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$5 Million Grant Awarded to Marine Science Institute

The Economic Development Administration awarded $5 milliion in grant money to the University of Texas Marine Science Institute in Port Aransas to establish a new Center for Coastal Ocean Science. Photo by Jace Tunnell

A $5 million grant to establish a Center for Coastal Ocean Science at the University of Texas Marine Science Institute was announced August 1 at the university’s satellite campus in Port Aransas. Another $1.25 million from the Coastal Bend Council of Government will be combined with the Economic Development Administration’s $5 million grant to help repair buildings damaged at the institute by Hurricane Harvey two years ago. The EDA is part of the U.S. Commerce Department.

"The EDA has provided support for the recovery of one of our state's scientific crown jewels," said UT Austin President Gregory L. Fenves. "This grant will enable MSI to not only rebuild, but to reach new heights as a leader in oceanic research."

UTMSI is the oldest marine laboratory in the Gulf Coast. Until Harvey, it was open to visitors. It is still undergoing repairs due to the more than $45 million in storm damage sustained when Harvey hit August 25, 2017.

“This innovative new research facility will provide locally relevant and nationally significant coastal research,” said EDA Deputy Assistant Secretary for Regional Affairs Dennis Alvord, who made the announcement. “The project will also advance resiliency efforts by allowing for the installation of new seawater systems to support the campus in the event of future severe weather.”

U.S. Rep. Michael Cloud (R-Victoria) called the Texas coast an economic driver for the entire state. On a micro-level, it is the largest employer in Port Aransas.

“The work that gets done here on our coast is important to the whole nation,” Cloud said. “It’s vital, and the work continues to preserve and protect that asset for generations to come.”

The Center for Coastal Ocean Science will be Texas' first research facility dedicated to the field of marine chemical ecology. Scientists and students from universities, industry, and government will be able to explore the chemical language of the sea and the effects of natural and human-introduced chemicals on marine life and the ecosystem.

"The Center for Coastal Ocean Science will be a discovery enterprise," said Robert Dickey, director of UTMSI. "The products of discovery at this center will help inform decision-making to increase the productivity, resilience, and the myriad socioeconomic services of our coastal waters. In short, we aim to serve and to raise awareness of the interdependency of a prosperous society and vibrant, productive marine ecosystems."

The University of Texas Marine Science Institute is located at 750 Channel View Drive in Port Aransas. The main entrance is at 630 E. Cotter Ave.

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