The Association of Former Students 2012 Distinguished Achievement Award    

Texas A&M University at Galveston Marine Biology professor and department head receives The Association of Former Students 2012 Distinguished Achievement Award.

SchwarzGalveston, Texas (April 2, 2012) —Texas A&M University and The Association of Former Students have selected 24 outstanding members of the school’s faculty and staff to be honored with 2012 Distinguished Achievement Awards. Among them is Dr. John Schwarz, Texas A&M University Marine Biology professor and director of the university’s Seafood Safety Laboratory. Schwarz was recognized with the Distinguished Achievement Award for Teaching.

The university-level Distinguished Achievement Awards were first presented in 1955 and have since been awarded to 930 professionals (including this year’s recipients) who have exhibited the highest standards of excellence at Texas A&M.

The 2012 Distinguished Achievement Awards will be formally presented at 1:30 pm, April 25 (Wednesday) during ceremonies in Rudder Theater on the Texas A&M University campus in College Station. In recognition of their achievements, each recipient will receive a $4,000 cash gift, an engraved watch and a commemorative plaque.

TAMUG President Robert Smith, III commended Schwarz on receiving the award.

“This prestigious award for teaching signifies Dr. Schwarz’s dedication and loyalty to the university, the faculty and the students,” he said.

Schwarz expressed his sentiments about receiving the award.

“I’m thrilled to receive this award,” he said. “Most of all, it’s a testimony to the relationship I have with the students I teach. They are first and foremost in my mind. If it wasn’t for them, I wouldn’t be doing what I do. This award is a reflection of my commitment to them.”

And according to Patsy Witter, Marine Biology lead office associate, the students have the utmost respect for Schwarz. She says that students line up to take his classes, “because they’re so in demand.”

Julie Crawford, a former student and current aquarist for the Birch Aquarium at Scripps Institution of Oceanography at the University of California, San Diego, tells about the impact Schwarz had upon her life.

“As a former student and employee of Dr. Schwarz, I had the privilege of being his student in two fantastic courses,” she said. “I also worked for him as a lab technician. Dr. Schwarz played an important and influential role of teaching and leading me to help me achieve my dream career. I’m able to apply the knowledge and experience he taught me every day on my job. He’s an amazing asset to Texas A&M, and the university should be proud to have him as a faculty member. I know I’m not the only person that thinks that.”

Schwarz’s colleagues also respect his ability to teach. Dr. Stephen Curley, Regents Professor (English), General Academics, says that Schwartz is an exemplary teacher who deserves this recognition.

“Dr. Schwarz has been my colleague for more than 35 years,” Curley said. “Even though we are in different disciplines, we have served together on committees. I have watched him interact with students, and I have heard student talk about him. He spends a heck of a lot of time preparing his classes to make sure his students demonstrate a deep understanding of the material. His reputation in the classroom is often expressed in two words: hard and fair. For many years, his rigorous teaching has made our university a better place for students. He is a distinguished teacher in the best tradition of Texas A&M University.”

Schwarz received his bachelor’s degree in Biology and his doctoral degree in Molecular Biology from Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute in Troy, New York, in 1967 and 1972, respectively.

Following three years studying deep-sea bacteria as a Postdoctoral Research Associate with Dr. Rita R. Colwell at the University of Maryland, he joined Texas A&M University in January 1976 as an assistant professor at the Galveston campus. He taught both Microbiology and Genetics courses each semester for 30 of his 36 years with the university, and continues to teach Microbiology each long term.

Schwarz has previously been recognized for his teaching activities through The Association of Former Students College-Level and Paul Ricker Faculty Awards as well as being selected by his students for Student-Led Awards for Teaching Excellence (SLATE) each of the past three years. He has mentored three doctoral and 10 master’s students, and served on 42 graduate student committees during his career.

His research interests include the ecology of estuarine bacteria in Texas waters, and the association of pathogenic microbes with seafood. He has served as a proposal and manuscript reviewer for a number of agencies and journals. Additionally, Schwarz is a working member of three national committees on shellfish sanitation. Now serving as Marine Biology Department head for the second time, he has held several other academic administration positions during his career with Texas A&M University.

For more information about the awards, contact Kelli Hutka ’97 at The Association of Former Students at (979) 845-7514. For more information about Schwarz or Texas A&M University at Galveston, contact Cathy Cashio at (409) 740-4830.


Celebrating its 50th anniversary, Texas A&M University at Galveston is the maritime and marine-based branch campus of Texas A&M University. It is a special purpose institution offering academic programs, research and service in marine and maritime studies. TAMUG is home to the Texas Maritime Academy, the only maritime academy located on the Gulf Coast. TAMUG students are known as “Sea Aggies” and like their College Station counter-parts, receive the Aggie Ring and a Texas A&M University diploma.