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AL I A N Z A S Texas A&M University - CONACyT: Collaborative Research Grant Program โ€ข 2007

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Diabetes detection medical technology undergoing clinical trials in Mexico.


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Welcome to ALIANZAS en Investigación, which highlights the successes of the research alliance between Texas A&M University and Mexico’s Consejo Nacional de Ciencia y Tecnologia (CONACyT). The Texas A&M University-CONACyT: Collaborative Research Grant Program marks a significant place in the strong history between a Texas university with a commitment to others and a Mexican government body with much of the same goals – improve lives, ensure economic stability and make a difference for the future.

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The original grant program spans five years. Those five years have been marked with numerous successes that have truly changed lives in Mexico and Texas. This publication is a celebration to mark the progress the two friends have had, and I am very pleased to share these stories. In 2000, officials signed detailed documents, reviewers polished contracts, and photos marked the occasion. But the real work and fun was yet to come. The vision of the Texas A&M–CONACyT: Collaborative Research Grant Program was just beginning, but the leaders of research at Texas A&M and CONACyT knew the possibilities. Researchers were given the opportunity to work with each other across the border. They applied for grants up to $24,000 to seed their research and make it grow. The first year many researchers applied; each team with at least one Texas A&M researcher and one CONACyT researcher. From that group, 15 grants were awarded. Congratulations were offered, and the work began. The first year everyone learned a great deal about the process and ways to improve. The researchers offered feedback, and the program grew stronger. From that first year, proposals have improved and the competition has increased. This year 17 teams were awarded to bring the total of awards to 78 for the life of the agreement. You can see a list of all of the awards given during the program in the back of this publication. Each year, the program sees new faces and some familiar ones. Each time with a focus on the future and improving research within Texas and Mexico. Some may call it a romantic notion to believe that their work will make a difference, but it can be called true in the case of this grant program. I look forward to the continuation of the program and the future successes. Thank you for spending time learning about how Texas A&M and CONACyT are working to accomplish new and exciting futures in research for both countries. Sincerely,

Vol. 1, No. 1 ALIANZAS en Investigación is published by the Office of the Vice President for Research at Texas A&M University to highlight the breadth and depth of research being conducted through the Texas A&M University-CONACyT: Collaborative Research Grant Program. Integra, the font used in this publication was designed by Gabriel Martinez Meave, type designer and director of the Kimera Typefoundry/Mexico. Cover image credit: Michael Brown/Shutterstock Images. Julia K. Barker Assistant Vice President for Research 312 Jack K. Williams Administration Building Texas A&M University College Station, Texas 77843-1112 j-barker@tamu.edu Victor Gabriel Fernandez Consejo Nacional de Ciencia y Technologia Av. Constituyentes 1046, Col. Lomas Altas C.P.: 11950, Mexico, D.F. conacyt@tamu.edu

Richard E. Ewing Vice President for Research Texas A&M University

Editor.................... Tiffany Inbody Designer....................Susan Wolff Writers.................... Mike Downey Vicky Sexton Holder Kara Bounds Socol

http://conacyt.tamu.edu 979.845.8585

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The

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Diabetes Detection aided by

Digital Imaging

The

Best of Both Worlds

Altered States

Cave Men Forging Futures

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Fishes Grant Award

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Grants serve as catalysts for future research

The

CONACyT

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Gerrit Greve/CORBIS

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Continuum

the recipient of Texas A&M-CONACyT grants in 2002, 2003 and 2004, Dr. L. Garry Adams has reason to be grateful for the funding provided for his research. But even more importantly, he says, he is thankful for the lifelong relationships the grants continue to foster among researchers and graduate students at Texas A&M University and institutions in Mexico. “It is those exchanges that forge strong research linkages that continue for years,” says Adams, professor of veterinary pathobiology and associate dean of research at Texas A&M’s College of Veterinary Medicine. “And when you work with graduate students together, those are lifelong bonds.” Dr. José Angel Gutiérrez-Pabello, professor of bacteriology and mycology at the Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México, agrees. In 2002, Gutiérrez-Pabello and Adams began a multiyear bovine tuberculosis project. A Texas A&M-CONACyT grant is not only allowing the researchers to look for a solution to a serious health problem but also enabling one of Gutiérrez-Pabello’s graduate students to work full-time on the project, which will involve research alongside Adams at Texas A&M. Texas A&M-CONACyT grants therefore facilitate much more than an exchange of information: They encourage an actual physical exchange of scientists and graduate students. And those relationships create ties with other scientists and graduate students that multiply over time. As Adams puts it, “It’s a continuum of linkages of graduate education and research.” Adams says the variety of Mexican researchers with whom he partners is determined by the organism he is researching. He considers the expertise of the scientist as well as the region where the organism is prevalent. Adams’ 2003 Texas A&M-CONACyT grant, for instance, involved a research partnership with Dr. Ricardo Gomez-Flores, professor of immunology at the Universidad Autónoma de Nuevo León (UANL). Their project evaluated the fluorescence polarization assay (FPA) as a screening test for brucellosis in goats. Brucellosis is a chronic, infectious disease that often leads to spontaneous abortions. Although brucellosis in livestock has been virtually eradicated in the United States, it is endemic and widely dispersed throughout Mexico. Gomez-Flores says that in conventional tests used to detect brucellosis in goats, thousands of misdiagnosed animals are killed each year and millions of dollars are wasted. FPA screenings, which detect brucella antibodies quickly, accurately and cost-effectively, avoid that risk. The results from his and Adams’ Texas A&M-CONACyT research demonstrated the effectiveness of FPA on goats, he says. The two researchers are now investigating brucellosis detection in humans by using this same test. “Thanks to this grant, we have significantly advanced in the field and published a manuscript,” Gomez-Flores says. “In addition, the experience from the grant helped a UANL Ph.D. student complete his academic and scientific credits and present two posters in Brucellosis International Research conferences.” Adams and Gutiérrez-Pabello’s bovine tuberculosis project deals with a disease that affects both animal and human populations along the U.S.–Mexico border. The project Gutiérrez-Pabello is undertaking with Adams strives to both

