Millions awarded for studies on effects of oil on Gulf of Mexico ecosystem

The Gulf of Mexico Research Initiative (GoMRI) Research Board announced on Friday the award of nearly $38 million to individuals and teams studying the effects of oil on the Gulf of Mexico ecosystem and public health.

The GoMRI is a 10-year independent research program, established with a $500 million commitment from BP, investigating the effects of the Deepwater Horizon incident.

Twenty experts comprise a Research Board responsible for designing research programs, making funding decisions, and providing research and budget oversight.

A total of 22 research proposals are being funded under this most recent GoMRI program.

“The Research Board was impressed with the quality of the 288 applications received,” said Dr. Rita Colwell, Chairman of the GoMRI Research Board.

“As is our practice, all proposals underwent a rigorous merit review process like that used by the National Science Foundation. This process has served us well, as demonstrated by the impressive array of research findings published in scientific journals by those researchers GoMRI has already funded. We are gaining an important understanding of how the Gulf of Mexico functions as an ecosystem and responds to large-scale environmental stresses like that caused by the tragic Macondo wellhead blowout.”

The researchers funded on Friday submitted research proposals in response to GoMRI’s fifth request for proposals (RFP-V). According to GoMRI, this program was designed to support research by individual investigators or by collaborative teams during 2016-2018.

The funding awarded on Friday will support science in all five of the GoMRI thematic areas, which are:

– Physical distribution, dispersion, and dilution of petroleum (oil and gas), its constituents, and associated contaminants (e.g., dispersants) under the action of physical oceanographic processes, air–sea interactions, and tropical storms.

– Chemical evolution and biological degradation of the petroleum/dispersant systems and subsequent interaction with coastal, open-ocean, and deep-water ecosystems.

– Environmental effects of the petroleum/dispersant system on the sea floor, water column, coastal waters, beach sediments, wetlands, marshes, and organisms; and the science of ecosystem recovery.

– Technology developments for improved response, mitigation, detection, characterization, and remediation associated with oil spills and gas releases.

– Impact of oil spills on public health including behavioral, socioeconomic, environmental risk assessment, community capacity and other population health considerations and issues.

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