In Memoriam - Patrick L. Parker
Patrick L. Parker
Patrick L. Parker passed away April 5, 2011. He had been ill in the hospital for several weeks. He was 78 years old.
Professionally, he served as President of the American Society of Limnology and Oceanography, Program Manager at the National Science Foundation, Chair of the South Texas Section of the American Chemical Society, member of the Department of Energy's Health and Environmental Research Advisory Committee, and a member of the Governor's Advisory Panel on Oil and Chemical Spill Response. He also served as President of the Board of Trustees of the Port Aransas Independent School District.
The following information is based on an article that will be published later this year on the history of the University of Texas Marine Science Institute. It gives a flavor of the tremendous impact of this man on our institution.
Dr. Patrick L. Parker was the first researcher in the University of Texas Marine Science Institute’s marine chemistry program – and what a researcher he was! Dr. Parker developed an internationally respected research program on stable isotope and organic geochemistry, which the National Science Foundation in 2000 regarded as “one of the greatest achievements in chemical oceanography in the last 50 years.” Through the use of stable isotopes, Dr. Parker and his colleagues were able to decipher food-web structures in the Gulf of Mexico and particularly in the seagrass communities of the coastal bay systems. The use of stable isotopes in marine research, pioneered by Dr. Parker, continues in many of the ongoing studies at the Marine Science Institute and at labs throughout the world. To honor Parker’s major achievements throughout his career in organic geochemistry, he was awarded the Alfred E. Treibs Award in 1996 by The Geochemical Society. Four years later, one of Dr. Parker’s very accomplished students, John Hedges, won the same award, honoring him for his lifelong pursuit in the study of global cycling of organic matter and for developing new biological indicators to trace the fate of organic material from land to sea.
Dr. Parker’s contributions to the Institute were immense. He served as Director from 1974-1976, but also as Associate Director and Acting Director during three separate transition periods. He conceived our very successful graduate degree program, which allowed the Institute to train master’s and doctoral students through the Department of Marine Science, rather than other departments of The University of Texas. Fittingly, Dr. Parker served as the first Graduate Adviser and Chair of the Graduate Studies Committee. He and Dr. E. William Behrens were responsible for designing and overseeing construction of the R/V Longhorn for the Institute.
In 1974, Dr. Parker established the first formal outreach effort at the Institute, the Marine Education Services program. Each year since then, this program has provided formal and informal education opportunities for literally thousands of classroom students, professional development for classroom teachers, and informal education programs for the general public.
--- Lee A. Fuiman, Director