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Celebrating our UTMSI Women in History

Celebrating our UTMSI Women in History

To commemorate Women In History month we spotlighted seven women who have made significant impacts or promoted advancement for UTMSI and the marine science field.

Wildlife ecologist and artist Marcia Kier (now Marcia Hawthorne) painted scientifically accurate watercolors of biotopes displayed in Texas Coastal Zone Biotopes: An Ecography. The paintings were developed by a field team of ecologists, who sketched in the field, identified the individual living organisms, and aided in the niche perspective. The result is a pictorial summary of the environment, plant, and animal population of the various identified ecological systems called biotopes. They were painted in 1972-1974 and are still used today in our Wetlands Education Center.

WIH Kier


Mary Abell, once a student and now a member of our Marine Science Advisory Council has been influential in supporting UTMSI and advancing scientific discoveries. In addition to being one of the longest serving advisory council members, Mary also became UTMSI’s first Director of Development. More recently, in honor of her late husband, Dr. Joe Abell Jr., Mary established the Mary Anderson Abell and Joseph Miles Abell, Jr., M.D. Endowed Chair in Marine Science. The new endowed chair is designed to enhance the stature of The University of Texas Marine Science Institute located in Port Aransas, Texas.

WIH Abell


Dr. Joan Holt is a pioneer in marine science and mariculture. Dr. Holt is known throughout the world and entered the field of marine science at a time when there were few women. She is best known in the public eye by fishermen conservation groups for her work on larval fish rearing and nutrition. She and Dr. Connie Arnold’s were first to spawn and rear red drum in captivity. Their work led to all the red drum restocking effort by the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department.

WIH Holt


Ruth Grundy was the first librarian at #UTMSI and served for almost 30 years She was a visionary and helped make the UTMSI library one of the finest and most robust marine science libraries in the United States. She was a dedicated member and leader in the IAMSLIC. There 1999 meeting was dedicated to her memory. One of her many initiatives was to create The Lazarette Gazette, AKA Laz Gaz, which is a treasure trove of information, historical insight, and humor.

WIH Grundy


Edith McAllister was a founding member of the Marine Science Advisory Council. She was instrumental in creating and supporting the Anthony Amos Endowment for Support of the Animal Rehabilitation Keep.  The Edith McAllister Turtle Building at the ARK is named in her honor. Her guidance and steadfastness throughout the years helped us become what we are today.

WIH McAllister


Our female graduate students have gone on to shape the world of marine science. One of them, Dr. Sharon Herzka, holds not one, but two degrees in marine science from UTMSI. Her master’s research in seagrass laid the ground work for using carbon as a metric to determine seagrass health. She then focused her PhD research on using isotope ratios to understand larval fish movement from the coast to bay systems. For the last 20 years, Dr. Herzka has been a professor at the CICESE in Mexico, and continues to advance the field of isotope, fish habitat use, and Gulf of Mexico oceanography.

WIH Herzka


Lynn Amos was the first fiscal director for UTMSI. She was instrumental in transitioning the institute from paper-based accounting to digital. Lynn created, from scratch, an accurate and intricate accounting system called LOLA. LOLA provided digital stability and real-time information in a time when that was rare. She and her husband, Tony Amos, first arrived in Port Aransas in 1976. After serving close to 30 years at UTMSI, Lynn officially retired from the finance office - but not really because she poured her energies supporting the then Animal Rehabilitation Keep, or ARK. The ARK was renamed the Amos Rehabilitation Keep in honor of both Lynn and Tony Amos.

WIH Amos

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