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2017 Research and Development Grants Recipients
The Gulf Research Program’s 2017 Research & Development Grants support research that will advance fundamental science or provide the scientific basis for the development of new technologies, processes, or procedures to reduce or better understand the systemic risk leading to uncontrolled hydrocarbon release in the offshore oil and gas environment.

2017 Research-Practice Grants Recipients
(GRP in collaboration with the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation)
The Gulf Research Program’s 2017 research-practice grants support projects aimed at enhancing the science and practice of resilience in coastal communities in the Gulf of Mexico by working to increase understanding of community attributes that influence resilience in response to adverse environmental challenges and developing tools and strategies communities can use to strengthen their resilience.


2017 GRP Capacity Building Grants Recipients
The Gulf Research Program’s capacity building grants support community organizations as they conduct science-based projects designed to benefit coastal communities from the Gulf of Mexico to Maine to Alaska.

2016 GRP Synthesis Grants Recipients

The Gulf Research Program’s 2016 synthesis grants are intended to support projects that apply scientific synthesis to connect environmental, social, and/or health data to advance understanding of the short- and long-term impacts of offshore oil and gas operations on human communities in coastal regions adjacent to the U.S. outer continental shelf. The grants also advance study design, tools, models and technologies for assessing human exposure to environmental contaminants, including acute or chronic exposures related to oil spills and other sudden and large-scale environmental disasters, and related impacts on individuals and populations. 

2016 GRP Exploratory Grants Recipients
The Gulf Research Program’s 2016 exploratory grants are intended to jumpstart the development of novel approaches, technologies, or methods and/or the application of new expertise in one of two areas: (1) how to improve the use of scenario planning to advance safety culture and minimize risk in offshore oil and gas operations and (2) how to inform coastal community planning and response to environmental change in regions with offshore oil and gas operations.

2015 GRP Data Synthesis Grants Recipients
The Gulf Research Program’s 2015 data synthesis grants are designed to support activities that synthesize existing data for one of two purposes: 1) to inform efforts to restore and maintain the Gulf of Mexico’s ecosystem services, or 2) to enhance understanding of the Deep Gulf or its physical and biological connectivity to coastal communities. The two-year grants support activities that integrate or synthesize existing data from different sources that, analyzed together, may provide additional insights, address important questions, or lead to new approaches to interpreting and monitoring data. The research supported by these grants could increase understanding of the Gulf of Mexico region as a dynamic system, lead to better-informed decision making, translate into human benefits, or foster other actionable outcomes. 

2015 GRP Exploratory Grants Recipients
The Gulf Research Program’s 2015 exploratory grants are intended to catalyze innovative thinking in one of two areas: (1) how to effectively educate and train offshore oil and gas and health professionals and (2) how to improve understanding of links between human well-being and ecosystem services related to oil and gas production. The one-year grants provide seed money for research in its early conceptual phase, for activities that can accelerate concept to testing, or for development of novel approaches.  These grants also could support the application of new expertise or engagement of non-traditional disciplinary or interdisciplinary perspectives.




Research and Development Grants Recipients – Award Year 2017 Recipients

The Gulf Research Program of the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine announced the recipients of six Research & Development Grants totaling $10.8 million.

Listed in alphabetical order by project title, the award recipients are:

Advanced Cement Characterization and Modeling to Evaluate Novel Additives to Improve Wellbore Integrity – $671,000
Project Director: Geir Hareland (Oklahoma State University)
Project Team Affiliation: Oklahoma State University
Cement is a major material component in the construction and sealing of hydrocarbon wells. Well leakage through cement is a problem that increases maintenance costs and poses threats to surrounding communities and the environment. This project aims to improve characterization and understanding of well cement mixtures to better predict leakage potential and investigate cement additives that could reduce leakage potential and improve wellbore integrity. This information will improve modeling capability of wellbore integrity and guide designs that can be used to reduce leakage.

