Environmental and Earth Sciences


Research Projects in Environmental and Earth Sciences

Faculty and students in the Environmental and Earth Sciences program have conducted a variety of research projects. Some examples are listed here to give prospective students an idea of possible topics for theses and dissertations.

The utilization of organic and inorganic phosphorus by freshwater algae: the growth kinetics of a pennate diatom, Synedra acus, and a green filamentous alga, Mougeotia thylespora, in phosphorus-limited cultures, M.S. Thesis by Sanya Sirivithayapakorn, supervised by Dr. James P. Grover. Pure cultures were used to explore the use of inorganic and organic sources of phosphorus by two species of algae.

Microbial indicators of biological integrity and nutrient stress for aquatic ecosystems, conducted by Drs. James P. Grover and Thomas H. Chrzanowski, sponsored by U.S. EPA. Dynamics of algae, bacteria and nutrients were studied to explore responses to eutrophication and possible biological indicators of eutrophic status, for reservoirs and natural lakes.

Kinetics of algal growth in metroplex reservoirs: bioassay experiments on summertime populations, conducted by Dr. James P. Grover, sponsored by the Trinity River Authority of Texas. Growth rates of algae were studied in relation to concentrations of phosphorus and nitrogen in five reservoirs of the Trinity River Basin.

Water quality trend analysis, conducted by Drs. James P. Grover and Ernest C. Crosby, sponsored by the Tarrant Regional Water District. Ten years of monitoring data from five reservoirs were analyzed to characterize current status and trends in water quality.

Dynamics of adsorption-desorption processes of hazardous substances on suspended particles in aquatic systems, conducted by Dr. Zoltan Schelly. Data on kinetics and equilibria are used to construct models providing self consistent descriptions of sorption dynamics for ionic and non-ionic hazardous substances.

Prediction of slope failure for land use planning and pre-construction site surveys, Ph.D. dissertation research by Pal Jedaja, supervised by Dr. John S. Wickham. This study evaluates critical geological and hydrological data for predicting slope failure and landslides.

Developing a predictive understanding of Prymnesium parvum toxic bloom formation and its control, conducted by Dr. James P. Grover and Doctoral student Jason Baker, sponsored by Texas Parks & Wildlife Department. This project involves studying the growth and toxicity of “Golden Algae” in laboratory cultures under varying environmental conditions, and constructing mathematical models of bloom formation. This research is coordinated with collaborators at UT-Austin, Texas A&M, and Baylor University, who are studying bloom formation at field sites and variations of toxicity of the organism.