UNT Aquatic Ecology Labs

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Brenda Swirczynski


  • B.S. Interdisciplinary Studies, University of North Texas
  • M.S. Environmental Science, University of North Texas

Brenda SwirczynskiMy path into science was less than linear: after working at a YMCA summer camp during my undergrad as a Radio, Television and Film major, I decided working with kids was my passion. I changed majors and received my Bachelor’s and teaching certificate with a specialization in reading. I was fortunate enough to be offered a position in Birdville ISD, at the school where I did my student teaching. The job offer came with a choice: teaching 5th graders language arts and math or language arts and science. Although my education prepared me to teach any subject at that level, I had a difficult time choosing between those subjects that had proven to be a challenge to me. I chose science with the idea that at least I would have an excuse to take the students outside, something I have enjoyed doing my whole life. The next 4 years led me to seek out science education professional organizations and state and municipal resources for learning more about what I was teaching. It also inspired me to become a scientist myself.

After looking into Environmental Science programs throughout the state, I found UNT’s department to be one of the few that showed interest in including a non-major in their department. I walked into the department to find out more, and was fortunate to catch Dr. Kennedy in his office. From the very beginning, he described the realities of over 18 hours of leveling courses for a non-major. However what stuck with me were the descriptions of the incredible projects lined up in the department and the enthusiasm I heard when he talked about aquatic entomology. Encouragement and leadership is what was offered to me; hard work and perseverance was what was required of me. During my graduate work, I was able to participate in a variety of different research projects, many of which involved the newly opened Environmental Education, Science and Technology building which housed the Elm Fork Education Center. In addition to working with school-aged students doing real life science in the outdoor learning center, I also met educators from the Botanical Research Institute of Texas (BRIT) located in Fort Worth. It was there that I completed my research, authoring a stream ecology program for secondary students and analyzing differences in knowledge, skills and attitudes toward local river field studies. I stayed on at BRIT as their Education and Environmental Science Coordinator for 5 years. The field work and collaboration with world-renown botanists and ecologists I met through BRIT was a once in a lifetime opportunity.
After returning to the classroom for a few years, I am now back at UNT, coordinating grant projects aimed at getting sustainability and energy efficiency projects implemented in Texas school facilities. I also enjoy teaching undergraduates Environmental Science and continue to be fascinated by the new views science provides my life.

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

Contact Us

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