(Dec. 23, 2010)--By looking at the variation and density of microscopic organisms prevalent in the Gulf of Mexico, UTSA Department of Biology Research Assistant Professor Jyotsna Sharma-Srinivasan and her collaborators expect to determine how well sub-surface recovery efforts are faring following the Deepwater Horizon oil spill on April 20.
The one-year research project, "RAPID: Taxonomic and Metagenetic Test of Species Distributions for Marine Meiofauna from the Gulf of Mexico," led by the University of New Hampshire and conducted in collaboration with Auburn University, is supported by a $200,000 grant from the National Science Foundation RAPID program, which funds time-sensitive, post-disaster research.
"If people look at the Gulf waters and see no oil on the surface, they often conclude the area has recovered to its original state, but that often is not the case," said Sharma-Srinivasan. "The oil sinks below the sediment and may affect the entire ecosystem. By studying the biodiversity present in Gulf Coast waters and comparing it with samples taken prior to the oil spill, we will have a better understanding of how the spill has affected the marine ecosystem."
Sharma-Srinivasan will study the prevalence of nematodes found in Gulf waters. Nematodes are microscopic roundworms that live in sediments and play a vital role in the ecosystem. They contribute to the decomposition process by eating bacteria and decaying matter and by introducing carbon and other minerals back into the food chain. When stirred up from the mud, they also may serve as food for shrimp, fish and other ocean dwellers.
Before the Gulf Coast oil spill, Sharma-Srinivasans research team obtained samples from more than 100 intertidal and deep water locations in the Gulf of Mexico and found more than 100 species of nematodes. Researchers at the University of New Hampshire and Auburn University in conjunction with Sharma-Srinivasan will compare the diversity of nematode populations in samples from areas affected by the spill with samples taken from unaffected areas to have a better understanding of the ecological impact of the spill.
Sharma-Srinivasan earned her doctoral degree in marine biology from the University of Ghent in Belgium. She joined the UTSA Department of Biology in 1983 and has taught biology at UTSA since 1995. Her experience includes marine research projects in British Columbia, the North Sea, the Arctic Ocean and the Caspian Sea and 10 years of research on the Gulf Coast.
The community is invited to the inauguration of UTSA President Taylor Eighmy, the sixth president of UTSA.
Convocation Center, Main Campus
The Provost's Diversity and Inclusion Advisory Council hosts this forum to share and further explain the results of the survey and to offer the opportunity for faculty and staff to provide feedback.
Durango Building La Villita Room (DB 1.116), Downtown Campus
For more than 20 years, Josie Méndez-Negrete, a UTSA associate professor in Mexican American Studies, has endured the emotional journey of watching her son, Tito, struggle with schizophrenia. Her powerful account is the first memoir by a Mexican American author to share the devastation and hope a family experiences in dealing with this mental illness.
H-E-B Student Union Travis Room (HSU 2.212), Main Campus
Graduate and undergraduate student researchers pursuing majors in the College of Liberal and Fine Arts will present their original work.
Student Union Retama Auditorium (SU 2.02.02), Main Campus
The UTSA community is invited to this town hall meeting to learn more about progress of the Student Success Presidential initiative.
Frio Street Building (FS 1.512), Downtown Campus
Author Annette Angela Portillo will read her book, which examines Native American women’s autobiographical discourses and multiple-voiced life stories that resist generic conventional notions of first-person narrative.
McKinney Humanities Building (MH 3.02.24), Main Campus
Chelsea Wentworth, anthropology professor at High Point University, will discuss women’s roles in changing customary feasting patterns so that feasts can serve as a coping mechanism for children’s food insecurity in urban areas the South Pacific Island nation, Vanuatu.
H-E-B Student Union Travis Room (HSU 2.202), Main Campus
The UTSA community is invited to come together and volunteer at various San Antonio nonprofits.
Bill Miller Plaza, Downtown Campus
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