By DOTTY NIST
To fund independent study of impacts of the Deepwater Horizon disaster and related topics, BP has allocated $112.5 million to eight research teams from universities in the Gulf Coast region.
The grant funding, which will be provided over a three-year period, was announced on Aug. 31. It is being furnished as part of the Gulf of Mexico Research Initiative (GOMRI), a commitment by BP to provide $500 million over a 10-year period for independent scientific research in connection with the April 10, 2010 oil spill.
Selected through a merit review process by a research board of academic scientists, the research teams or consortia are to study, along with spill impacts, the development of new tools, technologies, and methods for responding to future oil spills. The consortia were among those which had responded to a request for proposals issued by the Gulf Research Institute Research Board on April 25, 2011.
As is to be the case for all research funded through the GOMRI, results of the study are to be published in scientific journals without the requirement for approval by BP.
Lead institutions for the research teams include Florida State University, the University of South Florida, the University of Miami, the Louisiana Universities Marine Consortium, Tulane University, the University of Mississippi, the University of Texas at Austin, and Texas A&M University at College Station.
Dr. Rita R. Colwell, chairman of the Gulf Research Initiative Research Board, commented, “These Consortia establish a research community of great strength with promise of substantial achievements. The results will illuminate the consequences of the Deepwater Horizon explosion and spill, and enable appropriate responses should there be future releases, not only in the Gulf of Mexico, but anywhere that oil and gas is produced in ocean environments. They will also assist local, state and federal agencies in their work to remediate the consequences of the oil spill in coastal and marine environments. The long term contribution of this research will be of major benefit to industry, governments, and the people who live along the Gulf Coast.”
Colwell explained that, after being funded for three years, the eight teams would be eligible to apply for additional funds from GOMRI.
Earlier this year, in June, 17 grants totaling $1.5 million were provided through the program to fund acquistion of samples and scientific observations in connection with the Deepwater Horizon incident. Since this work was deemed time sensitive, the grants were awarded through an emergency request for proposals.
According to Colwell, an additional request for proposals is currently being developed as part of the program. This is to provide for approximately $7.5 million in smaller grants to be awarded to individuals and/or small research teams.
Information on the Gulf of Mexico Research Initiative is available on the web site http://www.gomri.org or by calling (228) 688-2687.