The GoMRI Scholars Program recognizes outstanding graduate students and the vital research they contribute to improve understanding about the damage, response, and recovery following the Deepwater Horizon oil spill. The Scholars Program honors and builds community for these next generation of ocean science professionals.

These students serve as essential team members for much of the research underway and bring creativity, curiosity, and energy to the GoMRI scientific program. They represent the successful manifestation of the second GoMRI Legacy Goals, building scientific and intellectual capacity for response and mitigation strategies for future oil spill events.

Candidates for this program must be graduate students who have participated in a GoMRI-funded project for at least one year, whose work is primarily funded by GoMRI, and who are working on a dissertation or thesis based on GoMRI-funded science. On a semi-annual basis, the lead Principal Investigators of GoMRI-funded projects nominate students who meet these criteria.

Following confirmation, each scholar will receive a letter of congratulations declaring the title GoMRI Scholar along with a certificate from Dr. Rita Colwell, GoMRI Research Board Chair. GoMRI will collect information about these scholars and their careers and accomplishments for longitudinal studies and program impacts.

Below are GoMRI Scholars Highlight Stories that have been featured on the web site. For a complete list of scholars, click on the ‘People’ tab for any funded projects to view the list of GoMRI Scholars with affiliation for that project.

Grad Student Montgomery Explores How Ocean Chemistry Affects Microbes

Natural seeps are abundant in the Gulf of Mexico and help create a chemically unique habitat where microbial populations can flourish. Andy Montgomery is researching the relationship between marine microbes and ocean chemistry and how chemical shifts affect the role microorganisms play in biogeochemical cycling, a common pathway for chemicals and organic matter to move through the ocean.

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Nikaela Flournoy. (Provided by NIkaela Flournoy)

Grad Student Flournoy Emphasizes the Importance of Student Exposure to STEM

Nikaela Flournoy’s scientific journey has always carried a societal tie, from her passion for research’s social relevance to her realizations about the relationship between society and STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math). Though she is excited to see a greater emphasis on STEM in primary and secondary education, she hopes to help expand STEM awareness and curriculum to students from diverse educational and social backgrounds.

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Shelby counting Spartina alterniflora shoot density and measuring shoot heights during a marsh habitat survey. (Photo credit: Lauren Clance)

Grad Student Ziegler Compares Gulf and East Coast Ecosystems for Predicting Saltmarsh Food Web Responses to Disturbances

Major disturbances such as oil spills can significantly affect populations of vulnerable saltmarsh species, which may result in greater impacts to the overall saltmarsh food web. Shelby Ziegler believes that a better understanding of what saltmarsh predator-prey interactions look like today can help identify changes in the food web following disturbances in the future.

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