TAMU-CC Selected to Take Part in NAS-GRP Gulf Scholars Program

Press Release
Gulf Scholars Program

CORPUS CHRISTI – Texas A&M University-Corpus Christi (TAMU-CC), has been chosen among five other institutions to take part in the National Academies’ Gulf Research Program (GRP) Gulf Scholars Program. The Gulf Scholars Program is a five-year $12.7 million pilot program that will prepare undergraduate students to address environmental, health, energy, and infrastructure challenges in the Gulf of Mexico. 

The Gulf Scholars Program engages students and faculty from multiple academic disciplines to develop interdisciplinary knowledge that will help to prepare these future leaders to build a safer, more sustainable Gulf region. TAMU-CC is part of the second cohort of institutions chosen to participate in the program. The GRP intends to add up to seven colleges and universities to the program each year through 2025. 

“The Gulf Scholars Program is perfectly aligned with our campus vision and mission, and what we are already doing at the graduate level through efforts of the Harte Research Institute for Gulf of Mexico Studies (HRI),” said Dr. Mark Besonen, HRI’s Director of International Programs. “We are thrilled that we can now develop a Gulf-centric program to provide a similar opportunity for our undergraduates.” 

Led by Besonen, the TAMU-CC program will be collaborative among staff from multiple colleges on campus.  

“With its diverse student population, the Island University is the perfect place to study environmental justice issues in the Gulf of Mexico,” said collaborator Dr. Jen C. Brown of the College of Liberal Arts.   

Sharing Brown’s sentiment, Dr. Lisa Comparini, also of the College of Liberal Arts, noted that the program is structured in ways that go far beyond “inclusion” of minoritized students.   

“We reject “race-neutral” approaches to education,” Comparini said, “Instead we’re striving to support and build on the particular skills and perspectives our students will bring to the program.” 

Other staff included in the program are Dr. Ellen Denham of the College of Liberal Arts; Dr. Heather DeGrande of the College of Nursing and Health Sciences; Dr. Jennifer Smith-Engle of the College of Science; and Dr. Mehrube “Ruby” Mehrubeoglu of the College of Engineering. 

”The GSP will bring new perspectives to our engineering students as they implement their engineering skills to solve problems with regional and global impacts,” said Mehrubeoglu.  

Besonen says that the first few months of TAMU-CC’s participation in the program will be spent planning and organizing and that they hope to begin recruiting students in the Spring of 2023. A separate announcement will be made when applications for student participation are open. 

“This is a phenomenal opportunity to take advantage of the incredible human capital we have on campus, and harness the university’s complete range of faculty, research, and outreach programs for the benefit of our undergraduates, the Corpus Christi region, and the Gulf of Mexico region, in general,” Besonen said. 

Each university selected to take part in the Gulf Scholars Program will receive funding that will help create academic, co-curricular, and extracurricular experiences relating to the GRP’s core focus areas including community health and resilience, environmental protection and stewardship, and offshore energy safety.  

“As a member of the Music faculty, I’m thrilled to be doing interdisciplinary collaboration and using the arts as an important component of understanding and responding to our Gulf environment,” said Denham. 

DeGrande echoed Denham’s excitement by expressing enthusiasm for being a part of this unique collaboration, “I am really excited to be a part of this collaborative making an Islander Impact.” 

Funding for the program will help to provide stipends for student participation, and support university faculty and staff, engage evaluation specialists, and secure undergraduate research experiences. 

“The Gulf Scholars Program will nurture cohorts of TAMU-CC students to help them develop into more informed, integrative, innovative socially responsible thinkers and doers, ready to help address regional resiliency and sustainability,” Smith-Engle said. “What better investment for the future of South Texas?” 

To learn more about the program, visit the Gulf Scholars Program page of the GRP website.