Scientists Awarded $50 Million to Study Effects of Oil on Gulf of Mexico Ecosystem

NOAA's America's Coastlines Collection, southeast Florida. Photographer: Jess Snyder.

NOAA’s America’s Coastlines Collection, southeast Florida. Photographer: Jess Snyder.

The Gulf of Mexico Research Initiative (GoMRI) is pleased to announce the 31 awardees of the program’s final two-year grants to support research on effects of the Deepwater Horizon oil spill. The selected proposals underwent a competitive peer review process similar to that used by the U.S. National Science Foundation.  Approximately $35 million will go to eight Research Consortia and approximately $15 million to 23 small research teams. 

GoMRI is producing a rich legacy of research and technical innovation, with more than 915 peer-reviewed scientific articles and 3,600 scientific conference presentations to date. The proposals funded under RFP VI will contribute further to this growing knowledge base. “The findings from these studies will benefit society by informing new strategies to prevent and mitigate any negative effects of an oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico as well as in other parts of the world,” said Dr. Rita Colwell, Chairman of the GoMRI Research Board. “I am pleased that GoMRI is a leader in efforts to ensure that research data are preserved and made available for the public and future researchers.” This is an important contribution because GoMRI requires researchers it funds to make all data available to others via its data management system, GRIIDC, and more than 1,500 datasets have been archived and are available for further research. This database continues to increase as research is completed and published. “Because significant science has been accomplished and the GoMRI program will sunset in 2020, RFP VI is focused on integrating existing data and synthesizing research findings,” said Colwell.  RFP VI requested proposals addressing: 1) Continuation of previously designated research themes and topics that emerged from prior research; 2) Data integration; 3) Scientific synthesis across themes and consortia; and/or 4) Other overarching scientific and technological products fulfilling the GoMRI scientific legacy. The selected proposals will support science in the five GoMRI thematic areas:

  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.

RESEARCH CONSORTIA AWARDEES

  • Buskey, Edward lead investigator, University of Texas at Austin Marine Science Institute: Dispersion Research on Oil: Physics and Plankton Studies (DROPPS-III).
  • Chassignet, Eric lead investigator, Florida State University: Consortium for Simulation of Oil-Microbial Interactions in the Ocean (CSOMIO).
  • Grosell, Martin lead investigator, University of Miami: Relationship of Effects of Cardiac Outcomes in Fish for Validation of Ecological-Risk (RECOVER II).
  • Murawski, Steven lead investigator, University of South Florida: The Center for the Integrated Modeling and Analysis of Gulf Ecosystems III (CIMAGE-III).
  • Ozgokmen, Tamay lead investigator, University of Miami: Consortium for Advanced Research on Transport of Hydrocarbon in the Environment III (CARTHE-III).
  • Quigg, Antonietta lead investigator, Texas A&M University at Galveston: Towards a Synthesis of Processes and Pathways of Marine Oil Snow Formation (ADDOMEx 2).
  • Rabalais, Nancy lead investigator, Louisiana Universities Marine Consortium: Oil Spills as Stressors in Coastal Marshes: The Legacy and the Future (CWC).
  • Schwacke, Lori lead investigator, National Marine Mammal Foundation: Consortium for Advanced Research on Marine Mammal Health Assessment (CARMMHA).

