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Laura Randall Schweppe Endowed Lecture Series in Marine Science

Through a generous donation in 1998, Dr. Irving Schweppe, Jr. and his daughters, Anne S. Ashmun and Jane V. S. Scott endowed the Laura Randall Schweppe Endowed Lecture Series in Marine Science at The University of Texas Marine Science Institute. The series honors the memory of a wife and mother who had a lifelong love of the marine environment, especially around Port Aransas. The lecture series brings accomplished scientists to the Marine Science Institute to interact with its faculty, staff, and students and especially to foster new ideas and research collaborations. In addition, these visiting scientists often give a lecture on a topic of interest to the general public.

All lectures are located in the Marine Science Education Center Auditorium unless otherwise noted.

For more information contact This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. via email, or call 361-749-6806. To be added to the email list for public lecture notifications, please send your request to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.. 



February 28       Title:  Citizen Science - the Coastal Observation and Seabird Survey Team

(Thu)                   Invited Schweppe Speaker:  Dr. Julia Parrish, University of Washington

                            Location:  Pioneer R.V. Park, Hwy 361, 120 Gulfwind Dr, Port Aransas

                            Time 7:00pm (doors open at 6:30pm) 





Monday, April 3, 2017, 3:30 p.m.
Dr. Diane Stoecker, Professor, Horn Point Laboratory, University of Maryland
"Mixotrophy in the Marine Plankton"

Dr. Stoecker’s research focuses on plankton ecology, with an emphasis on trophic ecology, and is one of the leading scientists who studies mixotrophy in marine protists, a relatively unexplored aspect of the planktonic food chain. She has also conducted influential research on harmful algal blooms, zooplankton predator-prey interactions, the role of plankton in biogeochemistry, and cellular evolution in protists. With a background in a range of topics, and experience in estuarine and high-latitude environments, her work is of interest to many at UTMSI.




Thursday, March 12, 2015, 7:00 p.m.
Dr. Iris Anderson, Virginia Institute of Marine Science, College of William & Mary
"Clam Aquaculture: Impacts on Marine Ecosystems"

Cultivation of clams, oysters, and mussels is a rapidly growing sector of the food production industry globally. At a large scale, clams perform an important ecological function by removing particulates and excess nutrients from the water. On a local scale, however, clams can adversely affect their environment by releasing biodeposits that decompose, removing oxygen and releasing nutrients. Making clam aquaculture environmentally sustainable requires a better understanding not only of their positive impacts on local ecosystems, but also their negative impacts. A method known as integrated multi-trophic level aquaculture, in which macroalgae growing on the clam beds are harvested and used either for nutrient trading or sold as fertilizer, may increase sustainability as well as profitability.


Thursday, March 20, 2014, 7:00 p.m.
Dr. Alan Wanamaker, Iowa State University
"Insights from the Past:  The Ocean Climate in Historical Perspective"

The global ocean, which covers more than 70% of the planet, is a great modulator of Earth’s climate. With an average depth of about 4000 meters, the ocean stores a tremendous amount of heat. In the last several decades, the heat content in the upper 700 meters of the global ocean has increased steadily. Projected changes suggest that the ocean will continue to warm during the 21st century, and that heat will penetrate from the surface to the deep ocean. This has the potential to alter ocean circulation. Global sea level is expected to rise having profound impacts on coastal communities. Dr. Wanamaker will discuss how scientists reconstruct past ocean conditions before instrumental records were available. Such records help place modern oceanographic changes into context and allow us to evaluate natural variability versus human induced changes in the ocean/climate system.

Dr. Wanamaker is an assistant professor in the department of Geological and Atmospheric Sciences at Iowa State University. To learn more about Dr. Wanamaker’s work click (http://www.ge-at.iastate.edu/people/faculty/alan-wanamaker/).


Thursday, January 9, 2014, 7:00 p.m.
Dr. Craig Tweedie, University of Texas - El Paso
"The Carbon Bomb is Ticking: Why Climate Change in the Arctic is so Important"

Climate change is impacting the Arctic more so than anywhere else on Earth – especially coastal landscapes. This small land area contains a disproportionately large amount of soil carbon, which exists in a frozen state within permafrost. At present, this carbon is greenhouse-inert but if permafrost thaws, this carbon has the potential to be emitted to the atmosphere as a greenhouse gas, which is likely to cause further warming of the Arctic and the rest of the globe. This presentation will highlight findings from recent research conducted in remote areas of northern Alaska, Russia, and the Canadian high Arctic, which investigated both the controls of land-atmosphere carbon uptake and loss, and how landscape change over the past half century is likely to have altered the carbon balance of these landscapes.




