Publication Abstract

Northern Gulf Institute Final Report: Year 1 Gulf of Mexico Research Initiative Funding

Harding, J. M., & Moorhead, R. J., (2013). Northern Gulf Institute Final Report: Year 1 Gulf of Mexico Research Initiative Funding. Mississippi State University: Northern Gulf Institute.


The Northern Gulf Institute (NGI) is a National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) Cooperative Institute, a partnership of five complementary academic institutions and NOAA addressing important national strategic research and education goals. Mississippi State University leads this collaboration, partnering with the University of Southern Mississippi, Louisiana State University, Florida State University, Alabama’s Dauphin Island Sea Lab, and NOAA scientists at various laboratories and operational centers with interests in the northern Gulf of Mexico region. The Institute contributes to NOAA’s strategic interests in the four NGI research themes of Ecosystem Management, Geospatial Data Integration and Visualization, Coastal Hazards, and Climate Effects on Regional Ecosystems. The NGI institutional and management structure and recognized Gulf of Mexico science leadership in these theme areas positioned NGI as a key participant in the necessarily rapid monitoring and research response necessary in the immediate wake of the April 20, 2010 Deepwater Horizon Incident (DwH). The situation called for a rapid reponse including continuation of existing as well as the initiation of new environmental monitoring and research prior to the influx of oil into northern Gulf ecosystems. Recognizing this immediate need, BP provided initial funding for the Gulf of Mexico Research Initiative to the affected states from Lousiana to Florida. Given its multi-state membership, NGI was granted $10M for rapid distribution to university researchers across the northern Gulf, primarily to maintain and expand monitoring efforts. Within the first months NGI provided NGI and non-NGI affiliated researchers, from the Gulf states and beyond, with ~ $4M rapid, phase 1, initial funding as selected by then NGI Acting Director, Dr. Michael Carron. Forty individual projects within nine overarching research efforts focused on the five original Gulf of Mexico Research Initiative (GoMRI) themes: (1) physical distribution, dispersion and dilution of contaminants under the action of ocean currents and tropical storms, (2) chemical evolution and biological degradation of the oil/dispersant systems and subsequent interaction with the marine and coastal ecosystems, (3) environmental effects of the oil/dispersant system on the sea floor, water column, coastal waters, shallow water habitats, wetlands, and beach sediments, and the science of ecosystem recovery, (4) technology developments for improved mitigation, detection, characterization and remediation of oil spills, and (5) fundamental scientific research integrating results from the other four themes in the context of public health. Subsequent to the phase 1 rapid response, NGI conducted a call for proposals for the remaining ~$6M, again focused on the GoMRI themes. NGI solicited proposals from Investigators from the five NGI institutions with all proposals subject to an independent peer-review process. The peer review was conducted and award decisions for 25 projects completed by January 2011. Phase 1 investigators submitted final reports in early 2011 with Phase 2 final reports submitted by mid-2012.