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March 2, 2009

Media Contact: Hannah Buchanan
Public Affairs Specialist
News and Information
The University of Texas at Tyler

HOMETOWN RELEASE: El Campo Resident to Assist in UT Tyler Research to Study Neches River


Bethany Riley of El Campo, a sophomore biology major at The University of Texas at Tyler, will assist a group of university professors to explore aspects of the Neches River this summer.

Dr. Lance Williams, UT Tyler associate professor of biology, was awarded a $51, 561 research grant by the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department to analyze fish, unionid mussels and riparian vegetation populations.

“The overall goal of the project is to evaluate how geomorphology and instream flow affect the diversity and abundance of these communities in the Upper Neches River Watershed,” Williams said. “The specific region of the study will be in the Neches River between Texas Highways 175 and 59, below Lake Palestine."

Riley currently serves as the only undergraduate student-researcher in Dr. Williams’ lab. She will graduate in May 2011 and hopes to become a pediatric oncologist.

“Working for Dr. Williams the past year and a half has been an awesome opportunity and let’s me work with something that I really enjoy,” she said.

A member of the UT Tyler Tri-Beta Biology Honors Club, Riley has been named to the UT Tyler President’s Honor Roll as well as the Dean’s List. Her hobbies include hiking and photography. 

UT Tyler faculty Dr. Neil Ford, professor of biology and Dr. Suneeti Jog, assistant professor of biology; and Marsha Williams, part-time grant investigator for the university’s biology

department, serve as co-principal investigators for the contract, which was funded by TPWD and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service State Wildlife Grant Program.

The team will gather data at 10 sites in the specified area. According to Williams, baseline geomorphic and hydrologic data also will be essential to monitor future changes in land use of the river and surrounding areas.

“By relating geomorphic and hydrologic conditions to fish, mussel and riparian plant assemblages, we can provide models that would predict how changes in flow regime would affect populations of individual species of concern,” Williams added.                                  

One of the 15 campuses of the UT System, UT Tyler offers excellence in teaching, research, artistic performance and community service. Nearly 90 undergraduate and graduate degrees are available at UT Tyler, which has an enrollment of more than 6,000 high-ability students at its campuses in Tyler, Longview and Palestine.


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