When walking into the Texas Tech University aquatics lab with Matthew Barnes, Ph.D., it feels as if you are stepping into a CSI lab.
Inside the lab you will find natural resources management students looking through microscopes and taking swabs from drinking glasses and door handles in search of DNA. The aquatics program takes samples of lake water and filters material out of the water, looking for DNA of living organisms within that environment.
Barnes, an associate professor in the Department of Natural Resources Management at Texas Tech University, works with students in the NRM aquatics program, which focuses on understanding human interactions within aquatic environments. Programs like aquatic and fisheries biology give students an opportunity to apply their education to a field of study or career where they work in and around water.
“We need to make sure our streams, rivers and reservoirs are health because water is important to all of us.”SCOTT COLLINS, Ph.D
The NRM aquatics program is operating with a relatively young, but eager, faculty. Within the past year, they have hired two new faculty members, Scott Collins, Ph.D., assistant professor, and Jane Rogosh, Ph.D., assistant unit leader with the U.S. Geological Survey, Texas Cooperative Fish and Wildlife Research Unit in Lubbock.
“Within the next six months to a year, we will have developed a plan to help the program emerge as a leader in a more specific niche in aquatic ecology,” Barnes said.
The faculty is looking to create a reputation for the Texas Tech fisheries and aquatic sciences program, where they are known for coming into their job with experience in federal waters and fresh water in arid ecosystems. With Texas Tech being located in a region with very little water, the aquatics program plans to capitalize on studying aquatic ecology in an area where water is scarce.
“I want to go to a place where water is such a vital and important resource that we need to study it,” Collins said. “We need to make sure our streams, rivers and reservoirs are healthy because water is important to all of us.”