HRI Fellowships, Scholarships & Internships Report 2021

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FELLOWSHIPS SCHOLARSHIPS & INTERNSHIPS REPORT 2021



MESSAGE FROM THE EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR

DR. DAVID YOSKOWITZ

Friends and Supporters of HRI: I’m pleased to present you with our annual Fellowships, Scholarships, and Internships Report for the 2020-2021 academic school year. In this report we hope to profile the many ways individuals and entities have invested in the people, programs, and research at HRI. When Ed Harte founded the Harte Research Institute for Gulf of Mexico Studies in 2000, he wanted us to have an impact both inside and outside the lab. One of the ways we do so is to ensure that all our students are fully funded and have the support they need to develop an interdisciplinary educational background, innovative research interests, strong scientific partnerships, and invest their talents in work that will enhance our coast and seas. In this unpredictable new environment, where the COVID-19 pandemic has challenged the course of research and academics, continued support for students matters now more than ever. This report profiles HRI students whose education and research have been paid for by philanthropic friends who believe in our mission — developing science-driven solutions™ for Gulf of Mexico problems. Their giving is what makes it possible for us to train the next generation of marine solutions leaders who will work together across a variety of natural science, social science, and policy disciplines to conserve and enhance our environment, economy and coastal communities.

We’ve also got something new this year — starting in this report we will take time to feature some of the donors who make what we do possible, and the people who have gone on from their time at HRI to do big and bright things. As you will read, our students are helping us to develop oyster aquaculture techniques better adapted to the Texas coast that will support a new burgeoning state aquaculture industry. Some students did work that could change the course of a major fishery by supporting our Great Red Snapper Count population assessment, which found millions of fish in a popular commercial and sport fishery going uncounted in the Gulf of Mexico. Some are helping to make our coastal communities more resilient, using advanced mapping and modelling tools to assess the impacts sea level rise and future storm surge could have on our coastal economies and human-built environments. Our students are future scientific leaders and members of the coastal community, and their success is one great investment we can make in the Gulf of Mexico’s future. Please read on to learn more about the incredible work and learning our generous donors are supporting at the Harte Research Institute.

Senior Executive Director


TABLE OF CONTENTS Maggie Bains Endowed Scholarship

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R.N. “Dick” Conolly Endowed Scholarship

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Erin Caroline Donalson Memorial Endowed Scholarship

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Dan and Carolyn Pedrotti Endowment for the Center for Sportfish Science and Conservation

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Coastal Conservation Association–Texas Graduate Scholarship Fund

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Shimano-CCA National Marine Science Scholarship

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Texas State Aquarium Endowed Scholarship In Biodiversity and Conservation Science Crutchfield Fellowship Endowment

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Furgason Fellowship Endowment

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Dr. John “Wes” Tunnell, Jr. Fellowship

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Texas Parks & Wildlife Department and Coastal Conservation Association Summer Internship Program

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Upcoming Student Funding Opportunities

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Alumni Spotlight

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Donor Spotlight

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SCHOLARSHIPS & ENDOWMENTS


DIANA DEL ANGEL, PH.D. PH.D. in Coastal and Marine System Science HOMETOWN: Brownsville, Texas RESEARCH GROUP: Socio-Economics DISSERTATION: : Social-Ecological system approach for assessing impacts of sea-level rise and the benefits of natural and nature-based features. GRADUATION DATE : SUMMER 2021

Maggie Bains Endowed Scholarship In May 2013, Margaret “Maggie” Bains, a former lab volunteer at HRI, was recognized for her years of dedication to marine science with the establishment of an endowed scholarship in her name. Funding supports HRI graduate students pursuing a degree in marine biology. The scholarship was established by the Chapel in the Hills Interdenominational Church in Wimberley, Texas, HRI, and Maggie’s former HRI co-workers. Bains, a career teacher, never fully believed in retirement and used her master's degree in zoology from Texas A&M Maritime Academy in Galveston to volunteer as a research assistant at HRI into her 80s.

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My graduate research focused on how sea-level rise affects the coastal environments and its impacts on communities and explored policies and programs to help communities plan for these changes. I am grateful for the support I have received at HRI, including the professional guidance from the faculty and the fellowship and scholarship opportunities such as the Maggie Bains Endowed Scholarship. This support was crucial, particularly during the last year of my Ph.D. studies, where my time and effort were dedicated to writing my dissertation. In the Summer of 2021, I successfully defended my dissertation. I am excited to move on to the next phase of my research career and hope that my work here at HRI contributes to the well-being of communities and the natural environments of the Gulf of Mexico.

MARIANA LEÓN‐PÉREZ M.S. PH.D. in Coastal and Marine System Science HOMETOWN: Guaynabo, Puerto Rico RESEARCH GROUP: Geospatial Sciences DISSERTATION: Massive arrivals of pelagic Sargassum: vulnerability of Social‐Ecological systems and management implications in Puerto Rico . EXPECTED GRADUATION: FALL 2022

I feel joy when my actions contribute to addressing the environmental problems our region is facing. As a PhD Candidate at the Harte Research Institute for Gulf of Mexico Studies (HRI) I have deepened my understanding of the relationships between the natural and social systems and designed research projects that will provide information for the benefit of our coastal communities. This 2020‐2021 academic year, I have been actively working on my dissertation, particularly on developing a method for using satellite data to characterize massive Sargassum accumulations along the coastline and therefore contributing to the understanding of the social‐ecological impacts of these events. I treasure the opportunity I have had to develop myself academically as part of HRI. Given my socio‐economic background, what I have accomplished so far it would not have been possible without the economic support I have received throughout my career. I will be forever grateful for your support!


