Barnes_Profile_LongDr. Matthew A Barnes

Dr. Barnes joined the Department of Natural Resources Management at Texas Tech University in 2014 as an Assistant Professor. As a child, he enjoyed summer vacations to the shores of Lake Erie as well as flipping over rocks to discover bugs in the creeks of his hometown in Plano, Texas. Dr. Barnes discovered a more scholarly approach to aquatic ecology and studying human interactions with their environment as an undergraduate at Southwestern University, earning a B.A. in biology with a minor in sociology. He honed his passion for aquatic invasions pursuing his PhD and serving as a postdoctoral researcher at The University of Notre Dame and The Environmental Change Initiative. At Texas Tech, Dr. Barnes continues to enjoy studying aquatic communities and biological invasions, sharing these topics with students in the classroom, and mentoring an awesome group of undergraduate and graduate student researchers. Outside the lab, Dr. Barnes enjoys watching Dallas sports, curling, and spending time with wife Erin, daughter Carolyn, and two cats, Jordie and Val.

Contact Dr. Barnes:
email: matthew [dot] a [dot] barnes [at] ttu [dot] edu | snail mail: Box 42125, Texas Tech University, Lubbock, TX 79409-2125 | twitter: @drbarnes | other social media: Academia, Facebook, InvasivesnetKudos, LinkedIn, Mendeley, PublonsResarchGate

Graduate Students

Kelbi Delaune

Kelbi was born in Baton Rouge, Louisiana and moved to Bedias, Texas at a young age so that her family could fulfill their dream of having land and animals. Although she was exposed to the natural world at a young age through camping, travels, and the small farm, she began her undergraduate academic journey in the arts. Nearing the end of graduation, she volunteered as a field assistant working in threatened desert-spring ecosystems and fell in love with field work and conservation-based questions. As a result of this experience, Kelbi quickly added Biology to her undergraduate studies. She earned her Bachelor of Fine Arts in Theatre and minor in Biology from Sam Houston State University in 2011. Upon graduation, she continued on at SHSU to earn a MS degree in Biological Sciences where she investigated competitive interactions between endangered Gambusia nobilis and invasive Gambusia geiseri in Balmorhea State Park, Toyahvale, Texas. This research earned her the Student Field Natural History Award from the Southwestern Association of Naturalists at the 62nd Annual Meeting. She finished her MS degree and began her PhD studies here at TTU simultaneously in the Fall of 2015. At TTU, Kelbi has been investigating life-history traits of invasive Gulf Killifish, influences of tributaries on mainstem macroinvertebrate assemblages, as well as using environmental DNA to detect rare species within the Pecos River system.


Mark Johnson

Mark grew up in Bangor, Pennsylvania and attended Millersville University where he earned a B.S. in Biology with a concentration in Environmental Science and a minor in Environmental Chemistry in May 2015. While at Millersville, Mark studied the morphology of grape seeds (Vitis) and compared them to inedible Vitis look-a-likes. He also worked for the Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture, testing fruit trees for potentially harmful viruses. Mark’s research interests include ecology, botany, invasive species, and genetics. Mark successfully defended his thesis, “Detection and analysis of airborne environmental DNA from terrestrial plant communities” in the Barnes Lab in May 2017, and he is currently developing ideas to continue this research in pursuit of a PhD, also in the Barnes Lab. Mark’s personal interests include kayaking, hiking, soccer, and football.

Elizabeth Roesler

Beth grew up outside of Chicago with little wildlife areas but persisted as a huge nature lover. She worked with the endangered American Burying Beetle at the Nature Conservancy owned Tallgrass Prairie Preserve in Oklahoma in 2009 and 2010. She then earned a BS in Biology at the University of Illinois at Chicago in May 2010. As a next step, she moved to New Mexico to serve as an intern through Americorps and Student Conservation Association at Bitter Lake National Wildlife Refuge. She has always been fascinated by endangered species, conservation, and aquatic systems, which led her into performing research at Texas Tech University. She began her MS at TTU in 2013 working on the development of habitat use data, detection, and survey methods for the endangered gastropod Pecos assiminea (Assiminea pecos) at Bitter Lake National Wildlife Refuge, NM. She completed her degree in May 2016 and decided to stay on to earn a PhD working in marine systems. She will be assessing the influence of climate change, freshwater inflows, and changing land use on the distribution of the Dwarf Seahorse on the Texas coast. Visit Beth’s personal website to learn more!

Undergraduate Students

The Barnes Lab is always looking for motivated, curious undergraduates to work on independent research projects. If you are interested in joining the lab, please email Dr. Barnes a brief description of your background, career goals, and list of Barnes Lab research areas of interest to you.