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better understand the origin and effects of the disease and develop a diagnostic tool to identify natural disease resistance in cattle. Specifically, the researchers and their graduate students are trying to find different patterns of gene expression among cattle that resist the disease and those that are susceptible to it. “Bovine tuberculosis is a very prevalent disease in Mexico,” Gutiérrez-Pabello explains. “Our findings may add another tool to control it.” Like his work with Gomez-Flores, Adams’ 2004 Texas A&M-CONACyT grant focused on brucellosis in goats. Adams partnered with Dr. Alberto Morales Loredo of Mexico’s National Institute of Forestry, Agricultural and Animal Research (INIFAP) and Instituto Tecnológica de Estudios Superiores Monterrey. The researchers are exploring a vaccine that would protect goats against both brucellosis and orf. Adams says a specific benefit of working with researchers in Mexico is access to research subjects. At Texas A&M, he says, his laboratory is equipped to study a wide range of pathogens. But in Mexico, he has the opportunity to work with actual humans who suffer from the conditions he’s studying. Diagnostic tests are therefore generated in Mexico, he says, with instruments developed in the United States. Adams stresses that he could not undertake these research projects without the experience and expertise of his Mexican counterparts. “There is no superior group or inferior group,” he says of the Texas A&M-CONACyT research. “This is a partnership.” Adams hopes the relationships he and his graduate students have forged with researchers in Mexico will eventually result in the global eradication of both brucellosis and tuberculosis. Brucellosis is still prevalent in 120 countries, he says, whereas tuberculosis can be found in even more. It’s through these types of grants that researchers are encouraged to share their expertise and apply it to help those afflicted. “We try to bring our research back down to the animal on the farm,” Adams says, “as well as to the people it affects.”

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Lawrence Manning/CORBIS

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What

Diabetes Detection

began in 2003 as collaborative basic research among computer science researchers in Mexico and Texas A&M University has vaulted to a diabetes detection medical technology already undergoing clinical trials in Mexico. The digital imaging mechanism is a mobile screening system that aims to detect diabetic retinopathy through a simple, painless process. Diabetic retinopathy is a leading cause of blindness, according to Dr. Jyh-Charn (Steve) Liu. An associate professor in the Texas A&M computer science department, Liu specializes in realtime computing systems and computerassisted medical information systems. The rapid technology transfer from laboratory to the public is another solid example of the potential far-reaching value of unfettered basic research and how the benefits of basic research cannot always be measured by their immediate applications. Three years ago, Liu had begun work with researchers in Mexico at the Centro de Investigación Científica de Educación Superior de Ensenada (CICESE), or the Ensenada Center for Higher Education Scientific Research. Liu, Jesus Favela, Jorge E. Preciado Velasco and Robert Conte Galvan were looking at how to transfer university research into real-world computer systems in industry. “We had targeted software systems and were proposing a broad view at largescale database systems, with education and telemedicine being our main thrust,” Liu says. His colleagues in Mexico were concentrating on telemedicine projects, specifically the need for computer-aided medical informational systems, Liu says. “I kept hearing about a diabetes epidemic in Mexico, and I began to connect the dots with my other ongoing research projects.”

aided by

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Dave G. Houser/CORBIS

Digital Imaging

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One particularly intriguing issue is diabetic retinopathy, which is characterized by damage to the tiny blood vessels (capillaries) that nourish the retina, the tissue at the back of the eye that captures light and relays information to the brain. Nearly half the people with known diabetes have some degree of diabetic retinopathy. These blood vessels are often affected by the high blood sugar levels associated with diabetes. Early detection and proper treatment of diabetic retinopathy can prevent blindness, but many patients are not timely diagnosed because of limited resources. The research project that had started to look at fundamental computing issues now was being focused on a narrower real-world target application for diabetic retinopathy. His Texas A&M-CONACyT work with Jesus Favela, Preciado Velcasco and Conte Galvan had become a catalyst for this key opportunity, Liu says. “I was impressed with their active research in telemedicine working within the constraints they had,” Liu says. In addition to information from Mexico, Liu was learning about the diabetes epidemic from more than one quarter. “I was hearing stories about diabetes from many of my colleagues, their relatives and friends — particularly about retinopathy,” Liu says. Technology seemed to be the most effective method to manage this particular problem. Developing a remote screening mechanism for this diabetic retinopathy problem would be a “win–win situation for underserved communities,” Liu says. This sort of medical technology would free up more time for physicians to focus on clinically significant cases, Liu says. “With the right technology, scarce resources can be better utilized at reduced costs,” Liu says. Now, Liu continues to focus his efforts on the telemedicine environment to enhance reliability and accuracy of methods to recognize diabetic retinopathy. “If we could develop reliable algorithms to address this problem, we could make a significant

Texas A&M Executive Vice President and Provost David Prior (seated) checks out the new lab’s equipment with the assistance of Dr. Steve Liu of Texas A&M’s Computer Science Department. -ALIANZAS

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impact,” Liu says. A goal was technology that was mature enough to be used for minimal screening to reliably detect basic symptoms of diabetic retinopathy, Liu says. The breakthrough came when researchers were able to identify a distinct signature for diabetic retinopathy. They used an off-the-shelf retinal camera to take digital images of a patient’s eyes, and the computer software would detect diabetic retinopathy from known patterns. The imaging exam is painless, quick and does not require dilation of the eyes, Liu says. However, the step from the research bench to a real-world application would require effort outside the normal parameters of the laboratory. More partners in Mexico would be needed, Liu says. “Real-world data have issues that may not occur in the lab,” Liu says. “Being able to cope with these constraints can be a real challenge.” Working in real-world fields, however, is a must if you want to have a real impact in the real world. Liu began working with the International Programs Office at Texas A&M, primarily Gabriel Carranza of the Office of Latin American Programs. Liu wanted a clearer idea of the issues in Mexico. A successful effort to identify more partners in Mexico led to more funding that enabled clinical trials of the diagnostic screening mechanism, Liu says. “My colleagues in Mexico have shown a sincere desire to embrace new solutions to deal with major problems,” Liu says. In 2005, a diabetes imaging center opened in Mexico City in office space donated by Texas A&M graduate Pablo Marvin. The technology also is under consideration for trials in El Salvador. “It takes time for this kind of new technology to penetrate,” Liu says. Liu sees this sort of effort as a showcase for Texas A&M research, a chance for the university to reinforce its image in America and in other countries with technology leadership.