FELLOWSHIPS, SCHOLARSHIPS & INTERNSHIPS REPORT 2021

ALYSSA OUTHWAITE, M.S. PH.D. in Marine Biology HOMETOWN: Darien, Georgia RESEARCH GROUP: Coastal Conservation & Restoration DISSERTATION: Evaluating the ecological role of estuarine habitats: an integrated community and trophic analysis approach. EXPECTED GRADUATION: FALL 2023

Studying marine biology at HRI has been a wonderful and enriching experience. My field of study, food webs in bay systems, offers me the opportunity to study marine ecosystems through rigorous laboratory analysis while also getting my hands dirty (a must!). It is my greatest ambition to continue on in academia, where I can share both my knowledge and passion with our communities and future scientists. Working with HRI and receiving this scholarship has already helped me on this journey, by supporting my research and providing opportunities to interact with people within our community. Some of my favorite memories from this past year are the moments where I was able to talk with women in leadership, helping to provide them with an immersive (and educational!) experience in our coastal ecosystems. I think Maggie Bains herself would have enjoyed such interactions, seeing the need to integrate science into our community in a hands on, relatable way. I am ever so grateful for the scholarship honoring her work, through which I have been afforded these opportunities and can continue to share my enthusiasm for science.

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JILL THOMPSON-GRIM, M.S. M.S. in Marine Biology HOMETOWN: Pearland, Texas RESEARCH GROUP: Fisheries and Ocean Health THESIS: Small-scale habitat interactions for Gulf of Mexico reef fishes over natural and artificial reefs.

GRADUATION DATE: FALL 2020

R.N. “Dick” Conolly Endowed Scholarship The R.N. “Dick” Conolly Endowed Graduate Scholarship in Fisheries Conservation and Sportfish Research was established by the Rotary Club of Corpus Christi in honor of R.N. “Dick” Conolly. Dick was an avid sportfish angler and leader in creating the Rotary Club’s Harvey Weil Sportsmanship Conservationist Award Program in honor of his friend and sportfishing companion Harvey Weil. The R.N. "Dick" Conolly Endowed Scholarship assists full-time students pursuing a master’s or doctoral degree during a program of study within the research focus areas of fisheries conservation, particularly those in HRI's Center for Sportfish Science and Conservation.

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I am grateful for this scholarship because it alleviated many of my financial stresses during the COVID-19 pandemic. By lifting my financial burdens, I was able to focus exclusively on finishing and defending my Master’s thesis in December 2020. HRI provided me ample opportunities to grow as a scientist and to collaborate with other researchers across the Gulf of Mexico on projects like The Great Red Snapper Count. These experiences at HRI lead me to my current position as a Ph.D. student at the University of South Florida-College of Marine Science where I am working under the supervision of Dr. Steve Murawski. In fact, I met Dr. Murawski during a Great Red Snapper Count research cruise. I would not be in my current role studying climate-ready fisheries in the Gulf of Mexico without the opportunities, funding, and support that HRI offered to me as a Master’s student.

KELSEY MARTIN, M.S. Ph.D. Marine Biology HOMETOWN: Frederick, Maryland RESEARCH GROUP: Fisheries and Ocean Health DISSERTATION: Distribution of economically important fish species and the role of artificial reefs. EXPECTED GRADUATION: FALL 2022

Thanks to the continued support of this scholarship, I was able to complete the first chapter of my dissertation last year. With only one year left before I graduate, having 25 percent of my dissertation completed will be a tremendous help when finishing up writing and data analysis. This year, I will be analyzing about 260 hours of video data as well as hydroacoustic (echosounder) data. More importantly, I will be using those data to develop a model that will provide stakeholders with a tool to build more cost-effective artificial reefs. This model will attempt to simulate how economically important fish communities change with varying artificial reef density and quantity. I hope to complete my dissertation next year and become the first person in my family to receive a doctorate degree. My sights are then set towards working for the government, where I hope to enhance and uphold fisheries management efforts. This scholarship brings me one step closer to achieving a goal I have had since I was a child and I am extremely grateful.


FELLOWSHIPS, SCHOLARSHIPS & INTERNSHIPS REPORT 2021

DEVIN COMBA M.S. in Marine Biology HOMETOWN: Edgewater, MD, USA RESEARCH GROUP: Coastal Conservation & Restoration THESIS: Addressing the use of plastic in small‐scale oyster reef restorations. EXPECTED GRADUATION: FALL 2021

I am so excited to be the recipient of a Coastal Conservation Association scholarship. I chose to pursue an education in marine biology, particularly in coastal conservation and restoration, because I place great value in personal responsibility and preservation of resources for future generations. My thesis research aims to address plastic pollution via restoration projects by exploring biodegradable mesh alternatives in oyster reef restoration. The Sink Your Shucks program at HRI leads community‐based reef restoration events, which involve filling plastic mesh bags with oyster shell to provide substrate for oyster settlement. Plastic is great economically, but not environmentally. I identified a few potential alternatives and conducted a cost‐benefit analysis on their ecosystem function compared to plastic. Unfortunately, the current available materials did not perform well in Texas bay waters, so there is plenty of room for further investigation.

MOLLY MCBRIDE M.S. in Coastal and Marine System Science HOMETOWN: Runnemede, New Jersey RESEARCH GROUP: Coastal Ecosystem Processes THESIS: Influence of Colorado River discharge variability on phytoplankton communities in Matagorda Bay, Texas. . EXPECTED GRADUATION: SPRING 2022

My research involves looking at phytoplankton in an estuary along the Gulf of Mexico: Matagorda Bay. This project is very important to me because harmful phytoplankton can negatively affect wildlife, recreation and public health. I hope to contribute to a better understanding of dynamics that contribute to this algae growth to inform management decisions on the coast and HRI gave me the opportunity and the tools to conduct this project. I’m very grateful for this scholarship and proud to have this connection to CCA and HRI because I believe in everything the organizations stand for. It is so wonderful to know there are so many others in this area and beyond advocating for the protection and conservation of our beautiful waters.

