(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 annual Center for Innovation, Technology and Entrepreneurship (CITE) 100K Venture Competition and Exposition will be held on the Main Campus on Dec. 1. Twenty-eight teams from across the university will exhibit their project; six teams will compete for a prize pool of more than $100,000 in funding to launch their new venture / company. More than 650 students have participated in launching new technology ventures.
Biotechnology, Sciences and Engineering (BSE 2.102), Main Campus
This concert features 50 community children performing music in the UTSA Downtown String Project Winter Concert. The children, led by UTSA music students studying to be music teachers, will join together in playing the Theme from Batman at their concert. The Batman of San Antonio, a local celebrity figure, will make an appearance at the concert. This event is free.
Buena Vista Theatre, Downtown Campus
Graduate student uses storytelling to highlight important issues facing children
As touch screens and e-books demand more and more attention from both casual readers and scholars, many people say the handwriting is on the wall for the printed page.
At UTSA, the handwriting is on the wall for a library that doesn't have any printed books.
Since March 2010, the bookless library in the Applied Engineering and Technology Building has given UTSA students an innovative way to read, research and work with each other to solve problems.
With ultra-modern furniture and a décor featuring desktop computers, scanners and LCD screens, the AET Library is designed to engage students in an online format. But it also offers group study niches and study rooms with whiteboards and glass walls on which students can write. The space encourages teamwork, communications and problem solving for the next generation of scientists and professional engineers.
Did you know? The UTSA AET Library is the nation's first completely bookless library on a college or university campus. It served as a model for Bexar County's first-in-the-nation public bookless library system and one of its branches, the Dr. Ricardo Romo BiblioTech.
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