About the Gulf of Mexico Research Initiative Research Board
The Gulf of Mexico Research Initiative (GoMRI) Research Board is an independent and academic board of twenty science, public health, and research administration experts. The Research Board was established by the Master Research Agreement (MRA), which is the legal document establishing the GoMRI research program.
The process for creating the Research Board was initiated when the Chief Scientist for BP, Dr. Ellen Williams, contacted Dr. Rita Colwell and asked her to Chair the Research Board. Dr. Colwell was asked to lead this effort because of her experience as Director of the National Science Foundation and her prior research and scientific publications on microbial degradation of oil. Dr. Colwell agreed to Chair the Research Board and then identified highly qualified scientists to join the Research Board. BP did not suggest Research Board members nor did BP reject any scientist identified by Dr. Colwell. Each of the scientists extended an invitation accepted and was appointed to the Research Board.
When the Gulf of Mexico Alliance became a party to GoMRI, the governors of the five Gulf of Mexico states nominated two Research Board members each, all of whom were approved by the Research Board and all were appointed to the Research Board by the Gulf of Mexico Alliance.
All members of the Research Board meet requirements outlined in the MRA. Specifically they “have peer-recognized research credentials and are from academic institutions, or have been associated for long periods with academic institutions, or from other nationally-recognized research entities such as a national laboratory, research institute, or other peer-recognized research entity.” The MRA also states that no member of the Research Board may be “political appointees, BP employees, or State personnel outside of academic or research institutions.” Members of the Research Board serve as individual scientists and collectively form an independent advisory body. As an independent scientific board, members do not represent any constituency, stakeholder, or interest group.
The MRA provides general terms of operation for the Research Board and autonomy with respect to the amendment or adoption of Research Themes, selection of research proposals and the conduct of approved research projects. The Research Board periodically develops and distributes requests for proposals for consortia and individual research programs. The proposals submitted in response to the requests for proposals undergo a competitive peer review, and the Research Board funding decisions are based on the mandate to fund the best possible science as judged by expert recommendations of the proposals.