Spring 2017 – Note from the Research Board Chair

(From Spring 2017 Newsletter) Dr. Rita Colwell, University of Maryland and Johns Hopkins University

April 20, 2017 marked the seventh anniversary of the Deepwater Horizon oil spill. Over the seven years since the Gulf of Mexico Research Initiative (GoMRI) was launched, extensive studies have been funded that have focused on understanding impacts of this oil spill. The work has involved more than 3,500 scientists, of which approximately 1,000 are undergraduate and graduate students. The output has been extraordinary, with more than 850 journal articles and 1,500 sets of data deposited in a data bank. All of those data are publicly available. GoMRI represents, perhaps, the largest coordinated research effort of its kind, having produced a significantly increased understanding of the Gulf of Mexico ecosystem.

Highlights of the research accomplished to date are provided in the GoMRI-sponsored special issue of Oceanography Magazine, GoMRI: Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill and Ecosystem Science, which was released in September, 2016. This special issue recognized the anniversary of the oil spill and honored the memory of those workers who lost their lives. A summary article is now posted on the GoMRI website, which features scientific findings reported in that special issue. I invite you to visit the website and also the special issue of Oceanography Magazine.

Without the dedication and commitment of the scientists funded by GoMRI, and the accomplishments and impact of their research, the advancement of oil spill science that has been made would not have been possible. During the spring and summer months of this year, the GoMRI Management Team and members of the Research Board will carry out site visits to all of the twelve RFP-IV funded consortia. These visits provide a unique opportunity for the research teams to share their science with the Management Team and Research Board and for GoMRI management to interact and connect with the scientists and consortia staff.

In the coming year, we anticipate additional excellent science will be accomplished by the new RFP-VI consortia and individual investigators, as well as continuing excellent science accomplished by currently funded researchers. We look forward to exciting new findings, including those of our partners, notably the second documentary being completed this summer in partnership with Screenscope. We fully expect the flow of publications, seminar presentations, and articles from both our scientists and our partners at Sea Grant and the Smithsonian Ocean Portal will continue. We also wish to acknowledge the many productive interactions with our colleagues who are involved in response and restoration efforts, especially in conferences and workshops that allow connection of science findings from GoMRI to practical application. As we approach the year 2020, marking the tenth anniversary of the spill and, notably, the conclusion of GoMRI, it is anticipated that there will be significant transition from research to application in response and restoration, reinforcing the GoMRI legacy.

[Back to the Spring 2017 Newsletter]