Keith Dannermiller/CORBIS

In addition to the Texas A&M-CONACyT basic research channeling his research efforts into a real-world solution, Liu points to his Faculty Abroad experience and a 2001 Advanced Technology Program (ATP) grant as being keys for opening the door to his diabetes work. “My time in Mexico had a big impact,” Liu says. “It gave me a strong impression of the needs of the area.” His ATP basic research grant on imagery data structures was coupled with work through the Brooks Army Medical Center on retina image analysis, all of which eventually led to the diabetes work. “When you capture and close the subtle gaps between basic research and the real world, sometimes you can have a big impact,” Liu says.

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The

Best

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Both Worlds by Vicki Sexton Holder

In

this digital age of the 21st century, intellectual efforts are coming together in ways that could have not been imagined 20 years ago. Huge chunks of information can now be shared over enormous distances almost instantly, thanks to high-speed Internet connections. This capability is changing the way people interact in scholarly endeavors. With funding from the Texas A&M-CONACyT: Collaborative Research Grant Program, two prominent scientists caught this technological wave, making amazing breakthroughs in equine research. Dr. Katrin Hinrichs, associate professor in the College of Veterinary Medicine at Texas A&M University, and Dr. Salvador Romo, FES Cuautitlán, Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México, used a 2003 Texas A&M-CONACyT grant to attain new milestones in in vitro fertilization (IVF) in the horse. Progress in equine IVF has been slow compared with that of other species, as the horse has proved to be a difficult subject. But Romo’s expertise in IVF of cows, combined with Hinrichs’ background in horse reproduction, made them the perfect team for this study. Each scientist offered a unique approach to the

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large-animal reproductive cycle, and together they made significant progress. Specific laboratory procedures and suggestions could be shared freely thanks to electronic collaboration, and the results were astounding. Hinrichs highlighted one such incident in this study. Research teams in Germany had achieved a 29 percent success rate when experimenting with the type of extender (the solution in which the equine sperm are frozen) used for the procedure. A skim-milkbased extender treated with heparin to enhance sperm performance proved to be the key. Her graduate student, Lance Roasa, duplicated these results in Hinrichs’ lab at Texas A&M University. As a result, the team succeeded in completing the first and second steps of in vitro maturation and IVF in equine oocytes. This breakthrough has far-reaching implications for veterinary medicine. Prior to the Hinrichs– Romo research team’s effort, the only way to produce a fertilized egg in a laboratory was through intracytoplasmic sperm injection. This process requires expensive equipment and trained personnel that most veterinary practices can neither afford nor justify. With

the procedures developed by the Hinrichs–Romo team, however, fertilization can now be accomplished by using sperm treated with specific compounds and frozen, and then thawed and combined with eggs in a petri dish. Using the team’s refined IVF technique, combined with embryo transfer, could give veterinarians the tools to help produce offspring and extend the breeding capacity of many valuable mares that are not candidates for reproduction in the current environment. The two scientists have slightly different visions of where they anticipate this field of research will be in 10 years. Romo says, “I expect that in 10 years we will have a number of IVF foals produced, as well as cloned and transgenic horses derived from IVF embryos. I also expect that this technology will be used by then to create a genetic bank in which frozen embryos from many different equine breeds and lines are preserved.” Hinrichs comments, “I am actually interested in the development of the oocyte within the embryo. I’ve always been fascinated with the final goal of finding

a way to make gametes from somatic cells. There are theoretically possible ways to take a skin sample and go through a series of procedures and end up on the other side with an egg.” Both scientists agree that much more research of this kind is needed and that programs like the Texas A&MCONACyT collaboration are instrumental in making it possible. Romo says, “By combining the distinctive strengths of two or more researchers in different countries, there is a synergistic effect. I am not surprised that great results are obtained by all parties involved: governments, universities, researchers, students and end users.” The sharing of best practices across international boundaries uses new tools that are already beginning to revolutionize and illuminate the face of research in the 21st century. With the enthusiasm and dedication of teams like Hinrichs’ and Romo’s, important multinational research goals like theirs are rapidly becoming a reality.

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Kevin Fleming/CORBIS

by Kara Bounds Socol

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Researchers study irradiation effects on nutritional properties of pecans

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the health conscious, one of the most talked about natural foods is the pecan. One nut contains a plethora of antioxidants, fiber and beneficial fatty acids, as well as nutrients such as folic acid, calcium, zinc, and vitamins A, B and E Few know as much about pecans as Dr. Leonardo Lombardini — and few are more wary of the potential dangers involved in their transport. Lombardini is a pecan physiologist and assistant professor of horticultural sciences at Texas A&M University. With funding from a Texas A&M-CONACyT grant, he and Emilio Villarreal, a Texas A&M graduate student in food science and technology, joined forces with Dr. Uriel Figueroa Víramontes, a soil fertility and plant nutrition expert at Mexico’s National Institute of Forestry, Agricultural and Animal Research (INIFAP). Pecan crops in Texas and Mexico repeatedly cross back and forth across the border, presenting a tremendous risk for exchanging insects and other unwanted organisms. The researchers sought to determine whether irradiation should be viewed as a viable method of processing these pecans. “Our goal was not to see whether or not irradiation is effective in killing microbes. That has been done before and we know it works,” Lombardini explains. “Rather, the goal of our project was to see if such a treatment somehow alters nutritional properties.” Figueroa says that since electronic pasteurization is a new field in Mexico, the question of whether this process can be used to ensure food safety without compromising nutritional content is particularly relevant. Soon, new regulations regarding food safety will affect pecan exportation from Mexico to the United States, Figueroa explains. “Electronic pasteurization is an alternative method to meet these regulations.” Texas A&M-CONACyT funding enabled Lombardini and Villarreal to use the electron beam in the National Center for Electron Beam Food Research, housed on the Texas A&M campus. This process destroys infectious organisms during food processing. Through electron beam use and accelerated storage, the researchers determined that the only alteration in the pecans’ nutritional makeup was a slight decrease in vitamin E content. In 2001 and 2004, the almond industry experienced its first-ever outbreaks of salmonella. The disease can often be linked to using manure as fertilizer late in the Continued on Page 17