Coastal Conservation Association of Texas Graduate Scholarship Fund The Coastal Conservation Association of Texas established this scholarship to assist graduate students at HRI pursuing a degree with specific focus on marine resource management. Recipients are expected to contribute, through their research, to the understanding of marine fisheries science and management in the Gulf of Mexico with emphasis on recreational fishing.

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KELSEY MARTIN, M.S. Ph.D. Marine Biology HOMETOWN: Frederick, Maryland RESEARCH GROUP: Fisheries and Ocean Health DISSERTATION: Distribution of economically important fish species and the role of artificial reefs. EXPECTED GRADUATION: FALL 2022

Dan & Carolyn Pedrotti Endowment for the Center for Sportfish Science and Conservation The Dan and Carolyn Pedrotti Endowment for the Center for Sportfish Science and Conservation (CSSC) was established to enhance the mission of the CSSC. It's a mission that is near and dear to the hearts of Dan and Carolyn, both advocates for the practice of anglers giving back to the waters that provide for their recreational enjoyment. The endowment assists top-tier graduate students with tuition and research support as they pursue an education pertaining to sportfish conservation. 5

Thanks to the continued support of this endowment, I was able to complete the first chapter of my dissertation last year. With only one year left before I graduate, having 25 percent of my dissertation completed will be a tremendous help when finishing up writing and data analysis. This year, I will be analyzing about 260 hours of video data as well as hydroacoustic (echosounder) data. More importantly, I will be using those data to develop a model that will provide stakeholders with a tool to build more cost-effective artificial reefs. This model will attempt to simulate how economically important fish communities change with varying artificial reef density and quantity. I hope to complete my dissertation next year and become the first person in my family to receive a doctorate degree. My sights are then set towards working for the government, where I hope to enhance and uphold fisheries management efforts. This endowment brings me one step closer to achieving a goal I have had since I was a child and I am extremely grateful.


FELLOWSHIPS, SCHOLARSHIPS & INTERNSHIPS REPORT 2021

JILL THOMPSON-GRIM, M.S. M.S. in Marine Biology HOMETOWN: Pearland, Texas RESEARCH GROUP: Fisheries and Ocean Health THESIS: Small-scale habitat interactions for Gulf of Mexico reef fishes over natural and artificial reefs.

GRADUATION DATE: FALL 2020

I am grateful for this scholarship because it alleviated many of my financial stresses during the COVID-19 pandemic. By lifting my financial burdens, I was able to focus exclusively on finishing and defending my Master’s thesis in December 2020. HRI provided me ample opportunities to grow as a scientist and to collaborate with other researchers across the Gulf of Mexico on projects like The Great Red Snapper Count. These experiences at HRI lead me to my current position as a Ph.D. student at the University of South Florida-College of Marine Science where I am working under the supervision of Dr. Steve Murawski. In fact, I met Dr. Murawski during a Great Red Snapper Count research cruise. I would not be in my current role studying climate-ready fisheries in the Gulf of Mexico without the opportunities, funding, and support that HRI offered to me as a Master’s student.

ALYSSA OUTHWAITE, M.S. PH.D. in Marine Biology HOMETOWN: Darien, Georgia RESEARCH GROUP: Coastal Conservation & Restoration DISSERTATION: Evaluating the ecological role of estuarine habitats: an integrated community and trophic analysis approach. EXPECTED GRADUATION: FALL 2023

Studying marine biology at HRI has been a wonderful and enriching experience. My field of study, food webs in bay systems, offers me the opportunity to study marine ecosystems through rigorous laboratory analysis while also getting my hands dirty (a must!). It is my greatest ambition to continue on in academia, where I can share both my knowledge and passion with our communities and future scientists. Working with HRI and receiving this scholarship has already helped me on this journey, by supporting my research and providing opportunities to interact with people within our community. Some of my favorite memories from this past year are the moments where I was able to talk with women in leadership, helping to provide them with an immersive (and educational!) experience in our coastal ecosystems. I am ever so grateful for this scholarship, through which I have been afforded these opportunities and can continue to share my enthusiasm for science.

Erin Caroline Donalson Memorial Endowed Scholarship Erin Caroline Donalson was a native of Silsbee, Texas and proud Islander at Texas A&M University-Corpus Christi. Outside of her studies, she enjoyed saltwater fishing and paddle boarding on the Texas coast. Following her passing in May 2018, Erin’s parents, Drew and Alyson Donalson, created the Erin Caroline Donalson Memorial Endowed Scholarship in celebration of their daughter’s passion for her school and the outdoors. The scholarship assists graduate students whose studies and/or research align with the mission of the Harte Research Institute’s Center for Sportfish Science and Conservation.

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RACHAEL KLOSE M.S. in Science in Fisheries and Mariculture HOMETOWN: Bethlehem, Pennsylvania RESEARCH GROUP: Institutional Initiatives THESIS: Evaluation of various approaches to management of biofouling of oysters using the adjustable longline system in Copano Bay, Texas. GRADUATION DATE: FALL 2021

Shimano-CCA National Marine Science Scholarship Shimano and the Coastal Conservation Association (CCA) have partnered to fund scholarships for graduate students dedicated to advancing their education in marine fisheries conservation. Students must demonstrate a passion for recreational fishing and are expected to contribute, through their research, to the understanding of Gulf of Mexico marine fisheries — in alignment with the missions of Shimano, CCA, and the Center for Sportfish Science and Conservation at the Harte Research Institute.