INDIVIDUAL and SMALL TEAM AWARDEES

  • Beazley, Melanie lead investigator, University of Central Florida: Biodegradation of “Hidden” High Molecular Weight Polycyclic Aromatic Hydrocarbons: Closing Critical Research Gaps.
  • Diercks, Arne lead investigator, University of Southern Mississippi: Resuspension, Redistribution and Deposition of DWH Recalcitrant Hydrocarbons to Offshore Depocenters.
  • Englehardt, James lead investigator, University of Miami: Inferential/Parametric Forecasting of Subsurface Oil Trajectory Integrating Limited Reconnaissance Data with Flow Field Information for Emergency Response.
  • Graham, Sean lead investigator, Nicholls State University: Synthesis of Long-Term Wetland Impacts, Recovery, and Resilience Following the Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill: Comprehensive Meta-Analyses and Supporting Resiliency Experiments.
  • Griffitt, Robert lead investigator, University of Southern Mississippi: Integrating Teleost Transcriptomes to Identify Ecologically Meaningful Responses Following Oil Exposure.
  • Hernandez, Frank lead investigator, University of Southern Mississippi: Deep-Pelagic Plankton Communities of the Northern Gulf of Mexico: Tropic Ecology, Assemblage Dynamics, and Connectivity with the Upper Ocean.
  • Hou, Aixin lead investigator, Louisiana State University and A&M College: A Decade-Long Study on Impact, Recovery, and Resilience in Louisiana Salt Marshes: The Evolution of Oil Transformation Compounds and Plant-Soil-Microbial Reponses to the Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill.
  • Iungo, Giacomo Valerio lead investigator, University of Texas at Dallas: Transport of Aerosolized Oil Droplets in Marine Atmospheric Boundary Layer: Coupling Wind LiDAR Measurements and Large-Eddy Simulations.
  • Kourafalou, Vassiliki lead investigator, University of Miami: Southeastern Gulf of Mexico Processes Affecting Basin-Wide Connectivity and Hydrocarbon Transport: The Role of Mesoscale Eddies and Upwelling Near Cuba.
  • Liang, Junhong lead investigator, Louisiana State University: Effects of Turbulence and Waves on the Dispersion, Transport and Fate of Oil Droplets in the Upper Ocean: A Large Eddy Simulation Study.
  • Liang, Xinfeng lead investigator, University of South Florida: Effects of Mesoscale Eddies on Three-Dimensional Oil Dispersion: Data Integration, Interpretation and Implications for Oil Spill Models.
  • Liu, Di lead investigator, The Administrators of the Tulane Educational Fund: Impact of Oil Spill to Human Lung Health – Next Generation Sequencing and Mouse Model Based Analyses.
  • McDonald, M. Danielle lead investigator, University of Miami: The Impact of DWH Oil Exposure on the Vertebrate Stress Response.
  • Peterson, Richard lead investigator, Coastal Carolina University: Release of Radium Isotopes from Oil Degradation: Toward Development of an ‘Oil Clock’.
  • Polidoro, Beth lead investigator, Arizona State University: A Comprehensive Petrochemical Vulnerability Index of Improved Decision-making.
  • Renegar, Abigail lead investigator, Nova Southern University: Coral-Tox: A Species-Sensitive Assessment of Petroleum Hydrocarbon Toxicity to Scleractinian Corals.
  • Rodgers, Ryan lead investigator, Florida State University: Molecular Understanding of Emulsion Formation in Environmentally Photo-Oxidized Crude Oils: In Situ Generation of Interfacially Active Species and Their Impact on Emulsification.
  • Savin, Daniel lead investigator, University of Florida: Designing Nanoparticle-Based Dispersants with Improved Efficiency and Biocompatibility.
  • Solo-Gabriele, Helena lead investigator, University of Miami: Beach Exposure and Child Health Study (BEACHES).
  • Tejada-Martinez, Andres lead investigator, University of South Florida: Turbulent Vertical Mixing and the Formation of Oil Particle Aggregates: LES, Measurements and Modeling.
  • Wang, Binbin lead investigator, Texas A&M University: Synthesis of the Physical Processes in Subsea Bubble Plume to Connect Natural Seeps and Oil Spills.
  • Wang, Wanjun lead investigator, Louisiana State University: Development of Portable Lab-on-CD Instrument for In-Situ and High Precision Detection of Spilled Oil Particles in Coastal Water Systems.
  • Zheng, Yangxing lead investigator, Florida State University: Modeling Modification of Surface Oil Transport by Air/Sea Interactions and Tropical Storms.

************ 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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