Thursday, March 22, 2012, 7:00 p.m.
Dr. David Kirchman, University of Delaware

"Journey into an Unseen World: Why Marine Microbes Matter"

Thursday, March 8, 2012, 7:00 p.m.
Dr. Lee Cooper, University of Maryland Center for Environmental Science
"Potential Ecosystem Impacts: The decline of seasonal sea ice in the Arctic"

One of the striking changes that has occurred over the past several decades in the Arctic is the decline in the thickness and extent of seasonal sea ice. If we assume that current trends will continue, we, our children will live to see an ice-free Arctic Ocean in the sumertime. While changes in the sea ice are clear and unmistakable, it remains difficult to predict the responses of ecosystems at high latitudes.
Will these systems be more or less productive? Will animals that appear to be dependent upon sea ice disappear? How will the new food webs work and what organisms will be most important? In addition to the changes in presence or absence of ice, other changes also seem likely or at least plausible, including a fresher Arctic Ocean, releases of organic carbon locked up in permafrost and subsequent changes to global carbon cycling. The potential impacts of these changes will also be discussed.
Dr. Cooper is a professor at the Chesapeake Biological Lab, University of Maryland Center for Environmental Science. To learn more about Dr. Coopers work click Here.


Tuesday, March 22, 2011, 7:00 p.m.
Dr. Stephen O'Brien
"Tears of the Cheetah-Roar of the Lion: Uncommon Glimpses to Survival in the Wild."

The dwindling wildlife species of our planet have become a cause celebre for conservation groups, governments and concerned citizens throughout the world. The application of powerful new genetic technologies to surviving population of threatened mammasl has revolutionized our ability to recognize hidden perils that afflict them. This presentation will connect some recent applications of conservation genetics and natural history to uncover long-forgotten adaptive adventures that left their footprings in the genomes of lions, cheetahs and humankind. Illustrative examples will describe how scientists can track the emergence and progression of deadly outbreaks in wildlife species that reveal unfathomed threats to their existence. How these can help to reverse extinction events and also to unlock medical secrets will be the lessons learned from this presentation.

Dr. O'Brien is Chief of the Laboratory of Genomic Diversity at the National Cancer Institute and is recognized for research contributions in human and comparative genetics, evolutionary biology, HIV/AIDS, retro-virology and species conservation. To learn more about his work go to: http://ccr.cancer.gov/staff/staff.asp?profileid=5768

Thursday, March 17, 2011, 7:00 p.m.
Dr. Karin Limburg, State University of New York
"Ear-Bones and Dead Zones: What can fish otoliths tell us about hypoxia?"

Otoliths, tiny ear-bones within the heads of fishes, grow daily and annual rings. Within these rings, trace elements tend to accrete from the environment. Although some trace elements are taken up in proportion to salinity or temperature, uptake of the trace element manganese has been difficult to explain. Recently, biogeochemical evidence from the Baltic Sea suggests that cod take up manganese in thier otoliths udring episodes of hypoxia (low oxygen). Furthermore, this can be tracked back into pre-historic time through archaeological collections of otoliths. Further evidence from a different species-winter flounder - in a different environment - the New York City region-suggests this may be a more general phenomenon. If so, otolith manganese could be a built-in monitor of a fish's exposure to hypoxia. The implications for the Gulf of Mexico will be discussed.
Dr. Limburg is a professor at the State University of New York, College of Environmental Science and Forestry in Syracuse, New York

Thursday, February 10, 2011, 7:00 p.m
Dr. Larry Mayer, University of Maine
"Sunburn and the carbon cycle: How the sun taketh away what it has given"

The sun provides the energy that makes virtually all life possible on earth. It fuels the creation of plants and animals, as well as controlling climate. Sunlight has a reverse effect as well, degrading the materials that come from life. Sunburn is our immediate experience with this process, though we see it as well in faded fabrics and other organic materials. The ocean is the world's largest repository of organic materials, because seawater is a kind of weak tea and the mud on the bottom is humus-rich. Sunlight is emerging as an important cause of degradation of these organic materials in the ocean, dissolving organic matters from mud and promoting oxidation of dissovled materials. Soils on land are also subject to this process. We study these reactions in the Mississippi River watershed and the Gulf of Mexico, by combining laboratory experiments, field measurements in the field, and satallite observations. Might these degradation reactions affect the exchange of carbon among the atmosphere, land and sea? Stay tuned.
Dr. Mayer is a professor of oceanography at the University of Maine, to learn more about his work click Here.

