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Dr. John "Wes" Tunnell Jr. Papers

Identifier: Coll-293

Dr. John "Wes" Tunnell Jr. Papers: Wes Tunnel was a marine ecologist, writer, teacher, and professor at Texas A&M University-Corpus Christi. His collection consists of marine biology and ecology publications concerning coral reefs and coastal areas of the Gulf of Mexico, 1974-2018.


  • Majority of material found within 1974-2018

Language of Materials


Conditions Governing Access

This collection is open for research use.


54 Volumes


Dr. John “Wes” Tunnell, a Coastal Bend native, was a distinguished marine ecologist, writer teacher and early faculty member at Texas A&M University-Corpus Christi whose work helped to shape the lives of countless students and colleagues as well as the campus he called home. A Professor of Biology his work focused primarily on coral reef ecosystems. He started the now distinguished marine biology program, founded the Center for Coastal Studies at TAMU-CC, the first dedicated research center on campus, and later the Harte Research Institute for Gulf of Mexico Studies. The books in the collection reflect his studies and the film and memorial program, his life.

Biographical / Historical

John Wesley ("Wes") Tunnell was born on 2 May 1945 to John W. Tunnell, M.D. and Rosalie Newman Tunnell, M.D. in Biloxi, Mississippi, while his father, who was from Gregory, Texas, was serving in the U.S. Army Air Force at Keesler Field during World War II. Wes was raised in Taft, Texas, and received his B.S. (1967) and M.S. (1969) degrees in Biology from Texas A&I University (now Texas A&M University-Kingsville), and his Ph.D. in Biology (1974) from Texas A&M University. He served in the U.S. Army for two years (1969-1971) at Fort Baker, California.

Wes married his childhood sweetheart Kathryn (Kathy) Lea Aldridge on 4 June 1966, they had three children: Stephanie Patterson of Forney, Jace Wesley Tunnell of Corpus Christi, and James William Tunnell of Austin. Wes and Kathy had five grandchildren.

Dr. Tunnell started (1974) and ended (2018) his career at Texas A&M University-Corpus Christi (TAMU-CC), where he was Professor of Biology in the Life Sciences Department and Endowed Chair of Biodiversity and Conservation Science at the Harte Research Institute for Gulf of Mexico Studies. Dr. Tunnell was a marine ecologist and biologist focusing primarily on coastal and coral reef ecosystems. Although he did most of his field research in Texas and Mexico, he traveled extensively for engagement and presentation in over thirty-five countries.

For thirty-two years Dr. Tunnell taught a Coral Reef Ecology class, taking students on two-week field trips to Veracruz or the Mexican Caribbean as part of an international teaching and research program. This was one of eighteen classes he taught over the course of his career. He was an early advocate for strong relationships between the United States, Mexico, and Cuba to research and support the Gulf of Mexico. He was instrumental in developing not only the Harte research Institute, but also founding the Center for Coastal Studies and pioneering the concept of co-locating environmental and natural resources agencies to the TAMU-CC campus. As a committed steward and scientist, Dr. Tunnell balanced research, instruction, and publishing with his administration activities.


The collection is organized into two series:

Series I: Scholarly books Series II: Digital Files

Related Materials

Harold and Lucille Pape papers;

John W. Tunnell, M.D. Texana collection;

Stamp Collection of John Tunnell MD and Mary Stubbs donated by Colleen Johnson and Brian Miller