Gulf of Mexico scientific research is taking center stage through January 29, 2014 at the Renaissance Mobile Riverview Plaza Hotel in Mobile, Alabama. More than 800 experts from academia, state and federal agencies, and non-governmental organizations are gathering to share the latest Gulf of Mexico ecosystem science research results during the Gulf of Mexico Oil Spill and Ecosystem Science Conference.
Dr. Rita Colwell, the chair of the conference, joined us on Studio10 to discuss the mission of GoMRI. The mission is to improve society’s ability to understand and mitigate the impacts of hydrocarbon pollution and stressors on the marine environment. Knowledge gained from the research will contribute to improving the long-term environmental health of the Gulf of Mexico; offer improvements for spill mitigation, oil detection and characterization; and lead to advanced remediation technologies.
More specifically, GoMRI funded research informs understanding in five areas:
*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.
The Gulf of Mexico Research Initiative, GoMRI, is one of 11 sponsors of the conference. GoMRI is an independent research program that is funded by the 10-year, $500 million commitment made by BP in 2010 to support research into the effects and potential associated impacts of hydrocarbon releases on the environment and public health. The GoMRI funding decisions are made by an independent Research Board composed of 20 science, public health and research administration experts. All GoMRI-funded research results are published in peer-reviewed scientific journals with no requirement for BP approval.
The first Gulf of Mexico Oil Spill and Ecosystem Science Conference was held last year in New Orleans. The conference is an important part of the scientific process as it allows scientists and research administrators an opportunity to learn from each other, discover promising areas for research, and identify where gaps may exist in the research.
Poster sessions on January 27 and 28, from 6:00 to 8:00 p.m., will be open to conference attendees and news media with some GoMRI and non-GoMRI funded researchers on-hand to discuss their research findings. GoMRI will host another Poster Session from 6:00 to 8:00 p.m. on January 29. This program will feature GoMRI funded researchers discussing their progress. Dr. Rita Colwell and Dr. Chuck Wilson, GoMRI’s Chief Science Officer, will also be available to discuss research priorities, progress and findings. Interviews with GoMRI-funded research presenters can also be arranged in between sessions during the four-day conference.
More about the Gulf of Mexico Research Initiative:
The Gulf of Mexico Research Initiative (GoMRI) is a 10-year independent research program established to study the effect, and the potential associated impact, of hydrocarbon releases on the environment and public health, as well as to develop improved spill mitigation, oil detection, characterization and remediation technologies. An independent and academic 20-member Research Board makes the funding and research direction decisions to ensure the intellectual quality, effectiveness and academic independence of the GoMRI research. All research data, findings and publications will be made publicly available. The program was established through a $500 million financial commitment from BP. For more information, visit http://gulfresearchinitiative.org/.