Oh I agree. It was SO awesome to be able to watch all the presentations on YouTube like that. I'm definitely looking forward to attending the next TONMOcon.
After doing more research into cephalopods, it looks like the biggest need researchers and aquarists have is for live shellfish culture to feed them. I'm thinking research into the aquaculture of a commercially valuable crab or mussel species might be the best contribution I can make. Crabs have such a stupid expression on their faces, though. Oysters are a popular farmed species, but I don't think they are particularly good for octopus, are they?
You also have to be aware that many species of cephas actually won't feed on molluscs! None of the species I've worked with here in NZ would touch clams etc nor dead food, it was live crustaceans all the way!!
Also check out the NZ Green lipped Mussel industry......these have been cultured here for many years.
I agree with what everyone has said regarding grad work. NZ might be an option. University of Otago has a Marine Science department and there are scholarships available for international students. Check out http://www.otago.ac.nz/international/otago004129.html for heaps of info on coming to Otago as an international student, you'll need to weed through the undergrad stuff!! Also, look here for Marine Science http://www.otago.ac.nz/marinescience/index.html
Kat Bolstad (Tintenfisch) also works with Cephs in NZ but at Auckland University of Technology (opposite end of the country!)....rest assured neither location gets as hot as Texas, Otago can get cold in winter but not to the point of six feet of snow or anything drastic like that!