Written by Justin Agan ’18
Rusty Feagin, Ph.D. recently received the Robert G. Dean Coastal Academic Award from the American Shore & Beach Preservation Association (ASBPA).
Feagin, a professor in the Department of Ecology and Conservation Biology (ECCB) and the Department of Ocean Engineering at Texas A&M University, was recently awarded the Robert G. Dean Coastal Academic Award from the American Shore & Beach Preservation Association, ASBPA. Feagin received this honor for his significant contributions to coastal science and his mentorship of the next generation of coastal scientists and engineers.
Feagin’s research centers on how living material, like plants and microflora, affect the processes of coastal erosion. He teaches classes like Coastal Processes and Ecosystem Management, Wetlands and Riverine Restoration, among others, that are attended by students from multiple different majors.
“I enjoy mentoring grad students because its more one-on-one and it’s a bigger time investment,” Feagin said. “Over several years, you really get to know someone and what makes them tick and it gives you enough time to learn where they are strong in science and how to help them best apply themselves.”
One of Feagin’s current projects involves the building of a living shoreline by building several miles of an oyster reef in Carancahua Bay, a northern extension of Matagorda Bay on the Texas Coast, to reduce waves and decrease erosion while also increasing habitat for fish and other species in the environment.
“We’re trying to figure out ways that we can stop the erosion, but also increase the number of fish and the overall environment for fishing and hunting so that we can help the local economy,” Feagin said.
The ASBPA, founded in 1926 to combat the effects of coastal erosion with science and lobbying for government policy change, bestows multiple special awards each year to individuals and coastal projects for their contributions to their mission. The Robert G. Dean award recognizes individuals in academia that have made significant contributions to coastal science or engineering and fostered the education of new coastal scientists or engineers.
Feagin was nominated for this award by one of his colleagues, Cris Weber, a Senior Managing Coastal Engineer at Anchor QEA, a science and engineering firm. He also received multiple letters of support from students, former students, and other colleagues for the honor