Michael Brotherton of El Dorado graduated from Henderson State this spring with a B.S. in biology and plans to attend medical school in 2024. In the meantime, he’s hanging around Henderson to enhance his biology knowledge by taking Dendrology, an upper-division, field biology course that focuses on identification of the more than 500 species of native and exotic woody plants that occur in the wild in Arkansas.
He is conducting research under the direction of Dr. Brett Serviss, a professor in Henderson’s new Natural Sciences program. Serviss’ research interests are in Arkansas floristics and the biology and ecology of nonnative species.
Through their combined research, Brotherton and Serviss recently co-authored a paper entitled “A First Report of Hibiscus mutabilis (Malvaceae) from Arkansas,” which was published in the floristics and taxonomy journal Phytoneuron. The paper focuses on a species of nonnative woody plant (Confederate rose–mallow) that was recently documented for a first occurrence outside of cultivation in the state.
Brotherton, along with Henderson wildlife and field biology major Tiffany Taylor, are working with Serviss on another research project pertaining to the distribution and establishment biology of aquatic elephant-ear, an invasive exotic plant species in the southeastern United States, including Arkansas.
They have conducted extensive field work to collect data on naturalized populations of this species in the state, and currently have an associated manuscript in preparation for potential publication.
They also plan to present the results of their research at the Posters on the Capitol and Arkansas Academy of Science meetings in 2024.
The Bachelor of Science in Natural Sciences provides degree pathways for students interested in exploring the world through biology, chemistry, and/or physics. This degree serves students pursuing prerequisites for medical school, dental school, pharmacy school, dental hygiene school, veterinary school, optometry school, and physics therapy school, as well as students who are interested in a broad science education.
A strong emphasis is placed on experiential learning through project-based coursework, internships/collaborations with community and industry partnerships, virtual simulations, and hands-on experiments in the laboratory. Students are also afforded opportunities to job shadow, visit with professionals, and perform research relevant to their chosen career field.