SPRING 2023: Watch Season 1 again on Saturdays at 7:30 p.m., starting March 25! Or stream online at any time.
KAMU is proud to present a new, original production highlighting the best and brightest of Texas A&M University. “Texas A&M Today” marks KAMU’s first foray into dynamic cinematography and creative storytelling, with host Chelsea Reber introducing Central Texas to some of the difference makers at Texas A&M. Season 1 originally aired in Fall 2022 on Mondays at 9 p.m. and Saturdays at 6 p.m. on KAMU-TV. Now, the program streams on demand on PBS.org or KAMU’s YouTube channel.
In this six-episode series, meet special people, learn about hidden gems and understand A&M’s influence on our region, state and world in a new way. Each episode features three full-length segments, a “hidden gem” featurette, an Aggie Fact and a one-on-one conversation with an influential member of the Aggie community.
Episode 1 Preview
“It’s almost like an operation – like a doctor would do.”
When Texas A&M researchers need a piece of glass, Bill Merka is the man to call. In his nearly 40 years as the university’s glass blower, Merka has created and repaired thousands of unique pieces, making countless scientific endeavors possible.
“I think it’s refreshing to be able to walk through the halls and appreciate that this is not a typical engineering building.”
As the state-of-the-art Zachry Engineering Education Complex was being built, the focus wasn’t just on classrooms, labs and meeting rooms: it was also about art. Ten artists were privately commissioned to design and construct pieces of art inspired by science, technology, engineering and math (STEM).
“I had from noon until midnight to work every day for two years.”
Rodney Hill is an artist and a beloved former Texas A&M architecture professor, but he’s also become an Aggie historian. He and his wife lovingly carved six wood panels depicting the history of Texas A&M. The panels are preserved in the MSC and passed by students and visitors each day.
“No one has suffered more than the Aggies, so we will give it to them.”
Texas A&M is home to a reminder of America’s independence. A story of war, sacrifice and bond sales culminates in a former Texas governor giving a special gift to A&M.
“The answer is money, now what’s the question?”
In a wide-ranging interview, Texas A&M Athletic Director Ross Bjork discusses family, conference realignment, diversity and inclusion, Title IX, athletic transfers, NIL and his hopes for the future of Aggie sports.
Episode 2 Preview
“They’re very clean, contrary to what some old wives’ tales will say.”
Sometimes protecting people starts by observing wildlife. At the Schubot Center for Avian Health, researchers are learning as much as they can about birds and the potential pathogens they might carry. By tracking and analyzing them, researchers hope to understand more about how viruses spread.
“I’m an advocate that students should get diverse experience because there are thousands of species on this planet.”
Few college campuses have as many opportunities for veterinary students as Texas A&M does. Take the Winnie Carter Wildlife Center as an example. Every day, students get hands-on experience working with domestic and exotic animals as they learn the intricacies of caring for different species.
“It’s the most beautiful classroom in Texas, right?”
The Gardens at Texas A&M University are a beautiful place to learn, study, relax and enjoy time with friends and family. And with a large expansion in the works, the shared moments could be even sweeter.
“It’s really cutting edge in that we get to find out what works best and how it works best in Texas.”
It was in the sails, ropes, sealants and rations aboard Christopher Columbus’ ships. Henry Ford even made a car out of it. But for more than 80 years, hemp was illegal to grow in America. Now that it’s legal again, a group of Texas A&M researchers is trying to figure out how to grow the crop in Texas, with eyes on turning its fibers into a plethora of everyday goods.
“People should have differing opinions… What I try to do is teach my students how to disagree in a way that’s democratic.”
Texas A&M communication professor and political rhetoric historian Dr. Jennifer Mercieca discusses the past, present and future of presidential speech, including that of Barack Obama and Donald Trump.
Episode 3 Preview
“Every student is unique because the types of things that they’re here to accomplish and the difficulties that they encounter along the way can be very different.”
Achieving an equitable learning environment is the name of the game for Texas A&M Disability Resources. The department serves nearly 3,000 Aggie students who request accommodations for a variety of disabilities. It’s all in an effort to make sure every student has the same chance at success.
“I’m not going to give up because I have my grandchildren and my family to live for.”
In the 27 southernmost counties of Texas, patients outnumber doctors 1,000 to one – and five of the counties don’t have a doctor at all. Enter Texas A&M AgriLife and their Healthy Texas program. It helps people manage medical conditions, such as diabetes, on their way to long and fulfilling lives.
“We want to be THE collection in Texas that represents our flora.”
As cities and towns continue to expand, environments and ecosystems change. It’s the job of more than 3,000 herbaria around the world – including one at Texas A&M – to track how. In College Station, the S.M. Tracy Herbarium’s collection has grown to more than 360,000 dried plants, grasses, seeds and mushrooms.
“They’re growing a commodity where they can’t control the price and they can’t control the weather.”
Harvests can bring in millions of dollars, but that doesn’t mean running a farm is easy. Rising prices for fuel, seed, water and machinery mean farmers might be rich one week and taking out a loan the next. The Agricultural and Food Policy Center at Texas A&M works hard to get farmers the help they need so they can keep putting food on America’s tables.