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I have long been interested in the production and systems aspect of aquaculture. The Harte Research Institute provided guidance and funding for a project that was aligned exactly with my interests and goals, making it the perfect match for graduate school. The end goal to my research was to provide better management recommendations to new oyster farmers in Texas, helping them start out and successfully run a farm. This was made possible in part by funding I received from the Shimano-CCA National Marine Science Scholarship. The support is greatly appreciated and will benefit the future of Texan oyster farming, relieving pressure on natural reef systems, improving the health of our coastal waters, and increasing reef habitat to support our popular sportfish species.

LEXIE NEFFINGER M.S. in Marine Biology HOMETOWN: West Springfield, Massachusetts RESEARCH GROUP: Coastal Conservation & Restoration THESIS: Assessing biotic integrity for tidal streams along the lower Texas coast. EXPECTED GRADUATION: SPRING 2022

I moved to Texas to pursue an opportunity I could not pass up – a thesis project I am passionate about, a great advisor, and a team of lab members who have shared values and interests. I underestimated the support I would also receive from HRI and the generous funding I have been awarded in my time at TAMU-CC. My scholarship funding has opened the door to career building opportunities that would not have otherwise been possible. For example, I was able to attain my open water SCUBA certification – a requirement needed to enter the scientific diver program at TAMU-CC. Because of the financial support I received, I now have my scientific-diver-in-training status with the university. Being a scientific diver is a major career building block for students who wish to continue a career with coastal fisheries, and I am so grateful I am now among those with this skill set.


FELLOWSHIPS, SCHOLARSHIPS & INTERNSHIPS REPORT 2021

LILY WALKER PH.D. in Coastal and Marine System Science HOMETOWN: Belle Fourche, South Dakota RESEARCH GROUP: Coastal Ecosystem Processes DISSERTATION: Climatic and anthropogenic drivers of estuarine biogeochemical variability. EXPECTED GRADUATION: SPRING 2022

I moved from South Dakota to Texas so that I could pursue a career in the marine sciences and a life on the water. Shimano North America Fishing, the Coastal Conservation Association, and the Harte Research Institute have made that possible for me. My studies of regional water quality issues and my collaboration with scientists and the community have been extremely rewarding. It is a great privilege that I can continue my education here at TAMU-CC, while simultaneously living the coastal life I have always dreamed of. There were times when the idea of pursuing a graduate education seemed impossible, but the financial assistance provided to me from this scholarship has helped me tremendously and kept me going.

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JORDANA CUTAJAR M.S. in Coastal and Marine System Science HOMETOWN: Fort Lauderdale, Florida RESEARCH GROUP: Coastal Ecosystem Processes THESIS: Spatial-temporal variability in phytoplankton biomass and community composition in Texas residential canals.

Texas State Aquarium Endowed Scholarship In Biodiversity and Conservation Science The Texas State Aquarium established this scholarship to support graduate students following in the footsteps of the late Dr. John “Wes” Tunnell, Jr. by conducting biodiversity and/or conservation science research in the Gulf of Mexico or Caribbean Sea. Dr. Tunnell was a longtime friend and advisor to the Aquarium, having aided in the Aquarium’s early planning phases in 1978 and subsequent expansions throughout the next four decades. Through his teachings and mentorship, he inspired many Aquarium staff members and volunteers to pursue careers in marine science.

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EXPECTED GRADUATION: SPRING 2022

Growing up in Florida I was no stranger to harmful algal blooms. I spent summers on the Gulf coast, and it always held sentimental value to me. When I experienced my first red tide bloom, I knew I wanted to research harmful algal blooms so that we could better understand them and mitigate them which brought me to the Harte Research Institute. I have been blessed with resources at HRI, but there are always things that come up and create financial burdens for graduate students. This scholarship allowed me to continue my research without the stress of wondering how I would pay for additional expenses like much-needed personal field gear. These things may seem small, but they make a world of difference to someone like me and for that I am very grateful.

KYLEE LEWIS M.S. in Coastal and Marine System Science HOMETOWN: Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, USA RESEARCH GROUP: Coastal and Marine Systems THESIS: Hydrodynamic modeling of oyster reefs under climate change conditions. EXPECTED GRADUATION: FALL 2021

I am grateful for this scholarship because the assistance I received alleviated anxiety about my financial stability and allowed me to focus more on my thesis research. Through my research I hope to provide further understanding of how coastal organisms, specifically oysters, will be impacted by climate change. I chose this course of study because I am passionate about coastal and marine management and preservation, and all support I receive on my educational journey helps me to pursue that passion.


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SANDEEP JILLA M.S. in Computer Science HOMETOWN: Hyderabad, Telangana, India RESEARCH GROUP: Geospatial Sciences GRADUATION DATE: FALL 2020

I am honored to be one of the recipients of the Crutchfield Fellowship for the 2020‐2021 school year. The fellowship allowed me to complete my degree without any difficulties and helped me to clear my student loan much sooner than I expected. I am deeply appreciative of the support and all the good that has been done in Mr. Crutchfield's name.

Crutchfield Fellowship Endowment The Crutchfield Fellowships were established by John H. and Danna Crutchfield in honor of John’s late father, John W. Crutchfield, a Corpus Christi businessman and civic leader who was instrumental in the University of Corpus Christi’s transformation into today’s Texas A&M University-Corpus Christi. The endowment assists HRI master’s and doctoral students by providing funding for educational expenses ranging from tuition and publications, to travel associated with meetings and workshops, as well as research supplies and equipment.

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Since graduating in Fall 2020, I have been working as a Research Specialist with the Harte Research Institute. In this position, I am responsible for assisting the team in monitoring the regional assets of over 1,500 sensors, correcting observed errors, and developing new modules to further automate the data retrieval process from data providers.