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by Kara Bounds Socol

Researchers discover new organisms in world’s largest underwater cave system

When

Dr. Tom Iliffe was a research scientist in Bermuda, he would wander into caves during his off time and examine their tidal pools. He wondered if any animals existed in those pools but soon learned that others had already studied the waters and concluded that they were lifeless. But Iliffe was determined to check out the pools for himself. He donned his diving gear and jumped in — and his life was forever changed. “On the surface of the pool was brackish water, but when you got about 20 feet down, you got into marine water where most of the cave-adapted animals live,” Iliffe recalls. “Diving was the key ingredient.” Iliffe discovered a whole new world of sea creatures in that tidal cave pool, and a simple curiosity blossomed into a career. He has since circled the globe several times, exploring the biology of underwater caves and making the kinds of discoveries that have landed him on the pages of National Geographic. He shares this passion with his students at Texas A&M University at Galveston, where he is a professor of marine biology. And now, thanks to funding from a Texas A&MCONACyT grant, Iliffe has teamed up with Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México research scientist and crustacean expert Dr. Fernando Álvarez Noguera to

cave entrances — called “cenotes” — and flows into the Caribbean Sea though three outlets. Together with adjacent cave systems, more than 300 miles of submerged galleries have been surveyed and mapped. The goal of Álvarez and Iliffe is not to explore the actual caves but to determine the kinds of organisms that live there. What they continue to discover is a host of previously unknown marine animals. “We have been finding completely new major zoological groups at the family level that show that complete animal lineages have been evolving in these cave systems for long periods of time,” says Álvarez. “They have developed unique morphological structures and strategies to survive in this extreme environment.” But discovering these new species is only a beginning: Álvarez and Iliffe want to ensure that they are protected. As experienced biologists, the researchers are well aware of the impact that large-scale development can have on fragile ecosystems. They are especially concerned about the booming Riviera Maya resort development in Tulum along Mexico’s Caribbean coastline. Álvarez explains that the area’s marine ecosystems are interconnected. Damage to one, then, has a detrimental effect on the others. “Many species make use of resources that flow between these systems and can live in different

C M ave

study the organisms of the Yucatan’s Ox Bel Ha — the world’s largest underwater cave system. The Ox Bel Ha cave system is a network of underground rivers stretching more than 88 miles. The system is interconnected with more than 60

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Photographer’s Choice RF/Peter Pinnock/Getty Images

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ecosystems during the different stages of their life cycles,” he says. “If the flows of water, sediments, nutrients and organisms among these systems are interrupted, then adverse effects become immediately evident.” Among these adverse effects, he says, is the complete ALIANZAS en Investigación-15


time, discuss results and have our students interact,” he says. Ultimately, Álvarez and Iliffe hope their identification of the cave system’s organisms will help spur the kind of action needed to protect what they describe as part of the world’s most important biological and hydrological systems. “To improve our understanding and better protect them,” Iliffe says, “we have to know what’s there.”

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disappearance of many of these cave organisms. Iliffe and Álvarez are using their Texas A&MCONACyT grant to gather baseline information and data about the organisms in the Ox Bel Ha system. They will then use the information to apply for future grants, Iliffe says. The funding also has allowed the researchers’ respective graduate students to work together — a benefit Iliffe says is one of the grant’s biggest advantages. A Texas A&M-CONACyT grant funded the research of one of his doctoral students, while another graduate student is interested in developing a similar project in Mexico. Although Iliffe and Álvarez have collaborated on research projects for years, they have rarely done so face to face. Álvarez says that personal interaction is yet another benefit of the grant. “With the Texas A&M-CONACyT grant, we had the chance to be in the field together for several weeks, explore the biodiversity of several systems for the first

season when nuts are falling from the trees and bacteria are still alive in the manure, Lombardini says. “You just need one grower who doesn’t know how to use manure properly and you’ve got a serious problem,” he says. Although the almond industry survived the ensuing recalls and reputation damage with minor bruises, Lombardini fears that a similar outbreak in the much smaller pecan industry would prove devastating. But since requiring producers to irradiate their pecans could add between 5 and 25 cents per pound to their cost (depending on the type of technology used), he doesn’t

know how willing they would be to voluntarily undertake this process. “If the industry decides to adopt this technology when the pecans are sanitized, we could deliver a safe, unaltered product,” he says. “We don’t want to wait until an outbreak occurs.”

