We sat down with Dr. Steve Lanoux to talk about his career and service to the university. Dr. Lanoux will retire at the end of January and looks forward to spending his time traveling.
Dr. Steve Lanoux
Position: Assistant Director for Operations
Tell me a little bit about yourself.
I was born and raised in New Orleans, Louisiana. After high school I attended Louisiana State University where I received my bachelor of science in marine biology and biochemistry. After college, I was a bit burned out on studying and decided to go into the Navy. I knew I enjoyed boats and I wound up loving it. I spent 25 years as a commissioned officer in the US Navy. While in the service I also earned a master of science in organization development.
How did you know you wanted to pursue a Ph.D.?
As a commissioned officer in the Navy dealing with hi-tech research and development, I was surrounded by PhD’s and decided why not do it too. I got my doctorate in strategic planning. When I left the Navy I became corporate vice president doing federal contract work for the Navy and then became the Chief Information Officer and vice president for a New York Life Insurance company. It was during that time, living in Austin, that I was also teaching continuing education courses at the UT school of engineering. So when this position opened, I thought it would be a good change and be wonderful to be around marine science again.
What you do at UTMSI and how long you’ve worked here?
I came to UTMSI in October 2001, right after 9/11. My position manages all the things that are behind the scenes and I help make sure that the laboratory meets the needs of our scientists. I oversee maintenance, custodial, cafeteria, grounds, security and boat operations.
What do you find most rewarding about your job?
Working with the staff - we have some of the most dedicated, enthusiastic, and hard-working people that I’ve ever been around.
I feel like I was able to make a difference. My marine science background with a biochemistry minor enabled me to talk to the scientists and students in their language, and it helped me make sure they had the tools and equipment needed to make the science work.
What is the most interesting or surprising thing you’ve gotten to do at UTMSI?
Being a co-principal (co-PI) investigator. I was surprised that in my position, I would be needed as a co-PI but my experience with vessels and construction proved a valuable asset. The process of executing the contract or grant was really interesting; particularly the work in the Arctic with Dr. Ken Dunton.
What inspires you or makes you get up in the morning?
I read a book when I was 11 and decided I wanted to be a marine biologist. For 33 years I held other jobs, but I kept that fascination with the oceans and marine biology. After I came to work here, I felt fulfilled. Every morning I knew that I would have the opportunity to do something positive for marine science.
What do hope for the future of UTMSI?
I’d like to see UTMSI be considered by the community as the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution of the Gulf of Mexico. We may not have the financial resources that they have, but we can pull ourselves up by our bootstraps by continuing to do good science and sound programs. I hope that we can become recognized as the subject matter experts for the Gulf of Mexico.
What are your plans for retirement?
I’m happy that I have energy to do the things that my wife, Deli, and I have always wanted to do but couldn’t because we were bound to the work week. We plan to continue our active involvement and support of the church. I also plan to serve our local community as much as we can. We are looking forward to seeing the places in this country that we denied ourselves and maintaining friendships with folks from around the nation.
What are you most excited about getting to visit?
There are so many. We can’t wait to visit the Pacific Northwest region and Victoria Canada area. Our next trip is to Big Bend, and I’m definitely bringing my telescope.
What are your plans for your first day of retirement?
Actually, it's yard work (he says with a grin).
If you were a marine organisms what would you be and why?
An octopus because they are smart, can do things with their tentacles, and are very adaptable.
Dr. Steve Lanoux is the Assistant Director for Operations at The University of Texas Marine Science Institute. He’s been working at the University since 2001 and was born in New Orleans, Texas. Dr. Lanoux has served on the City of Port Aransas council six years and will finish out term in May. He will retire at the end of January and plans to spend his time traveling and relaxing at his house in Brownsville, Texas.