RACHAEL KLOSE M.S. in Science in Fisheries and Mariculture HOMETOWN: Bethlehem, Pennsylvania RESEARCH GROUP: Institutional Initiatives THESIS: Evaluation of various approaches to management of biofouling of oysters using the adjustable longline system in Copano Bay, Texas. GRADUATION DATE: FALL 2021

I have long been interested in the production and systems aspect of aquaculture. The Harte Research Institute provided guidance and funding for a project that was aligned exactly with my interests and goals, making it the perfect match for graduate school. The end goal to my research was to provide better management recommendations to new oyster farmers in Texas, helping them start out and successfully run a farm. This was made possible in part by funding I received from the Crutchfield Fellowship Endowment. The support is greatly appreciated and will benefit the future of Texan oyster farming, relieving pressure on natural reef systems, improving the health of our coastal waters, and increasing reef habitat to support our popular sportfish species.


FELLOWSHIPS, SCHOLARSHIPS & INTERNSHIPS REPORT 2021

NICOLE KUMBULA M.S. in Chemistry

HOMETOWN: Chinhoyi, Zimbabwe RESEARCH GROUP: Ecosystem Science & Modeling THESIS: Total alkalinity in the northern Gulf of Mexico. EXPECTED GRADUATION: SPRING 2023

I am grateful for being awarded the Crutchfield Fellowship at HRI. The tuition and stipend have given me an opportunity to pursue a master’s degree at an institute abroad. As a low-income Zimbabwean first-generation student my family would not have been able to afford my studies. Thank you for investing in my education! My goal is to be an environmental chemist. In college, I developed great interest in chemistry, earth sciences, and computational studies. This drew me to the Ecosystem Science and Modelling lab where I could apply all three subjects. Through this financial support, I hope to continue to expand my knowledge and grow professionally as a research scholar while participating both in the field and laboratory. My most recent exciting experience was a 5-day research cruise to the northwestern Gulf of Mexico in August and interactions with professors and students from Texas A&M University on board the R/V Pelican.

CORAL LOZADA, M.S. PH.D. in Coastal and Marine Systems Science HOMETOWN: Katy, Texas RESEARCH GROUP: Socio-Economics DISSERTATION: Livelihoods in transition across the Gulf of Mexico: a three case study approach. EXPECTED GRADUATION: FALL 2023

This past year has been about adapting to the pressures of research in the time of COVID. The Crutchfield Fellowship was integral in not only allowing me to continue my research, but by keeping my piece of mind via the monthly stipend at a time when many graduate students across the country were not as fortunate. This past year I was able to conduct interviews with Gulf shrimpers from Palacios and the Port Isabel/Brownsville areas. My research examines the livelihood changes that coastal communities around the Gulf of Mexico are facing because of external forces, both man-made and natural. The fellowship helped support these trips. I was also able to present some of my work at the virtual World Fisheries Congress. Moving forward, in this last year I am making the Cuba case study a reality and working hard to finish my dissertation. I am deeply grateful for the Crutchfield Fellowship for aiding me during the pandemic so that I could focus on my research. 12


Crutchfield Fellowship Endowment

ROSTAM MIRZADI M.S. in Biology HOMETOWN: Castro Valley, California RESEARCH GROUP: Conservation & Biodiversity THESIS: Evaluation of small unmanned aerial systems for monitoring wading bird nest abundance and survival. EXPECTED GRADUATION: SPRING 2022

I first became interested in HRI after reading about several wide-ranging research projects the institute had recently conducted. I recognized that HRI’s interdisciplinary model of integrating science with economic, policy, and sociological expertise was unique and vital towards developing strategies for managing an area as large and diverse as the Gulf of Mexico. Upon hearing HRI was looking for prospective graduate students for a research position investigating the capabilities of small unmanned aerial systems to perform nesting surveys and record ancillary breeding measures of waterbird breeding colonies, I jumped at the chance. Since my acceptance into HRI and TAMU-CC I was awarded the Crutchfield Fellowship Endowment. This endowment has been vital in helping offset costs for research equipment and post-processing software. I’m eternally grateful for the opportunities this endowment has afforded me, and I’m excited to present the findings of my project to the broader scientific community.

LEXIE NEFFINGER M.S. in Marine Biology HOMETOWN: West Springfield, Massachusetts RESEARCH GROUP: Coastal Conservation & Restoration THESIS: Assessing biotic integrity for tidal streams along the lower Texas coast. EXPECTED GRADUATION: SPRING 2022

I moved to Texas to pursue an opportunity I could not pass up – a thesis project I am passionate about, a great advisor, and a team of lab members who have shared values and interests. I underestimated the support I would also receive from HRI and the generous funding I have been awarded in my time at TAMU-CC. My fellowship funding has opened the door to career building opportunities that would not have otherwise been possible. For example, I was able to attain my open water SCUBA certification – a requirement needed to enter the scientific diver program at TAMU-CC. Because of the financial support I received, I now have my scientific-diver-in-training status with the university. Being a scientific diver is a major career building block for students who wish to continue a career with coastal fisheries, and I am so grateful I am now among those with this skill set. 13


FELLOWSHIPS, SCHOLARSHIPS & INTERNSHIPS REPORT 2021

LAUREN RENER M.S. in Environmental Science HOMETOWN: Denton, Texas RESEARCH GROUP: HydroEcology THESIS: Effect of freshwater inflow on mollusk population dynamics in estuaries. EXPECTED GRADUATION: SPRING 2022

I began my graduate studies in Fall of 2020 and was gifted the Crutchfield Fellowship Endowment in Spring of 2021. I am currently pursuing my Master of Science in Environmental Science while researching freshwater inflow and its effects in mollusk populations within Texas estuaries. The results will be used to help evaluate and revise freshwater inflow standards within these estuaries by creating a tool that can be used to propose changes to existing inflow standards. My attraction in this area of study started when I first visited Dr. Montagna’s lab during my undergrad and began volunteering weekly. Volunteering until the COVID pandemic and shortly after graduation, I was inspired to continue studying within this field with my mentors. I am truly grateful for the investment and support I have received from the Crutchfield Fellowship. Without this fellowship, I would not be able to focus fully on my academic pursuits. The experiences and opportunities I have experienced during my work at HRI is a product of the gracious gift of the Crutchfield Fellowship Endowment.

