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A&M-Corpus Christi Scientists Receive $382K to Research Aftermath of Hurricane Harvey

October 18, 2017

NSF Harvey Grant

CORPUS CHRISTI, Texas – Just one week after Hurricane Harvey, a destructive category 4 storm made landfall along the South Texas coast, the National Science Foundation (NSF) issued a call for proposals to fund research projects that seek to address ways to “respond to, recover from, or mitigate” the challenges caused by Harvey. Two research teams from Texas A&M University-Corpus Christi received a total of $382,742 Rapid Response Research (RAPID) grant funding and were among the 59 teams who earned NSF grants specifically earmarked for Harvey-related projects. 

Dr. Paul Montagna, Endowed Chair for Ecosystems Studies and Modeling at the Harte Research Institute (HRI) for Gulf of Mexico Studies at Texas A&M-Corpus Christi, and Primary Investigator (PI) was awarded $182,790 for the project, “Capturing the Signature of Hurricane Harvey on Texas Coastal Lagoons.” Together with CO-PIs, Dr. Michael Wetz, Associate Professor of Marine Biology, and Dr. Xinping Hu, Assistant Professor in the Department of Physical and Environmental Sciences, Montagna will look at the impact of Harvey’s floods on Coastal Bend lagoons. The team will also take a look at how aquatic animals and plants are affected as estuaries take on more freshwater.

“Paul and his team’s long-term commitment to monitoring Coastal Bend bays provided the ideal platform to study the real-time interaction of a major hurricane and an entire estuary,” said Dr. Larry McKinney, Executive Director of HRI at A&M-Corpus Christi. “The National Science Foundation RAPID’s grants are unique in recognizing the value and necessity of immediate scientific response and having confidence in the first-rate scientists to whom they grant these funds.”

Dr. Christopher Patrick, Assistant Professor in the Department of Life Sciences, and PI was awarded $199,952 for the project, “Measuring the Response of Stream Communities to Hurricane Harvey Across a Semi-Arid to Sub-humid Gradient.” Dr. Brandi Kiel Reese, Assistant Professor of Microbial Ecology and Dr. Derek Hogan, Assistant Professor in the Department of Life Sciences, are both Co-PIs on the project. Together they will look at the immediate and longer-term impacts of the flooding and wind-driven tree falls on stream ecosystems along the Texas Coast. The results of this study could assist natural resources managers making decisions due to climate change and have theoretical value to those studying community ecology. 

“These complementary awards to our faculty focus on the immediate effects of hurricane forces on both lagoon and river environments, and their impact on aquatic communities,” said Dr. Frank Pezold, Dean of College of Science and Engineering at A&M-Corpus Christi. “They are asking what role do these natural, recurring hurricane disturbances play in our Gulf Coast ecosystems.”

To learn more about current and on-going research projects at HRI, visit www.harteresearchinstitute.org. To learn more about the COSE, visit www.sci.tamucc.edu.