Matthew Jones

Matthew is currently working towards his B.S. in Natural Resource Management with an emphasis in Wildlife Biology. He is a native to Douglasville, Georgia. Before attending college, Matthew served four years in the U.S. Marine Corps during which he deployed as base security for Camp Leatherneck, Afghanistan. His work in Dr. Barnes’ Lab is aiming to detect the spread of invasive zebra mussels through east Texas river systems with the aid of eDNA methods and PCR. Matthew is also interested in applying eDNA analysis in evaluating the distribution of nonnative apple snails (Pomacea maculate) in southwest Texas rivers. After graduation, Matthew plans to seek employment at the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. When not in class he enjoys hiking, fishing, and spending time with his family.

Lab Alumni

Morgan (Smith) Jennison (MS, 2017)

OriginallyMorgan_Smith from Maine, Morgan received her B.S. in chemistry with a minor in biology in May of 2014 from Salve Regina University in Newport, Rhode Island. She spent three academic years and two summers developing electrochemical immunosensor arrays used for the detection of protein cancer biomarkers. Her work on this topic was highlighted at local, regional, and national conferences. Towards the end of her undergraduate career, Morgan realized that her interests were more based in biology and ecology than in analytical chemistry, so she began exploring those fields more through course work.

Following her graduation, Morgan took a position as a laboratory technician in the biology department at Salve Regina University, where she worked on a multifaceted project studying the population dynamics and the differential gene expression in the green macroalgal genus Ulva. This project cemented her love for ecology, especially having to do with potentially harmful and invasive plant species. As an M.S. student in the Barnes Lab, Morgan completed her thesis “Quantifying zebra mussel impacts on harmful algal bloom species in Texas reservoirs using environmental DNA surveys” in May 2017.

Travis LaBerge (BS, 2017)

Travis earned his B.S. in Natural Resources Management with an emphasis in Conservation Science. Travis is a native of Flower Mound, Texas. His work with Dr. Barnes aimed to detect minnow species of greatest conservation need within the Pecos River in New Mexico using eDNA methods. After graduation, Travis plans to get into commercial real estate and focus on sustainable development projects. He enjoys fly fishing, hunting, and skiing.

Dakota Limon (BS, 2017)

Dakota earned her B.S. in Natural Resource Management with emphasis in Wildlife Biology. She is a native of Lubbock, Texas and has spent her life growing up around Texas Tech University. Her work in the Barnes Lab aims to apply eDNA methods and PCR to detect a fungal pathogen (Pseudogymnoascus destructans) that causes White-Nose Syndrome in bats. Other research she is currently involved with includes plant genomics and analysis of stress tolerance in cotton. She enjoys reading, gardening, camping, and yoga.

Bridgett Pickman (BS, 2016)

Bridgett grew up in Green Bay, Wisconsin and has long harbored a passion for plants and wildlife. During her time as an undergraduate at Texas Tech University, she was involved in several student organizations and two independent research projects. Her time in the Barnes Lab was devoted to a study of the desiccation tolerance and ultimate viability of the invasive aquatic plant Hydrilla verticillata in varying depths of sediment. She presented these findings at the 119th Annual Texas Academy of Science and received an award for Best Conservation Ecology Poster.

Upon graduating with a B.S. in Natural Resources Management with an emphasis in Conservation Science in 2016, Bridgett continued her studies of aquatic plants by accepting a position with Texas A&M AgriLife Research working on a project investigating algae as a biofuel. She currently spends all her free time in the facility greenhouse and exploring the Trans-Pecos area. In the near future, she plans to return to school outside of Texas to pursue and M.S. in Plant Ecology.

Jordan Poe (BS, 2019)

Jordan is from Georgetown, Texas and came to Texas Tech University to earn her B.S. in Natural Resource Management with a concentration in Conservation Science. Personal interests include spending time with friends and family, reading, and fishing. Work in Dr. Barnes labs involved invasive zebra mussel eDNA in central Texas lake reservoirs and rivers. After graduation, the plan is to get a job working for Texas Parks and Wildlife or another state agency.

Sasha Soto (MS, 2017)

Sasha_SotoSasha earned her B.S. in Natural Resources Management with emphasis in Wildlife Biology from Texas Tech University in December 2013. As an undergraduate, she researched the potential allelopathic effects of the common reed (Phragmites australis) on aquatic invertebrates, finding evidence for Phantom Cave snail (Pyrgulopsis texana) avoidance of Phragmites-dominated habitats. Sasha was awarded 1st Place Undergraduate Researcher in the Oral Presentation category at the Fourth Annual Texas Tech Biological Science Symposium and presented her work to an international audience at the Fifth World Conference for Ecological Restoration in 2013.

Through her undergraduate research experience, Sasha developed a passion for understanding the negative impacts invasive plants have on native ecosystems. As an M.S. student in the Barnes Lab, Sasha completed her thesis on the consideration of hydrilla biotype to aid the management of this invasive aquatic weed. Soto is now pursuing a PhD at the National University of Singapore.