ALEXANDER SHARP, M.S.

PH.D. in Coastal and Marine System Science HOMETOWN: Middleburg, Pennsylvania RESEARCH GROUP: Conservation & Biodiversity DISSERTATION: Movement patterns of wading birds as a mechanism linking freshwater wetlands and coastal ecosystems in the Greater Everglades. EXPECTED GRADUATION: Fall 2023

For my dissertation, I will be using annual cycle movements of coastal Little Blue Herons to both identify the habitat characteristics that are important to this unique population, and as a way of linking coastal and freshwater ecosystems. I have always wanted to do something with myself that is both challenging and creates a lasting impact on this planet. I would personally like to thank my benefactor for their generous support, as this endowment allows me to do just that. The Crutchfield Fellowship provides me with the resources that I need to contribute to better understanding of coastal ecosystems, that I would otherwise not be able to accomplish on my own.

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Crutchfield Fellowship Endowment

YVONNE SHEASBY M.S. in Environmental Science HOMETOWN: Meraux, Louisiana RESEARCH GROUP: Institutional Initiatives THESIS: An analysis of community resilience indicators in the Coastal Bend region. EXPECTED GRADUATION: SPRING 2022

When applying to the Environmental Science M.S. program at TAMU-CC, I chose Natural Disaster Mitigation as my area of study. I was eight years old when Hurricane Katrina almost wiped out my hometown of Meraux, Louisiana. Surviving Hurricane Katrina and the aftermath influenced me to pursue a career in environmental science, specifically in natural disaster resilience and recovery. My work at the Harte Research Institute focuses on natural disaster resilience and recovery in the Coastal Bend. My most fulfilling experience so far is attending and working the Regional Resilience Partnership’s leadership training program in Summer 2021. I am grateful for receiving the Crutchfield Fellowship Endowment because it has allowed me to continue my education cost-free and pursue the career path of my dreams. Without this fellowship, I would not have been able to gain the experience I have working with such experienced and influential people at the Harte Research Institute.

KATE SHLEPR, M.S. PH.D. in Integrative Biology‐Environmental Sciences HOMETOWN: Greenville, Wisconsin RESEARCH GROUP: Conservation & Biodiversity DISSERTATION: Effects of urbanization and climate change on the recovery potential of the Wood Stork (Mycteria americana) in the United States. EXPECTED GRADUATION: SPRING 2022

I began my studies at Florida Atlantic University in Boca Raton, Florida in Fall 2017. Three‐and‐a‐half years later, my advisor, Dr. Gawlik, filled the position of Endowed Chair for Conservation & Biodiversity at HRI. I could have finished my dissertation by remaining in Florida, but it has been undoubtably more inspiring and productive to expand my research and collaborations on wading birds in the Everglades to the wider Gulf of Mexico through my position as the Research Coordinator for the Conservation & Biodiversity Lab. I am indebted to the Crutchfield Fellowship Endowment for making my move to Texas a financial reality.

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FELLOWSHIPS, SCHOLARSHIPS & INTERNSHIPS REPORT 2021

SARAH TOMINACK, M.S. Ph.D. Marine Biology HOMETOWN: Pensacola, Florida RESEARCH GROUP: Coastal Ecosystem Processes DISSERTATION: Phytoplankton dynamics in an urbanizing South Texas bay, Corpus Christi bay, Texas. EXPECTED GRADUATION: FALL 2021

I have wanted to be a scientist for as long as I can remember. Being able to work towards fulfilling that dream at an institute like HRI has been a dream come true. Studies of phytoplankton, water quality, and harmful algal blooms have taken me places I would never have expected as a young undergraduate student. Without the Crutchfield Fellowship to help me along I would not be where I am today. Thank you, from the bottom of my heart.

KARIN TREVINO M.S. in Environmental Science HOMETOWN: San Benito, Texas RESEARCH GROUP: HydroEcology THESIS: The relationship between macrofauna diversity, functional diversity and secondary production. EXPECTED GRADUATION: FALL 2022

Upon the completion of my undergraduate degree, I immediately entered the Environmental Science Graduate Program with the hopes of learning about estuarine communities. Since then, I have become a Graduate Research Assistant for Dr. Montagna in the HydroEcology lab. I have also made progress towards my thesis and begun researching benthic secondary production and functional diversity. The purpose of my research is to determine how functional diversity and secondary production are connected and affected by salinity changes caused by freshwater inflow. Ultimately, I would like my research to help stakeholders have a better understanding of estuarine community dynamics. I am grateful for this scholarship because I would not have been able to further my education and pursue my interests in Environmental Science without it. Thank you for your generous support and investment in my future.

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ABIGAIL URIBE-MARTÍNEZ, PH.D. Autonomous University of Carmen

Furgason Fellow Visiting Scholar HOMETOWN: Mérida, Yucatán, México

Furgason Fellowship Endowment The Furgason Fellowships were established by Ed Harte and Joe Hornblower in honor of Dr. Robert Furgason, President Emeritus of Texas A&M University-Corpus Christi and founding Executive Director of the Harte Research Institute. The endowment funds teaching and research fellowships at the Harte Research Institute exclusively from Mexican or Cuban universities, as well as the funding of conferences, workshops, and symposia on subjects related to the Gulf of Mexico.

