Dr. Wes Tunnell is a broadly trained marine biologist/ecologist with a particular interest in field studies on coral reefs and coastal areas of the Gulf of Mexico. Although his current focus is on biodiversity of the Gulf of Mexico, he has studied and published on coral reef ecology, coastal ecology, molluscan distribution and ecology, oil spill impacts, brachiopods, colonial waterbirds, and vertebrate fossils from the seabed. Dr. Tunnell published a book on the Laguna Madre of Texas and Tamaulipas in 2001 and another on Coral Reefs of the Southern Gulf of Mexico in 2007. His third book, Encyclopedia of Texas Seashells was published in 2010.
Expertise: Dr. Tunnell joined the University in 1974. Through his instruction, insight, and interests, his depth of experience and understanding of the Gulf of Mexico have reached throughout the world. He was an early advocate for strong relationships between the United States, Mexico, and Cuba to research and support the Gulf of Mexico. As a broadly trained marine biologist/ecologist with a particular interest in field studies on coral reefs and coastal areas of the Gulf, he is often asked to present to a variety of audiences.
Dr. Tunnell has been instrumental in developing not only the Harte Research Institute, but also founding the Center for Coastal Studies and pioneering the concept of co-locating environmental and natural resources agencies to the TAMU-CC campus. As a committed steward and scientist, Dr. Tunnell balances research, instruction, and publishing with his administration activities.
Additional Activities: Dr. Tunnell is an educator at heart. During his career with the University, he has taught 13 different courses. He works closely with his associates and actively supports a wide range of environmental initiatives. In 2007, he was recognized by the University as an Outstanding Research Scholar.
Research Focus and Interests: Dr. Tunnell leverages his research to maximize the information available on the Gulf of Mexico. He is researching the Biodiversity of the Gulf of Mexico working with 140 authors/taxonomists from 80 institutions in 15 countries. He is leading the initiative to update Bulletin 89, a comprehensive research series. And, he is conducting research focusing on coastal and marine environments across the southeast for NOAA.
GoMRI funded projects:
– Center for the Integrated Modeling and Analysis of Gulf Ecosystems II (C-IMAGE II)
(Year 5-7 Consortia Grants (RFP-IV), Role: Co-Principal Investigator, Task Co-Lead)
– Gulf of Mexico Research and Resource Support Tools (GulfBase, Gulf of Mexico Biodiversity Project, Gulf of Mexico books, etc.) (Year One Block Grant – The Northern Gulf Institute, Role: Co-Principal Investigator)