Texas A&M University System cooking up its own brand of oysters

The Texas A&M University System News Release

“We could even make a maroon one, if we wanted to.”

COLLEGE STATION, Texas — Researchers at the Texas A&M University System soon could be developing a Texas A&M-branded oyster you’ll be able to order on the half-shell at your favorite seafood restaurant.

“We could even make a maroon one, if we wanted to,” said Dr. Joe Fox, HRI Chair of Marine Resource Development at Texas A&M University-Corpus Christi’s Harte Research Institute for Gulf of Mexico Studies and a jointly appointed research scientist with Texas A&M AgriLife Research.

“By spawning oysters in the lab from different bays, we can produce seed stock that are ultimately grown out in cages, yielding a consistently attractive and

Dr. Joe Fox

high-quality oyster for you to enjoy at the raw bar,” Fox said. “From there on, it’s all about the branding.”

Farming oysters in off-bottom cages allows for their harvest without destroying ecologically valuable oyster reefs. Overfishing, freshwater intrusion and hurricanes — which cover oyster reefs in sand and mud — have reduced traditional oyster harvests off the Texas coast by 43 percent over the past four years.

Meanwhile, oyster aquaculture off the coasts of Florida, Alabama, Louisiana and other states brings more than $200 million each year.

“Practical research with real-world impact is the hallmark of The Texas A&M University System,” said Chancellor John Sharp. “Dr. Fox’s research is creating an entirely new and sustainable industry for the Texas Coast, producing jobs and improving the quality of Texas oysters.”

See a video about the oysters at https://www.youtube.com/user/tamusystem?sub_confirmation=1.

Dr. Hugo Magaña

Fox worked with state Rep. Todd Hunter and Corpus Christi restaurant owner Brad Lomax to make oyster farming legal in Texas — the last state along the Gulf Coast to do so. By Sept. 2020, tens of thousands of acres of shallow water along the Texas Coast will be available for commercial oyster aquiculture.

Fox’s work was funded, in part, by a Chancellor’s Research Initiative Grant through The Texas A&M University System. Fox and his team are working to develop a breeding program for Texas oysters to improve salinity tolerance, disease resistance and other desirable traits. They will also provide oyster hatchery and farm training for those willing to invest in the new industry.

Spawning oysters in the lab will be key to providing consistent seed stock for future oyster farmers. Dr. Hugo Magaña, an AgriLife Research associate research scientist working at the Texas A&M AgriLife Research Mariculture Laboratory in Flour Bluff, recently succeeded in spawning oysters for the first time in 27 years in Texas. Magaña started with about 200 oysters from Copano Bay, selected for their appearance.

About The Texas A&M University System

The Texas A&M University System is one of the largest systems of higher education in the nation, with a budget of $6.3 billion. Through a statewide network of 11 universities, a comprehensive health science center, eight state agencies, and the RELLIS Campus, the Texas A&M System educates more than 153,000 students and makes more than 22 million additional educational contacts through service and outreach programs each year. System-wide, research and development expenditures exceeded $996 million in FY 2017 and helped drive the state’s economy.

Contact: Laylan Copelin
Vice Chancellor of Marketing and Communications
(979) 458-6425
(512) 289-2782 cell
lcopelin@tamus.edu

 

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Texas A&M Chancellor calls on Harvard to investigate its faculty members

Chancellor's Seal

 

 January 22, 2020
 
 
 
Dr. Lawrence S. Bacow
President
Harvard University
Massachusetts Hall
Cambridge, Massachusetts 02138
 
 
Dear Dr. Bacow,
 
I write to inform you of my dismay over recent actions by Harvard faculty Dr. Walter Willett and Dr. Frank Hu and their associates, Dr. David Katz and the True Health Initiative (THI). Their actions, as described in a recent JAMA article, are unethical, distort the results of important scientific research, and, in our opinion, are false and harmful to Texas A&M University and its faculty. These are serious matters that undermine the values espoused by your institution and must be corrected immediately. 
 
I trust you were as surprised as I was after reading the JAMA article and ask that you take a look at the outrageous actions by THI. JAMA found that THI and several of its council members, including Harvard faculty Dr. Willett and Dr. Hu, mischaracterized scientific research and falsely accused Texas A&M scientists of selling out to industry interests. According to JAMA, THI not only broke journal embargo policy but apparently used automated bots to flood the email inbox of the Editor in Chief of the Annals of Internal Medicine. 
 