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The Furgason Fellowship Endowment has provided an amazing opportunity to upgrade my professional knowledge and vision about coastal and marine environments, particularly on different topics related to climate change risk. The key environmental problems along the Texas coast are very similar to those we face along the coast of the Yucatán Peninsula, but there is a large research gap in geosciences in the southern Gulf of Mexico. Therefore, this opportunity to interact with HRI members who are on the cutting edge of research in our region has been an invaluable experience. Over the last few months we have been working on preprocessing imagery, which is as important as the eventual spatial analysis per se, to study and assess the ecological condition of coastal habitats, coral reefs, and other reef banks in the southern Gulf of Mexico. The main objective of this work is to increase our knowledge for better assessing and understanding the health and functioning of these systems, and to monitor their long-term evolution.


FELLOWSHIPS, SCHOLARSHIPS & INTERNSHIPS REPORT 2021

Ulsía Urrea Mariño, M.S. PH.D. in Marine Biology HOMETOWN: Ciudad de Mexico, Mexico RESEARCH GROUP: Socio-Economics DISSERTATION: Analysis of adaptation and mitigation response to climate change in three cities in the Gulf of Mexico: a socio-ecological systems approach. EXPECTED GRADUATION: FALL 2024

The Tunnell Fellowship allowed me to continue my doctoral studies in Fall 2020, Spring 2021, and Summer 2021 sessions, taking a total of seven classes this academic year. Regarding the progress of my thesis work, my advisor has approved my dissertation prospectus, which has allowed us to initiate meetings with potential members for committee. In addition, it has allowed me to enroll in two extracurricular courses that I have required to refine my knowledge of research methodology, particularly in qualitative and specific methods for the study of socio-ecological systems, essential for the development of my dissertation. As a student enrolled in the doctoral program, I have participated in 26 more activities this year. I am grateful for this scholarship because it allows me to pursue my goal to become a graduate Ph.D. in a foreign country while strengthening my knowledge about coastal and marine system science and professional network in Mexico, Cuba, and the USA.

Dr. John “Wes” Tunnell, Jr. Fellowship In April 2016, a fellowship was funded by the Harte Charitable Foundation to continue the teaching legacy of long-time educator, author, and marine scientist Dr. John “Wes” Tunnell, Jr., HRI Associate Director and Endowed Chair for Biodiversity and Conservation Science. The fellowship supports graduate students from Mexico or the United States who are committed to research in Mexico while pursuing their graduate education at HRI.

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Texas Parks & Wildlife Department and Coastal Conservation Association Summer Internship Program The Coastal Conservation Association, Texas A&M University-Corpus Christi (TAMU-CC) and the Harte Research Institute have partnered since 2002 for student internships with the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department’s Coastal Fisheries Management Resource and Harvesting Program. The program provides TAMU-CC students with the valuable hands-on experience of working in the field alongside state agency personnel.

SUMMER

2021

INTERNS

TAYLOR BIRD

LYDIA CATES

AMANDA DUSEK

MADISON MEAGHER

ALYX BRADLEY

TRAVIS DANEK

ANNICA LYSSY

SARA MORALES

Upcoming Student Funding Opportunities Richard A. Davis, Jr., Ph.D. and Mary Ann Davis, Ph.D. Endowed Scholarship As retired educators, Drs. Richard A. Davis, Jr. and Mary Ann Davis are intimately aware of the significant role financial support plays in the lives and educational aspirations of graduate students. In 2017, they established an endowed fund to provide tuition assistance to graduate students who are concentrating their research in the areas of coastal processes or coastal change.

Edward F. Kalin Memorial Endowed Scholarship for Veteran Students Renee Borenstein and David W. Yoskowitz, Ph.D. established the Edward F. Kalin Endowed Scholarship for Veteran Students to honor the memory of their father and grandfather. Ed’s life was one of service to his country and community. He was a WWII US Navy veteran submariner, California Highway Patrol Officer, and Fremont Police Department volunteer. This scholarship will support United States military veteran students, with preference given to those who are involved in research at HRI.

William and Lyell Snyder Memorial Endowed Scholarship in Marine Science Gail and Michael Sutton established the William and Lyell Snyder Memorial Endowed Scholarship in Marine Science to honor the lives and accomplishments of Gail's parents. William was a genetic biologist and Lyell an English and political science scholar. Their work took them all over the world until they settled in Corpus Christi, but they were always passionate about their home aquaria. Together, the two Wyoming natives put their intellect to work to create incredible aquariums and were pioneers with exotic species. Their work with aquatic species inspired their children, and this scholarship is designed to assist marine science students primarily from larger families in their honor.

Steve Truchon Fellowship in Marine Ecology Steve Truchon was a marine ecologist and experienced diver who loved the Gulf of Mexico. While working for Shell, much of his “Rigs-to-Reef” decommissioning work was conducted in collaboration with fellow scientists and researchers at HRI. After losing Steve to COVID-19, family, friends, and colleagues worldwide rallied to create a fellowship to continue his legacy of scientific excellence.

The Kathy and Wes Tunnell Endowed Travel Scholarship in Marine Sciences This endowed scholarship was established by family and friends of the late Dr. John “Wes” Tunnell, Jr. to honor his legacy of service to Texas A&M University-Corpus Christi. The endowment will assist students and post-doctoral researchers at HRI with travel expenses related to field work, presenting papers at national and international scientific meetings, and other related travel. 19

