Identifying critical middle-skilled positions and career pathways in the upstream oil and gas industry – $138,000
Project Director: Madeline Burillo, Ed.D., Houston Community College
By identifying the most safety-critical jobs in the Gulf Coast of Mexico, project partners intend to help industry standardize and prioritize training programs that enhance safety culture and reduce risk during offshore drilling. Partners also plan to develop a training program for one of the jobs identified.
Assessing long-term linkages between development of oil and gas industry–related coastal infrastructure, societal well-being, and ecosystem function in coastal Louisiana – $130,000
Project Director: Tim J.B. Carruthers, Ph.D., The Water Institute of the Gulf
Scott Hemmerling, Ph.D., The Water Institute of the Gulf
Researchers will examine the costs and benefits of expanding oil and gas activity in coastal Louisiana by looking at how human well-being and ecosystems changed as onshore oil and gas infrastructure developed from 1950 to 2015. Their work could help future land managers make informed decisions about coastal planning and restoration.
Advancing optimization of ecosystem services to inform management and restoration of the Gulf of Mexico – $128,000
Project Director: Gretchen Daily, Ph.D., Stanford University
Katie Arkema, Ph.D., Spencer A. Wood, Ph.D., and Anne D. Guerry, Ph.D., Stanford University
Bonnie Keeler, Ph.D., and Peter Hawthorne, Ph.D., University of Minnesota
Josh Goldstein, Ph.D., and Christine Shepard, Ph.D., The Nature Conservancy
This project team will work to advance the use of science in strategic management and planning in the Gulf of Mexico. Team members plan to develop a science-based framework to prioritize restoration projects that provide the greatest returns for people and nature.
Expanding ecosystem service provisioning from coastal restoration to minimize environmental and energy constraints – $148,000
Project Director: John Day, Ph.D., Louisiana State University
David Dismukes, Ph.D., Christopher D’Elia, Ph.D., Robert Lane, Ph.D., and David Batker, Louisiana State University
Researchers will examine how healthy ecosystems support healthy and resilient Gulf communities through benefits such as improved water quality, sustainable fisheries and recreation, and better storm protection. The team plans to address how these benefits change over time, both with and without restoration activities that respond to climate change, sea-level rise, and future energy costs.
Virtual offshore disaster training (VODT) site – $125,000
Project Director: Rich Haut, Ph.D., Houston Advanced Research Center
This project team will work to enhance oil and gas workers’ ability to prevent and respond to offshore disasters by developing an interactive, virtual training tool. Workers will be able to use this tool to practice how they would respond to an emergency offshore.
Immersion simulation (ISIM): Interdisciplinary training for the Gulf of Mexico workforce – $125,000
Project Director: Joan Hendrix, D.N.P., Mississippi Gulf Coast Community College
John Shows, Millie Hyatt, and Larry Porter, Mississippi Gulf Coast Community College
The project team proposes to train oil and gas workers and health professionals to better understand, communicate, and work with each other, enhancing their ability to respond to emergencies in the Gulf of Mexico.
Using problem-based learning to develop a future labor force of environmentally knowledgeable and safety-certified workers – $125,000
Project Director: Jabaria Jenkins, Mobile Area Education Foundation
Jennifer Langhinrichsen-Rohling, Ph.D., University of South Alabama
Sue Ann Sarpy, Sarpy and Associates, LLC
Larry Mouton, Mobile County Public Schools
Robert Keyser, AH Environmental Consultants
Melissa Dean, Mobile Area Education Foundation
This project team will work to cultivate future safety leaders for the energy and maritime workforce in Mobile, Alabama by creating an environmental health and safety leadership program for high school students. The team plans to evaluate the degree to which this program prepares students to influence safety in their future workplaces.
