GoMRI Mourns the Passing of David Hollander

Dr. David Hollander aboard the R/V Justo Sierra sampling in 2015 near the site of the 1979 Ixtoc-1 oil well blowout in Campeche, Mexico. Image courtesy of the C-IMAGE consortium.

Dr. David Hollander aboard the R/V Justo Sierra sampling in 2015 near the site of the 1979 Ixtoc-1 oil well blowout in Campeche, Mexico. Image courtesy of the C-IMAGE consortium.

It is with deep sadness that the Gulf of Mexico Research Initiative (GoMRI) shares the news that David J. Hollander, PhD passed away unexpectedly at his home in Gulfport, FL on September 26th, 2020. Hollander was a Professor of Marine Geochemistry at the University of South Florida College of Marine Science for the past 20 years and, following the 2010 Deepwater Horizon incident, he was also the co-Principal Investigator and Chief Scientific Officer with the Center for the Integrated Modeling and Analysis of Gulf Ecosystems (C-IMAGE) consortium.

“The entire GoMRI community was shocked and saddened to learn of David’s sudden death,” said Chuck Wilson, GoMRI’s Chief Science Officer. “He was an integral part of many of the research conversations that took place at and around our scientific gatherings. The Gulf of Mexico lost a true friend and hero.”

In a recent tribute, his colleagues described David in terms of being beloved and having boundless energy, inexhaustible inquisitiveness, and enthusiasm. David and his wife Sandra frequently opened their home for casual gatherings of faculty, students, and staff. One memorable gathering was held in February 2020 at the end of the final Gulf of Mexico Oil Spill and Ecosystem Science conference, where many members of the GoMRI community came together and enjoyed time together, sharing stories and admiring the Hollander’s beautiful collection of paintings and prints, ceramics, and furniture.

“David was an enthusiastic supporter of the GoMRI family and developing strong multidisciplinary approaches to the problems of oil spill science,” said Steven Murawski, Professor of Population Dynamics/Marine Ecosystem Analysis at the University of South Florida and Director of the C-IMAGE consortium. “He recruited non-traditional and multi-national partners which flourished under his guidance. His enthusiasm for science, his personal approach to engaging partners, and his shear joie de’vivre will be remembered by all who knew him.”

Hollander played an integral role in assembling teams of researchers for the C-IMAGE consortium, which included scientists from Mexico, Cuba, Germany, the Netherlands, Canada, Australia, and the United States and led ambitious research expeditions all across the Gulf of Mexico. He co-edited two books that involved more than 150 researchers who collaboratively authored 63 chapters, synthesizing science related to understanding the impacts of the Deepwater Horizon oil spill titled Deep Oil Spills: Facts, Fate, and Effects and Scenarios and Responses to Future Deep Oil Spills: Fighting the Next War. Additionally, Hollander co-authored more than 30 scientific papers and more than 170 scientific presentations during his time with the GoMRI program.

Earlier this year as a wrap-up to nearly a decade of working together as members of the GoMRI community, several individuals with the C-IMAGE team offered their personal reflections of this unique experience in video statements. You can view David expressing his heartfelt comments at https://usf.box.com/s/n43n8ws8imknxutvg8hw0ocd4t005pq8.

There is a private Facebook Group created in memory and celebration of David Hollander. Colleagues and friends are invited to join the group and share photos, memories, quips, quotes, and stories. https://www.facebook.com/groups/celebratingdavidhollander.

The GoMRI science community extends sincere sympathy to Dr. Hollander’s family, friends, and colleagues.

By Nilde Maggie Dannreuther. Contact maggied@ngi.msstate.edu for questions or comments.


The Gulf of Mexico Research Initiative 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 https://gulfresearchinitiative.org/

© Copyright 2010-2020 Gulf of Mexico Research Initiative (GoMRI) – All Rights Reserved. Redistribution is encouraged with acknowledgement to the Gulf of Mexico Research Initiative (GoMRI). Please credit images and/or videos as done in each article. Questions? Contact web-content editor Nilde Maggie Dannreuther, Northern Gulf Institute, Mississippi State University (maggied@ngi.msstate.edu).