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Alumni Spotlight

FELLOWSHIPS, SCHOLARSHIPS & INTERNSHIPS REPORT 2021

HARRIET NASH, PH.D. Deputy Director for NOAA’s Coral Reef Conservation Program

When Harriet Nash arrived at TAMU-CC in 2010 to pursue a doctoral degree in Coastal and Marine System Science, she was keen on a unique objective of the program — combining science with policy. “The policy aspect of the CMSS program really enhances your applied science skills,” Nash explains in a recent interview. She studied under Dr. Richard McLaughlin, HRI Endowed Chair for Coastal and Marine Policy and Law, as his first doctoral student. Having accepted a Harte Doctoral Fellowship, Nash was afforded opportunities to exchange knowledge and ideas with scientists all over the Gulf of Mexico, including visits to Cuba and Mexico. Some of her favorite HRI experiences happened in the field — on and under the Gulf of Mexico’s waters. Invited by former HRI Endowed Chairs Dr. Thomas Shirley and Dr. Wes Tunnell, she partook in a 2012 research cruise aboard the R/V Falkor, a highly sophisticated research vessel provided by the Schmidt Ocean Institute. Nash also participated in 100-mile offshore dive cruises to the Flower Gardens Banks National Marine Sanctuary to study and explore coral reef ecosystems. “I think the first time I witnessed a coral spawning event in person was during one of (former Senior Executive Director) Dr. Larry McKinney’s dive cruises,” Nash recalls of the rare, spectacular experience.

It was also during one of these dive trips when Nash shared a memorable moment with world-renowned ocean explorer and HRI Founding Advisory Board Chair Dr. Sylvia Earle. “Sylvia was my dive partner, and we were the only ones still in the water and doing a safety stop,” Nash recounts. “Out of nowhere, this juvenile whale shark swims right in front of us. It was probably about ten feet long. In that moment we both forgot all about our safety stop,” she says with a chuckle. “Both of us immediately grabbed our cameras!” Back on land at HRI, Nash focused on her dissertation, “Trinational governance to protect ecological connectivity: support for establishing an international Gulf of Mexico marine protected area network.” Since completing her doctorate in 2013, Nash has been pleased to see parts of it come to life through the work of the Trinational Initiative — an effort to advance collaboration and conservation in the Gulf of Mexico and Western Caribbean by establishing a framework for ongoing joint scientific research. As a former member of the Trinational Initiative’s Marine Protected Area Working Group and current member of the Coral Reefs Working Group, Nash enjoys reconnecting with HRI colleagues at the collaborative’s annual workshops.

has held since 2017. In her role managing the multimillion-dollar program’s daily operations, Nash is acutely aware of present and future challenges threatening the sustainability of natural resources like coral reefs. “The time is now to have more trained scientists and policy makers because climate change is affecting our natural resources and we need to come up with solutions to minimize and mitigate its effects,” Nash says. “Science-based resource management will allow for sustainable use of natural resources for years to come. Giving to HRI fellowship and scholarship programs supports passionate students destined to become our future passionate leaders.”

Today Nash serves as Deputy Director for the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Association’s Coral Reef Conservation Program, a position she 20


Donor Spotlight

JOHN H. “CRUTCH”

CRUTCHFIELD “All those skills will add up over time. You never can tell how it’s going to evolve, but don’t give up...”

When describing his attitudes toward educational and community philanthropy, longtime friend and supporter of HRI John H. Crutchfield cites family tradition as his biggest influence. “Dad was a huge believer in education, and that rubbed off on me,” explains John H., or “Crutch” as he is familiarly known, son of the late John W. Crutchfield, during a recent conversation. Prior to his death in 2011, John W. called Corpus Christi home for over 60 years. A petroleum engineer by trade, John W. devoted much of his focus and energy toward civic entrepreneurship. In addition to serving on an extensive list of boards and associations in the Coastal Bend and throughout Texas, he chaired the Upper-Level College Citizens Committee that advocated for transforming the University of Corpus Christi into a four-year, state-sponsored institution — today’s Texas A&M University-Corpus Christi. John W.’s close friendship with fellow Corpus Christi civic leader and philanthropist Ed Harte inspired his decision to bequeath a significant estate gift to the Harte Research Institute. His generosity led to the establishment of the Crutchfield Fellowship Endowment in 2014, an endowment that has provided over $423,000 in funding for 48 Crutchfield Fellows since inception. That funding covers educational expenses such as tuition and publications for HRI graduate students and offers support for travel to conferences, participation in workshops and symposia, and purchases of necessary research supplies and equipment.

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FELLOWSHIPS, SCHOLARSHIPS & INTERNSHIPS REPORT 2021

OVER

$423,000

towards HRI education since 2014

A favorite photo of Crutch's father John W. with his golfing buddies in Corpus Christi.

Pictured from L to R: Chester Wheless, Larry McNeil, John W. Crutchfield, and Paul Haas.

When asked why folks today should join or continue in the giving tradition to HRI, Crutch replies, “HRI is a worthy endeavor that’s doing something that is fairly unique in the world. As an individual, I am a believer in focusing my philanthropy on early-stage businesses and charities.” With 20 years under its belt, HRI is a young institution, Crutch explains. “I would call HRI still early-stage. HRI clearly has an idea that’s important, a good team of people, and lots of opportunities ahead. Those opportunities need students to be part of them. Supporting the students to be able to be there is necessary.” His message to those students? “Keep at it. Your first career may

not be the one that pays off, but you learn skills as you go along if you keep working at learning. It’s education that counts.” Crutch speaks from experience, having had four different careers that all built on each other throughout his lifetime, some that began taking root while he was pursuing a Master of Business from the University of Texas at Austin in the early 1970s. “All those skills will add up over time. You never can tell how it’s going to evolve, but don’t give up. After graduation, take the first job you can get at any place in the industry you think you want to be in. It will lead to opportunities you didn’t know were there, but because you are there you can see what else is happening.”

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Crutchfield Fellows

DID YOU KNOW? You can make a planned or cash gift that will provide vital support for HRI’s research, future students, and long-term conservation goals, supporting a cause you love both today and tomorrow. Contact HRI Development Director Joe Youngblood at joe.youngblood@tamucc.edu or (361) 825-2552 for more information. 22


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