Media Advisory

For Immediate Release:
February 18, 2013

For more information contact:
Jim Hiney
Communications Coordinator
Office: (979) 862-3773

Rhonda Patterson to lead local outreach efforts

Texas Sea Grant team earns 2012 Superior Service Award

Rhonda Patterson (Texas Sea Grant photo)

COLLEGE STATION, Texas — A veteran biologist has been chosen to lead local outreach efforts for the Texas Sea Grant College Program at Texas A&M University.

Rhonda Patterson is Texas Sea Grant’s new outreach specialist, effective today, and will be responsible for raising awareness of ocean issues and Texas Sea Grant both on the Texas A&M campus and in the surrounding communities.

“I am pleased to have Rhonda joining Texas Sea Grant as our first ever Brazos Valley Outreach Specialist,” says Dr. Pamela Plotkin, Texas Sea Grant Director. “She will help us build bridges across this great valley from our Texas A&M University scholars and students, to the public schools, museums, civic organizations and others, and build connections among us all to the Texas Gulf coast.”

Texas Sea Grant is a unique partnership that unites the resources of the federal government, the State of Texas, universities across the state and marine-related industries to increase knowledge about the state’s coastal and marine environments and to create tools, products and services that benefit the economy, the environment and the citizens of Texas. Within the university, Texas Sea Grant is a non-academic research center in the College of Geosciences.

Patterson comes to Texas Sea Grant from Texas A&M’s Biology Department, where she began working as an undergraduate student in 1990 and since 1995 has supervised care of all of the department’s aquatic animals that were used in teaching and research.

Part of her animal care duties included outreach in the form of educating tour groups visiting the Biology Department about aquatic animals and she sometimes traveled to school classrooms with one of the department’s most famous residents — a Kemp’s ridley sea turtle named “Pepita.”

Pepita was born in captivity with a deformed shell that would have made catching food difficult and made her easy prey had she been released into the wild. She was placed at Texas A&M with Biology Department faculty member Dr. David Owens. She lived in her own tank in the Biology Building until 1999, when Owens moved to a marine science facility on the East Coast and Pepita was transferred to the Texas State Aquarium in Corpus Christi.

“I’ve always enjoyed outreach work,” says Patterson, a 1991 Texas A&M graduate with a bachelor’s degree in biology. “It’s a passion for me.”

Among her more immediate and visible projects will be supervising operation of a 300 gallon saltwater aquarium that Texas Sea Grant has purchased and will place in Texas A&M’s Memorial Student Center. The aquarium will be located in the student lounge area on the east side of the building’s lower level, immediately beneath the “Memory Cloud” that is now being installed. The aquarium is on track to be installed and operating by early summer of this year.<

Anyone interested in learning more about Texas Sea Grant’s Brazos Valley outreach program can contact Patterson at or 979-845-3857.

— Hiney 2/18/13