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Program Description at UTSA
Hispanic Leaders in Agriculture and the Environment


Program Goal -

To increase the number of Hispanic leaders in governmental and non-governmental organizations, colleges and universities, and private industries related to "agriculture and the environment."

Note: This program is not restricted to Hispanics. Other underrepresented groups, including African-Americans can apply. Whites with experience and special interest in working with Hispanics are also invited to apply and have been and will continue to be accepted into this program.

Program Objectives -

A. Increase the number of Hispanic and other underrepresented people as professors that teach and/or conduct research in colleges and universities that offer studies in agriculture and the environment.

B. Increase the number of Hispanic and other underrepresented professionals in leadership positions in colleges and universities, governmental and non-governmental organizations, and private industries related to agriculture and the environment.

C. Improve the knowledge about issues that particularly impact on the nation's Hispanic American community and other underrepresented professionals and, propose research-based solutions.

D. Improve the capacity of young Hispanic and other underrepresented professionals to exercise leadership in professions related to agriculture and the environment.

E. Improve the ability of young Hispanic and other underrepresented professionals to analyze public policies related to agriculture and the environment.

Program Approach -

A. Graduate Courses that make up M.S. and Ph.D. degree programs.

B. Research that links the universities with Hispanic communities.

C. Policy Analysis Capacity Building to enable Fellows to analyze policy to make adjustments in policies, traditions, and programs to improve access to programs related to agriculture and the environment by Hispanic Americans and other underrepresented groups.

D. Leadership Development to hone or develop leadership skills that young professionals will need to become active and influential participants in their professions.

Program Requirements -

A. Admittance to a M.S. or Ph.D. program in the College of Science or Engineering at UTSA.

B. Completed undergraduate degree for M.S. studies or completed master's degree for Ph.D. studies.

C. U.S. Citizen.

D. Full-time student.

E. Participate in orientation (each year in Fall), policy analysis workshop (alternate years in Fall), leadership development workshop (alternate years in Spring), research-sharing workshop (yearly in Spring), funding for research workshop (first year in Spring), natural resources field trip (alternate years in Spring), and meeting with National Advisory Board (yearly in Winter).

F. Link research with a Texas or U. S. Hispanic community.

G. Submit annual progress reports at end of each spring semester, i.e., courses for credit completed, status of research, articles submitted for publication, articles published in refereed journals, papers and poster presentations at professional meetings, awards and honors received, and a statement or progress report from the student's advisor.

Program Provisions -

A. For M.S. studies, support will be up to $25,000 per year (from a combination of funding sources) for two years and/or could be a graduate teaching or research assistantships, or payment of tuition and fees.

B. For Ph.D. studies, support will be up to $30,000 per year (from/or a combination of funding sources) for three years and could be a graduate teaching or research assistantship and/or payment of tuition and fees.

C. Ph.D. studies for four years, if students go from B.S. to Ph.D. program or start in M.S. program and change to Ph.D. program during the first year of M.S. studies.

D. A petition or permission is required for additional temporary support or additional research support.

E. If students participate in a paid internship for a summer or a semester, the total two- or three-year period may be extended by one semester.

F. Students that complete an M.S. through this program and are accepted to the doctoral program may continue with the program but will have to request support.

G. Research support, $2,500 per year for travel, lodging, and meals for all required activities.

H. Employing organizations may sponsor students, and support for tuition and fees may be available.

I. Most required program activities for both M.S. and Ph.D. students will be completed in first two years. In third year Ph.D. students will only be required to participate in a meeting with the National Advisory Board and a research-sharing workshop.

Program Partners -

University of Texas at San Antonio, University of Texas Pan American, Texas A&M University, Texas A&M University-Corpus Christi, Texas A&M University-Kingsville

Program Application

A. Letter of recommendation from departmental major advisor confirming some departmental funding for the two- or three-year period and flexibility in the academic program to participate in required program activities, i.e., orientation, policy analysis workshop, leadership development workshop, research-sharing workshop, funding for research workshop, natural resources field trip, and meeting with National Advisory Board.

B. Application form signed by student (Download HLAE Application).

C. Copy of accepted application for graduate studies at UTSA.

D. Submit hardcopy application as soon as possible, they will be reviewed as received.

Submit to:
Ms. Cheryl Negrete for Dr. O. W. Van Auken
The University of Texas at San Antonio
BSE 1.624
One UTSA Circle, San Antonio, TX 78249-0662

Note: For more information about this program or about the application, call 210-458-5168 or 210-458-5489 or email or


Possible research projects and programs at UTSA

The possible projects at UTSA could be quite varied and will depend on the interest of the student and the faculty mentor. A fair number of projects will probably come from the section of Integrative Biology in the Department of Biology in the College of Sciences.

A number of areas for study and potential projects are indicated below however the list is not exhaustive:

  • Plant ecology
  • Community ecology
  • Mechanisms of competition
  • Competition for natural resources
  • Alleopathy
  • Animal ecology
  • Conservation biology
  • Natural resource requirements - water, N, P, K, others
  • Plant demography
  • Animal demography
  • Plant competition

Species to work with
  Invertebrates - ants, butterflies, and others
  Vertebrates - rodents, deer, elk, birds and others
  Woody Plants - juniper, oak, mesquite, acacia, and others
  Herbaceous Plants - grasses, sedges, annuals
Herbivory - Natural and simulated
Nutrient requirements
Seed germination
Factors limiting plant growth - CO2, temperature effects and interactions
Species light requirements - sun, shade, intermediate
Photosynthetic rates - global changes phenomena-CO2, temperature effects, interactions
Other factors
  Factors limiting plant growth
  Factors limiting animal population growth
  Mycorrhizal requirements and interactions
  Soil microbiology
  Water microbiology
  Pathogenic microorganisms
  Responses of organisms to stimulants or requirements. Neurobiological/environmental interactions
  Population genetics
  Biochemistry and interactions

Interested students should contact individual faculty members about working with them and projects they have available. Go to the College of Sciences or College of Engineering web pages, then go to the specific departments and look at the kind of research specific faculty members are doing.