Spring 2019 – Note from the Research Board Chair
– JUNE 19, 2019
(From Spring 2019 Newsletter) Dr. Rita Colwell, University of Maryland and Johns Hopkins University
One of the lessons learned and a legacy of the Gulf of Mexico Research Initiative (GoMRI) has been the combined impact and value of supporting a large, coordinated scientific research effort. Many programs have provided, and will continue to provide, opportunities for funding research, collaboration, and coordination in the Gulf region after GoMRI ends in 2020. For example, the Resources and Ecosystems Sustainability, Tourist Opportunities, and Revived Economies of the Gulf Coast States Act of 2012 (RESTORE Act) required Centers of Excellence Research Grants Programs be established in each of the Gulf coast states: Alabama, Florida, Louisiana, Mississippi, and Texas. Goals of the Centers of Excellence are to include supporting science, technology, and monitoring from the vantage point of inter-disciplinary science, in the areas of coastal sustainability, restoration, and protection; coastal fisheries and wildlife ecosystem restoration and monitoring in the Gulf; offshore energy development; sustainable, resilient growth, and economic and commercial development; and observation, monitoring, and mapping of the Gulf of Mexico. (For more information about the RESTORE Council and its connection with the Centers of Excellence, please visit the Frequently Asked Questions interview with Dr. Jessica Henkel on page 2 of this issue.) The National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine Gulf Research Program was also established with funding from the penalties from the Deepwater Horizon oil spill, endowing $500 million over 30 years to support grants, fellowships, and other activities centered around research, development, education, capacity building, monitoring, and synthesis in the Gulf of Mexico region. Sea Grant Programs of the Gulf states provide opportunities to fund research regionally as well as support outreach, communicating oil spill science to target audiences and user communities.
The opening plenary of the 2019 Gulf of Mexico Oil Spill and Ecosystem Science conference featured a panel moderated by GoMRI Chief Scientific Officer Chuck Wilson, and each of the panelists represented the above three organizations: Pamela Plotkin, Texas Sea Grant College Program; Alyssa Dausman, Water Institute of the Gulf; and Evonne Tang, National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine Gulf Research Program. They discussed The Next Phase in Gulf Research and spoke about coordination and continuing efforts to support study of the Gulf of Mexico after the GoMRI program ends. These organizations will provide excellent opportunities to continue scientific research and coordination of all efforts, as exemplified by GoMRI. But even more can be accomplished. The GoMRI Research Board is optimistic that the results from and the legacy of GoMRI will highlight the importance of investing in research and developing collaborative research in the Gulf of Mexico region.