by Wendy Lee
Mary Kramer is a graduate research assistant with the Harte Research Institute for Gulf of Mexico Studies working toward her Masters degree. She is focusing on the Socio-Economic indicators of impaired water in Texas coastal communities. By connecting socioeconomic trends, demographics, and anthropogenic point sources of pollution to impairment parameters that have met the standards of the EPA’s guidelines to safe surface water in the Corpus Christi area, Mary hopes to create a map of hotspots that local decisionmakers can use during various planning initiatives. Mary hopes that the mapping system can be transferrable to other freshwater inflow systems as well.
Originally from Columbus, Ohio, Mary chose to attend Oklahoma State University where she studied Wildlife Ecology and Management with a Minor in Animal Sciences. She graduated with her B.S. in Spring of 2021. During this time, she worked summers at an Arkansas kids camp, educating youth through the nature center. She also spent time in Quanah, Texas, collecting juvenile Prairie Chub samples for an aging study and abundance survey with an OSU master’s student. Through this work, the pair aimed to uncover the environmental ques that caused the fish to spawn and their preferred habitats at different life stages. This study could be considered when developing the Red River Basin region.
Her advice for those starting their research is to keep an open mind. Socioeconomics is a broad field with varying ideas and opinions related to environmental topics. Mary thinks that having an open mind has helped spark her own research. Keeping an open mind helped Mary when narrowing down a career field. Mary spent most of undergraduate school at OSU preparing to go into veterinary medicine. Right before it was time to apply for veterinary school, Mary realized this path no longer suited her goals, which included public outreach and education as well as examining ecosystems. Mary changed her major to Wildlife Ecology and Management with a minor in Animal Sciences. It was in the final year of this program when she accepted a job working for a student in the Fisheries department. By having an open mind going into this job, Mary was introduced to the Corpus Christi area and was encouraged to pursue socioeconomics as it aligned with her goals. After visiting Port Aransas with her boyfriend, Mary knew that the Corpus Christi area was the right fit for her after finishing her undergraduate degree. She was drawn to the atmosphere and energy of Corpus Christi and the surrounding area and fell in love with being by the water.
In addition to having an open mind, Mary also thinks it’s important to “remember why I do my research.” Mary believes remembering the reasons for choosing her topic benefit her when looking at various sources of data, as remembering gives her the motivation to keep pushing forward. To recenter herself, Mary likes to take walks next to Corpus Christi Bay or try new fishing spots around the area. Being able to unwind in the areas she wants to protect helps her go home and work to the best of her abilities.
Mary enjoys fly fishing, cooking, being active with her golden retriever, Rio, and painting natural landscapes. Mary also loves Disney, and if she could meet anyone in the world, she’d choose Walt Disney because he seems like a fun and interesting man to hang out with. Mary wants to pick Walt Disney’s brain and ask him about the initial days of what is now the Disney conglomerate. Her dream travel destination is rural Italy. She hopes to be able to explore this region to experience the culture, cuisine, and natural beauty.
In the future, Mary would like to tie in water quality and fisheries to education initiatives and connecting high school students to careers in the natural science field. While she does not have set plans to pursue a doctoral degree, she is not ruling it out yet as an option.