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Forging

Futures for

Fishes by Mike Downey

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Sasha Radosavljevich/Shutterstock

The

challenge to bolster the fisheries in reservoirs in rural Mexico ranges from big birds snagged in fishing nets to trash rafts to fish growing smaller. To address this challenge, Dr. Frances Gelwick, a fisheries ecologist in Texas A&M University’s Department of Wildlife and Fisheries Sciences has teamed with researcher Leticia Mar‑Tovar of the Instituto de Investigaciónes Forestales, Agricoloas y Pecuarias (INIFAP) through a Texas A&MCONACyT grant. Gelwick and Mar‑Tovar’s initial undertaking has grown to include funding from several Mexican agencies in addition to projects for graduate students from both countries. The area of Mexico Gelwick and Mar‑Tovar are concentrating on is Durango state in north-central Mexico, specifically the town of Lazaro Cardenas on the largest reservoir in the state. One goal is a management plan that balances what the reservoir can produce for fishing as well the potential for tourism and sport fishing. “We are jointly developing a model for reservoir fisheries management that can be tailored for use elsewhere,” Gelwick said. “We might have some technology and methodologies they don’t have, but we also learn so much from them about their own values, attitudes, goals; and priorities for sustainable use of natural resources. These are some of the globally important human dimensions of natural resources management that students are taught to consider as they study for their degree in our department.” Mar‑Tovar first contacted Gelwick in 1999 while looking for information about reservoir fisheries. “I found her e-mail address on the Texas A&M Web site, and she was kind enough to answer my questions,” said Mar‑Tovar. INIFAP has a mission similar to Texas A&M’s extension faculty to promote research, technology transfer and public outreach. Those questions grew into their initial meeting through the Texas A&M Faculty Abroad Seminar and an International Research and Education Travel Grant

through the Association of Former Students. These led to their initial Texas A&M-CONACyT collaboration and additional funding by other agencies. That included trips by six Mexican researchers to workshops and to visit with Texas A&M faculty and their colleagues at Texas Parks and Wildlife research facilities across Texas. Over the past six years, Gelwick has made several trips to Mexico. She was joined by Dr. Tazim Jamal of the Texas A&M Department of Recreation Parks and Tourism Sciences, and student researcher Natalie Ibarra from Texas A&M International University, Laredo. Ibarra was sponsored by a National Science Foundation Program for Undergraduate Mentoring in Environmental Biology in collaboration with co-mentors Dr. Sushma Krishnamurthy and Dr. Thomas Vaughan at Ibarra’s home university. Their efforts created the potential for Mar‑Tovar to study for her doctorate with Gelwick at Texas A&M, based on their El Palmito project. Other research participants are faculty and students in the veterinary school at the University of Juarez in Durango, and they are working to develop studies in fisheries management. El Palmito on the Rio Nazas is the fourth largest reservoir in Latin America and was originally intended to collect water for irrigating crops and flood control. However, its use has grown to support a community of about 100 commercial fishers and – hopefully – other future aquatic endeavors perhaps including tourism, according to Mar‑Tovar. “We are doing many things to help people in rural areas to achieve a sustainable management of our aquatic resources,” Mar‑Tovar said. Gelwick notes because the reservoir was not originally created for fishing and other uses beyond irrigation and flood control, the fishery has developed problems, which the collaborative researchers aim to resolve. One example is the fish-eating birds, cormorants, a migratory species protected by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. Dead cottonwood trees along the original banks of the Rio Nazas provide roosting and nesting sites that increase habitat and population density of these birds, Gelwick said. “The birds not only eat lots of fish, but also become entangled in, and damage, fishing nets,” Gelwick said.

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Another problem is the use of the river for waste disposal by people living farther upstream. “The result is a trash raft that can stretch hundreds of yards through the otherwise‑scenic canyon lands carved by the onceflowing upstream reach of river that now functions more like a lake,” Gelwick said. Problems extend to the fish populations, Gelwick said. The Rio Nazas is an endorheic, or ”sinking”, river basin (meaning it does not flow into the ocean), and contains at least one unique fish species (presently under study by Dr. Hank Bart at Tulane University). As in reservoirs world-wide, other (often non-native) species more adapted to non-flowing water are routinely stocked to maintain a reservoir fishery, Gelwick said. “Blue tilapia, European carp, and channel catfish (traditional favorites for aquaculture), as well as bluegill, largemouth bass and white crappie (all in the sunfish family), are popular fishes in Mexico,” she said. Sunfishes are adapted for surviving in dense populations under stressful conditions. These fish reproduce multiple times a season, becoming crowded in the reservoirs and grow slowly unless their high reproduction is countered by predation. However, under additional pressure from human fishers, fish may not live

Texas A&M University - CONACyT: Collaborative Research Grant Program Texas A&M University and the Consejo Nacional de Ciencia y Tecnologia (CONACyT) signed a five-year agreement of cooperation in higher education and research in April 2001. Priority programs were established and it was agreed that the parties would undertake joint programs in areas of mutual interest including: long enough to grow larger. “The size per individual fish is important to the commercial fishers and those who buy fish for local markets, restaurants and their own families,” Gelwick said. “A management plan incorporates the various problems all together in order to find alternative optimal solutions.”

1. 2. 3. 4. 5.

Graduate Student Education and Post-graduate Certification Exchange of Faculty and Researchers Non-degree Student Training Collaborative Research Programs Promotion of Joint Programs

Under this agreement Texas A&M and CONACyT have each dedicated US$200,000 per year for five years for the Collaborative Research Grant Program to fund inter-institutional research proposals between Texas A&M and Mexican institutions. The purpose of the competitive, peer reviewed Collaborative Research Grant Program is to advance inter-institutional cooperation in science, technology, and scholarly activities through the complementary efforts of scientists and scholars from Texas A&M and Mexican institutions. A principal investigator (PI) is required from both Texas A&M University and a CONACyT-registered institution. Texas A&M and CONACyT leaders have agreed on several research priority areas: 1. Biotechnology and Bioinformatics 2. Health 3. Telecommunications/Information Technologies 4. Environment; 5. Advanced Materials and Manufacturing 6. Energy 7. Urban Development and Sustainability The research must be linked to the private sector and have direct application to solving an industrial or governmental problem. One major objective of the program is to support the development and submission of proposals for external funding from competitive granting agencies, both domestic and international, and industry. The following pages list awards that have been made for the last five years.

