The Texas A&M University System Board of Regents last week unanimously approved the establishment of the Texas OneGulf Center at Texas A&M University-Corpus Christi within the Harte Research Institute for Gulf of Mexico Studies.
Texas OneGulf is the first and only multi-institutional, multi-disciplinary consortium in Texas that combines the expertise of top marine science and health institutions to focus on the physical Gulf environment and the interactions of humans with that environment. It is one of two approved Centers of Excellence designated by the U.S. Department of the Treasury under the Resources and Ecosystems Sustainability, Tourist Opportunities, and Revived Economies of the Gulf Coast States (RESTORE) Act.
The RESTORE Act was passed in 2012 in response to the Deepwater Horizon oil spill of 2010, and it directs penalties toward a trust fund that supports efforts to restore and protect the environment and economy in the Gulf Coast region. The Office of Texas Governor Greg Abbott approved matching funds for the initial $2 million awarded by the U.S. Treasury, so the center will have $4 million to support its first two years of operation.
“We are grateful to Governor Abbott for recognizing how important this unique Center of Excellence is to the future of the Gulf and providing support that will essentially double its effectiveness,” said John Sharp, Chancellor of the Texas A&M University System. “In the A&M System, we are committed to putting research into practice to improve the lives of Texans, and this effort is a perfect example of that principle.”
The overarching goal of Texas OneGulf is to develop science driven solutions within the five disciplines specified by the RESTORE Act. These include: foster coastal sustainability, restoration, and protection; enhance coastal fisheries and wildlife ecosystem research and monitoring; secure the safe and sustainable development of the offshore energy resources of the Gulf of Mexico; support sustainable and resilient growth, economic and commercial development; and provide comprehensive observation, monitoring and mapping of the Gulf of Mexico.
Texas OneGulf is a consortium made up of more than 170 faculty from nine member institutions that are addressing every facet of the Gulf environment, socio-economics and human health as it pertains to these five disciplines.
“Texas A&M University-Corpus Christi is uniquely positioned to lead this ambitious effort to improve our relationship with the environmental and energy resources in the Gulf.” said Dr. Flavius Killebrew, President and CEO of A&M-Corpus Christi. “With the additional funding from the Governor, we will be able to take the great research we are already doing to the next level.”
“What happens in the Gulf and to the Gulf has significant consequences for everyone in Texas and beyond,” said Dr. Larry McKinney, Director of the Harte Research Institute (HRI) at A&M-Corpus Christi. “Texas OneGulf brings the best researchers from the best institutions in Texas together to tackle these interconnected issues with the attention and care they require.”
In addition to the HRI at Texas A&M University-Corpus Christi, other Texas A&M University System partners include the Center for Translational Environmental Health Research, the Texas A&M University Department of Oceanography Geochemical and Environmental Research Group, and the Texas A&M University at Galveston Marine Biology, Science and Engineering Departments.
External partners include the University of Texas Rio Grande Valley Marine & Coastal Sciences and Environment & Earth Science; the University of Texas Medical Branch Sealy Center for Environmental Health and Medicine; the Texas State University Meadows Center for Water and Environment; the University of Houston Law Center for U.S. and Mexican Law; and the Gulf of Mexico Coastal Ocean Observing System-Regional Association.