Outstanding Graduate Megan Greige Follows Passion for Coastal Environment

CORPUS CHRISTI, Texas – A passion for the environment and a desire to make a difference led Megan Greige to Texas A&M University-Corpus Christi.

“The quality of research at TAMU-CC in developing our knowledge about the natural world and improving the conservation of our natural resources here in the Gulf of Mexico really stood out to me,” said Greige, who was selected by the Office of the Provost as an Outstanding Graduate for the Spring 2020 semester. She will participate in the Spring/Summer Island University Virtual Commencement Ceremony on Aug. 15.

Greige grew up in the Coastal Bend and found her passion for the environment at an early age.

“I have always felt a strong connection to the ocean and have been fascinated by the natural world,” Greige said. “Estuaries quickly became my favorite ecosystem. Almost just as quickly, I noticed how our environments were being damaged and our resources were being misused and wasted.”

As early as middle school, Greige began volunteering for environmental causes and in high school joined her school’s National Ocean Sciences Bowl Team and volunteered for four years at the Texas State Aquarium.

She decided to stay true to her passions and declared her major as environmental science.

“I became particularly passionate about water dynamics, quality, and management, both because of my love for the ocean and because of the many developing water issues locally and globally – contamination, pollution, sea level rise, scarcity, biodiversity loss, etc.,” she said. “One of the things that really helped me was connecting with staff, faculty, and students at TAMU-CC and seeking mentorship from them. I realized I had a passion for this field and began believing in myself, and believing that I could succeed and stand out in this field.”

Greige continued her volunteer work at A&M-Corpus Christi, joining the Student Volunteer Connection as a freshman and later becoming involved in the Islander Green Team, which she ultimately served as president.

“Megan is someone who has the respect of her peers, both in elected roles and more organic situations,” said Dr. Amy Aldridge Sanford, Associate Provost and Professor of Communication Studies. “People like to be in her company because she is open, honest, and engaging. She has a passion for the area beyond the classroom, having served as the Zero Waste committee head and president of our University’s Green Team during a time of organizational growth in activism.”

Greige says her most formative experience was her work as a McNair Scholar in Dr. Dorina Murgulet’s Coastal Hydrogeology Lab

“I was able to help with research that improved our understanding of the local environment and learned more than I have in any one or two or even three of my undergraduate classes,” Greige said. “I also developed a passion for research, hydrology, and groundwater that has motivated me to pursue graduate level studies in this field and continue conducting research and solving problems related to water management.” 

Greige’s lab work, which looked at changes in organic matter inputs to Corpus Christi Bay before and after Hurricane Harvey, ultimately led to an opportunity to present her findings at the 2019 American Geophysical Union Fall meeting

“Megan was selected for an oral presentation in a specialized section for organic matter, alongside renowned researchers in the field,” said Murgulet, Director of the Center for Water Supply Studies and Associate Professor of Hydrogeology. “There were no other undergraduate students who presented in the sections relevant to geochemistry and oceanography that I am aware of. The audience was astonished to learn that she was an undergraduate research assistant as she presented at the level of an excellent graduate student.”

The meeting is the largest international earth and space science meeting in the world, with more than 25,000 attendees.

“It was daunting but a success and the greatest accomplishment of my undergraduate career,” Greige said. “This was due to the support from my Islander mentors, peers, co-workers, and even friends from other labs and disciplines who sent me words of encouragement and/or attended the presentation. I don’t think I have ever felt a greater sense of community and pride with my fellow Islanders.”

Like many of her peers, her final semester of study was made more challenging when the COVID-19 pandemic spread across the country.

“The transition has been hard for all students in different ways, but for me, I had to come to the understanding that perseverance now and hope in the future will pay off when the situation does change,” she said. “And even though I’m missing out on the celebrations and last memories of my senior semester, I still have many to look back on and cherish.”

Greige plans to pursue a master’s degree then hopes to work for an institution of higher education or local or state conservation agency conducting research or helping communities develop plans to conserve their resources, restore their habitats, and mitigate their environmental impacts.