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Bryan L. Lambert/Shutterstock Images

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2006 Texas A&M University Principal Investigator

Texas A&M Department

Texas A&M University - CONACyT Awards Mexican Principal Investigator

CONACyT Registered Institution

GRANT TITLE

Wendy Jepson; Christian Brannstrom

Geography

Gustavo Garza; Casey Walsh

UNAM

An Integrated Assessment of Cross-Border Land and Water-Use Changes in the Lower Rio Grande/Bravo Valley Since 1990

Alexander Sprintson

Electrical Engineering

Sergio Rajsbaum

UNAM

Combating Failures and Malicious Attacks in Communication Networks

Wayne Hung

Engineering Technology and Industrial Distribution

Luis Godinez Mora-Tovar

CIDETEQ

Electrochemical Technology Development for Micro/nano Manufacturing

Christine Budke

Veterinary Integrative Biosciences

Ana Flisser

National University of Mexico

Estimating the non-monetary and monetary burden of Taenia solium cysticercosis in Mexico

Lloyd Rooney

Soil and Crop Sciences

Sergio Serna-Saldivar

ITESM

Evaluation of Phenolics, Antioxidant and Anticancer Properties of Sorghums

Yassin Hassan

Nuclear Engineering

Claudia del Carmen Gutier- IPN rez-Torres

High Efficiency Air Cleaning Cyclone Separators

Sheng-Jen Hsieh

Engineering Technology and Industrial Distribution

Ismael Lopez-Juarez

CINVESTAV

Hybrid Active Imaging Techniques for Potato Inspection

Marcos Sanchez-Plata

Poultry Science

Ernesto Avila Gonzalez

UNAM

Improving the Fatty Acid Composition and Shelf-life Stability in Eggs and Poultry Meat from Poultry Fed with Dietary Levels of Omega-3 Fatty Acids and Conjugated Linoleic Acid

Alejandro Castillo

Animal Science

Alejandro Lopez-Malo

Universidad de las Americas, Puebla

Microbiological Safety of Fresh and Fresh-Cut Produce

Christopher Marshall

Marine Biology

Axayacatl Rocha-Olivares

CICESE

New Solutions to Solving Sea Turtle Bycatch from Fisheries Industry Gear in both U.S. and Mexican Waters

Marla Binzel

Horticultural Science

Omar Pantoja

UNAM-Instituto de Biotecnologia

Phytoremediation: merging biotechnology and native species

Luis Cifuentes

Oceanography

Felipe de Jesus Carrillo Romo

CICATA Altamira-IPN

Polynuclear Aromatic Hydrocarbons and their accumulation by the American oyster Crassostrea virginica in the Pueblo Viejo lagoon, Veracruz and Laguna Madre, Tamaulipas

Gerald Wagner

Veterinary Pathobiology

Alfredo Sahagun Ruiz

UNAM

Preventing colibacillosis Diarrhea in Bovine Calves with Anti-F5 Recombinant Antibodies Produced in Rice Plants

Nancy Dyer Gregory Cuellar

Hispanic Studies Library

Blanca Guadalupe Lopez Morales

Tecnol贸gico de Monterrey

Retrieval and Interpretation of Shared Cultural Memory from the New Spain Collections of the Cushing Library (Texas A&M) and the Biblioteca Cervantina (Tec de Monterrey)

Luis Cisneros

Horticultural Science

Zevallos Carmen Hernandez-Brenes

ITESM

Strengthening the Mexican and U.S.-Avocado Industry by Developing Value-added Processed Avocados and By-products as Functional Foods for Protection against Cardiovascular Disease

Shankar Bhattacharyya

Electrical Engineering

Maria Cristina Verde Rodarte

National University in Mexico

Synthesis of Three Term Controllers Free of Analytical Model Acronymn: SCFAM

22-ALIANZAS

en Investigaci贸n

ALIANZAS en Investigaci贸n-23


2005 Texas A&M University - CONACyT Awards Texas A&M University Principal Investigator

Leslie G. Adams

Texas A&M Department

Veterinary Pathobiology

Christine Ehlig-Economides Petroleum Engineering

Mexican Principal Investigator

CONACyT Registered Institution

GRANT TITLE

Jose Gutierrez-Pabello

FMVZ-UNAM

Association of Natural Disease Resistance in Cattle and Macrophage Inflammatory Gene Expression Profiles

Alberto Mendoza

Instituto Tecnolรณgico y de Estudios Superiores de Monterrey

Comparing Combustion and Syngas Processes using Petroleum Coke (Pet-Coke) and Coal for Industrial Heat and Power Generation

UACJ

Development, Calibration and Implementation of a Micro-Scale Flow Meter

Jorge Alvarado

Engineering Technology and Industrial Distribution

S. Vinson

Entomology

Hector Gonzalez-Hernandez

CP

Developing Environmentally Friendly Management Technologies for Emerging Insect Pests of Tequila Agave

Thomas Ficht

Veterinary Pathobiology

Efren Diaz-Aparicio

INIFAP

Development of Brucella canis virB Mutants and its Study in a Cellular Model

Ricardo Gutierrez-Osuna

Computer Science

Isaac Rudomin

ITESM-CEM

Facial Caricaturing as a Training Tool for Security

Manuel Soriaga

Chemistry

Nikola Batina

Universidad Autonoma Metropolitana-Iztapalapa (UAM)

Green Electronalytical Chemistry: Remote Trace-Level Selenium Sensor

Julio Bernal

Entomology

Enrique Aranda-Herrera

Monterrey Institute of Technology (ITESM)

Integrated Pest Management for Pecans in the Laguna Region of Coahuila

Prasad Enjeti

Electrical and Computer Engineering

Jaime Arau

CENIDET

Investigation of Fuel Cells for Distributed Energy

Chii-Der Suh

Mechanical Engineering

Martin Baltazar Lopez

CENIDET

Mango Slices Dryer Using Continuously Fed Air Heated by Solar Energy

Sergiy Butenko

Industrial and Systems Engineering

Yuriy Shkvarko

Cinvestav del IPN

Optimization Algorithms for Network Design and Data Processing in Remote Sensing

Suresh Pillai

Poultry Science

Ilangovan Kuppusamy

Instituto Tecnolรณgico y de Estudios Superiores de Monterrey

Quantifying Health Risks in Mexico Associated with Contaminated Fruits and Vegetables via Pathogens in Irrigation Water

