Summer 2015 – Frequently Asked Questions by Dr. Chuck Wilson

(From Spring 2015 Newsletter) Dr. Chuck Wilson, Chief Scientific Officer for the Gulf of Mexico Research Initiative (GoMRI), answers a few of the most frequently asked questions about the program.

One of the many GoMRI legacies, which is specifically described in GoMRI Legacy #2, is the involvement of graduate students in the program who will become the next generation of oil spill researchers.

Question: How many graduate students are or have been involved in the program to date?

Answer: Over 750 graduate students, including 440 Doctorate and 310 Master’s candidates, have been or are involved in GoMRI research. These students hail from around the world and across many disciplines.

Question: What is the distribution of their fields of study?

Answer: Almost half of the students are associated with RFP-I, which was the first major GoMRI consortium initiative. That said, consortia from RFP-IV are rapidly ramping up their graduate student workforce. Regarding research areas, about a third of the students are fairly evenly distributed across GoMRI Themes 1 (Physical processes), 2 (Chemistry), and 3 (Environmental). A surprisingly large proportion are also heavily involved in Theme 4 (Technology), indicating that GoMRI is not only training the next generation of oceanographers but also involving them in developing the most recent tools for oil spill research.

Question: What role do they play in the research?

Answer: Students are the engines of GoMRI’s research efforts. Along with the 1,278 scientists and 196 Postdocs, students serve as essential team members for much of the research underway. They are the workforce onboard the ships and in the labs, bringing creativity, curiosity, and energy to the GoMRI scientific program. A number of outstanding students, recognized as GoMRI Scholars, have been featured on the GoMRI website. Each student has a wonderful story about why they are involved in science and how GoMRI is affecting their life/career path. Students are working on exciting things such as novel dispersant technologies, marine life from single-cell organisms to fishes, habitats from seafloor coral and hydrocarbon seeps to marsh insects, toxins that may affect human stem- cell behavior and fish DNA, and modelling oil movement through the water column and on the sea surface.

[Back to the Summer 2015 Newsletter]