NACOGDOCHES, Texas — Two students from Stephen F. Austin State University’s Department of Biology recently placed first for the best undergraduate poster presentation at Texas A&M’s Ecological Integration Symposium.

Jordan Griffin of Chandler and Zachary Hutchens of Nacogdoches virtually presented their poster “Distribution of the non-native Sheepshead Minnow (Cyprinodon variegatus) in the Brazos River, Texas: Implications for niche overlap with its native congener Red River Pupfish (Cyprinodon rubrofluviatilis).”

“This project was my first real opportunity to work with real data in a lab setting,” said Hutchens, a sophomore biology major. “I learned a lot about research techniques and how formal research is conducted. Our data was all the more relevant for conservation when the Red River Pupfish was recently classified as threatened in Texas.”

The presentation investigated the abundance of the Sheepshead Minnow, which is invasive to the Brazos River system, its similarities to the native Red River Pupfish and its ecological consequences.

“As faculty and a mentor, I am proud of our students,” said Dr. Carmen Montaña-Schalk, assistant professor of biology. “They work very hard in the lab and field settings to increase involvement with scientific research. Their participation in these local and regional meetings allows them to grow as scientists.”

The symposium gave students a platform to showcase their research and engage in meaningful dialogue with a diverse group of scientists and undergraduate and graduate students from the fields of ecology, evolutionary ecology and conservation, Montaña-Schalk said.

“I am delighted that SFA students majoring in biology continue to be recognized for the rigor of their research projects and their ability to effectively communicate novel outcomes in the biological sciences,” said Dr. Stephen Mullin, professor and chair of the Department of Biology.

To learn more about the Department of Biology, visit