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In-Depth Summer Course Charts American Southwest

by Web on August 20, 2018

Seven Millsaps College students spent two weeks of their summer studying the diverse flora and fauna, geology, and climate of the American Southwest.

“The primary goal of the course was to give students a better understanding for how organisms are distributed in space and time,” said Dr. Brent E. Hendrixson, associate professor of biology at Millsaps. “They accomplished this through writing research papers before the course started, delivering in-the-field presentations on their research topics, campsite lectures and discussions, reading scientific literature, participating in various field activities, and recording their personal observations in a field journal.”

The group included Miller Cochran, a junior majoring in biology; Richard Murray, a senior majoring in biology; Rudy Nugent, a sophomore majoring in biochemistry major; Taylor Ocampo, a junior majoring in biology; Marlee Stewart, a junior majoring in biology major; Abby Tidwell, a junior majoring in neuroscience; and Liam Whalen, a sophomore majoring in biology.

The group visited several level III ecoregions including the Southwestern Tablelands, High Plains, Arizona/New Mexico Plateau, Arizona/New Mexico Mountains, Sonoran Basin and Range, Madrean Archipelago, and Chihuahuan Deserts.

Also on the agenda were state and national parks, including Caprock Canyons State Park in Texas, Davis Mountains State Park in Texas, Lost Dutchman State Park in Arizona, Catalina State Park in Arizona, Grand Canyon National Park in Arizona, Carlsbad Caverns National Park in New Mexico, and White Sands National Monument in New Mexico.

The group toured two renowned natural history museums: the Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum near Tucson, Arizona, and the Chiricahua Desert Museum near Rodeo, New Mexico. At the Chiricahua Desert Museum, the group took a behind-the-scenes tour of the snake exhibits.

On the last night of the trip, all seven students put together a PowerPoint presentation at the hotel and reflected on their experiences and what they learned.