Students learn about aquatic ecosystems during UHV camp

Jasmine Aviles carefully pours out a sample of treated water Saturday to test it for oxygen levels during the UHV Aquatic Sciences Camp. Aviles was one of five students who took part in the camp.

When Jasmine Aviles, a Liberty Academy junior, heard the University of Houston-Victoria was offering a camp to learn about aquatic sciences, she decided to follow her love for science and sign up.

“The camp was a good opportunity to learn something new,” the 17-year-old Victoria resident said. “After doing these experiments, I think I want to find a career that will focus on this kind of lab work and the tools we had in the field.”

Aviles was one of five Liberty Academy students who took part in the UHV Aquatic Sciences Camp. Students spent April 14 and 21 taking water samples from the Tres Palacios River and analyzing them in a biology lab in the UHV University Center. The camp was made possible by grants from the Trull Foundation and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.

Dmitri Sobolev

The experiments were designed to show how fertilizer used in growing plants on land can cause oxygen depletion in aquatic ecosystems that end up killing aquatic organisms, said Dmitri Sobolev, a UHV associate professor of biology.

“This camp gives students an opportunity to become more aware of our effect on different parts of the environment,” Sobolev said. “When farmers fertilize their fields, the chemicals drain into the water and cause an abundance of growth in aquatic plant life, which depletes the oxygen when that organic material dies. This then leads to the death of other organisms that need that oxygen to survive.”

Learning about how to measure photosynthesis and oxygen levels in the water was interesting for Jamarcus Myers, an 18-year-old senior from Victoria. He wants to join the military and eventually go to culinary school to learn to be a chef, which he says is like edible chemistry.

“This has been a fun experience,” Myers said. “I’ve been fascinated by science and what can be done with different chemicals. This camp has been a great learning experience, especially when learning about photosynthesis.”

UHV is planning to host another aquatic sciences camp for high school students during the summer. To learn more about the camp and how to sign up, contact Sobolev at 361-570-4218 or

The University of Houston-Victoria, located in the heart of the Coastal Bend region since 1973 in Victoria, Texas, offers courses leading to more than 80 academic programs in the schools of Arts & Sciences; Business Administration; and Education, Health Professions & Human Development. UHV provides face-to-face classes at its Victoria campus, as well as an instructional site in Katy, Texas, and online classes that students can take from anywhere. UHV supports the American Association of State Colleges and Universities Opportunities for All initiative to increase awareness about state colleges and universities and the important role they have in providing a high-quality and accessible education to an increasingly diverse student population, as well as contributing to regional and state economic development.