Famed marine biologist honored with Texas A&M System Study Abroad Award

Dr. Tom IliffeDr. Tom Iliffe, professor of Marine Biology at Texas A&M University at Galveston, was honored at the Kenneth L. Clinton Awards luncheon for his work with the Marine Biology Mexico Study Abroad Program. This award is given to faculty that participate in and help facilitate study abroad programs with research, teaching and service. This year it is honors faculty in The Texas A&M University System that led study abroad programs in Mexico and Central America.

For the past 17 years, Iliffe has led Texas A&M Galveston students on the Tropical Marine Ecology Study Abroad Program at Akumal, Mexico on the Caribbean Coast of the Yucatan Peninsula. In addition to his study abroad course in Mexico, he also teaches classes in Scientific Diving and Biospeleology (cave biology).

Iliffe is one of the world's leading authorities on the biology of saltwater caves and has led numerous scientific expeditions to Mexico and elsewhere. He has received four grants from Consejo Nacional de Ciencia y Tecnología (CONACYT) that funded research projects in Mexico and has published 29 scientific articles on his cave biology research there. Texas A&M University and CONACYT began the Collaborative Research Grant Program in 2001. This competitive, peer-reviewed program advances inter-institutional cooperation in science, technology and scholarly activities through the complementary efforts of scientists and scholars from Texas A&M and Mexican institutions.

Iliffe has also been the lead organizer for an international conference held in Mexico and keynote speaker at several other meetings in the country. Nine of Iliffe's current or prior graduate students have carried out their research projects in Mexico, while an incoming Mexican Ph.D. student will be joining his lab in Fall 2017.

"International opportunities such as those afforded by Study Abroad provide an intensely transformative experience for students, changing their view of the world," said Iliffe. "As a teacher, I find it immensely satisfying to see my students witness and interact with the vibrant culture, captivating history and sociable people from our next-door neighbor to the south, coming home with completely new perspectives."

The award is in the form of an engraved bronze medallion, named in honor of Dr. Kenneth L. Clinton, retired associate vice-president for Global Programs and Initiatives at Texas A&M University-Commerce, developed the International Studies Program there in 1994.

Dr. Frank Ashley, associate dean at the Bush School of Government and Public Services, served as keynote speaker, while Dr. Ray Keck, president and chief executive officer of A&M-Commerce, presented the awards.