GoMRI-funded Graduate Student Receives Award for IOSC Poster Presentation

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Phoebe Ray, Graduate Research Assistant in the Department of Chemistry at University of New Orleans, stands next to her poster at IOSC 2014. She won an award in the Science and Technology Category for her presentation. (Photo credit: Megan Gibney, Consortium for Ocean Leadership)

(Click to enlarge) Phoebe Ray, Graduate Research Assistant in the Department of Chemistry at University of New Orleans, stands next to her poster at IOSC 2014. She won an award in the Science and Technology Category for her presentation. (Photo credit: Megan Gibney, Consortium for Ocean Leadership)

University of New Orleans (UNO) graduate student Phoebe Ray received an award for her poster presentation at the International Oil Spill Conference 2014 (IOSC) held May 5-8 in Savannah, Georgia.

Her poster, entitled “Effect of Dispersant on Molecular Composition and Fate of Oil Exposed to Sunlight in Seawater Systems,” was the poster contest winner in the Science and Technology Category. Ms. Ray is working with UNO Department of Chemistry Chair Dr. Matthew Tarr on his RFP-II funded project, “Effect of Photochemistry on Biotransformation of Crude Oil.” Both researchers also received scholarships from IOSC to attend the meeting.

“My research focuses on the photochemical transformation of oil films in aquatic systems,” explained Ms. Ray.  “The most interesting finding since I began my graduate career is that oxygen addition occurs across a wide range of oil compounds, which makes them more susceptible to the addition of multiple oxygens to each molecule.  My experience at IOSC was very inspiring and educational.  I learned about the aspects of oil spills outside the laboratory, which allowed me to gain valuable perspective in the field.  Winning the award for “Best Poster” was very unexpected but I am honored.”

One of GoMRI’s Legacy Goals is to “build intellectual capacity by informing and training future scientists and engineers.”  Awards like this demonstrate GoMRI achieving this goal, while improving our understanding of the impacts of petroleum pollution, and sharing important research results with a broad audience.

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This research was made possible in part by a grant from BP/The Gulf of Mexico Research Initiative (GoMRI) to Dr. Matthew Tarr for his research on the Effect of Photochemistry on Biotransformation of Crude Oil. The Gulf of Mexico Research Initiative (GoMRI) is a 10-year independent research program established to study the effect, and the potential associated impact, of hydrocarbon releases on the environment and public health, as well as to develop improved spill mitigation, oil detection, characterization and remediation technologies. 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 GoMRI research. All research data, findings 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/.

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