Research Around the World
Texas A&M University students and faculty conduct unique and impactful research on all seven continents.
- By Tiarra Drisker ’25
- Illustration by Daniele Simonelli
- May. 15, 20235 min read
As one of the largest research universities in the United States, it’s no surprise that Texas A&M University’s students and faculty participate in research all around the world. From seaweed studies in Antarctica to earth-shaking research in Japan, Aggie students and faculty have led research initiatives to help improve environments, animals and people on every continent.
Feeding the Future
The Feed the Future Innovation Lab for Small Scale Irrigation (ILSSI) is sowing seeds of change in various African countries. Established by the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) in partnership with Texas A&M AgriLife’s Norman Borlaug Institute for International Agriculture and Development, this project expands farmer-led, small-scale irrigation in Ethiopia, Ghana, Mali and Tanzania. Irrigation is essential in the developing world, as access to clean water promotes agricultural growth, resilient food systems, and better nutrition and health.
“Smallholder farmers around the world face challenges posed by climate change and other crises such as conflict and rising food production costs, so our work has global relevance for planning and managing water and natural resources to address nutritional needs,” shared Dr. Nicole Lefore, ILSSI program director. In addition to ILSSI’s work, the Borlaug Institute has worked in more than 50 countries to ensure food security and elevate people out of poverty. Using science and applied practices, the Borlaug Institute channels Aggies’ selfless service and innovation to foster healthier, fuller lives for generations.
Support the Borlaug Institute’s efforts to fight food insecurity around the world by contacting Jennifer Ann Scasta ’11.
Getting in the Seaweeds
Dr. Andrew Klein’s latest research trip to Antarctica in 2019 was not his first rodeo in the region. A professor in the Department of Geography, Klein has visited the continent 18 times to analyze its ecosystem. On his most recent excursion, he focused on the algae communities along the southwestern Antarctic Peninsula. His previous Antarctica research has centered on monitoring arctic ecosystems and studying how humans have caused or influenced changes in Antarctica’s natural landscape.
“Our research is important because we want to be good stewards of the Antarctic environment,” Klein explained. “It’s a beautiful, pristine continent, and we wish to keep it that way, both for the natural environment and to ensure that we don’t disturb it for future science.” In the future, Klein and his team will continue to explore the mysteries of Antarctica’s environment through more research and experiments.
You can help researchers from the Department of Geography like Andrew Klein explore the Arctic and beyond with a gift to the Department of Geography Endowed Fund.
Shaking Things Up
Dr. Maria Koliou, an assistant professor in the Zachry Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering, collaborated on groundbreaking research in Japan—literally. She was part of a large team of researchers that used the world’s largest “shake table” to simulate the ground motions that take place during an earthquake and study their effects on two full-scale wood-frame buildings. Her work aimed to find the best ways to build and repair wood-frame homes so residents can move back into them as soon as possible after earthquakes strike.
"It is fascinating to observe actual wood-frame residential structures being subjected to strong earthquakes. It is an experience that stays with you,” Koliou said. Results from the study will hopefully provide America and Japan with unshakeable solutions for mitigating destruction from future disasters.
Support the department’s foundation-shaking work with a gift to the Zachry Department of Civil Engineering Excellence Fund.
Tackling Meaty Subject Matter
When you think of Australia, kangaroos, koalas and freakishly big spiders might come to mind. Texas A&M AgriLife saw an outback of opportunity instead. The University of Sydney and Meat and Livestock Australia are partnering with Texas A&M AgriLife to improve profitability and provide more consistent meat products for consumers. Through their partnership, financed by Meat and Livestock Australia, researchers are conducting studies that will help make more accurate predictions about how much meat is on cattle.
“The U.S. can improve its prediction tools by including more data from various production scenarios, especially from a southern hemisphere country,” said Dr. Luis Tedeschi, principal investigator of the partnership and professor in the Department of Animal Science. Using several scanning technologies and mathematical models, the project will also help those in warmer climates understand feeding and beef up their management practices.
Help Texas A&M AgriLife researchers transform the cattle industry down south and down under by contacting Jennifer Ann Scasta ’11.
Smashing Particles for Science
You know what they say: Everything is bigger in… Europe? Or at least their particle accelerators are. In a tunnel 100 meters below the border between France and Switzerland, the Large Hadron Collider—the world’s largest, most powerful accelerator—moves protons at blazing high energies to smash them together. The data from these collisions allows scientists to investigate fundamental particles, some of which have never been observed.
Texas A&M researchers have been involved with the collider for decades and were part of the team that discovered the Higgs boson in 2012. Today, Drs. Teruki Kamon, Alexei Safonov and Ricardo Eusebi, all Texas A&M professors, carry the torch as they search for more unknown particles to uncover some of physics’ great wonders.
Particularly interested in particles? Support smashing work in the Department of Physics and Astronomy.
Analyzing Ancient Americans
Texas A&M’s worldwide research includes the ancient world too. At the Center for the Study of the First Americans, faculty and students conduct field investigations not only within North America but also in South America and Asia. The center aims to provide insight into how ancient people of the Americas lived by studying their tools, dating historic sites and recovering ancient DNA.
“We are piecing together the story of the first people to explore and settle the Americas at the end of the last Ice Age,” shared Dr. Michael Waters, the center’s director. “These first people are the ancestors of all living Indigenous people of the Americas.” From excavating artifacts in Texas to searching geologic deposits for stone tools in Florida, the center continues to carry out research that helps us understand ancient people and the environments they inhabited.
You can help researchers in the Center for the Study of the First Americans use today’s science to tell America’s oldest stories with a gift of $25 or more to the center’s excellence fund.
Maintaining the Manatees
With their squishy faces and round bodies, manatees rank high among the cutest sea animals. Unfortunately, these lovable marine mammals are endangered and dying by the hundreds every day. Dr. Michael Criscitiello, a professor in the Department of Veterinary Pathobiology, and former student Dr. Breanna Breaux ’13 ’18 have conducted research in Brazil that could help turn the tide for manatee conservation.
Along with trainees, Criscitiello and Breaux studied the immunogenetics of Amazonian and Florida manatees to provide basic immune parameters for better conservation management. This manatee research will help many other animals within the same order, both in water and on land. “Understanding the immune system of manatees informs how we manage related species and sheds light on the evolution of our own immune defenses,” Criscitiello explained.
You can support Criscitiello’s research with a gift of any amount to the John Tom Campbell '45 Research Chair. For more information, contact Larry Walker ’97.