$38 Million Awarded to Study Effects of Oil on Gulf of Mexico

gulf_oil_waveGulf of Mexico Research Initiative funds 22 new research grants

For release: 2:00 PM Eastern, November 13, 2015
Contact: Robert Gropp, 202-628-1500 x 250, rgropp@aibs.org

RESTON, VA – The Gulf of Mexico Research Initiative (GoMRI) Research Board announced today that it will award nearly $38 million to individuals and teams studying the effects of oil on the Gulf of Mexico ecosystem and public health. A total of 22 research proposals are being funded under this most recent GoMRI program.

“The Research Board was impressed with the quality of the 288 applications received,” said Dr. Rita Colwell, Chairman of the GoMRI Research Board. “As is our practice, all proposals underwent a rigorous merit review process like that used by the National Science Foundation. This process has served us well, as demonstrated by the impressive array of research findings published in scientific journals by those researchers GoMRI has already funded. We are gaining an important understanding of how the Gulf of Mexico functions as an ecosystem and responds to large-scale environmental stresses like that caused by the tragic Macondo wellhead blowout.”

The researchers funded today submitted research proposals in response to GoMRI’s fifth request for proposals (RFP-V). This program was designed to support research by individual investigators or by collaborative teams during 2016-2018. GoMRI also supports research by large, multi-institutional consortia that are funded under another GoMRI program.

The GoMRI is an independent, 10-year research program established with a $500 million commitment from BP following the Deepwater Horizon incident. Twenty experts comprise a Research Board responsible for designing research programs, making funding decisions, and providing research and budget oversight.

The funding awarded today will support science in all five of the GoMRI thematic areas, which are:

  1. Physical distribution, dispersion, and dilution of petroleum (oil and gas), its constituents, and associated contaminants (e.g., dispersants) under the action of physical oceanographic processes, air–sea interactions, and tropical storms.
  2. Chemical evolution and biological degradation of the petroleum/dispersant systems and subsequent interaction with coastal, open-ocean, and deep-water ecosystems.
  3. Environmental effects of the petroleum/dispersant system on the sea floor, water column, coastal waters, beach sediments, wetlands, marshes, and organisms; and the science of ecosystem recovery.
  4. Technology developments for improved response, mitigation, detection, characterization, and remediation associated with oil spills and gas releases.
  5. Impact of oil spills on public health including behavioral, socioeconomic, environmental risk assessment, community capacity and other population health considerations and issues.

The funded principal (lead) investigator, their institution, and proposal title are:

Theme One

PI: Kurt Polzin
Institution: Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution
Title: Understanding How the Complex Topography of the Deepwater Gulf of Mexico Influences Water-column Mixing Processes and the Vertical and Horizontal Distribution of Oil and Gas after a Blowout

PI: Daniela Di Iorio
Institution: University of Georgia Research Foundation, Inc
Title: Vertical Upwelling and Bottom-boundary Layer Dispersal at a Natural Seep Site

PI: Charles Meneveau
Institution: Johns Hopkins University
Title: Transport and Fate of Oil in the Upper Ocean: Studying and Modeling Multi-scale Physical Dispersion Mechanisms and Remediation Strategies using Large Eddy Simulation

PI:  Vassiliki Kourafalou
Institution: University of Miami
Title: Influence of River Induced Fronts on Hydrocarbon Transport

PI: William Drennan
Institution: University of Miami
Title: Investigation of Oil Spill Transport in a Coupled Wind-Wave Current Environment Using Simulation and Laboratory Studies

PI: Adrian Burd
Institution: University of Georgia Research Foundation, Inc
Title: Oil-Marine Snow-Mineral Aggregate Interactions and Sedimentation during the 2010 Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill

Theme Two

PI: Ryan Rodgers
Institution: Florida State University
Title: The State-of-the-Art Unraveling of the Biotic and Abiotic Chemical Evolution of Macondo Oil: 2010-2018

