Texas A&M University - Corpus Christi

Kathleen Welder

An Outstanding Islander

Outline photo of Kathleen Welder

Researching Our Ecosystems

Growing up in Corpus Christi, Kathleen Welder spent many weekends watching wildlife, relaxing at the beach and fishing off of Padre Island and Mustang Island. Those experiences helped foster her appreciation for the resources of the Texas Gulf Coast. After earning an undergraduate degree in Urban Studies from Stanford University, Welder entered the real world and spent six years as an urban planner for the City of Austin. She relocated to Corpus Christi, where she began learning about the research conducted in her own backyard through the Harte Research Institute for Gulf of Mexico Studies (HRI). In summer 2009, she started working as a research analyst on ecosystem services under Dr. David Yoskowitz, HRI Socioeconomics Division, and entered classes that fall. She built a comprehensive database of agricultural and grassland ecosystem studies to complement HRI’s Gulf of Mexico ecosystem services valuation database and serve as a resource for subsequent studies of the uplands region of the Texas Coastal Bend. After becoming a graduate student, Welder redirected her research toward the marine environments adjacent to the Gulf of Mexico. Welder graduated from the Island University with a master’s degree in environmental science in August 2011. Her thesis addressed freshwater inflows to Texas estuaries and ecosystem services of freshwater inflow-dependent ecosystems, chiefly oyster reefs. While at HRI, Welder has been responsible for developing a report that will fulfill the Socio-Economic Division’s contribution to the Comparative Analysis of Marine Ecosystem Organization (CAMEO) grant awarded to the institute through Jan. 31, 2012. As an HRI research specialist through December 2011, she will complete an ecosystem services study of the Galveston region under future sea level rise scenarios. Later this fall, Welder will present her findings at the 21st biennial conference of the Coastal and Estuarine Research Federation (CERF) in Daytona Beach, Fla. Beginning in February 2012, she will serve a one-year position as a Knauss Marine Policy Fellow in Washington, D.C. Welder was one of five students in Texas selected for the fellowship program, which matches graduate students with legislative and executive branch offices to learn and participate in marine policy making at the highest level.

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