Experiments on Multiphase Flow of Live Muds in a Full-Scale Wellbore with Distributed Sensing for Kick and Gas-in-riser Detection/Mitigation – $ 4,910,000
Project Director: Wesley Williams (Louisiana State University)
Project Team Affiliations: Louisiana State University in cooperation with Texas A&M University and Weatherford
Pressure barriers provide the primary means of preventing uncontrolled hydrocarbon releases in offshore wells. However, these barriers are only effective if they have been designed, properly operated, and maintained for the conditions of the environment in which they are employed. The project focuses on gaps in understanding about the behavior of riser gas under high temperature and pressure. Testing will be done using an existing well retrofitted with pressure and temperature sensors to produce data for validating and verifying riser gas models that inform design of pressure barriers and techniques for preventing uncontrolled hydrocarbon releases.

Hydrocarbon Influx Behavior within a Deepwater Marine Riser: Implications for Design and Operations – $1,200,000
Project Director: Ramanan Krishnamoorti (University of Houston)
Project Team Affiliations: University of Houston in cooperation with Mulberry Well Systems LLC
Formation and management of gas within deepwater marine drilling risers poses a variety of challenges and hazards for offshore energy operations. Uncontrolled riser gas build-up and release was a major component of the Deepwater Horizon disaster. This project aims to improve understanding of riser gas formation and unloading (i.e., the processes involved in managing riser gas) through development, calibration, and implementation of modeling to describe the dynamics pertaining to riser gas under different situations and operating conditions and assessment of instrumentation that could be used to detect riser gas properties and behavior.

Mitigating Risks to Hydrocarbon Release through Integrative Advanced Materials for Wellbore Plugging and Remediation – $2,614,000
Project Director: Mileva Radonjic (Louisiana State University)
Project Team Affiliations: Louisiana State University in cooperation with SINTEF, University of Pittsburgh, and University of Texas at Austin
Leaky wellbores with inadequate well plugging materials can allow the release of hydrocarbons into the ocean at low rates for decades, resulting in cumulative damage to surrounding areas. The goal of this project is to advance capabilities for prevention and remediation of wellbore leakage in offshore hydrocarbon-producing wells. The project will develop and test new materials to improve or replace current materials used in the plugging and abandonment of wells and develop new methods for placing such materials.

Passive Acoustic Technique for Detecting, Locating, and Characterizing Hydrocarbon Leakages – $591,000
Project Director: Zhiqu Lu (University of Mississippi)
Project Team Affiliation: University of Mississippi
As offshore deepwater oil and gas production in the Gulf of Mexico continues to grow and expand, the risk of underwater oil spills resulting from both natural events and human accidents also increases. Real-time monitoring could help provide early detection of spills that is critical for minimizing impact.  Existing monitoring techniques have significant limitations and cannot achieve real-time monitoring. This project launches an effort to develop a functional real-time monitoring system that uses acoustic technologies to detect, locate, and characterize undersea hydrocarbon leakages over large areas in a cost-effective manner.

Unobtrusive Assessment of Macrocognition Processes in Team Decision Making – $788,000
Project Director: James Driskell (Florida Maxima Corporation)
Project Team Affiliations: Florida Maxima Corporation in cooperation with Institute for Energy Technology and University of Central Florida
Workers in the offshore oil and gas industry operate in high-stress situations where faulty communication or decision-making can have severe consequences. This project aims to develop a tool that passively monitors and assesses verbal output in real-time communications to provide information on the cognitive states of speakers. This information could help with detection of issues that could affect decision-making processes and inform intervention and mitigation efforts to address those issues.

View the full press release for this announcement.

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Research-Practice Grants Recipients – Award Year 2017 Recipients

The Gulf Research Program of the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation announced the recipients of four research practice grants totaling $10.8 million.