Stephen Searcy

Biological and Agricultural Engineering

Juvenal Guiterrez-Castillo

Tecnolรณgico de Monterrey

Use of Precision Agriculture Technologies to Reduce the Overuse and Degradation of Water in Pecan Production

Allison Rice-Ficht

Molecular and Cellular Medicine

Gilberto Chavez Gris

Universidad Nacional Autonoma de Mexico

Validation and Development of Diagnostic Assays for Mycobacterium paratuberculosis infections

Duane Kraemer

Veterinary Physiology and Pharmacology

Salvador Romo

UNAM

Vitrification of in vivo and in vitro-Derived Brahman Cattle Embryos

24-ALIANZAS

en Investigaciรณn

Jose Mireles, Jr.

ALIANZAS en Investigaciรณn-25


2004 Texas A&M University - CONACyT Awards Texas A&M University Principal Investigator

Texas A&M Department

Mexican Principal Investigator

CONACyT Registered Institution

GRANT TITLE

L. Garry Adams

Veterinary Pathobiology

Alberto Morales-Loredo

INIFAP-ITESM

A Recombinant Vaccine for Simultaneous Protection of Goats Against Brucellosis and Orf

Ranjita Misra

Health and Kinesiology

Roxana Valdes-Ramos

UAEM

Determinants, Outcomes and Burden of Diabetes and Cardiovascular Disease among Mexicans and Mexican Americans: Need for a Public and Private Sector Partnership

Wayne P. Hung

Engineering Technology and Industrial Distribution

Francisco J. Ruiz-Sanchez

CINVESTAV

Development of Automation Technique for Microrobotic Applications

Leonardo Lombardini

Horticulture Science

Uriel Figueroa Viramontes

INIFAP

Effect of Electronic Pasteurization on Nutritional Properties and Shelf-life of Pecan Kernels

Luis Cisneros-Zevallos

Horticulture Science

Carmen Hernandez-Brenes

ITESM

Improving the Security of Food Products Through the Use of Antimicrobial Substances in Combination with Novel Processing Technologies

Ricardo Gutierrez-Osuna

Computer Science

Ismael Lopez-Juarez

CIATEQ

Improving the Security of Food Products Through the Use of Antimicrobial Substances in Combination with Novel Processing Technologies

S. Vinson

Entomology

Eusebio Juaristi Cinvestav

IPN

Insecticidal Agents Based on Neuropeptide Analogs Containing beta-Amino Acids

Robin Autenrieth

Civil Engineering

Diego Corcho-Sanchez

Universidad Veracruzana

Integrated Strategies for the Protection of Water Resource Quality in a Coffee Processing Region of Veracurz, Mexico

Marvin K. Harris

Entomology

Agustin C. Fu

INIFAP

National Security Enhancement Through Pecan IPM Research and Program Development in Mexico and Texas

David Goodman

Chemistry

Pankaj Sharma

UNAM

New Organometallic Precursors for the Deposition of Pnictogen-chalcogenide Thin Films

Julio S. Bernal

Entomology

Juan F. Barrera Gaytan

ECOSUR

Promoting Organic Coffee Production in Chiapas through Pest Management, Agronomic, and Economic Research

Hongbin Zhan

Geology and Geophysics

Rogelio Vazquez-Gonzalez

CICESE

Sea Water Upcoming under Pumping Horizontal Wells in Coastal Aquifers

Robert Wharton

Entomology

Martin Aluja

Instituto de Ecologia

The Natural Enemies of Rhagoletis spp. (Diptera: Tephritidae) in Mexico, with Emphasis on the Apple Maggot, Rhagoletis pomonella

Suresh Pillai

Poultry Science

Ilangovan Kuppusamy

ITESM

Ultrasonic Technology for Waste Water Disinfection

26-ALIANZAS

en Investigaci贸n

ALIANZAS en Investigaci贸n-27


2003 Texas A&M University - CONACyT Texas A&M University Principal Investigator

Texas A&M Department

Mexican Principal Investigator

CONACyT Registered Institution

Awards

GRANT TITLE

Thomas J. DeWitt

Wildlife and Fisheries Sciences

Luis Zambrano

UNAM

Biodiversity Assessment and Community Ecology of Yucatan Wetland Fish Assemblages

John R. Gold

Wildlife and Fisheries Sciences

Axayacatl Rocha-Olivares

CICESE

Development of Biotechnological Tools to Aid in Stock Delineation in California Pacific Sardine

Alejandro Castillo

Animal Science

Rosalba Gutierrez Rojo

CIATEDJAL

Development of a Polymerase Chain Reaction (PCR) Method for Detecting Enterobacter Sakazakii in Infant Milk Formulas

Paul N. Roschke

Civil Engineering

Francisco Yeomans Reyna

ITESM

Dynamic Failure of a Thermally Efficient Structural Dome

Thomas M. Iliffe

Marine Biology

Fernando Alvarez

UNAM

Ecology, Biodiversity and Hydrology of Anchialine Caves: the Ox Bel Ha System, Quintana Roo, Mexico

James B. Woolley

Entomology

Alejandro Gonzalez Hernandez

Universidad Autonoma de Nuevo Leon

Encyrtid Parasitoids of Mealybugs in Mexico

Yassin A. Hassan

Nuclear Engineering

Javier Ortiz-Villafuerte

ININ

Experimental Study of Drag Reduction within Boundary Layer using Particle Image Velocimetry and Hot Film Measurement Techniques

