Spring 2014 – Note from the Research Board Chair

(From Spring 2014 Newsletter) Dr. Rita Colwell, University of Maryland and Johns Hopkins University

The GoMRI Research Board has recently adopted four legacy goals to complement the GoMRI mission: The ultimate goal of the GoMRI will be to improve society’s ability to understand, respond to, and mitigate the impacts of petroleum pollution and related stressors of the marine and coastal ecosystems, with an emphasis on conditions found in the Gulf of Mexico.

Specified in the first goal, and inherent in all four goals, is the advancement of science. The GoMRI Research Board selects the best, most qualified proposals and scientists through the well-established peer review process practiced by the National Science Foundation. As of December 2013, approximately 290 peer-reviewed articles, book chapters, and books have resulted from the GoMRI investment.

The second goal is effective outreach that will improve the understanding, confidence, and trust of the public in the scientific process, as well as inform science-based policy and management. For this purpose, Research Consortia develop and implement strategies to achieve public education and outreach objectives integrated with the Consortia’s research. Overarching GoMRI-related outreach efforts, such as those implemented through partnerships with the Smithsonian Institution and the Gulf state Sea Grant programs, aim to reach broader audiences and complement the outreach activities of the Research Consortia.

The third goal aims to build intellectual capacity through advancing technology, fostering communication between GoMRI researchers and other scientists, and building and maintaining a long-term research database to ensure that all GoMRI data is available for research now and in the future. I consider the fourth area for building intellectual capacity to be extremely important – informing and training future scientists and engineers. GoMRI has clearly taken this responsibility seriously, as evidenced through its support of 633 graduate students and 148 postdocs across 192 instructions in 37 U.S. states and seven countries. The enthusiasm and dedication of these young professionals has been exemplified in the previous two Gulf of Mexico Oil Spill & Ecosystem Science Conferences, where many students and early career scientists presented posters and oral presentations.

The fourth legacy goal challenges the Research Board to demonstrate that the responsiveness of the GoMRI model is appropriate and effective in serving the public good by enabling and overseeing timely and independent research funded through a private-public partnership with industry.

The GoMRI Research Board members are all extremely proud of the accomplishments to date as we enter the fourth year following the Deepwater Horizon incident.

[Back to the Spring 2014 Newsletter]