Listed in alphabetical order by project title, the award recipients are:

Community and Family Resilience, Strength and Wellbeing: Sociocultural Influences on Cambodian and Laotian Refugee Communities' Responses to Environmental Challenges – $3,076,000
Project Director: Denise Lewis (University of Georgia)
Project Team Affiliation(s): University of Georgia in cooperation with Cambodian Association of Mobile and Lao Association of Mobile
Refugee and immigrant communities’ histories and cultural differences present unique vulnerabilities and challenges for achieving community resilience in response to environmental stressors and disasters. This project will engage with Cambodian and Laotian families in coastal Alabama to determine how individual, family, and community level strengths and vulnerabilities contribute to community health and well-being and how individuals utilize social networks and formal services to respond to stressors.  Culturally responsive interventions and strategies for increasing community capacity and resilience will be developed.
 
Community Resilience Learning Collaborative and Research Network – $2,522,000
Project Director: Benjamin Springgate (Louisiana State University Health Sciences Center – New Orleans)
Project Team Affiliation(s): Louisiana State University Health Sciences Center – New Orleans in cooperation with Barataria-Terrebonne National Estuary Program; Center for Sustainable Engagement and Development; Community and Patient Partnered Research Network; Greater New Orleans, Inc.; Healthy African Families II; Louisiana Community Health Outreach Network; Louisiana Department of Health; Resilient Baton Rouge; St. Anna’s Episcopal Church; Tulane University; University of California – Los Angeles; and University of Southern California
The project aims to improve resilience and mental health outcomes in six communities in southern Louisiana that are vulnerable to poor health outcomes and the impacts of disasters. By establishing a community-partnered learning collaborative and research network, this project will build capacity to test and promote practices that can strengthen resilience. The project team will directly engage with communities within Baton Rouge, New Orleans, and coastal southern Louisiana, although the efforts and lessons are likely scalable to other Gulf States and beyond.
 
Housing Resilience in Greater New Orleans – $2,266,000
Project Director: Carlos Martin (Urban Institute)
Project Team Affiliation(s): Urban Institute in cooperation with Greater New Orleans Fair Housing Center, Texas A&M University, and University of California – Berkeley
Though homes provide a first line of defense for individuals against environmental stressors and disasters, little is understood about how housing shapes community resilience. This project plans to examine housing policy and practices that affect household vulnerability to disasters along with the quality and accessibility of related tools and resources households can use to reduce those vulnerabilities. The project will develop strategies for equitable housing programs, policies, and practices that can strengthen the resilience of whole communities. The focus will be on populations most vulnerable to the effects of climate change in the greater New Orleans area, but the information and tools developed are intended to help build household resilience throughout the Gulf region.
 
Inland from the Coast: A Multi-Scalar Approach to Regional Climate Change Responses – $2,936,000
Project Director: Jeff Carney (Louisiana State University Coastal Sustainability Studio) 
Project Team Affiliation(s): Louisiana State University – Baton Rouge in cooperation with Louisiana Sea Grant and University of New Orleans
Risks from sea-level rise, land subsidence, and extreme weather are not limited to coastal areas but threaten entire inland-coastal regions. This project takes a multi-scalar, multi-disciplinary approach to river flood modeling, health and well-being research, and applied community design to improve flood recovery and long-term resilience across the greater Baton Rouge inland-coastal region. The team links university researchers with professional architects, engineers, landscape architects, planners, policymakers, and community members to improve understanding of inland-coastal environmental conditions and vulnerabilities, determine indicators of community health and well-being, and develop design and planning best practices for reducing risk and increasing adaptive capacity. While the project is focused on helping the greater Baton Rouge region emerge more resilient from the devastating 2016 floods, the resulting framework will be applicable to inland-coastal regions across the Gulf Coast and beyond.

View the full press release for this announcement.

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2017 GRP Capacity Building Grants Recipients


The Gulf Research Program of the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine announced the recipients of 12 capacity building grants, totaling almost $3.2 million.