Linking energy-production technologies to human health protection: A “to and through” approach to the interdisciplinary training of a middle-skilled workforce – $125,000
Project Director: Maureen Lichtveld, M.D., M.P.H., Tulane University
Roy Rando, Sc.D., and Jeffrey Wickliffe, Ph.D., Tulane University
Derrick Manns, Ph.D., Alvin Justelien III, Ph.D., and Sonia Fanguy-Clarke, D.N.P., Fletcher Technical Community College
Carl Moore, South Central Louisiana Technical College
The project team will work to build a safer workforce in southeastern Louisiana by identifying key environmental health and disaster management skills and teaching them to community college students and current workers in oil production, marine operations, and nursing fields.
The effect of the Deepwater Horizon oil spill on human well-being in the Gulf of Mexico – $118,000
Project Director: Paul Montagna, Ph.D., Texas A&M University–Corpus Christi
David Yoskowitz, Ph.D., and Cristina Carollo, Ph.D., Texas A&M University–Corpus Christi
Researchers plan to develop a better understanding of how offshore oil and gas production affects the links between human well-being and offshore ecosystems in the Gulf of Mexico. Their work will produce a model that could predict how oil and gas production may influence human well-being in other regions.
Modeling stress-associated health effects of multiple impacted ecosystem services in the Gulf of Mexico – $126,000
Project Director: Paul Sandifer, College of Charleston
Ariana Sutton-Grier, Ph.D., University of Maryland
Dwayne Porter, Ph.D., and Geoffrey I. Scott, Ph.D., University of South Carolina
William Sullivan, Ph.D., University of Illinois
Tracy Collier, Ph.D. (retired)
Researchers will examine how human health and well-being are affected when people derive fewer benefits from ecosystems following a natural or technological disaster. This work could provide a framework for improving resilience and recovery planning for future disasters.
Preparing underserved communities for career paths in energy, environmental health, and restoration – $177,000
Project Director: Minor Sinclair, Oxfam America
Telley Madina and Laura Inouye, Oxfam America
Patrick Barnes, P.G., Sherry Callaway, P.G., and Elizabeth Cornell, P.G., Limitless Vistas, Inc.
To improve economic opportunities, promote resilience, and fill workforce gaps, the project team will work to train underserved minorities and women in low-income Gulf Coast communities for high-demand, higher-wage work with local employers in energy, environmental health, disaster response, and ecosystem restoration.
Developing a decision support tool to evaluate ecosystem services and associated uncertainties using a Bayesian belief network – $124,000
Project Director: Wei Wu, Ph.D., University of Southern Mississippi
This project proposes to develop a tool that integrates knowledge from both natural and social sciences and quantifies uncertainties to help resource managers in the Gulf of Mexico understand how ecosystems—and the benefits they provide to people—may change as a result of different management decisions (such as developing offshore oil and gas or restoring coastal wetlands). This tool may be used by policy makers in other regions who want to maximize the benefits that ecosystems provide.
Understanding the trajectory of coastal salt marsh structure, function, and processes in the face of sea-level rise: A synthesis from historical imagery, biophysical processes, and hierarchical modeling – $507,000
Project Director: Patrick D. Biber, Ph.D., University of Southern Mississippi
Wei Wu, Ph.D., and Gregory Alan Carter, Ph.D., University of Southern Mississippi
Deepak Mishra, Ph.D., University of Georgia
Coastal wetlands in the northern Gulf of Mexico are vulnerable to degradation by natural and human-induced environmental changes. The project researchers plan to combine historical aerial photography and satellite imagery with analyses of wetland fragmentation and other biophysical and biogeochemical data to improve predictions of the health and productivity of coastal wetlands. The products of this research are expected to inform plans for marsh preservation, restoration, and the future viability of the ecosystem services provided by coastal marshes to human communities.
The transport of oil to the coast in the top centimeter of the water column – $433,000
Project Director: Allan J. Clarke, Ph.D., Florida State University
Without a reliable estimate of surface-level flow, predictions of the movement of oil floating in the Gulf of Mexico and where and when it will reach the coast are inaccurate. Theory suggests that the surface flow can differ considerably from the flow at even half a meter depth. This project will use drift card data collected by the Gulf Integrated Spill Response Consortium during 2013 and 2014, together with measurements of winds, waves, and state-of-the-art numerical models, to improve the reliability of surface-flow estimates and advance understanding of the connectivity between the Deep Gulf and coastal waters.
Living shorelines: Synthesizing the results of a decade of implementation in coastal Alabama – $469,000
Project Director: Kenneth L. Heck, Jr., Ph.D., Dauphin Island Sea Lab
Dorothy Byron David, Dauphin Island Sea Lab
Judy Haner, The Nature Conservancy
Jonathan H. Grabowski, Ph.D., Steven B. Scyphers, Ph.D., and Matthias Ruth, Ph.D., Northeastern University
Restoration of coastal habitats has proceeded rapidly during the past two decades and will likely accelerate in light of the civil settlement stemming from the 2010 Deepwater Horizon oil spill. With opportune timing, the project research team plans to synthesize data that capture biological and physical effects of living shorelines with data from companion socioeconomic studies to fully evaluate the benefits of living shoreline projects across coastal Alabama. The research is expected to contribute insights into the performance and efficacy of the different environmental-restoration strategies being applied across the Gulf region.
Integrating visual and acoustic data on cetacean abundance and habitat in Gulf of Mexico deep water – $451,000
Project Director: John A. Hildebrand, Ph.D., Scripps Institution of Oceanography
Kaitlin E. Frasier, Ph.D., Scripps Institution of Oceanography
Protected species in the deep ocean, such as dolphins and whales, require monitoring for management and conservation purposes. In response to the need for improved monitoring, the project team will integrate temporally rich acoustic survey data and spatially rich visual survey data of whales and dolphins from the Gulf of Mexico and develop habitat models. These models could inform the development of new conservation and management strategies—particularly after events such as the Deepwater Horizon oil spill.
Utilizing secondary data to assess the health and health system impacts of natural and technological disasters in the Gulf – $181,000
Project Director: Jennifer A. Horney, Ph.D., M.P.H., C.P.H., Texas A&M University Health Science Center Tiffany A. Radcliff, Ph.D., and Hongwei Zhao, Sc.D., Texas A&M University Health Science Center Socially vulnerable groups who live in hazard-prone coastal areas such as the Gulf Coast are disproportionally at risk from both natural and technological disasters such as oil spills. The project researchers plan to integrate publicly available federal data and individual medical claims data in order to conduct a large-scale evaluation of the effects of disasters on the health status and health system utilization of Medicare beneficiaries living in coastal Gulf communities. Such efforts could help policy makers anticipate risks posed by future disasters and help enhance the resilience of vulnerable communities.
Synthesizing spatial dynamics of recreational fish and fisheries to inform restoration strategies: Red drum in the Gulf of Mexico – $480,000
Project Director: Kai Lorenzen, Ph.D., University of Florida
Charles M. Adams, Ph.D., Robert Ahrens, Ph.D., Micheal S. Allen, Ph.D., Edward Camp, Ph.D., Jynessa
Dutka-Gianelli, Ph.D., Sherry L. Larkin, Ph.D., William E. Pine III, Ph.D., and Juliane Struve, Ph.D., University of Florida
Luiz R. Barbieri, Ph.D., Susan K. Lowerre-Barbieri, Ph.D., and Michael D. Murphy, Ph.D., Florida Fish and Wildlife Research Institute
James M. Tolan, Ph.D., Texas Parks and Wildlife Department
Healthy recreational fisheries in the Gulf are important economic and environmental indicators of coastal communities’ well-being, but these fisheries are vulnerable to disturbances such as oil spills.