“The epidemiologist of Texas said, ‘what are you doing in Brazos County?’ Because whatever it is, something is really working well.”
She’s earning accolades for the guidance she’s been providing to Texans through the COVID-19 pandemic. Infectious disease researcher Dr. Rebecca Fischer discusses the ins and outs of her work and what she thinks about the future of public health.
Episode 4 Preview
“They were called weird when they were a kid, too, just like me. But we’re not weird, we’re cool.”
Meteorology is about more than the daily forecast – these weather experts work to save lives. At Texas A&M, meteorology students have incredible opportunities to put what they learn into practice. And it doesn’t stop after earning their degrees – Aggie grads are serving every corner of the U.S.
“Computers lie. But the wind won’t lie. A wind tunnel is how you actually prove that you’re correct.”
If humans are going to be put in the air, it had better be done safely. Aerospace engineering students work with major companies to test the aerodynamics and safety of airplanes in Texas A&M’s own wind tunnel. But it doesn’t stop at planes: students have helped test everything from missiles and architectural models to golf clubs and bicycles.
“If your life support systems quit one month into a six-month journey, you’re dead.”
NASA wants to go back to the moon and then to Mars. But it can’t be done without understanding how the human body changes in space and what it needs to survive a long space flight. Texas A&M has the tools and resources to find answers to those questions, including one special piece of equipment that doesn’t exist anywhere else in the U.S.
“There is no hesitation for industry and labs to come here and recruit our students. I look at it as an opportunity.”
Texas A&M Engineering continues to grow. Interim Dean and Vice Chancellor Dr. John E. Hurtado discusses the future of the college and its research, as well as his personal journey to Aggieland.
Episode 5 Preview
“I repair books. I make sure that you’re still able to turn the pages.”
A special unit within Texas A&M University Libraries handles some of the university’s most prized materials. The experts at the Preservation Unit are dedicated to protecting, preserving and restoring books and other items – many of great historical importance in Aggieland and beyond.
“He’s clearly trying to sell Texas. He’s offering Texas to anyone.”
Before statehood, before the Alamo and before independence from Mexico, Stephen F. Austin was given a task: map Texas. It took him five years, but Austin successfully mapped Texas’ rivers, plains and forests. It became a way to advertise Texas to future settlers. Now almost 200 years later, a rare copy of that map belongs to Texas A&M.
“It was in this room that the Texas mystique would come into full fruition.”
Only 40 minutes away from A&M is where Texas became Texas. In 1836, 59 delegates gathered in the small town of Washington to change Texas forever. They signed the Texas Declaration of Independence and drafted the first Texas Constitution. Now, the site is home to a celebration of the history that happened there.
“Stories are something that all humans have in common.”
It might not seem like science fiction, fantasy and Texas A&M go together, but Cushing Memorial Library is home to a world-renowned collection. In fact, “Game of Thrones” author George R. R. Martin chose Cushing Memorial Library and Archives to house his personal collection.
“This opportunity only comes along once in a generation. I didn’t come here to retire. I retired to come here.”
After just a few weeks on the job, new Corps of Cadets Commandant Brig. Gen. Patrick R. Michaelis sits down with Chelsea Reber to discuss his military career and his plans to grow the Corps.
Episode 6 Preview
“I think there’s something emotional about barbecue. Nobody stands in line for Tex-Mex or chicken fried steak. They do for barbecue.”
In an era of barbecue competitions, $5,000 smokers and debates about the best rubs and sauces, Texas A&M is leading the way. Three meat science professionals, known around campus as the “Three Brisketeers,” are in charge of one of the hottest tickets in town: a seat at Barbecue Summer Camp, held just once a year.
“Boots are a lot more than just leather. They’re a lot more than just footwear. You don’t really walk in boots, you strut in boots.”
The iconic Corps boots are a rite of passage for a cadet’s senior year at Texas A&M. But at around $1,000 a pair, not every Corps senior can afford to keep up the tradition. That’s where the Aggie Boot Loan Program steps in, putting its 600-pair collection to work for deserving seniors.
“This experiment is explicitly proving that the Earth rotates.”
A 400-pound metal ball swings from the seventh story of the Mitchell Institute for Fundamental Physics and Astronomy. It’s both a mesmerizing art piece and an important scientific experiment.
“Students that graduate from A&M are getting jobs at the best companies in the world, straight out of school. That’s pretty special.”
A trip to the movies may mean seeing the work of an Aggie. Visualization students in animation, graphic design and game design are going straight from school to working for companies such as DreamWorks and Pixar. “Viz,” as it’s known around campus, has recently joined with performance studies and fine arts in a new school dedicated to building arts education at Texas A&M.
“When the first videos went viral, so many of my former students contacted me… They feel proud of the education that they got here. And this is priceless.”
Dr. Tatiana Erukhimova is going viral on TikTok for her fun, simple physics demonstrations. Host Chelsea Reber visits with the beloved professor and learns what’s behind the social media success.
Special thanks to all university partners involved in each episode of “Texas A&M Today.”