech researchers go out to the field and take soil samples and do a small scale fundamental study to understand the chemical species. 

Charles Klein, associate professor in the Department of Landscape Architecture, and Eric Bernard, landscape architect, were representing the Department of Landscape Architecture.

There is a coalition of 20 or 30 state agencies, universities and private industries that address obesity, Klein said. Properly designed childcare, such as outdoor learning environments or playgrounds, are factors he said can reduce sedentary behaviors by 22 percent.

Fruit and vegetable gardening, increased physical activity and the naturalization of the outdoor environment are tasks Klein said are a part of the program.

Matthew Siebecker, assistant professor of applied environmental soil chemistry, was one of the professors representing the Department of Plant and Soil Sciences.

“We have 15 faculty members who do various research from applied wildlife management to fisheries management, aquatic resources to ecological theory testing of conservation biology,” he said.

Everyone in the field has a specific species, such as reptiles, mammals, aquatic or invasive species, that they study, Siebecker said. He said CASNR is the only entity at Tech that does this kind of work. 

“What we do on this campus is really kind of interdisciplinary,” he said. “So, a lot of what we do is in the field of research. We also do a lot of lab research.”

The focus that the Department of Plant and Soil Sciences has for student education at the undergraduate and graduate level is training students to be natural resource managers or training them to become scientists.

Mike Ballou, chairperson for Veterinary Service, said VS is a new area in CASNR.

“Our research is generally focused on improving animal health and better understanding ways to use antibiotics with livestock,” Ballou said.

Researchers in the department are trying to understand what a good immune response in animals looks like, Ballou said. 

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