Gulf of Mexico Research Initiative Names Chief Scientific Officer

Dr. Charles A. "Chuck " Wilson. Photo Credit: LSU Media Relations.

Dr. Charles A. “Chuck ” Wilson. Photo Credit: LSU Media Relations.

Dr. Charles “Chuck” A. Wilson to lead science effort looking at effects of the Deepwater Horizon oil spill

Reston, VA – The Gulf of Mexico Research Initiative (GoMRI) Research Board announced today the selection of Dr. Charles “Chuck” A. Wilson to serve as the GoMRI Chief Scientific Officer.

“I am pleased that Dr. Wilson has accepted this important position,” said Dr. Rita Colwell, chairman of the GoMRI Research Board. “His professional experience and leadership skills make him the ideal person for this important position.”

“This is an exciting opportunity,” said Dr. Wilson. “My career has spanned the conduct of research, administration, and the management of a research, outreach and education program. I enjoy envisioning partnerships and motivating people towards common goals. There are numerous opportunities for collaboration and interaction between the research consortia and other scientific teams funded by the GoMRI and I look forward to helping facilitate this collaboration”.

The Chief Scientific Officer is a new position created by the Research Board to provide scientific and research advice and leadership to the GoMRI. Dr. Wilson will coordinate the work of the GoMRI Research Board with the various administrative units implementing the research program and with the Gulf of Mexico Alliance. Additionally, he will support the Research Board’s efforts to ensure the intellectual quality, research effectiveness, and scientific independence of the $500 million GoMRI research initiative.

Dr. Wilson is a distinguished scientist and academic leader. He has held faculty and administrative posts at Louisiana State University (LSU), where he joined the faculty in 1984 as an assistant professor in the Department of Oceanography and Coastal Sciences. Since then, he has risen through the academic ranks to full professor and department chairman. Most recently, he has served as Executive Director of the Louisiana Sea Grant College Program, and prior to that as the Vice Provost for Academic Affairs. During his tenure at LSU, Dr. Wilson has received more than $15,000,000 in private, state, and federal funding for research and education programs, and has authored or co-authored more than 100 scientific publications.

“I am extremely grateful to LSU for an exciting and fulfilling academic career and for opportunities that the University has afforded me over the past 28 years,” said Dr. Wilson.

Dr. Wilson’s leadership goes well beyond the academic setting. He has distinguished himself through service in scientific organizations and on scientific advisory bodies, including the GoMRI Research Board.

“Chuck has demonstrated an ability to get big things done and to bring people and organizations together to accomplish common goals,” said Dr. Colwell. For example, his accomplishments include co-founding the Louisiana Artificial Reef Program, and helping to establish the Louisiana Artificial Reef Trust Fund and the Louisiana State Universities Undergraduate Research Opportunities Program. He has led research teams investigating fisheries management, life history studies of fish, and the impact of oil and gas platforms on fish and fish communities.

A search committee was established by the GoMRI Research Board to conduct a rigorous review of candidates for the Chief Scientific Officer position. The committee carefully considered applications and interviewed candidates before it ultimately recommended Dr. Wilson for the post.

Dr. Wilson will continue to serve on the GoMRI Research Board until the Gulf of Mexico Alliance announces a replacement or until he begins work as the Chief Scientific Officer, whichever occurs first.

The GoMRI Research Board is an independent body that administers BP’s ten-year, $500 million commitment to independent research into the effects of the Deepwater Horizon incident. Through a series of competitive grant programs, the GoMRI is investigating the impacts of the oil, dispersed oil, and dispersant on the ecosystems of the Gulf of Mexico and the affected coastal States in a broad context of improving fundamental understanding of the dynamics of such events and their environmental stresses and public health implications. The GoMRI also funds research that improves techniques for detecting oil and gas, spill mitigation, and technologies to characterize and remediate spills. Knowledge accrued will be applied to restoration and to improving the long-term environmental health of the Gulf of Mexico.

The GoMRI is an independent scientific research program and is separate from the Natural Resources Damages Assessment process.

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Media contact: Dr. Robert Gropp, 202-628-1500 x 250

For more information about the GoMRI please visit

GoMRI Research Board Members:

Rita R. Colwell, PhD
GoMRI Research Board Chair
Distinguished Professor
University of Maryland College Park and
Johns Hopkins University Bloomberg School of Public Health

Margaret Leinen, PhD
Research Board Vice Chair
Associate Provost for Marine and Environmental Initiatives of Florida Atlantic University
Executive Director of Harbor Branch Oceanographic Institute

Debra S. Benoit, MEd
Director of Research and Sponsored Programs
Nicholls State University

Peter G. Brewer, PhD
Senior Scientist
Monterey Bay Aquarium Research Institute

Richard E. Dodge, PhD
Professor, Dean, Nova Southeastern University Oceanographic Center
Executive Director, National Coral Reef Institute

John W. Farrington, PhD
Scientist Emeritus
Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution

Kenneth M. Halanych, PhD
Alumni Professor & Coordinator, Marine Biology Program
Auburn University

David Halpern, PhD
Senior Advisor for Earth Science Research, NASA Headquarters
Senior Research Scientist, California Institute of Technology/NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory

William T. Hogarth, PhD
Interim Director
Florida Institute of Oceanography
College of Marine Science, University of South Florida

Jörg Imberger, PhD
Director, Centre for Water Research
Professor of Environmental Engineering
The University of Western Australia

Raymond L. Orbach, PhD
Director, Energy Institute
The University of Texas at Austin

Jürgen Rullkötter, PhD
Professor of Organic Geochemistry
Institute of Chemistry and Biology of the Marine Environment (ICBM)

David R. Shaw, PhD
Vice President for Research and Economic Development
Mississippi State University

John Shepherd, PhD
Professorial Research Fellow
School of Ocean and Earth Science, National Oceanography Centre
University of Southampton

Bob Shipp, PhD
Chair, Department of Marine Science
University of South Alabama

Burton Singer, PhD
Courtesy Professor
Emerging Pathogens Institute
University of Florida

Ciro V. Sumaya, MD, MPHTM
Professor, Health Policy and Management
Cox Endowed Chair in Medicine
Founding Dean, School of Rural Public Health
Texas A&M Health Science Center

Denis Wiesenburg, PhD
Vice President for Research
The University of Southern Mississippi

Charles Wilson, PhD
Professor and Executive Director
Louisiana Sea Grant College Program, Louisiana State University

Dana Yoerger, PhD
Senior Scientist
Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution