THE HRI CURRENT-FALL 2022

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HIGHLIGHTS Researchers Conduct Flower Garden Banks Monitoring INSTITUTE NEWS The Gulf Stream Podcast STREAMING NOW MORE NEWS INSIDE... TOP STORY TOP STORY A PUBLICATION BY THE HARTE RESEARCH INSTITUTE FOR GULF OF MEXICO STUDIES HRITHE FALL 2022 Kristina Alexander Selected as Endowed Chair for Marine Policy and Law
Greg Stunz Named Interim Executive Director STUDENT ALUMNI SPOTLIGHT Lauren Williams, Ph.D. SPECIAL FEATURE
Dr.

Friends of HRI,

This fall has been a season of change here at HRI. In October, our Senior Executive Director, Dr. David Yoskowitz was appointed as the executive director of the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department. Although we were sad to see Dr. Yoskowitz leave following his tenure at Texas A&M University - Corpus Christi, his appointment gives HRI and the Island University a tremendous sense of pride. I was honored to fill the interim executive director role and lead HRI into the new year!

With change also comes a lot of excitement. In September, HRI was proud to present a screening of “Deep in the Heart” at the TAMU-CC Performing Arts Center, welcoming over 400 guests from throughout the community to watch this incredible film about Texas wildlife and wild places. Also in September, HRI launched our official podcast, The Gulf Stream. We dove in with none other than Dr. Sylvia Earle as the first podcast guest. Then, in November, HRI selected Kristina Alexander, J.D. as the new Endowed Chair for Marine Policy and Law.

Our science and research initiatives were also center stage this fall. Dr. Michael Wetz, Endowed Chair for Coastal Ecosystem Processes, and Katie Iverson, Development Officer, represented HRI at this year’s Texan by Nature Conservation Summit. Additionally, our Bringing Baffin Back film was recognized at the Water, Texas film festival, winning the Best Film About an Organization category. We welcomed three new HRI Fellows, our researchers began development of a tri-national initiative to address the socioeconomic impact of ocean acidification in the Gulf of Mexico, our Ecosystem Science and Modeling lab continued their ocean acidification monitoring work in the Gulf, and so much more.

As we look back on 2022, I can’t express enough appreciation for the hard work our staff, students, and researchers have put forth this year. I am thrilled to see what 2023 holds. On behalf of everyone here at HRI, I send you and yours all the best in the new year!

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Dr. Greg Stunz Named Interim Executive Director

TOP NEWS

Selected as Endowed

Chair for Marine Policy and Law

In October, Dr. Greg Stunz, HRI’s Endowed Chair for Fisheries and Ocean Health and Center for Sportfish Science and Conservation Director, was named the Interim Executive Director of HRI after Dr. David Yoskowitz was appointed as the Executive Director of Texas Parks and Wildlife Department by the Texas Parks and Wildlife Commission. Yoskowitz went to TPWD following a lengthy career at TAMU-CC and HRI, where he was named executive director in July of 2020.
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FALL 2022 THE HRI CURRENT
HRI selected Kristina Alexander, J.D. as the new endowed chair for our Marine Policy and Law program. Alexander replaces Dr. Richard McLaughlin who retired from HRI in January 2021. Alexander comes to HRI from the University of Mississippi School of Law where she has served as the Senior Research Counsel for the Mississippi-Alabama Sea Grant Consortium since 2017. In that position she focused her efforts on legal issues relating to a sustainable Gulf of Mexico, such as fisheries management, aquaculture, coastal resilience, marine debris, aquatic invasive species, and green stormwater infrastructure.
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TOP NEWS
TOP NEWS
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Kristina Alexander

Podcast

HRI was proud to launch The Gulf Stream podcast in September, welcoming Dr. Sylvia Earle as the first guest. The Gulf Stream podcast serves as a platform for interesting and insightful conversations with a variety of guests on how to make the Gulf of Mexico, and the world, a better and more sustainable place. The podcast is available to watch on YouTube or stream on most major podcast platforms.

Bringing Baffin Back

INSTITUTE NEWS
CLICK HERE TO WATCH & LISTEN
SEPTEMBER Dr. Sylvia Earle RELEASING IN JANUARY Brad Lomax DECEMBER Carter Smith NOVEMBER Dr. Greg Stunz

Bringing Baffin Back Video Win at Water, Texas Film Festival

HRI’s Graphic Designer and Video Project Manager, Juan Canchola, was among the winners at the Water. Texas film festival in Austin, Texas, presented by the Texas Water Foundation, for his film about the Bringing Baffin Back initiative. The winning films were chosen by filmmaker Richard Linklater.

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INSTITUTE NEWS Texas A&M University and HRI researchers spent four days at sea in October collecting samples near the Flower Garden Banks National Marine Sanctuary to determine if ocean acidification is impacting corals. HRI and TAMU Researchers Examine Ocean Acidification Near FGBNMS A group of researchers
of
tri-national initiative designed to address
socioeconomic
of ocean acidification
New Initiative for Ocean Acidification Across International Borders CLICK HERE TO LEARN MORE CLICK HERE TO READ MORE CLICK HERE TO READ MORE
including Dr. Xinping Hu, Endowed Chair for Ecosystem Science and Modeling, Dr. Mark Besonen, Director of International Programs, and Dr. Fernando Nuno Dias Marques Simoes, International Chair for Coastal and Marine Studies in Mexico, met to begin development
a
the
impact
in the Gulf of Mexico.

2022 HRI Fellows Selected

Three Texas A&M University-Corpus Christi researchers were selected for two-year appointments with HRI’s Fellows Program. The 2022 Fellows include Dr. Keisha Bahr, Assistant Professor of Marine Biology, Dr. Daniel Coffey, Assistant Professor of Biology in Fisheries and Mariculture, and Dr. Rossy Lima, Assistant Professor in the TAMU-CC Humanities Department. CLICK

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the capacity of the program’s shell collection process. CLICK HERE TO READ MORE

Oso Bay Wetlands Workshop Series in 2022

In September we wrapped up another year of Wetland Workshops at the Oso Bay Preserve and Learning Center. This was the fourth year for this program which runs monthly through the summer and fall. Workshops will resume in May 2023.

FALL 2022
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HRI kicked off the holidays in early December with a hot chocolate and goodies gathering where staff received one-of-a-kind water-inspired ornaments made by Marketing and Communications Manager, Emily McCauley. Later, research groups and staff let their holiday spirit shine on camera by recreating the holiday classic, “Christmas Vacation”, starring Dr. Greg Stunz as Clark W. Griswold.

6 FALL 2022 INSTITUTE NEWS
HRI’S CHRISTMAS VACATION VIDEO CLICK HERE TO WATCH

Dr.

Katya

Wowk Named HRI Chair for Community Resilience

Dr. Katya Wowk was named the HRI Chair for Community Resilience. As the newest Chair, she and her team will continue working towards local and regional partnerships and disaster mitigation in the Coastal Bend and throughout the Gulf region.

Corpus Christi in November. Participants were treated to the culture and diversity of South Texas throughout the conference, as well as to the coastal bird life through field trips. HRI was a major sponsor of the event. Conservation & Biodiversity graduate students, Antonio Cantu, Rostam Mirzadi, and Alexander Sharp as well as postdoctoral research associate Dr. David Essian, gave presentations on their waterbird research.

In December, Dr. Jennifer Pollack, Endowed Chair for Coastal Conservation & Restoration, presented information about the Sink Your Shucks™ Oyster Recycling Program at a Coastal Bend Bays Foundation Coastal Issues Forum at Del Mar College. Dr. Jennifer Pollack Presents at Coastal Issues Forum
STAFF & STUDENT NEWS
FALL 2022 CLICK HERE TO READ MORE
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Society Annual Meeting

Dr. Paul Montagna Presented with GOMURC Award

During HRI’s fall all-staff meeting, Dr. Paul Montagna, Endowed Chair for HydroEcology, was presented with the Gulf of Mexico University Research Collaborative's 2022 Wes Tunnell Lifetime Recognition Award for Gulf Science and Conservation.

FALL 2022 STAFF & STUDENT NEWS
In October, HRI's former Endowed Chair for Marine Policy and Law, was presented with the Professor Emeritus by the Texas A&M University System for his contributions to HRI and TAMU-CC. McLaughlin was the first chair hired at HRI. He retired in January 2021. Dr. Richard McLaughlin Named Professor Emeritus Antonio Cantu de Lejia, Ph.D. student in HRI’s Conservation & Biodiversity Lab, was presented with the 2022 Waterbird Society Annual Meeting Conservation Award for his work on surface water dynamics of Chihuahuan Desert wetlands. Antonio Cantu de Lejia Presented Award at 2022 Waterbird

NAS Gulf Scholars Program comes to Texas A&M University-Corpus Christi

In October, the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine’s Gulf Research Program announced their addition of six colleges and universities to the Gulf Scholars Program, including Texas A&M University-Corpus Christi. The TAMU-CC program will be led by HRI’s Director of International Programs, Dr. Mark Besonen.

HRI Sponsors Texas Children in Nature Summit

HRI was a proud sponsor of the Texas Children in Nature Summit held in Austin in December. Dr. Coral Lozada represented and participated in this three-day Summit, where TCiNN brought together health, education, environment, faith, conservation, and community leaders to shape an even brighter future for the children of Texas.

STAFF & STUDENT NEWS
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STUDENT ALUMNI SPOTLIGHT LAUREN WILLIAMS

PH.D.

Lauren Williams was working toward a degree in film when she made the decision to focus her graduate studies on marine science. After taking the pre-requisites to make the transition possible, it was at HRI where she found the interdisciplinary program she was looking for to provide her with on-the-ground experience and real-world relevance.

After graduating from Texas A&M University-Corpus Christi with a Master‘s Degree of Science in Environmental Science in 2011, Williams continued her studies and was able to complete her Doctor of Philosophy in Coastal and Marine System Science in 2016.

Through the HRI model, and focusing on science that is policy and management driven, Williams said that she learned how to better advocate for the ways in which communities can benefit from nature and the ecosystem services provided by coastal and marine environments.

Today, Williams serves as the Resilient Coast Program Director for The Nature Conservancy, advocating for solutions that enhance the resiliency of our coastal communities. Williams credits HRI for setting her up for success, and encourages current and future students to be open to the opportunities that will help them accomplish their educational and career pursuits.

10 FALL 2022 STUDENT ALUMNI SPOTLIGHT

HRI at the Coastal Bend Audubon Society's "Big Day"

HRI sponsored two teams in this year’s Coastal Bend Audubon Society's "Big Day" birding event. For this annual event, teams travel all around the Coastal Bend to identify as many bird species in one single day then gather for a dinner in the evening. “The Shamrock Skimmers” team placed first having identified 143 species of birds within Nueces County.

Adopt-A-Beach Clean Up Held at Mustang Island

HRI staff, friends, and family spent a Saturday morning in October taking part in the Texas General Land Office’s Adopt-A-Beach Program at Mustang Island State Park.

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Dr. Terry Palmer and Dr. Keisha Bahr

Assist with Long-Term Monitoring Tasks

HRI's Dr. Terry Palmer and TAMU-CC's Dr. Keisha Bahr, were among a multi-agency team that responded to a potential disease outbreak at the Flower Garden Banks National Marine Sanctuary. The response effort, led by NOAA, also allowed researchers to conduct routine, long-term monitoring tasks of the sanctuary.

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Coastal Conservation & Restoration Students Awarded at TBEM

Jen Gilmore and Alyssa Outhwaite, students in HRI’s Coastal Conservation & Restoration Lab, were awarded first place for oral and poster presentations at the 2022 Texas Bays and Estuaries Meeting.

11 FALL 2022 HIGHLIGHTS

Bringing Baffin Back in Texas Saltwater Fishing Magazine

A two-part series of articles about Bringing Baffin Back, written by L. Scott Murray and Dr. Michael Wetz, appeared in Texas Saltwater Fishing Magazine in the August and September 2022 issues.

Alyssa Outhwaite

Receives

Ruth Turner Scholarship in Marine Biology

In August, Alyssa Outhwaite, M.S., a doctoral student in the Coastal Conservation and Restoration Lab, received the Ruth Turner Scholarship in Marine Biology from the Ruth D. Turner Foundation.

International Visitor Leadership Program Delegates Visit HRI

HRI hosted the U.S. Department of State’s International Visitor Leadership Program delegates from Indonesia in early September. The event was organized by the local World Affairs Texas office who is focusing on protecting national resources at maritime borders.

For his academic achievements, Alexander Sharp, doctoral student in the Conservation and Biodiversity Lab, received the 2022 Dr. Howard & Beth Hoekje Conservation Scholarship from the Audubon Outdoor Club of Corpus Christi.

FALL 2022
TO READ HIGHLIGHTS
Alexander Sharp Awarded 2022 Dr. Howard & Beth Hoekje Conservation Scholarship
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Kristina Alexander Part of Record $136 million NOAA Award for Coastal Resilience

As part of her work at Mississippi State University, HRI’s new Endowed Chair for Marine Policy and Law was part of a record $136 million NOAA award for coastal resilience.

Antonio Cantu de Lejia Speaks at Wildlife Summit in Mexico

Doctoral student Antonio Cantu de Lejia was invited to speak at the Wildlife Summitt, organized by the local government of Tlajomulco, in the metro area of Guadalajara, Jalisco, Mexico. Antonio’s presentation included a talk on wetlands and waterbird conservation, along with a birding workshop at the Cajitilan Lagoon.

“Deep in the Heart” Screening

In partnership with the Texas A&M University-Corpus Christi Performing Arts Center, HRI was proud to present a screening of the Texas wildlife film, “Deep in the Heart”. During the September event, the over 400 guests in attendance were able to visit with other “Take Action” partner organizations including CCA Texas, Texas Parks and Wildlife Department, Coastal Bend Bays and Estuaries Program, and more, before watching the film on the PAC’s brand new state-of-the-art video wall.

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HIGHLIGHTS
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HRI Chair for Gulf Strategies, Dr. Larry McKinney, took part in a Texas Academy for Marine Policy webinar series in October entitled “Introduction to Local and Texas State Government”

Antonio Cantu and Dr. Dale Gawlik from the Conservation and Biodiversity lab co-lead a virtual workshop with Dr. Leonardo Calle titled “Modeling water level dynamics in intertidal zones using the Time-integrated Model of Shallow-water Availability (TiMSA)” on September 7-8.

Laura Beecraft and Dr. Mike Wetz gave a presentation titled “Episodic inflow and salinity changes produce distinct bloom communities in a low-inflow estuary (Baffin Bay, Texas)” at the 11th U.S. Symposium on Harmful Algae in October 2.

On October 27th, 2022, Chris Hale, Program Manager for HRI’s Community Resilience Group, delivered the keynote at the Ridge to Reef Conference 2022: Our Islands, Our Youth, Our Future!, the annual conference of the U.S. Virgin Islands Established Program to Stimulate Competitive Research (VI-EPSCoR). Chris reflected on how her education at the University of the Virgin Islands influenced her career working across the wider Gulf of Mexico and Caribbean environments and communities.

In November 2022, Dr. Coral Lozada and Ulsía Urrea Mariño, M.S. presented "Environmental Justice and Resilient Communities” at the Encuentro Biodiversidad Caguanes [Caguanes Biodiversity Workshop] in Sancti Spiritus, Cuba. Dr. Lozada talked about changes in the livelihoods of Texas shrimpers from an environmental justice perspective. Meanwhile, Urrea focused on the differentiated climatic vulnerability that the various coastal communities around the Gulf of Mexico experience derived from the effects of climate change.

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PRESENTATIONS

Influence of Hurricane Activity on Acoustic Array Efficiency: A Case Study of Red Snapper within an Artificial Reef Complex

Banks, K.G., Streich, M.K., Curtis, J.M. and Stunz, G.W. (2022), Influence of Hurricane Activity on Acoustic Array Efficiency: A Case Study of Red Snapper within an Artificial Reef Complex. Mar Coast Fish, 14: e10220.

CLICK HERE TO SEE ARTICLE

“Temporal variability in water quality and phytoplankton biomass in a low-inflow estuary (Baffin Bay, Texas)”

Beecraft, L., Wetz, M.S. “Temporal variability in water quality and phytoplankton biomass in a low-inflow estuary (Baffin Bay, Texas)” Estuaries and Coasts, in press

Evaluating biodegradable alternatives to plastic mesh for small-scale oyster reef restoration

Comba D, Palmer TA, Breaux NJ, Beseres Pollack J (2022) Evaluating biodegradable alternatives to plastic mesh for small-scale oyster reef restoration. Restoration Ecology

CLICK HERE TO SEE ARTICLE

Biogeochemical Alkalinity Sink in a Shallow, Semiarid Estuary of the Northwestern Gulf of Mexico

Dias, L.M., Hu, X. & Yin, H. A Biogeochemical Alkalinity Sink in a Shallow, Semiarid Estuary of the Northwestern Gulf of Mexico. Aquat Geochem (2022).

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Ten Years of Gulf Coast Ecosystem Restoration Projects Since the Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill

Diefenderfer, H.L., McKinney, L.D., Boynton, W.R., Heck Jr., K.L., Kleiss, B.A., Mishra, D.R., Greening, H., George II, A.A., Carl Kraft, B.A., Kling, C.L. 2022. Ten Years of Gulf Coast Ecosystem Restoration Projects Since the Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill. PNAS 119.

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Simulating oil-driven abundance changes in benthic marine invertebrates using an ecosystem model

Dornberger, L.N., P.A. Montagna, C.H. Ainsworth. 2023. Simulating oil-driven abundance changes in benthic marine invertebrates using an ecosystem model. Environmental Pollution 120450.

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Assessing the Effectiveness of Large-Scale Environmental Restoration: Challenges and Opportunities

Greening, H.S., Heck, K.L., McKinney, L.D. et al. Assessing the Effectiveness of Large-Scale Environmental Restoration: Challenges and Opportunities. Estuaries and Coasts (2022).

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Influence of an industrial discharge on long-term dynamics of abiotic and biotic resources in Lavaca Bay, Texas, USA.

Harris, E.K., P.A. Montagna, A.R. Douglas, L. Vitale, and D. Buzan. 2023. Influence of an industrial discharge on long-term dynamics of abiotic and biotic resources in Lavaca Bay, Texas, USA. Environmental Monitoring and Assessment.

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Aragonite saturation states in estuaries along a climate gradient in the northwestern Gulf of Mexico

Hu X, Yao H, McCutcheon MR, Dias L, Staryk CJ, Wetz MS and Montagna PA (2022), Aragonite saturation states in estuaries along a climate gradient in the northwestern Gulf of Mexico. Front. Environ. Sci. 10:951256.

CLICK HERE TO SEE ARTICLE

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PUBLICATIONS

Call rate as an index of nest count in wading bird colonies

Larson, R.C. and Gawlik, D.E. (2022), Call rate as an index of nest count in wading bird colonies. Ibis.

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COVID-19 Small Business Impacts in the Texas Coastal Bend: A Hyperlocal Approach for Small Towns & Rural Communities

McClure, M. L., & Wowk, K. M. (2022). COVID-19 Small Business Impacts in the Texas Coastal Bend: A Hyperlocal Approach for Small Towns & Rural Communities. Small Business Institute Journal, 18(2), 10–17.

CLICK HERE TO SEE ARTICLE

Long-term Trends in Lavaca-Colorado and Guadalupe

Estuaries

Montagna, P.A. 2022. Long-term Trends in Lavaca-Colorado and Guadalupe Estuaries. Final Report to the Matagorda Bay Mitigation Trust, Contract 011. Texas A&M University-Corpus Christi, Corpus Christi, Texas, 15 pp.