Thursday, February 3, 2011, 7:00 p.m.  CANCELLED
Dr. Houshuo Jiang, Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution
"Tiny water currents, swirls, and jets inside a scoop of seawater: A journey into the zooplankton world"

Just a scoop of seawater may contain many microscopic critters that swim, hover, sink, drift, and dart. These tiny creatures called zooplankton, include copepods, fish larvae and planktonic protists and are part of the oceans food web without which there would be no fish. These zooplankters are capable of creating microscopic water flows, such as feeding current, swimming jets and jumping vortices. Optimizing the use of these tiny water flows is key for these microscopic animals to succesfully find food and mates while at the same time avoiding predators.

Dr Jiang will show video clips of zooplankton behavior and animations made from reality-reproducing computer simulations, this lecture will elucidate the fluid physics that help to maintain the fascination of the plankton world. Small-scale fluid physics will be shown to provide invaluable insight to the various behavioral and morphological strategies that are employed by zooplankters in fulfilling their everyday survival tasks in the ocean. Although the scales of these water flows are small, their overall effect on the oceans ecosystems can be large.

Dr Jiang is an associate scientist at Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution, Massachusetts. To find out more about his work go to: http://www.whoi.edu/profile.do?id=hsji 


Thursday, March 25th, 2010, 7:00 p.m.
Dr. Stephen M. Shuster, Northern Arizona University
"Why Males and Females Look Different."

Most humans have the sense that males and females look different.  Much has been made of battles between the sexes, even of the possibility that men and women have different planets of origin.  But we are hardly unique; any observant naturalist can list several species in addition to our own in which male-female differences are clear.  This includes many marine animals and land plants, in which external sex differences are inscrutable.
What explanation can possibly exist for extreme sexual differentiation in some species, and its virtual absence in others?  The answer to this question is the mating system, the circumstances in which reproduction occurs within individual species.  It is here that sexual differences arise - or do not.  Dr. Shuster will explain how mating systems are organized, how variation in fertility can arise within each sex, and how sex-specific variation in fertility can cause males and females to look the same - or to look different from one another.
Dr. Shuster is a professor in the department of Biological Sciences at Northern Arizona University, Flafstaff.


Thursday, March 4, 2009, 7:00 p.m.
Dr. James Cloern, The United States Geological Survey
"The Role of Science to Guide Restoration of Coastal Ecosystems."

Tuesday, February 10, 2009, 7:00 p.m.
Dr. Harry Daniels, North Carolina State University
"Southern Flouder: Sex, Lies and Videotape"


Thursday, July 10, 2008, 7:00 p.m.
Dr. Brian Fry, Louisiana State University
"Global Climate Change"

Thursday, March 20, 2008, 7:00 p.m.
Dr. John Godwin, North Carolina State University
"Social Dominance, Temperature and Sex Change: Fish Tales from Coral Reefs and Salt Marshes"

Thursday, March 13, 2008, 7:00 p.m.
Dr. Rebecca J. Gast, Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution
"Antarctica: Life in the Ice"

Thursday, January 31, 2008, 7:00 p.m.
Dr. Bill Miller, The University of Georgia
"Fire, Earth, Air, & Water: Some Alchemical Stories of Global Change"


Thursday, April 5, 2007, 7:00 p.m.
Dr. Wei-Jun Cai, The University of Georgia (summary)
"Global Carbon Cycle in a Changing Climate"

Thursday, March 29, 2007, 7:00 p.m.
Dr. Ed Malkiel, Johns Hopkins University (summary)
"Holographic Views of the Plankton World"


Thursday, April 27, 2006, 7:00 PM
Dr. Robert C. Rhew, University of California at Berkeley (summary)
"Where the Land, Sea, and Sky Meet: Trace Gases in Coastal Ecosystems" 
Thursday, April 13, 2006, 7:00 PM
Dr. Roy L. Caldwell, University of California at Berkeley (summary)
"A Random Swim Through the Reefs of Indonesia"

Thursday, April 6, 2006, 7:00 PM
Dr. Cynthia H. Pilskaln, Bigelow Laboratory for Ocean Sciences (summary)
"Three Seasons South: An International Antarctic Research Odyssey"

Tuesday, March 7, 2006, 7:00 PM
Dr. Hans W. Paerl, Institute of Marine Sciences, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill (summary)
"Effects of a rise in Atlantic Hurricane Activity on Estuarine Water Quality: The North Carolina Experience"


Thursday, March 3, 2005, 7:00 PM
Dr. Paul W. Webb, School of Natural Resources and Environment, University of Michigan (summary)
"Of Fish, Folks, and Marshes: What are folks doing to coastal marsh fishes?"

