Dr. Kesley Banks named CCA-Corpus Christi's Conservationist of the Year

Kesley Banks

HRI Postdoctoral Research Associate Dr. Kesley Banks was named Conservationist of the Year by the Corpus Christi Chapter of the Coastal Conservation Association of Texas.

The award was made during the chapter’s 42nd Annual Banquet on Thursday, July 29, at the American Bank Center.

Banks is well known in the local angling community for her work in sportfish conservation and her research into the movement, habitat use, and population connectivity of popular Gulf of Mexico shark species and other pelagic and highly migratory sportfish. She has worked closely with shark anglers in service of the Center for Sportfish Science and Conservation’s popular shark tagging program, which employs a variety of different tag types to track sharks in the Gulf of Mexico. She’s appeared on a number of local radio shows, news programs and in print talking about her work with sharks and the important role sharks play in a healthy Gulf.

She graduated from Texas A&M University–Corpus Christi in December 2019 with a doctorate in marine biology under the mentorship of Endowed Chair for Fisheries and Ocean Health Dr. Greg Stunz. Banks’ dissertation focused on movement patterns and habitat use for fishery species of varying life history strategies, including Red Snapper and Shortfin Mako sharks.

Banks, originally from Tennessee, came to HRI after earning her M.S. in Environmental Science (2015) from Troy University where, as the ALFA Research Fellow, she studied federally threatened freshwater mollusks and their sensitivity to various toxicants lacking U.S. EPA Water Quality Criteria. She received her B.S. in Biology (2012) at the University of Tennessee at Martin where she studied the evolutionary relationships within the Millipede suborder Spirobolidea.