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Gulf of Mexico Research Awards $140 Million to Support Research

Source: www.gulfoilandgas.com 11/14/2014, Location: South America

The Gulf of Mexico Research Initiative (GoMRI) has selected 12 research consortia to conduct scientific studies of the impacts of oil, dispersed oil, and dispersant on the Gulf of Mexico ecosystem and public health. These research investments focus on improving our fundamental understanding of the implications of events such as the Macondo well blowout, and on developing improved spill mitigation, oil and gas detection, characterization and remediation technologies. The consortia were chosen following a competitive, merit review process that evaluated research applications submitted to GoMRI in response to its RFP-IV program solicitation.

Through the RFP-IV program, GoMRI is awarding $140 million to support research to be carried out from 2015 through 2017. For the past several years, GoMRI has reached out to the public health research community. “It was clear that research on public health is needed,” said Dr. Rita Colwell, Chairman of the GoMRI Research Board. “I’m pleased that in this round of awards there are funds to study public health issues in the Gulf of Mexico region associated with the oil spill. We are also funding research focused on increasing our knowledge of the biology of the Gulf and the interaction of oil with the ecosystem.”

This is the second round of funding provided by GoMRI to consortia – research groups consisting of a lead investigator and collaborators from four or more other institutions. “A significant benefit of our prior support is increased collaboration among scientists and institutions across the Gulf. This round of funding will continue to build a research community focused on understanding the dynamics of the Gulf of Mexico ecosystem,” said Colwell.

Forty-seven research proposals were received. Each proposal described how the consortium would operate and the kind of research it would conduct to increase scientific understanding of one or more of five research themes, 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 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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