Thursday, February 3, 2005, 7:00 pm
Dr. Louis J. Guillette, Jr., Department of Zoology, University of Florida (summary)
"Alligators and Health - New Lessons from the Swamp"


Thursday, March 18, 2004, 7:00 PM
Dr. J. Rudi Strickler, WATER Institute, University of Wisconsin - Milwaukee (summary)
"The Small Universe within the Large Ocean: How Do Planktonic Animals Find their Food and Mates without Running into Predators?"

Wednesday, February 25, 2004, 7:00 pm 
Dr. Andrea G. Grottoli, Department of Earth and Environmental Science, University of Pennsylvania (summary)
"Coral Bleaching: Human Impacts and Implications for Coral Reef Conservation"

Thursday, January 29, 2004, 7:00 pm
Dr. Peggy Ostrom, Department of Geological Sciences, Michigan State University (summary)
"Fish Tales: The Politics and Ecology Behind Alaska's Salmon."


Tuesday, March 4, 2003, 7:00 pm
Dr. Joseph P. Montoya, School of Biology, Georgia Institute of Technology (summary)
"Methane Ice, Methane Bubbles, and Plankton in the Deep Gulf of Mexico" 
Thursday, February 27, 2003, 7:00 pm
Dr. Sybil P. Seitzinger, Institute of Marine and Coastal Sciences, Rutgers University - The State University of New Jersey (summary)
"Nutrients Flowing to the Sea: Man’s Impact on Coastal Ecosystems" 
Thursday, January 29, 2003, 7:00 pm
Dr. Stacy Kim, Moss Landing Marine Laboratories (summary)
"Hydrothermal Vents: Archipelagos of Life on the Deep Sea Floor"


Thursday, June 13, 2002, 7:00 pm
Dr. Kenneth T. Frank, Ocean Sciences Division, Bedford Institute of Oceanography (summary)
"Fisheries Collapses: Causes, Consequences and Recovery" 
Thursday, May 2, 2002, 7:00 pm
Dr. Michael McClain, Department of Environmental Studies, Florida International University (summary)
"Amazon: The Journey from Source to Sea of Earth's Greatest River" 
Friday, March 22, 2002, 8:30 pm 
Dr. Mimi Koehl, Department of Integrative Biology, University of California, Berkeley
"How Larvae of Bottom-Dwelling Marine Animals Use Smells to Land in the Right Place"


Thursday, December 6, 2001, 7:00 pm
Dr. John W. Morse, Department of Oceanography, Texas A&M University (summary)
"The Chemistry of Oceans on Mars" 
Friday, July 20, 2001 at 7:00 pm 
Dr. Terrie M. Williams, Department of Biology, University of California Santa Cruz
"The Killer Appetites How Sharks, Whales, Dolphins, and Otters Shape The Oceans" 
Friday, March 2, 2001 at 7:00 pm 
Dr. Cindy Van Dover, Department of Biology, College of William and Mary
"Life in the Extreme: Discovery of Weird Animals and Unusual Environments in the Deep Sea" 
Tuesday, February 6, 2001 at 7:00 pm
Dr. James Estes, U.S. Geological Survey, Western Ecological Research Center
"Predators and the Balance of Nature"


Friday, May 19, 2000 at 7:00 pm
Dr. Eugenie Clark, Department of Biology, University of Maryland
"Sea Monsters I Have Known" 
Wednesday, March 22, 2000 at 7:00 pm
Dr. Les Watling, Darling Marine Center, University of Maine
"Global Habitat Destruction: The Case Against Mobile Fishing Gear" 
Wednesday, February 16, 2000 at 7:00 pm
Dr. Philippe Van Cappellen, Utrecht University, The Netherlands
"Breathing on Earth - A Biological View on Atmospheric Oxygen"