Several of your faculty are involved as council members or advisers of THI and collaborated with THI in their effort to discredit scientific evidence that runs contrary to their ideology. I can assure you that Texas A&M’s research is driven by science. Period.
 
In addition to my concern about JAMA findings, I am attaching an illustration Dr. Willett presented at a cardiology conference to attack a distinguished Texas A&M professor and the university itself as being influenced by industry. This unsubstantiated claim has been independently rejected and shown to be false in the JAMA article.
 
At this time, we have no hard basis to show that these actions against Texas A&M and its faculty are endorsed or condoned by your institution, and we hope we can work together to resolve this problem. Such resolution should include a serious assessment by Harvard of its affiliation with THI and a comprehensive ethical review into any Harvard faculty involved with THI. Several scientists have severed ties with THI because of the issues discussed in this letter. Texas A&M applauds the stand taken by these scientists and encourages Harvard to show the same courage.
 
Texas A&M asks that Harvard join us for a purely scientific approach to nutrition for the sake of public health and public trust and reject the politics and unethical actions of THI that have sought to discredit science and interfere in the scientific process.
 
 
Sincerely, 
 
John Sharp
Chancellor

 

About The Texas A&M University System
The Texas A&M University System is one of the largest systems of higher education in the nation, with a budget of $6.3 billion. Through a statewide network of 11 universities, a comprehensive health science center, eight state agencies, and the RELLIS Campus, the Texas A&M System educates more than 153,000 students and makes more than 22 million additional educational contacts through service and outreach programs each year. System-wide, research and development expenditures exceeded $996 million in FY 2017 and helped drive the state’s economy.

Contact: Laylan Copelin
Vice Chancellor of Marketing and Communications
(979) 458-6425
(512) 289-2782 cell
lcopelin@tamus.edu

 

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Texas A&M’s Human Behavior Lab delves into the subconscious

The Texas A&M University System News Release

Researchers work with TV news crew to analyze voters’ inner reactions to presidential debate

COLLEGE STATION, Texas —We already know the subconscious stealthily guides us through life, but scientists at the Human Behavior Lab at Texas A&M University are developing ways to identify when and how people make unconscious decisions.

Dr. Marco Palma, director of the Human Behavior Lab, said a person’s inner feelings can be read by looking at subtle signals. Racing hearts, pupil dilation and other reactions hidden deeply in the folds of the brain reveal many truths. Now with the aid of computers and sophisticated sensors, Palma and his team of researchers can track activity in the brain and see subconscious physiological reactions more clearly than ever.

At the Human Behavior Lab, which is the largest multidisciplinary biometric lab in the world, the goal is to try to use data to predict subconscious thoughts and understand how people make decisions. Ultimately, the hope is that the science can lead to better decision-making.

The applications are varied:

  • They can be personal. Research can lead people to make better life choices about nutrition and lifestyle.
  • They can be commercial. Palma and his team helped a local businesses grow by exposing customers to certain products. The team has worked with winemakers and Texas barbeque pit masters, increasing their sales by up to 40 percent by changing their menus because of the lab’s results.
  • And in a new experiment, Palma’s lab recently helped the KBTX news team to see how Democratic voters really felt about the Democratic presidential candidates during a recent debate. Palma discussed his findings the next day on KBTX.

John Sharp, chancellor of The Texas A&M University System, said the work of Palma and his team offers a fascinating look into the human mind. Chancellor Sharp said: “The applications are limitless.”

See a video with Chancellor Sharp and Dr. Palma at https://www.youtube.com/user/tamusystem?sub_confirmation=1.

The laboratory houses several biometric workstations that allow research participants to interact in various environments while researchers gather biometric data. The lab’s research typically focuses on food choice, health, obesity and nutrition. But other work involves self-control, risk behavior, charitable giving, cheating and antisocial behaviors.

The lab initially was founded and funded by three Texas A&M University professors, including Palma, Luis Ribera and Charlie Hall. The lab was greatly expanded by a Texas A&M University Research Development Fund grant awarded in 2016.

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