Skip Navigation

Amie Hufton

Instructional Associate Professor
Department of Liberal Studies



E-mail: huftona@tamug.edu
Phone: +1 (409) 740.4928
Fax: +1 (409) 740.4946

Sea Aggie Center, Office 305


CV


Get To Know Amie Hufton

What in your life drew you to your current field of study?

I have been “at home” in salt water since I was very young, and my family likes to joke that I was swimming before I was walking. I was set on pursuing an ocean-related career since the age of 12, and while my journey has not been direct, it has been an adventure!

Once I completed my undergraduate degree in Marine Biology, it was important to me to take a break from academics and participate in an international service project. I volunteered at a Thai school for young adult Burmese refugees for 6 months, teaching basic health and activity classes (including swimming!). This experience deeply impressed upon me health disparities that continue to persist, often unseen or ignored, and the impact that these inequities have on individuals and populations. The most influential event during my time in Thailand was a visit I made to the Mae La refugee camp on the Thai/Burmese border. While several foreign trips had previously exposed me to a variety of social, environmental, and cultural factors within a community, living five days in a refugee camp impressed upon me the complexity of public health issues for displaced communities.

I became convinced that the health of the ocean and society were unavoidably connected, and problems that affected either should be treated holistically. I began working in diving safety, aquatics, and emergency services, which caused me to evaluate people’s ability to assess risks in response to environmental hazards and natural disasters. In September 2008, as part of the City of Galveston’s immediate response to Hurricane Ike, I joined a team of first responders to contact stranded citizens that had not evacuated and deliver food, water, and ice. This caused me to consider the best techniques for communicating risk to people, so that they could make informed decisions about both chronic and acute health hazards.

As an undergraduate, I thought I would pursue a career in ecological preservation because of my interest of coral reef restoration and symbiotic relationships, and I’m fortunate that I now get to dive and help NOAA collect data periodically in the Flower Garden Banks National Marine Sanctuary. However, my research interests evolved into investigating a different relationship- the symbiosis between the ocean and coastal community health, including the roles of poverty, aquatic recreation, and resilience to natural disturbance.

What do you hope your students gain from studying or working with you?

My teaching philosophy is based on encouraging students to develop their personal and academic skills through challenging experiences so that they will be confident and resilient in their future. Developing resilient leaders means that students must be equipped to balance their academic, physical, social and mental health, as well as overcome disruptions to their progress. I utilize underwater adventures and team sports to help students realize the value of hard work, failure, and healthy social play.

My most important aspirations for students who study or work with me is that they appreciate (1) the beautiful connectivity between individual and societal health and success, and (2) the importance of working outside of their silos and biases in order to solve global problems.

What are you passionate about in your personal life?

I have a deep passion for the ocean. I share this passion with students at Texas A&M University at Galveston by increasing their access to the sea through a unique set of skills that I have developed. With a rare background in scientific diving, water safety, recreational sports, and community resilience, I offer a wide range of opportunities to students and co-workers. On our small campus, I work diligently in many roles to develop excellent students and programs.

Education
Ph.D. Population Health Sciences, University of Texas Medical Branch, in progress
M.S.
Marine Resource Management, Texas A&M University, 2010
B.S. Marine Biology, Texas A&M University, 2002
Courses Taught
KINE 223: Introduction to the Science of Health and Fitness
DIVE 330: Rescue Diving