CORPUS CHRISTI, Texas – Mentoring students while conducting research on submarine groundwater discharge, Nicholas Spalt has worked to make a difference not only in the health of coastal waters but also in the education of his fellow Islander students. Spalt will soon become an alumnus of Texas A&M University-Corpus Christi graduating with a Master of Science in Environmental Science. Spalt, along with 871 other graduates will walk the stage Saturday, Dec. 18 at Texas A&M-Corpus Christi’s fall 2016 commencement ceremony, held at the American Bank Center located in downtown Corpus Christi.
“A challenge that I had to overcome was choosing what career path I wanted to take in life, but I found my direction here,” said Spalt. “I came to A&M-Corpus Christi because my research interests aligned with the interest of my advisor, Dr. Dorina Murgulet. Her lab and field work really impressed me.”
A first generation graduate struggling to decide on a field of study, Spalt soon found himself working rigorously at the Island University’s Hydro Laboratory alongside Murgulet, Assistant Professor of Geology and Director of the Hydro Lab and Center for Water Supply Studies at A&M-Corpus Christi.
“Nicholas has always possessed an amazing drive and curiosity to learn and conduct his own research, something he started before his time here at the Island University,” said Murgulet. “Being new to the University myself, he helped to get my lab going and was involved so heavily that I don’t think there’s a piece of equipment he hasn’t touched.”
Having recently published research on hydrologic alternations and freshwater inflows in Nueces River, Spalt has also studied the direct effects of eutrophication in Texas coastal bays and has been awarded grants by the Corpus Christi Geological Society and Texas Sea Grant. Numerous University organizations such as the Center for Coastal Studies and the Parents’ Council provided Spalt to present his data at national and international conferences.
Along with his dedication to research, Spalt holds a passion for teaching and mentoring students that work in the Hydro Lab. Accrediting much of his success to his drive to achieve a higher education, Spalt finds that leaving behind his knowledge is one of the greatest contributions he can make.
“Teaching is very important to me and it’s probably the most rewarding thing I do,” said Spalt. “Through teaching and sharing your knowledge and skills it shows that you understand something well enough to pass it on. It’s not only helping the other person but also yourself because you are testing whether or not you know the material.”
Due to the many hours in the lab, his mentees have developed high regards for Spalt and have expressed their hopes for his future success.
“Nick has been training and teaching me everything that I need to know in this lab,” said Cody Lopez, Environmental Science major and first year graduate student. “I feel like I’m following in his footsteps. He is an incredible grad student, and we are still trying to figure out how we are going to get by without him.”
Spalt, graciously thanks his advisor Dr. Murgulet, the faculty and staff of the Island University, along with giving sincerest thanks to his parents and family.
“When I was 24 and had no clue what I wanted to do with life, my parents assured me that it was all going to be okay,” said Spalt. “They have always been very supportive and have encouraged me to pursue what I was passionate about. They made me who I am today.”
In the future, Spalt hopes to continue his research while traveling internationally and lending his knowledge to serving underprivileged communities through organizations such as Teach for America and the Peace Corps.