Dr. Bill Merrell, who has worked relentlessly for six years for a storm surge protection system from hurricanes for the Galveston Bay area, has been named recipient of the Bay Area Houston Economic Partnership’s prestigious Quasar Award for 2015.
Merrell, the George P. Mitchell chairman in Marine Sciences at Texas A&M University at Galveston and president of Merrell Historic Properties, Inc., will be presented the award during the organization’s 22nd annual Quasar Award Banquet Friday, Jan.16, at South Shore Harbour Resort in League City.
The Quasar Award, presented each year to an outstanding individual who has contributed greatly to the economic wealth and diversity of the Bay Area Houston region, will be presented to 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.
BAHEP President Bob Mitchell, praised his 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 next Quasar Award winner. I also recognize that I’m a surrogate for a 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.”
He received 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 chairman of the H. John Heinz III Center for Science, Economics and the Environment; vice chancellor for strategic programs of the Texas A&M System; vice president for research policy at Texas A&M; and chairman of the Ocean Studies Board.
He also 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.
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.
Prior recipients of BAHEP’s Quasar Award include: Texas Gov. Ann Richards, 1994; U.S. Rep. Tom DeLay, 1995; U.S. Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison, 1996; U.S. Rep. Nick Lampson, 1997; Johnson Space Center Director George W.S. Abbey, 1998; Harris County Judge Robert Eckels and Galveston County Judge Jim Yarbrough, 1999; Robert L. Moody Sr., 2000; Houston Mayor Lee P. Brown, 2001; Harris County Precinct 2 Commissioner Jim Fonteno, 2002; House Majority Leader Tom DeLay, 2003; Harris County Precinct 2 Commissioner Sylvia R. Garcia, 2004; Dr. John Stobo, president of the University of Texas Medical Branch at Galveston, 2005; Houston Mayor Bill White, 2006; NASA Administrator Dr. Michael Griffin, 2007; Dr. William A. Staples, president of the University of Houston-Clear Lake, 2008; Mike Coats, director of NASA’s Johnson Space Center, 2009; Texas State Rep. Craig Eiland, 2010; U.S. Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison, 2011; U.S. Sen. John Cornyn, 2012; Fred B. Griffin, owner and co-chairman, Griffin Partners, 2013; and Dr. Renu Khator, chancellor, University of Houston System, and president, University of Houston, 2014.