PI: Sunshine Van Bael
Institution: Tulane University
Title: Chemical Evolution and Plant-microbe Degradation of Petroleum in Saline Marsh Plants and Soils

PI: Markus Huettel
Institution: Florida State University
Title: A Systems Approach to Improve Predictions of Biodegredation and Ecosystem Recovery in Coastal Marine Sediments Impacted by Oil Spills

PI: Jacinta Conrad
Institution: University of Houston
Title: Role of Microbial Motility for Degradation of Dispersed Oil

Theme Three

PI: Lane Foil
Institution: Louisiana State University Agriculture Center
Title:A Study of Horse Fly (Tabanidae) Populations and their Food Web Dynamics as Indicators of the Effects of Environmental Stress on Coastal Marsh Health

PI: Cynthia Smith
Institution: National Marine Mammal Foundation
Title: Investigation of Mechanisms for Reproductive Failure in the Aftermath of the Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill to Understand Population Recovery Scenarios for Cetaceans

PI: Qianxin Lin
Institution: Louisiana State University
Title: Long-Term Impact, Recovery and Resilience: Wetland Plant-microbial-benthic Eecosystem Responses to the Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill and Mitigation Strategies Promoting Sustainability

PI: Anthony Knap
Institution: Texas A&M University
Title: Deep-sea Risk Assessment and Species Sensitivity to WAF,CEWAF and Dispersant

Theme Four

PI: Lynn Shay
Institution: University of Miami
Title: Three-Dimensional Gulf Circulation and Biogeochemical Processes Unveiled by State-of-the-Art Profiling Float Technology and Data Assimilative Ocean Models

PI:  Vijay John
Institution: Tulane University
Title: The Design of Synergistic Dispersant and Herding Systems using Tubular Clay Structures and Gel Phase Materials

PI: Andres Campiglia
Institution: University of Central Florida
Title: A Combined Analytical, Theoretical, and Synthetic Approach Based on Line Narrowing

PI: W. Kelley Thomas
Institution: University of New Hampshire
Title: Genomic Responses to the Deepwater Horizon Event and Development of High Throughput Biological Assays for Oil Spills

PI: Srinivasa Raghavan
Institution: University of Maryland
Title: Molecular Engineering of Food-Grade Dispersants as Highly Efficient and Safe Materials for the Treatment of Oil Spills

Theme Five

PI: Tim Slack
Institution: Louisiana State University
Title: Understanding Resilience Attributes for Children, Youth, and Communities in the Wake of the Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill

PI: Charles Miller
Institution: Tulane University School of Public Health and Tropical Medicine
Title: Toxicological Properties of Specific Aromatic Hydrocarbons Isolated from Fresh and Aged Crude Oil from the Deepwater Horizon Spill

PI: Steven Saul
Institution: Nova Southeastern University – Oceanographic Center
Title: Avoiding Surprises: Understanding the Impact of the Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill on the Decision Making Behaviors of Fishers and How this Affects the Assessment and Management of Commercially Important Fish Species in the Gulf of Mexico using an Agent-based Model

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Additional researchers and institutions are participating in many of these grants.

The Gulf of Mexico Research Initiative (GoMRI) is a 10-year independent research program investigating the effects of the Deepwater Horizon incident. The mission of GoMRI is to improve society’s ability to understand and mitigate the impacts of hydrocarbon pollution and stressors on the marine environment and public health. An independent and academic 20-member Research Board makes the funding and research direction decisions to ensure the intellectual quality, effectiveness and academic independence of the research. Information about the Research Board is available at http://gulfresearchinitiative.org/gri-research-board/. All research data and publications will be made publicly available. The program was established through a $500 million financial commitment from BP. For more information, visit http://gulfresearchinitiative.org/.  

Findings from many GoMRI-funded research projects will be presented during the 2016 Gulf of Mexico Oil Spill and Ecosystem Science Conference, which will be held from February 1-4, 2016 in Tampa, Florida.