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UT Tyler Biology Major Recognized for Research

April 12, 2103

Media Contact:  Hannah Buchanan
Public Affairs Specialist
Marketing and Communications
The University of Texas at Tyler
903.565.5769 or 903.539.7196 (cell)

Corey Dale Cates of Hughes Springs, a senior biology major at The University of Texas at Tyler, was recognized at this year’s Southwestern Association of Naturalists Conference at McNeese State University in Lake Charles, La.

He received the Clark Hubbs Student Poster Award and cash prize in the amount of $600 for his poster presentation titled, “Behavioral Changes Related to Compensatory Growth in Corn Snakes (Pantherophis guttata).”

The award, which recognizes visual presentation quality and research significance, is presented by a panel of judges to the undergraduate, graduate or doctoral student displaying the best poster at the association’s annual meeting. Although posters may be coauthored with the major faculty mentor, the work presented must be primarily the student’s.

“The Department of Biology prides itself in involving undergraduates in research,” said Dr. Srini Kambhampati, Sam A. Lindsey professor and department chair. “Undergraduates who get involved in research actually do better in their courses because they have hands-on experience with concepts and ideas that they are being taught in lectures. Attending professional meetings also exposes them to the enterprise of science and enables them to make contacts that may help them get jobs or into graduate schools.

“Finally, their activities bolster their resume and help them stand out from the crowd when they apply to graduate, medical or other professional schools. The department has a long history of excellent, award-winning undergraduate research. We are very proud of Corey and other students who are actively undertaking research in the department,” he added.

Dr. Neil Ford, UT Tyler professor of biology, served as Cates’ faculty mentor. Together, they have been researching the compensatory growth in snakes for the past two years in Ford’s UT Tyler Ophidian Research Colony. 

“Like many of my students, Corey started as a volunteer taking care of the snakes in the laboratory. He got the idea for his project through a discussion that began about another student’s research,” Ford said.

“He took independent study hours and developed his own experiments and conducted them after recruiting the help of other students. He then analyzed the results and prepared his presentation of those data in the poster he displayed at the meeting. I knew it was a good project and am very glad it was recognized as such by this scientific society,” Ford added. “It was particularly gratifying that he beat out graduate and doctoral students. Corey has been recently accepted to graduate school at the University of Alabama, and I am confident he will do well.”

Cates will graduate with a bachelor’s degree in May. He plans to become a professor and research biologist.

“This award is a huge honor to receive, and I am very grateful to everyone who has helped me reach this place in my life and in my academic career,” Cates said. “It was awesome to represent The University of Texas at Tyler, the biology department and Dr. Neil Ford’s Research lab at this regional conference and bring back such a huge honor and award.”

His memberships include Sigma Alpha Pi National Honor Society, Tri-Beta Biological Honor Society, American Chemical Society and Biologists of Tyler, Texas.

Cates’ other honors and awards include UT Tyler President’s Honor Roll and Dean’s List and the Frank G. Brooks Award for Excellence in Student Research at the 2012 Tri-Beta Regional Conference.

The UT Tyler Department of Biology offers diverse undergraduate and graduate studies in life sciences for a wide range of career paths, from biology, biotechnology and medical technology to medicine, dentistry, veterinary medicine and education.

For more information, call 903.566.7402 or visit http://www.uttyler.edu/biology/.

One of the 15 campuses of the UT System, UT Tyler offers excellence in teaching, research, artistic performance and community service. More than 80 undergraduate and graduate degree programs are available at UT Tyler, which has an enrollment of almost 7,000 high-ability students at its campuses in Tyler, Longview and Palestine.
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