UNT Aquatic Ecology Labs

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Thomas A. Cochran


  • B.A. Biology, Texas A&M University-Corpus Christi
  • M.S. Student, Biology, University of North Texas, Advisor: Dr. J. H. Kennedy

Thomas A. CochranMy interest in nature started in my early years, probably during visits to my grandparent’s house on Lake Texoma. It was always so exciting to romp around in the woods and walk along the lake’s edge in hopes of coming across a fish, a snake, or some bizarre insect that might normally terrify a young child. It would seem that growing up in a well developed suburb of Dallas would not exactly lend itself to nurturing my enthusiasm for nature but I was lucky enough to live near a series of large ponds in an old gravel pit that provided enough excitement for a young kid wanting to get away from the concrete confines of his neighborhood.

Throughout junior high and high school biology was always my favorite class. I recall a visit by the brother of my 7th grade science teacher who studied marine biology in Hawaii. He showed the class a slideshow of university life, his research, and an array of marine organisms that were completely foreign to me. His presentation had quite an effect and it was then that I first realized that biology, especially aquatic biology, held a particular interest for me.

In my undergraduate studies at Texas A&M University Corpus Christi I was fortunate in finding employment with The Center for Coastal Studies where I assisted on projects that allowed me to become familiar with various aspects and organisms of estuarine systems. My activities there had me doing everything from monthly bird counts to benthic core sample processing to identification of larval fish.

Once in graduate school here at UNT, deciding on a thesis topic has been a difficult road. I initially wanted to look at the variability in fish biodiversity in impounded rivers. But, after taking Dr. Kennedy’s aquatic insects course I decided that insects were equally if not more interesting than fish and that I would try to pursue a topic related to insects. After looking into and deciding against several research ideas I finally decided on doing a spatial study of mosquito populations in the City of Denton using GIS. Using data that was collected in 2003 and 2004, I will be looking at patterns of mosquito activity in relation to land use, seasonality and meteorological variables.

In addition to my activities as a student, in the summer of 2004 I interned with the U.S. Geological Survey where I primarily worked on an urban land use gradient project in the upper Trinity River drainage. And currently I work for an environmental consulting firm in Dallas where I am involved in several year-long fish impingement studies at various electrical power plants in North Central and Northeast Texas.

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We are currently seeking student lab assistants to process biological field samples.

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Phone: 940-565-2981
Email: kennedy@unt.edu