St. Edward’s Awarded $200,000 W.M. Keck Foundation Grant
Grant Funds Living Database
Students at St. Edward’s University are now involved in the development of a unique database. St. Edward’s received a $200,000 grant from the W.M. Keck Foundation, which supports medical, science and engineering research. The grant will be used to develop a living ecosystem database of the preserve at the university’s Wild Basin Creative
“Very few databases show how species interrelate, and we thought that would be a nice niche to fill,” says Thomas Mitzel, PhD, dean of the School of Natural Sciences.
W.M. Keck grants are awarded annually, with most going to institutions in the foundation’s home state of California and larger out-of-state research institutions. “For St. Edward’s to be selected for this award is a prestigious accomplishment,” says Mitzel.
The grant will expand classroom and research opportunities for faculty and students across multiple disciplines. K-12 schools and other universities will also use the database for educational and scholarship purposes. Since St. Edward’s University took over the management of Wild Basin in 2009, the university has been seeking ways to fully integrate the 227-acre preserve into the campus community and the community at large.
“Our hope is that in the three-year period that we have
the grant, we’re able to build the infrastructure through the use of our computer science department students and faculty members. Then we’ll populate the database through ongoing research as well as projects that are taking place right now,” says Mitzel. “Not only are we trying to build the infrastructure, but doing so in a way that will really help
The majority of the grant support will fund student stipends for research, which will focus on topics like the white-tailed deer population and its effect on the golden-cheeked warbler, and the spread of the non-native plant Ligustrum and its impact on soil, local insect population and golden-cheeked warbler population.
According to Mitzel, the development of the database will be ongoing. “Our hope is that the living database is never completed because we will always continue to add to it.”
Learn about the Wild Basin Creative Research Center »