Robert Dickey, a leader in areas of marine natural toxins, chemical contaminants and seafood safety, has been appointed the new director of The University of Texas at Austin’s Marine Science Institute (UTMSI) in Port Aransas, Texas, and chair of the Department of Marine Science, both in the College of Natural Sciences. His appointment begins Aug. 5.
Dickey has been director of the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) Gulf Coast Seafood Laboratory and Division of Seafood Science and Technology in Dauphin Island, Ala., since 2007. There, he has worked to protect and promote public health by ensuring the nation’s seafood supply is safe, sanitary and secure.
During his 29-year research career, Dickey has led research, prevention and response programs that have investigated the seafood safety implications of marine natural toxins, aquaculture drugs and chemicals, petrochemical contaminants, viruses and pathogenic bacteria, and contaminant mitigation in seafood processing environments.
“Our coasts and oceans are important sources of food, regulators of global climate and deep wells of biodiversity, and therefore the research and educational activities of the Marine Science Institute and Department of Marine Science are critical to this state and to our nation,” said Linda Hicke, dean of the College of Natural Sciences. “I am excited to have Bob Dickey join us at The University of Texas at Austin to help us maintain and enhance our research and educational activities in this field.”
At the Gulf Coast Seafood Laboratory, Dickey more than doubled the funding for the organization, developed a number of cooperative research agreements across organizations, and led numerous science-based responses to food-borne illness outbreaks and national emergencies.
The UTMSI and Department of Marine Science are dedicated to understanding and sharing knowledge of the world’s oceans and coasts. Dickey will lead a faculty of 14 members and will oversee management of the Mission-Aransas National Estuarine Research Reserve, which at 185,708 acres is the third largest estuarine reserve in the nation. UTMSI also annually hosts more than 10,000 K12 school children and 25,00030,000 visitors at its visitor center and Wetlands Education Center in Port Aransas.