Science driven solutions for Gulf of Mexico problems.
The Gulf of Mexico is ecologically and economically sustainable.
HRI is set apart from other marine research institutions by its use of the HRI Model, a unique interdisciplinary way of working that integrates our science with economic, policy and sociological expertise. While our solutions are science-driven, the challenges facing the Gulf of Mexico can't be solved by science working alone. HRI scientists are encouraged to think broadly and pursue partnerships to create lasting solutions.
Our science aims to reach beyond the traditional academic environment. Grounding policy in sound science and working to bridge disciplines is even more important as we face growing environmental challenges like climate change.
Human and environmental health are inexorably linked. It is critical to understand the relationship between people and their environment so that sustainable management decisions can be adopted.
Our objective is to think beyond basic science to address the pressing conservation issues facing the Gulf today. HRI plays the role of impartial broker, bridging the gap between science and policy on decisions that have real world outcomes.
Growing populations put increased pressure on natural resources. Economics provides tools to address conservation and sustainable growth by helping us to better understand the benefits, tangible and intangible, that we gain from the environment.
Founded by a generous donation from local newspaper publisher and noted conservationist Ed Harte, the Harte Research Institute (HRI) for Gulf of Mexico Studies at Texas A&M University-Corpus Christi has spent the last two decades working to ensure an ecologically and economically sustainable Gulf of Mexico. We've grown from an idea to a $15 million international research institute supporting nine diverse research programs and 135 students, staff and researchers.
In 2000, Ed Harte approached Texas A&M University-Corpus Christi to donate $46 million to create and establish a new research institute dedicated to promoting excellence in conservation, research and innovative public policy in the Gulf of Mexico. This new institute would promote tri-national relationships between scientists from the United States, Mexico and Cuba.
In September 2001, Dr. John W. "Wes" Tunnell, Jr. was appointed Associate Director and the new institute was officially named the Harte Research Institute for Gulf of Mexico Studies. Over the next several years, the organization and structure of HRI was developed, the research areas were determined and the University’s first science Ph.D. program was implemented.
Following his retirement as University President, in January 2005 Dr. Robert Furgason became HRI’s first Executive Director. Under Furgason’s leadership, HRI hired its endowed chairs and research staff; received license and began its work in Cuba; and sponsored its first three underwater expeditions. HRI moved into its new home on campus in November 2005.
In 2006, the first State of the Gulf of Mexico Summit was held in Corpus Christi, Texas. This international event brought together leaders from science, industry, government, and non-governmental organizations to reinforce the importance of sound science supporting sustainable economic growth of this vital ecological and economic resource.
On Dec. 31, 2007, Dr. Furgason retired a second time. University President Flavius Killebrew named Dr. Larry McKinney, retired director of Coastal Fisheries and senior director of Aquatic Resources for the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department, as HRI's Executive Director.
In 2012, with support from the Coastal Conservation Association and the Harte Research Support Foundation, HRI established the Center for Sportfish Science and Conservation, the first research center for the study of sportfish in the western Gulf of Mexico.
After the Deepwater Horizon oil spill, HRI was selected to lead Texas OneGulf, one of two Center of Excellences in the state granted federal RESTORE Act dollars to advance research into ongoing impacts from the oil spill and other long-term issues that threaten the health and sustainability of the Gulf of Mexico.
Edward H. Harte — the man behind the mission
Ed Harte’s $46 million endowment to create the Harte Research Institute for Gulf of Mexico Studies at Texas A&M University-Corpus Christi stands first among the many important and valuable contributions the newspaper magnate made to environmental preservation and conservation science during his lifetime.
Harte had a distinguished career in the newspaper industry, eventually serving as the long-time publisher of the Corpus Christi Caller-Times. A passion for preserving the Gulf Coast environment he made his home drove him to become a leader in conservation. Learn more about his life, career, and commitment to the environment.
Why focus on the Gulf? With its diverse habitats and unique status as an economic engine producing energy and food to fuel a nation, the Gulf can be a laboratory to find the balance between economic and environmental health — a sustainable balance that benefits both us and future generations. To better understand the Gulf, let's take a look at some numbers.