Ciara Brodie accepting the James F. Cudday Scholarship.
Sul Ross State University graduate student Ciara Brodie, Midland, is the
recipient of this year’s James F. Scudday Scholarship from the Chihuahuan
Desert Research Institute (CDRI).
The award was made by Shirley Powell, president of the CDRI Board of
Directors. The $1,000 award is offered annually to Sul Ross graduate
students conducting research in the Chihuahuan Desert region, with
preference given to applicants conducting research in vertebrate biology.
Brodie’s research is aimed at collecting data for all species of turtles
residing in the Rio Grande near Lajitas, and determining the current status
of turtle habitat in the area.
“In dry arid places like the desert, rivers such as the Rio Grande are
lifelines for people, plants and wildlife alike. However, the Rio Grande is
overtaxed by people and under attack by invasive species, leaving little
precious water for the indigenous flora and fauna,” Brodie said. “The
effects of this are so deleterious that the World Wildlife Fund has listed
the Rio Grande in its top ten rivers-at-risk worldwide.
“The fragmentation of the Rio Grande affects many creatures, and one of the
groups which rely on intact river habitats is turtles,” said Brodie.
“Because of the intrinsic life history traits of turtles, they may indicate
the biodiversity and health of the ecosystems in which they reside.
“It is relatively common knowledge these days that many species of turtles
and tortoises are facing a high risk of extinction, partially due to how
slow they tend to grow and reproduce, and partially due to human
interference,” she said. “Efforts to conserve these or any species relies
heavily on species data, such as natural history, reproductive biology,
population abundance and distribution.”
Her data collection this summer seems to show that the Big Bend slider
turtles are using the water hazards at the Lajitas Golf Resort and Spa in
Lajitas as a surrogate habitat, although Brodie can only speculate as to the
“I’ve been catching more sliders at the golf course than in the Rio Grande,”
she said, “and inversely I’ve caught more soft shell turtles in the river
than I have at the golf course.
“It’s my hope that with further analysis I will be able to determine more
about why the turtles are responding to changes in their environment and
ultimate we can apply that information in our conservation efforts in other
places that have anthropomorphic water sources servicing as surrogate
Brodie is advised by Dr. Sean Graham, Sul Ross assistant professor of
Dr. James F. Scudday (1929-2009) was a CDRI co-founder and longtime
professor of Biology at Sul Ross. Upon his retirement in 1995, he was named
a Distinguished Professor Emeritus by the Board of Regents of the Texas
State University System, the Board’s highest honor for retired educators.
In addition to a full teaching load, he conducted significant research,
published in scientific journals and prepared numerous comprehensive
vertebrate surveys for the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department and the
National Park Service.
During his Sul Ross tenure, Scudday directed more than 100 students in
graduate programs and thesis projects. Many of his former students remained
in close contact with him during the course of his lifetime.
The Dr. James F. Scudday CDRI Endowed Scholarship Fund was established in
2010 in recognition of his many contributions to the field and his passion
for teaching. Income from the fund supports scholarships for Sul Ross
graduate students, and each $17,000 generated for the endowment will fund an
Donations may be sent to: CDRI, PO Box 905, Fort Davis, TX 79734 (please
indicate Scudday Scholarship on donation). CDRI is a 501C3 organization so
donations are tax deductible.
Cutline for Scudday-Ciara Brodie:
Sul Ross State University graduate student Ciara Brodie, Midland, is a
two-time recipient of a graduate scholarship offered through the James F.
Scudday Endowed Scholarship Fund from the Chihuahuan Desert Research
Institute (CDRI). Shirley Powell (not pictured), president of the CDRI Board
of Directors, made the presentation. Photo by Cheryl Zinsmeyer
FINAL WEEKEND FOR HILARIOUS MUSICAL ‘SPAMALOT’ AT OUTDOOR THEATRE
Grab your sweater and head over to Sul Ross State University’s Kokernot
Outdoor Theatre this weekend for the final performances of “Monty Python’s
The adaptation of “Monty Python and the Holy Grail” will be performed at
8:15pm Friday-Sunday, July 22-24. Dona Roman, SRSU professor of Theatre and
director of the Theatre of the Big Bend (TOBB), is directing the musical
Audience response to the comedy has been overwhelmingly positive with
reviews such as: “Loved ‘Spamalot’ at Theatre of the Big Bend last evening!
Great work. See it next weekend if you can!”; “I laughed so hard! It was
great.”; “If you want to laugh a lot, go see ‘Spamalot!’”; and “Thank you
for bringing this wonderful show to the Big Bend. We were thoroughly
Theatre goers, particularly visitors to the area, are reminded that even in
the summer, Alpine evenings can get chilly due to the higher elevation, so
don’t forget to bring a sweater or light jacket to the outdoor theatre.
Since only bench seating is available, theatregoers are also welcome to
bring lawn chairs or stadium seats.
While the Theatre of the Big Bend shows go on, a fund-raising effort is
underway to upgrade facilities. More than $70,000 has been raised toward a
$300,000, three-phase goal to renovate the Kokernot Amphitheater.
The amphitheater, built in the 1930s as a Works Progress Administration
(WPA) project, was last used for stage productions in 2010. Upgrades will
include bringing the amphitheater to ADA compliance and other improvements
to both the theatre and restrooms. The renovated amphitheatre should reopen
to the public in summer 2017. Replacing the Outdoor Theatre will follow.
Tickets for “Monty Python’s Spamalot” may be purchased online at
www.sulross.edu/theatre or by calling (432) 837-8218.