Dr. Judd Curtis awarded NASEM grant to recover equipment and data lost in Hurricane Harvey

Press Release

CORPUS CHRISTI, Texas — The Gulf Research Program (GRP) of the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine announced 11 grant awards totaling $341,283 to assist in the recovery of Gulf Coast scientific research efforts impacted by hurricanes Harvey and Irma. One of the beneficiaries was Dr. Judd Curtis, an assistant research scientist with the Center for Sportfish Science and Conservation and the Fisheries and Ocean Health lab at the Harte Research Institute (HRI) for Gulf of Mexico Studies. Curtis was awarded $49,657 to recover and replace equipment and data used in fisheries research that was displaced or lost because of Hurricane Harvey.

These awards are the result of the first of two fast-track grant cycles for Scientific Research Disaster Recovery Grants announced last November to help with repair, replacement, or recovery of equipment, data, or other research materials damaged or lost as a result of the hurricanes and their aftermaths.

“Following last fall’s devastating hurricanes, the GRP examined what it could do to assist with recovery efforts that would align with its mission and allowable uses of its funding,” said Maggie Walser, director of education and capacity building for the GRP. “The result was these grant opportunities to help scientists whose research was impacted by Harvey and Irma recover from their losses and carry on with work that could eventually strengthen the Gulf region’s resiliency to hurricanes and other adverse events in the future.”

The grant will help researchers to recover up to 21 acoustic receivers used to track the movement of fish species like Red Snapper that have been tagged with ultrasonic acoustic transmitters in inshore and offshore environments, especially artificial reefs. These receivers comprise an acoustic array that has been expanded over a series of projects and funding sources during the past decade, and was supporting several ongoing research projects when Hurricane Harvey made landfall on the Texas coast.

Acoustic receivers on the Corpus Christi Nearshore Artificial Reef received the most damage, becoming detached from their moorings due to extreme hurricane force winds, heavy seas and storm surge during Hurricane Harvey's landfall. In addition to physical equipment loss, substantial data was lost with the receivers, which had been deployed and collecting data for the last 10-12 months. Recovery of the receivers is required to access the data; and the loss of the data and the receivers would be a major setback for current and future research projects at HRI and other marine science institutions. The grant will allow HRI researchers to deploy into the field to recover this important equipment and data.