Island University Researchers to Receive Nearly $400,000 for Coastal Projects

Published: February 26, 2016

Island University Researchers to Receive Nearly $400,000 for Coastal Projects

CORPUS CHRISTI, Texas – Five Texas A&M University-Corpus Christi researchers are scheduled to receive more than $387,000 in grants from the state’s General Land Office Coastal Management Program to continue projects to help restore Coastal Bend bays and estuaries.

Dr. Jennifer Pollack, Dr. Xinping Hu, Dr. Jeffrey Turner, Dr. Michael Wetz and Dr. Dorina Murgulet received grants ranging from $52,000 to $99,000 to be used over the next two years.

The state approved 16 projects for federal funding that is expected to be approved in October through the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s Coastal Zone Management Act. Texas A&M-Corpus Christi had the most projects approved for universities in this grant cycle.

“We are proud to be so well represented with this funding,” said Dr. Frank Pezold, Dean of the College of Science and Engineering at A&M-Corpus Christi. “Our professors have proven their research is targeting areas of concern and addressing the important questions of water quality and water flow. They are tackling projects that will result in better information for all of us who rely on a healthy bay system for our economy and our quality of life.”

Pollack, Assistant Professor of Marine Biology, who will work with Gail Sutton, Chief Operating Officer at the Harte Research Institute for Gulf of Mexico Studies, is set to receive $99,169 to provide funds for the Shell Bank, an oyster recycling, habitat selection and outreach program for the Texas Coastal Bend. The Shell Bank collects shells from local restaurants and places them in the water to create an oyster reef that will help restore the health of the Gulf.

Hu, Assistant Professor of Chemistry, was approved for $98,206 for a project to study how groundwater contributes to water quality in Copano Bay. This project will help guide decisions on restoration work. Murgulet, Assistant Professor of Geology, will work on the groundwater component of this project.

Turner, Assistant Professor of Marine Biology, will receive $45,284 to continue his research on assessing the role played by microorganisms in the breakdown of plastic debris in marine systems.

Wetz, Associate Professor of Marine Biology, who will work with Dr. Blair Sterba-Boatwright, Professor of Mathematics, was approved for $52,545 for a study of long-term water quality trends of water quality changes in Texas estuaries. The research will help the public to understand how changes in land use due to issues such as population growth and agriculture and climate changes have affected water quality in Texas estuaries, which are an important part of the Texas economy and ecology.

Murgulet, who will work with Dr. Valeriu Murgulet, Research Associate in the Center for Water Supplies Studies, was funded at $92,747 to fund a study to understand the role of temporal and spatial variation of groundwater inflows on nutrient transport in South Texas bay systems. With this study, they hope to improve environmental flow recommendations and nutrient criteria in south Texas estuaries.