Dr. Bill Merrell receives BAHEP’s 2015 Quasar Award

The Bay Area Houston Economic Partnership honored Dr. Bill Merrell, the George P. Mitchell ’40 chair in Marine Sciences at Texas A&M University at Galveston, with its prestigious 2015 Quasar Award for Exceptional Leadership in Economic Development.

The Quasar Award is presented each year to an outstanding individual who has contributed greatly to the economic wealth and diversity of the Bay Area Houston region.  The Quasar Award was presented to honor Dr. Merrell in appreciation and acknowledgment of his tremendous work in storm surge protection and his development of the Ike Dike Concept for a storm surge protection system for the upper Texas Gulf Coast.

Following the massive devastation caused by Hurricane Ike in 2008, Dr. Merrell began work to study a system that would provide storm surge protection for the Upper Texas Gulf Coast, which he termed the Ike Dike Concept.

Bob Mitchell, president of Bay Area Houston Economic Partnership, praised that work saying, “The Quasar Award is presented annually to an individual who has demonstrated a steadfast leadership in support of the business foundations of the greater Bay Area Houston region. Bill Merrell is the epitome of this statement. His vision created the Ike Dike Concept, and Bill has worked relentlessly to see this vision become a reality.  When it does, it will be among the most important economic drivers this region has ever seen.”

Dr. Merrell said, “I am personally honored and grateful to be chosen as the Quasar Award winner.  I also recognize that I’m a surrogate for large number of people who have worked tirelessly to advance surge suppression, in particular the coastal barrier approach in their communities, state and even nationally. This special award reflects on their efforts, as well.”   

Dr. Merrell holds a B.S. in physics and an M.A. in mathematics from Sam Houston State University, as well as a Ph.D. in oceanography from Texas A&M University where he is a past president. He has also served as chair of the H. John Heinz III Center for Science, Economics and the Environment; vice chancellor for Strategic Programs of The Texas A&M University System; vice president for Research Policy of Texas A&M University; chair of the Ocean Studies Board; served on the Space Studies Board and the Board on Sustainability of the National Research Council; and has held presidential appointments with the National Science Foundation. 

Among his awards are the Distinguished Achievement Medal from the Geosciences and Earth Resources Council, and he is the only person to have received the Distinguished Service Award of the National Science Foundation twice. 

Prior recipients of BAHEP’s Quasar Award include Texas Governor Ann Richards; Mike Coats, director of NASA Johnson Space Center; U.S. Senator Kay Bailey Hutchison; and U.S. Senator John Cornyn.