First Rayburn Texas Sea Grant scholarship awarded

September 02, 2011

COLLEGE STATION, Texas — A Texas A&M University doctoral student who is studying the ocean's past for clues about how climate change may affect its future has been named the first-ever recipient of the Ralph Rayburn Texas Sea Grant Scholarship.

Jennifer Hertzberg received $1,000 from the fund established to honor Texas Sea Grant's much respected, late Associate Director and Extension program leader. The scholarship is administered by the university's Department of Oceanography and is awarded once per year to one of the department's graduate students.

Hertzberg's research focuses on examining microfossils of marine organisms that were alive thousands of years ago, obtained from deep-sea sediment cores, to reconstruct what the oceans and climate were like over time and determine how they reacted to past periods of abrupt climate change. Her findings may give scientists a clue about how today's marine environments will respond to climate change.

“It's a great honor to receive this scholarship, which was established in memory of a man who dedicated his life to serving others,” said Hertzberg, a New York native who received undergraduate degrees in geology and astronomy from the University of Massachusetts-Amherst and a master's degree in marine and atmospheric science from the State University of New York-Stony Brook. Currently, she is working on her Ph.D. with her adviser Dr. Matthew Schmidt, an assistant professor in the Department of Oceanography at Texas A&M.

Rayburn first joined Texas Sea Grant in 1978 as a marine agent for Aransas and San Patricio Counties. He later spent several years as executive director of the Texas Shrimp Association and with the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department in a number of capacities, including as director of intergovernmental affairs. He returned to Texas Sea Grant in 1999. Through his association with these three organizations, he worked tirelessly on protection of Texas' marine resources, but he is also remembered for his integrity, professionalism, work ethic and outgoing personality.

Rayburn died suddenly of a heart attack in early 2008 at the age of 60.

Continued donations to the scholarship fund are encouraged; as the endowment grows, more funds are available to be awarded to deserving students. Donations can be sent to:

Terry Poehl, Associate Director of Administration

Texas Sea Grant College Program 

2700 Earl Rudder Fwy. S., Suite 1800

College Station, TX 77845

Checks should be made payable to the Texas A&M Foundation.


Texas Sea Grant is a unique partnership that unites the resources of the federal government, the State of Texas and universities across the state to create knowledge, tools, products and services that benefit the economy, the environment and the citizens of Texas. It is administered through the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and is one of 33 university-based Sea Grant Programs around the country. Texas Sea Grant is a non-academic research center in the College of Geosciences at Texas A&M University. The program’s mission is to improve the understanding, wise use and stewardship of Texas coastal and marine resources.