Winter 2015 – Note from the Research Board Chair

(From Winter 2015 Newsletter) Dr. Rita Colwell, University of Maryland and Johns Hopkins University

GoMRI research is carried out in approximately 192 institutions located in 37 states and seven countries. Thus, the challenges in coordinating such a far-reaching community of scientists are complex and occasionally daunting. The GoMRI Research Board recognizes the need to foster synthesis and communication among scientists, policy makers and the public, especially within the GoMRI research community and other scientists. GoMRI has moved rapidly to this goal by sponsoring a special issue of Bioscience, Understanding the Biological Effects of the Macondo Blowout, published in September 2014.

The theme of this special issue was biological impacts of oil on the Gulf of Mexico ecosystem. Research conducted by two of the GoMRI-funded research consortia, Coastal Waters Consortium (CWC) and Ecosystem Impacts of Oil and Gas Inputs to the Gulf (ECOGIG) consortium, provides a holistic view of effects on a range of organisms from microbes to terrestrial vertebrates and on ecosystems from deep in the Gulf to beaches and wetlands along the coast. Seven scientific papers in the Bioscience special issue describe impacts of oil, each from a different research perspective, and comprise an informative set of literature reviews and research results.

Other publications featuring GoMRI research have been published or are in preparation. GoMRI scientists from four consortia, CWC, Deepsea to Coast Connectivity in the Eastern Gulf of Mexico (Deep-C), Consortium for Advanced Research on Transport of Hydrocarbon in the Environment (CARTHE) and Gulf of Mexico Integrated Spill Response Consortium (GISR) participated in the International Oil Spill Conference held in Savannah, GA in May 2014 and nine publications featuring their research were included in the conference proceedings. More information and a listing of the publications can be found here in this newsletter. A topical issue of Deep-Sea Research Part I is scheduled for release in early 2015 and will feature about 40 papers prepared by research scientists from six of the GoMRI consortia, reviewing the state of the ecosystem of the Gulf of Mexico, before, during, and after the DWH event.

These special issues are informative not only for the scientific community, but also for public understanding of the Gulf of Mexico response to the DWH oil spill. At this halfway mark for the Gulf of Mexico Research Initiative it is exciting to see these synthesis activities develop and come to fruition. GoMRI scientists continue their work and are publishing together as a team. Many more communications will be forthcoming both in scientific journals and in the lay press. Stay tuned!

[Back to the Winter 2015 Newsletter]