Texas A&M Professor Honored for Supporting Troops

On May 31, 2017, a suicide bomber climbed aboard a huge sewage tanker truck in the Wazir Akbar Khan area of Kabul, Afghanistan.  Hidden inside the tank were hundreds of pounds of explosives.  The huge blast sent clouds of black smoke spiraling into the sky near the presidential palace and foreign embassies.  It happened during rush hour. Streets in the capital city were filled with shoppers the day before the beginning of the Muslim holy month of Ramadan.  More than 150 were killed with 300 estimated to have been injured.

Thousands of miles away sitting in her office at Texas A&M University at Galveston, Dr. Grace Wang, associate professor in Maritime Administration, saw the news bulletin and knew a colleague was working with the U.S. Navy in Kabul.  Often he would send her emails regarding collaborating in maritime policy-oriented research from the U.S. port institutional reforms to practical suggestions for industry practitioners.

When she heard about the massive bombing, she immediately remembered her colleague and sent him an email to see if he was all right.  He immediately replied with many thanks and said that her message was the first they had received.  He and others had heard the explosion, but because the communications had been disrupted, he did not know what was happening.  Wang kept him informed with the information she was learning from U.S. news outlets, and he passed the information on to officials at his site.

A few months later she received a plaque thanking her for her support of their mission in Afghanistan.  It included the American flag that flew over their headquarters in Kabul on the day of the bombing.  The plaque's certificate reads that it is in recognition of her "support of the U.S. Navy Sailors deployed to the Resolute Support Mission and Operation Freedom Sentinel in Kabul, Afghanistan," and is signed by the commanding officers.

"It is an honor to receive this flag," said Wang.  "I think that I am here in this nice office in Galveston teaching in a safe environment.  Then, I see this happening in Kabul and think of my colleague where his life can be gone in the next minute."

Dr. Wang's research focuses on port efficiency, privatization and incentive mechanism design in terminal concessions in seaports.  Her research also includes policy implications of global banking and the early warning systems in predicting failures of shipping companies and financial institutions.  She is currently involved with a multi-year project with the US Army Corps of Engineers.