Jace Tunnell to Join HRI as New Director of Community Engagement

Press Release
Jace Tunnell

CORPUS CHRISTI, Texas – The Harte Research Institute for Gulf of Mexico Studies (HRI) at Texas A&M University-Corpus Christi (TAMU-CC) is proud to welcome Jace Tunnell ‘01 as the new HRI Director of Community Engagement. Tunnell will join HRI on Aug. 14, 2023.

“We’re very excited to have Jace joining our team at HRI,” said Dr. Greg Stunz, HRI Senior Executive Director. “Jace brings a wealth of knowledge and experience surrounding the Gulf of Mexico, coastal and marine ecosystem science, along with an outstanding ability to connect with a wide array of audiences to educate those throughout the Gulf region, and beyond, about what makes our oceans so special.”

Stunz noted that Tunnell follows in the legacy and impact of his father, the late Dr. Wes Tunnell, who was a central figure at HRI for decades and helped lead some of the earliest strategic planning and development efforts of HRI.

As the HRI Director of Community Engagement, Tunnell will focus on promoting HRI research and collaborations, the HRI mission, and HRI’s overall impact with various groups, stakeholders, and communities. Tunnell will also be working closely with HRI Chairs and the HRI marketing and communications team to further educate the public on the importance of healthy coastal and marine ecosystems.

“I’m excited to be working on important issues across the Gulf with HRI,” Tunnell said. “I plan to hit the ground running by collaborating with the marketing and communications team on communicating my work through videos and social media, networking with new partners, and being part of the HRI team that puts data in the hands of managers making decision about the Gulf of Mexico.”

Tunnell currently focuses much of his work on marine debris and is the founder of a citizen science project called Nurdle Patrol that tracks plastic pellet concentrations internationally to create awareness of plastics in the ocean and develop new policy based on the data. He also directs and produces a video series about the diverse array of items that wash up along Gulf of Mexico beaches. The videos raise awareness on Gulf processes and educate audiences about interesting creatures in the ocean. Tunnell focuses many of his conservation efforts on educating the public about plastic pollution, marine science, and protection of our natural resources for current and future generations.

Tunnell is also an alumnus of TAMU-CC and received his Master of Science in Marine Biology in 2001.