Former Texas Sea Grant Knauss Fellow, TAMU grad to head NOAA’s National Ocean Service

February 17, 2016

By Cindie Powell

A Texas A&M University graduate who as a doctoral student was sponsored by the Texas Sea Grant College Program to participate in a prestigious marine policy fellowship has been named Assistant Administrator for the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s (NOAA) National Ocean Service (NOS).

Dr. Russell Callender will lead NOS, whose mission is to provide science-based solutions through collaborative partnerships to address evolving economic, environmental and social pressures on the nation’s oceans and coasts. Its priorities include coastal resilience to threats like oil spills, hurricanes and marine debris; integrating science and services to provide actionable information and increase ocean and coastal “intelligence”; and conservation of marine areas — and preservation of the economic benefits of these special places to local communities — through its coastal management and place-based conservation programs.

Callender, who received his Ph.D. in geology from Texas A&M University in 1992, also served as Texas’ 1992 John A. Knauss Marine Policy Fellow. The fellowship, named after one of Sea Grant’s founders, former NOAA Administrator John A. Knauss, matches graduate students with hosts in the legislative and executive branches of the federal government for a year-long fellowship in the Washington, D.C., area.

Callender had been serving as the Acting Assistant Administrator for NOS. His 17-year career with NOAA has included posts as NOS’s Deputy Assistant Director, and the Deputy Director and then Director of NOS’s National Centers for Coastal Ocean Science, overseeing research, monitoring and assessments focused on coastal and ocean health, and products and services to mitigate risk. He also served as the Director of the Office of Scientific Support in NOAA’s Office of Oceanic and Atmospheric Research and as the Assistant Director of the Virginia Sea Grant Program.


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.