Harte's Heroes 2013
On Thursday, June 6th, an award ceremony was held to recognize this year's Harte's Heroes. The reception and ceremony were held at the Art Museum of South Texas. This year the institute honored two people who were instrumental in laying the foundation for the institute and mentoring students throughout their careers. Dr. Robert R. Furgason, President Emeritus of Texas A&M University - Corpus Christi and the first executive director for the institute and Dr. John W. Tunnell, Jr., HRI Associate Director and Endowed Chair of Biodiversity and Conservation Science.
Pictured left to right: Larry McKinney, John Tunnell, Jr., Robert Furgason, Flavius Killebrew
Robert R. Furgason
Five years after Dr. Robert Furgason secured a $46 million endowment from former Corpus Christi Caller-Times Publisher Ed Harte, Dr. Robert Furgason became the first Executive Director of the Harte Research Institute (HRI) for Gulf of Mexico Studies in January 2005. Working with a distinguished advisory council, he identified six organizational objectives and recruited high-quality faculty. In 2006, the HRI received international recognition when it hosted the first State of the Gulf of Mexico Summit, which brought together world-renowned oceanic scientists with leaders of government, business, industry, conservation, and resource managment to plan for the long-term sustainability of the world's ninth-largest body of water. Dr. Furgason retired on December 31, 2007, but remains active within the academic community and is significantly involved in many community programs. Bio.
John W. Tunnell, Jr.
During his 39-year career, Dr. John W. Tunnell, Jr. has exerted a profound influence on his students, the University's Coastal and Marine Science curriculum, and the ecological and economic health of the Gulf of Mexico. In 1984, he founded the Center for Coastal Studies and, in 2001, was named Associate Director of the newly-endowed Harte Research Institute for Gulf of Mexico Studies. In 2011, he became the HRI's Endowed Chair of Biodiversity and Conservation Science. Dr. Tunnell's research has included more than 150 grants valued at nearly $8 million. During his tenure, he advised or co-advised 69 Master of Science students, five Ph.D. students, and four Postdoctoral students who have gone on to successful and productive careers in marine sciences. Bio.
Harte's Heroes 2012
On Friday June 8, in commemoration of World Oceans Day 2012, the Harte Research Institute for Gulf of Mexico Studies recognized three "Harte's Heroes" whose passion for protecting and preserving the Gulf's resources serves as a model for those people who want to make the world, especially the Gulf of Mexico, a better place to live. This year's ceremony honored Dr. Sammy Ray, Brad Lomax, and the Coastal Conservation Association Texas for their leadership and mentoring in the community, held at the Art Museum of South Texas. The evening began with a reception from 6:30-7:30 p.m. followed by an award ceremony to recognize all three of the "Harte's Heroes."
Left picture: Dr. Sammy Ray; Right picture: Robby Byers, CCA Texas
For more than 40 years, Dr. Sammy Ray's passion for studying the Eastern Oyster (Crassostrea virginica) has captured the imagination of all who care about this oyster that inhabits the Gulf of Mexico and the Atlantic seaboard of the United States. In the early 1950s, his research led to the development of a method to detect Dermocystidium marinum, a disease that causes massive mortality in oyster populations. Ray, who officially retired from Texas A&M University at Galveston 22 years ago, is still active at 93, teaching and inspiring the world's next generation of scientists. Bio
Brad Lomax, owner of WaterStreet Restaurants in Corpus Christi and San Antonio, is a long-time resident and supporter of the environmental initiative in the Coastal Bend. In 2010, he was instrumental in starting the first oyster recycling program in Texas. Today, he is working with Texas A&M University-Corpus Christi and the Harte Research Institute on a program to return shucked oyster shells from his restaurants to area bays, where they provide habitat for young oysters to attach and grow, while forming essential nursery habitat for crabs, fishes and other estuarine species. Bio
The state chapter of the Coastal Conservation Association is a Texas-sized supporter of the preservation of marine resources, funding critical research and, since 2000, creating more than $100,000 in scholarships for marine science students. The scholarships allow students interns to work with the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department where they gain valuable experience and, often, find employment within the agency. Coastal Conservation Association Texas, which is comprised of tens of thousands of recreational anglers and coastal enthusiasts, was formed in 1977 after drastic commercial overfishing decimated Texas' redfish and speckled trout populations. Bio
Harte's Heroes 2010
On June 18, 2010, the Harte Research Institute for Gulf of Mexico Studies at Texas A&M University-Corpus Christi held an award ceremony at the Texas State Aquarium honoring Jim Copeland and Harley Moody. These leaders "took the plunge" to ensure the beauty and health of the Gulf of Mexico as their legacies for the future. In 2010, to commemorate World Oceans Day on June 8, the Harte Research Institute launched "Harte's Heroes: to honor the wisdom, mentoring, and leadership of these pioneers. Our "Legends of the Gulf" serve as role models for all of us who look for ways to make the world - especially the Gulf of Mexico - a better place.
Jim Copeland, owner of Copeland's Dive Shop in Corpus Christi, has been a pioneer of the Gulf of Mexico by spreading his enthusiasm for scuba diving to others. He not only opened one of the first dive shops in Texas but he also helped establish the first scuba diving certification program in the United States. Over the past 15 years, he has supported Texas A&M University-Corpus Christi's coral reef education program through financial donations, diver training, and assistance with dive equipment for the Center for Coastal Studies' research expeditions to the Mexican Caribbean. After being in operation for 52 years, Copeland's Dive Shop is Texas' oldest dive shop and Jim Copeland has emerged as one of the dive industry's most successful and experienced instructors.
Harley Moody captured the essences of the coral reefs through his vibrant underwater images. He indulged his passion for underwater photography only after earning degrees in math, physics, biology and a Doctorate of Veterinary Medicine. Although he first learned to dive in 1962, he took a refresher dive course in 1995, which sparked a renewed interest in coral reef ecology. Equipped with a Nikonos underwater camera, he captured many images while assisting with Dr. Wes Tunnell's research trips to the Mexican Caribbean. Many of his photographs are now prominently displayed throughout the University, particularly in the work areas of the Harte Research Institute.