Ocean acidification in the Gulf of Mexico: Drivers, impacts, and unknowns

Emily Osborne, Xinping Hu, Emily R. Hall, Kimberly Yates, Jennifer Vreeland-Dawson, Katie Shamberger, Leticia Barbero, J. Martin Hernandez-Ayon, Fabian A. Gomez, Tacey Hicks, Yuan-Yuan Xu, Melissa R. McCutcheon, Michael Acquafredda, Cecilia Chapa-Balcorta, Orion Norzagaray, Denis Pierrot, Alain Munoz-Caravaca, Kerri L. Dobson, Nancy Williams, Nancy Rabalais, Padmanava Dash.Ocean acidification in the Gulf of Mexico: Drivers, impacts, and unknowns. Progress in Oceanography. Volume 209, 2022, 102882. ISSN 0079-6611.

CLICK HERE TO SEE ARTICLE

Growing pains of a data repository: GRIIDC’s evolution from environmental disaster rapid response to promoting FAIR data.

Rossi R, LeBel D and Gibeaut J (2022) Growing pains of a data repository: GRIIDC’s evolution from environmental disaster rapid response to promoting FAIR data. Front. Clim. 4:958533.

CLICK HERE TO SEE ARTICLE

Variability in Phytoplankton Biomass and Community Composition in Corpus Christi Bay, Texas

Tominack, S.A., Wetz, M.S. Variability in Phytoplankton Biomass and Community Composition in Corpus Christi Bay, Texas. Estuaries and Coasts (2022).

CLICK HERE TO SEE ARTICLE

PUBLICATIONS
FALL 2022

Corpus Christi Bay Ecology and Recreational Areas

Palacios Marine Agricultural Research Inc.

PI - James Gibeaut

$115,899

Gulf Scholars Program at Texas A&M University-Corpus Christi

National Academies of Science, Engineering, and Mathematics

PI - Mark Besonen

$450,000 Nueces Bay Demonstration/Restoration

Oyster Reef Project

Coastal Bend Bays and Estuaries Program

PI-Jennifer Pollack $30,000

The Laguna Salada Ecosystem Study: Targeted data collection from a vital tributary of Baffin Bay to support watershed restoration and protection plan efforts

Texas General Land Office (Prime Sponsor: NOAA)

PI - Michael Wetz $98,080

Focused Flows to Protect Estuarine Nursery Habitats

Texas Water Development Board

PI - Paul Montagna $150,000 Rookery Island Productivity for Priority Waterbird Species

Coastal Bend Bays and Estuaries Program (Prime Sponsor: EPA)

PI - Dale Gawlik $96,375 Texas Oyster Resource and Recovery Center

Texas Commission on Environmental Quality (Prime Sponsor: Dept. of Treasury)

PI - Greg Stunz $5,157,377

Oyster Reef Restoration Assessment and Monitoring

Palacios Marine Agricultural Research Inc.

PI - Jennifer Pollack $119,779

NEW
17 FALL 2022
PROJECTS

PH.D. GRADUATES M.S. GRADUATES

Monisha Sugla, M.S. MS Coastal and Marine System Science Committee Chair - Dr. Jennifer Pollack

B.S. GRADUATES

Yvonne Sheasby, M.S. MS Environmental Science Committee Chair - Dr. Katya Wowk

Rostam Mirzadi, M.S. MS Biology Committee Chair - Dr. Dale Gawlik

Felipe Urrutia, B.S. BS Biology Coastal Ecosystem Processes Lab

Daphne White, B.S. BS Biology Coastal Conservation & Restoration

HydroEcology Committee Chair - Dr. Paul Montagna
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TITLE CHANGES

Diana Del Angel, Ph.D.

Assistant Research Scientist Community Resilience

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WOWK, PH.D. HRI Chair for Community Resilience & Director of Texas OneGulf

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Coral Lozada, Ph.D.

Postdoctoral Research Associate Community Resilience

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NEW FACES

Wumi Andrew

Graduate Research Assistant Ecosystem Science & Modeling

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Lucero Barraza

Graduate Research Assistant Coastal Ecosystem Processes

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Gil Barrientos Research Program Associate Geospatial Sciences

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Olga KATYA

Texas A&M University-Corpus Christi

6300 Ocean Drive - Unit 5869 Corpus Christi, TX 78412

Email: hri@tamucc.edu

Copyright © 2023 Harte Research Institute for Gulf of Mexico Studies. All Rights Reserved.

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