Katrin Hinrichs

Veterinary Physiology and Pharmacology

Salvador Romo

UNAM

In Vitro Fertilization in the Horse

Prasad N. Enjeti

Electrical and Computer Engineering

Jose L. Duran-Gomez

Instituto Tecnologico de Chihuahua

New Approaches to Provide Electric Energy by Alternative Renewable Resources (ARR)

L. Garry Adams

Veterinary Pathobiology

Ricardo Gomez Florez

UANL

Production and Evaluation of Brucella Melitensis Native Hapten Conjugated with Gluorescein Isotiocianate for the Diagnosis of Brucellosis by the Fluorescent Polarized Assay

Cesar O. Malave

Industrial and Systems Engineering

Enrique Palou

Universidad de las Americas

Puebla Center for Engineering Education

Jyhwen Wang

Engineering Technology Carlos Acosta and Industrial Distributation

Universidad de las Americas

Puebla Design and Analysis of Dual Tube Hydroforming Process

Marla L. Binzel

Horticultural Science

Omar Pantoja

UNAM

Regulation of H+ Pumps by Vacuolar H+ Dependent Transporters?

William H. Neill

Wildlife and Fisheries Sciences

Alejandro Buentello-Garcia

CIBNOR

Strategic Research to Increase Fisheries Productivity and Strengthen the Tuna Aquaculture Industry in Northwest Mexico: The Yellowfin Tuna Plan

Frances I. Gelwick

Wildlife and Fisheries Sciences

Leticia Mar Tovar

UAS

Strategies for Sustainable Management of Fisheries Resources in Durango, Mexico

Nilesh S. Chatterjee

Health and Kinesiology

Rafael Chorne Navia

UACOAH

Understanding Individual, Social, Cultural, Environmental Determinants of Diabetes in Mexicans and Mexican Americans: A Pilot Study

28-ALIANZAS

en Investigaci贸n

ALIANZAS en Investigaci贸n-29


2002 Texas A&M University - CONACyT Texas A&M University Principal Investigator

Texas A&M Department

Mexican Principal Investigator

CONACyT Registered Institution

Awards

GRANT TITLE

Kirby Donnelly

Environmental and Occupational Health

Karim Acuna-Askar

Universidad Autonoma de Nuevo Leon

Biomarkers of Chemical Exposure and Sensitivity in Populations on the Texas-Mexico Border

Maria Barrufet

Petroleum Engineering

Gustavo Iglesias

Silva–Instituto Tecnológico de Calaya

Design and Optimization of Oil Field Brine Conversion Processes to Water of Irrigation Quality

Reza Langari

Mechanical Engineering

Edgar Sanchez

Centro de Investigación y de Estudios Avanzandos del IPN

Development of Intelligent Rollover Warning and Control Systems for Tractor- Semitrailers

L. Garry Adams

Veterinary Pathobiology

Jose Angel Gutierrez Pabello

Universidad Nacional Autonoma de Mexico

Influence of the Host Genetic Background; the Bacterial Virulence and Mycobacterial Peptides in Bovine Macrophage

Claire Williams

Forest Science

M. Humberto Reyes Valdes

Universidad Autonoma Agraria “Antonio Narro”

Information Theory to Forest Genomics

Ayal Anis

Texas A&M University at Galveston

Martin Merino

Universidad Nacional Autonoma de Mexico

Investigation of the Physical and Biogeochemical Processes in Valle de Bravo Freshwater Reservoir

Mahlon Kennicutt, III

Oceanography

Elva Escobar Briones and Pedro Morales Puetno

Universidad Nacional Autonoma de Mexico, Instituto de Ciencias del Mar y Limnologia, Ciudad Universitaria and Universidad Nacional Autonoma de Mexico, Instituto de Geologia, Laboratorio de Isotopia Estable

Methane in Marine Karst Environments: A Joint U.S./Mexico Interdisciplinary Program

Chuck Kenerley

Plant Pathology and Microbiology

Alfredo Herrera-Estrella

Centro de Investigación y de Estudios Avanzandos del IPN

Molecular Basis of the Mycoparasitic Response in the Biocontrol Fungus Trichoderma

Ian MacDonald

Oceanography

Elva Escobar Briones

Universidad Nacional Autonoma de Mexico

Natural Hydrocarbon Seeps of the Gulf of Mexico

Steve Liu

Computer Science

Jorge Enrique Preciado Velasco and Roberto Conte Galvan

Centro de Investigación Cientifica y de Educacion Superior de Ensenada

On the Development of a Virtual Software System Laboratory Architecture and its Prototype

Luis Cisneros-Zevallos

Horticulture Science

Carmen Hernandez

Tecnologico y de Estudios Superiores de Monterrey

Process Development and Health Benefits of Value-added Functional Extracts from Native American Crops for their use in the U.S. Food and Pharmaceutical Industry

John Moroney

Economics

Flory Anette Dieck Assad

Instituto Tecnologica y de Estudios Superiores de Monterrey

Sustainable Growth: Mexico and the United States

Ozden Ochoa

Mechanical Engineering

Sergey Kanaun

Instituto Tecnologica y de Estudios Superiores de Monterrey

Theoretical and Experimental Investigation of Carbon Foam Composites

Merwyn Kothmann

Rangeland Ecology and Management

Heriberto Diaz Solis

Universidad Automoma Agraria “Antonio Narro”

User-Oriented Models for Assessing Ecological and Economic Drought Risks on Semi-Arid Rangelands

Sheng-Jen Hsieh

Engineering Technology and Industrial Distribution

Manual Macias

Instituto Tecnologico y de Estudios Superiores de Monterrey

Virtual Laboratory for Advanced Manufacturing Automation and Control

30-ALIANZAS

en Investigación

ALIANZAS en Investigación-31


Texas A&M University

Texas A&M University - CONACyT: Collaborative Research Grant Program Office of the Vice President for Research Texas A&M University 312 Williams Administration Building College Station, Texas 77843-1112

Texas A&M and CONACYT: Research 2007  
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