This collection contains biographical data, publications, and data on the Biology Department at Texas A&M in which Sewell was a faculty member, as well as reports and other papers relating to oyster mortality research carried out through the Texas A&M Research Foundation Research Project 9 (February 1, 1947 - May 31, 1950).
The research project 9 was funded by six major oil companies and led by two Texas A & M University Professors, Sewell H. Hopkins (Head) and John G. Mackin (Associate Head).
Prompted by several lawsuits filed by Louisiana oystermen against major oil companies claiming damages to oyster fields as a result of drilling in the Gulf Of Mexico region, Project 9 was conducted under the auspices of the Texas A & M Research Foundation. Project 9 allowed researchers to design and implement field and laboratory studies seeking to determine the effects of oil production activities on oyster production. Eventually, a then as-yet-unknown parasite was discovered which preyed upon the oyster crop after they had begun to reach maturity.
Two other large research groups investigating the same allegations against oil production in the Gulf headed by H. Malcome Owen (Louisiana Wildlife and Fisheries Commission) and Albert W. Collier (Gulf Oil Company) compared notes with the Heads of Project 9, coming to the same conclusion. As a result of this collaboration, a description of this newly discovered parasite called Dermocystidium marinum was published in 1950. The lawsuits were subsequently dropped or settled out of court.
More importantly for the history of the Texas A & M University System, however, is the fact that Research Project 9 led ultimately to the creation and expansion of a Marine Sciences program, represented by the newly established (1949) Department of Oceanography at Texas A & M University in College Station. On 1 June 1950, after the termination of Research Project 9, Research Project 23 was begun to continue studies on oyster disease and maintain a Marine Laboratory at Grand Isle, La. The Texas A & M Marine Laboratory was established (1952) at the University of Texas Medical Branch in Galveston, Tex. In 1968 Texas A & M University was named a Sea Grant College. The Marine Laboratory and the Texas Maritime Academy were merged in 1971, which is now known as Texas A & M University at Galveston.
These papers, therefore, form a picture of the ground-breaking research in oyster mortality conducted by Sewell H. Hopkins as head of Project 9, which led to increased sensitivity of the interplay of industry and the ecosystem, and to the formalized study at the university level of marine biology in the Gulf area.
Other researchers whose work is represented in the papers include Jay Donald Andrews, A. D. Bajkov, Harry J. Bennet, James L. Boswell, Clair Brown, Sidney O. Brown, M.D. Burkenroad, Fred Caulthron, C. Ray Elsey, I. I. Gardescu, Gordon Gunter, C. K. Hancock, Harold W. Harry, Joel W. Hedgpeth, Willis G. Hewatt, A. A. Jakkula, Fred W. Jensen, P. Korringa, Louis Lambert, Hugh B. Lofland, Elmer J. Lund, G. Robert Lunz, Jr., John C. Aull, Alvin F. Dodds, Shirley Alfred Lynch, John G. Mackin, Wiley G. Lastrapes, H. A. Marmer, R. Winston Menzel, Thurlow C. Nelson, Joseph F. Prokop, W. C. Rasmussen, Sammy M. Ray, J. H. Roberts, Fred W. Sieling, John J. Sperry, Victor Sprague, and Claude E. ZoBell.
* Ray, Sammy M. "Historical Perspective on Perkinsus Marinus Disease of Oysters in the Gulf of Mexico." Journal of Shellfish Research. Vol. 15, No. 1:9-11.
* Ray, Sammy M. "Texas A & M University's Contributions to Gulf of Mexico Ecosystem Research." [Viewed 2002-10-10 at: ]