2019 Gulf of Mexico Oil Spill and Ecosystem Science Conference

Oil Spill Science, Response, and Restoration Communities Convene in New Orleans, Louisiana

(From Winter 2019 Newsletter) Members of the oil spill science, response, and restoration communities gathered in New Orleans, Louisiana from February 4-7 for the 2019 Gulf of Mexico Oil Spill and Ecosystem Science (GoMOSES) conference. Reflecting the GoMOSES conference’s evolution to connect science to application, response, and restoration, this year’s theme was: Minding the Gaps – Research Priorities for Response, Restoration, and Resilience. More than 800 attendees from 11 countries participated in 23 scientific and two poster sessions, including 245 oral presentations (49 from students) and 235 posters (over 100 from students). This year’s conference was sponsored and supported by 18 partners, including major support from the Gulf of Mexico Research Initiative (GoMRI), the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine Gulf Research Program, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management, the Harte Research Institute for Gulf of Mexico Studies, the Gulf of Mexico University Research Collaborative, and the Gulf Sea Grant Programs. Throughout the week, GoMOSES also paid tribute to Chris Elfring, executive director of the Gulf Research Program, who passed away in 2018. Dr. Elfring served on the GoMOSES Executive Committee, where she was instrumental in advocating for an interdisciplinary and holistic focus for the conference.

This thematic evolution of the GoMOSES conference was also reflected in the topic of the opening plenary, Changing Focus: From Oil Spill Response to Restoration. Rita Colwell, chair of the GoMRI Research Board, opened the conference, followed by keynote presentations by Robert Spies, chief scientist of the Exxon Valdez Oil Spill Trustee Council (A Legacy of Knowledge) and Buck Sutter, deputy executive director of the Gulf Coast Ecosystem Restoration Council (Bridging the Gap of Gulf Science and Decision- Makers). A panel moderated by Chuck Wilson, GoMRI’s Chief Scientific Officer, featuring Alyssa Dausman, vice president for Science at the Water Institute of the Gulf; Pamela Plotkin, director of the Texas Sea Grant College Program; and Evonne Tang, associate executive director of the Gulf Research Program, shared their perspectives on The Next Phase in Gulf Research. More information on the opening plenary, including speaker biographies, is available here.

The conference concluded with the closing plenary, during which the winners of the 2019 James D. Watkins Student Award for Excellence in Research were announced. The Watkins Award is co-sponsored by the Consortium for Ocean Leadership and the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine Gulf Research Program, and the goal of the award is to recognize outstanding student oral presentations in order to cultivate the next generation of scientists and encourage excitement in the students for presenting their work. This year’s recipients are Alexander Freddo (Texas A&M University), Lindsay Jasperse (University of Connecticut), Alexis Khursigara (University of Texas at Austin), Kelli Mullane (Scripps Institution of Oceanography), and Kendall Valentine (Louisiana State University). The closing plenary also featured the Gulf of Mexico University Research Collaborative’s Presentation of the Wes Tunnell Lifetime Recognition for Gulf Science and Conservation, awarded to Chris D’Elia from Louisiana State University. The award was created in honor of Wes Tunnell, who passed away in 2018. Paul Montagna from Texas A&M University, Steve Murawski from the University of South Florida, and Larry McKinney from the Harte Research Institute shared tributes to Dr. Tunnell and highlighted some of his many scientific achievements and contributions to Gulf science. Kelly Lucas from the Thad Cochran Marine Aquaculture Center presented the award to Dr. D’Elia. More information on the closing plenary is available here.

More information on this year’s conference can be found here. An official report will be posted to the GoMOSES website soon. Save the date for next year’s GoMOSES conference, which will take place from February 3-6, 2020 in Tampa, Florida!

[Back to the Winter 2019 Newsletter]