The project team plans to synthesize diverse data sets from monitoring programs and research projects in an effort to develop an integrated, social-ecological systems model for the red drum fishery that can be applied to potential restoration strategies. The team’s work could advance management strategies applied to other coastal recreational fisheries across the nation.
Quantifying environmental and anthropogenic drivers of sea turtle distribution and abundance in the Gulf of Mexico – $494,000
Project Director: Katherine Mansfield, Ph.D., Department of Biology, University of Central Florida
Erin E. Seney, Ph.D., Department of Biology, University of Central Florida
Nathan F. Putman, Ph.D., Cooperative Institute for Marine and Atmospheric Studies, University of Miami
Biological connectivity can facilitate the propagation of impacts due to environmental and anthropogenic stressors from local to regional scales, posing significant challenges for ecosystem management and protection of species. To address these challenges and to help guide the management and protection of sea turtles in the Gulf of Mexico, the project research team plans to synthesize sea turtle distribution and abundance data with key oceanographic data to advance our understanding of how human activities influence the distribution and abundance of mobile marine species.
Synthesis of historical observations using novel model approaches to improve understanding and predictability of deep Gulf of Mexico circulation – $897,000
Project Director: Steven Morey, Ph.D., Florida State University
Amy S. Bower, Ph.D., Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution
Eric P. Chassignet, Ph.D., Dmitry S. Dukhovskoy, Ph.D., Cathrine Hancock, Ph.D., and Kevin Speer, Ph.D., Florida State University
Bruce D. Cornuelle, Ph.D., and Ganesh Gopalakrishnan, Ph.D., Scripps Institution of Oceanography
Kathleen A. Donohue, Ph.D., University of Rhode Island
Peter Hamilton, Ph.D., Leidos
João Marcos Azevedo Correia De Souza, Ph.D., and Enric Pallàs Sanz, Ph.D., Centro de Investigación
Científica y de Educación Superior de Ensenada
Ashwanth Srinivasan, Ph.D., Tendral, LLC
Understanding of the physical processes that control the deep circulation in the Gulf of Mexico is a fundamental goal for improving the characterization and prediction of the deep water environment. Project researchers will synthesize a mix of historical observations with new models to better understand the unique currents that flow through the deep Gulf of Mexico. Findings are expected to improve forecasting methodologies critical for the safe design and operation of offshore oil and gas infrastructure, as well as improve our predictive capabilities for the transport of deep water organisms and contaminants.
Improved understanding of the northern Gulf of Mexico pelagic ecosystem: Integration, synthesis, and modeling of high-resolution zooplankton and fish data – $504,000
Project Director: Michael R. Roman, Ph.D., University of Maryland
James J. Pierson, Ph.D., University of Maryland
Stephan B. Brandt, Ph.D., Oregon State University
Zooplankton and small fish provide the foundation for commercially and recreationally important fish species in the Gulf of Mexico, but their limited mobility makes them particularly vulnerable to impaired environmental conditions. Project researchers will build on a variety of models to assess potential responses of zooplankton and fish to stressors such as oil spills and events limiting oxygen supply in the northern Gulf of Mexico. The synthesis of historic data with a broad range of new information will identify new, cost-effective ways of monitoring critical living marine resources in the Gulf.
About the Program
In collaboration with others in the Gulf region and around the nation, the Gulf Research Program works to improve understanding of the connections among offshore energy production, the environment, and the people who depend on both. The Gulf Research Program is a division of the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine.
Contact the Program
Phone: (202) 334-1973
NASA image courtesy Norman Kuring, Ocean Color Team
Copyright 2016 by the National Academy of Sciences. All rights reserved.
Digital Object Identifier: 10.17226/23643
Over its 30-year duration, the Gulf Research Program will work to enhance oil system safety and the protection of human health and the environment in the Gulf of Mexico and other U.S. outer continental shelf areas by seeking to improve understanding of the region’s interconnecting human, environmental, and energy systems and fostering application of these insights to benefit Gulf communities, ecosystems, and the nation.