Listed in alphabetical order by organization, the grant recipients and their project titles are:

Building Organizational Capacity through a Community-based Citizen Science Program for Monitoring Environmental Contamination in Louisiana Coastal Parishes – $202,000
Project Director: Sharon Gauthe (Interfaith Sponsoring Committee, Bayou Interfaith Shared Community Organizing)
Project Team Affiliation(s): Bayou Interfaith Shared Community Organizing in cooperation with Groundwork New Orleans, RAND Corporation, The LifeLine Group, and Sarpy and Associates, LLC
BISCO’s mission is to build a powerful, multi-faith, multi-ethnic, multi-issue organization that serves as a voice for the people of Terrebonne and Lafourche Parishes in southeastern Louisiana, as well as Grand Isle in southern Jefferson Parish. With this award, BISCO and its partners plan to train coastal Louisiana communities to use citizen science to monitor the environment for contaminants. They intend to pilot a training program designed to develop a citizen scientist network and create sustainable avenues for communication, collaboration, and knowledge exchange. Through community-led citizen science, BISCO and its partners hope to build BISCO’s capacity and enhance community health and resilience in ways that promote equitable cross-boundary collaboration, foster scientific literacy, and encourage community-based action around environmental risks.

CoastWatch for Action: Engaging Alaska Teachers, Youth and Community in Preparedness & Response to Coastal Hazards & Climate Change – $204,000
Project Director: Elizabeth Trowbridge (Center for Alaskan Coastal Studies)
Project Team Affiliation(s): Center for Alaskan Coastal Studies in cooperation with Prince William Sound Regional Citizens’ Advisory Council, Kachemak Bay National Estuarine Research Service, Alaska Sea Grant, and the Alaska SeaLife Center
The Center for Alaskan Coastal Studies works to foster responsible interaction between people and their natural surroundings and to generate knowledge about the unique marine and coastal ecosystems of Kachemak Bay through science-based environmental education and stewardship. With this award, the project team will develop materials to educate youth and adults in Alaskan coastal communities about the effects of oil spills and other coastal hazards related to climate change. The team plans to train teachers in Alaskan coastal communities and build a network that connects responders and community preparedness professionals with educators and their students. This project is designed to build capacity in communities that have few resources to address the growing risk of coastal environmental hazards. The team anticipates that the project will foster environmental stewardship and encourage teachers and students to apply scientific concepts to real world challenges.

Strengthening Gulf Coast Resilience by Engaging, Educating and Empowering Vulnerable Populations – $377,000
Project Director:
Joseph E. Taylor (Franklin’s Promise Coalition, Inc.)
Project Team Affiliation(s):  Franklin’s Promise Coalition, Inc.in cooperation with The Corps Network, University of Florida, Gainesville, and the University of Arizona
Franklin’s Promise Coalition is a regional community coalition that works to enhance residents’ quality of life in Franklin County, Florida, by improving access to services, eliminating disparities, addressing unmet needs, promoting positive youth development, and providing leadership during disasters. With this award, the project team plans to engage people from two sectors—the seafood industry and underserved youth—in environmental stewardship and disaster readiness activities, with the goal of strengthening coastal resilience in Mississippi, Alabama, and Florida. By participating in science literacy, leadership, and training activities, the team anticipates that project participants will return to their communities better prepared to help their neighbors become more resilient to disasters and environmental change. The team plans to evaluate what effects these individuals have on their peers using social network analysis.

Making Monitoring Matter: Breaking Down Barriers to Interdisciplinary Collaboration in the Houston-Galveston Area – $182,000
Project Director: Nathan Johnson, M.S. (The Galveston Bay Foundation)
Project Team Affiliation(s): The Galveston Bay Foundation
The mission of the Galveston Bay Foundation is to preserve and enhance Galveston Bay as a healthy and productive place for generations to come. With this award, the project team plans to implement a water-monitoring action plan that would provide local stakeholders and policy makers with access to long-term ecological datasets for Galveston Bay. By communicating this information to the greater Houston community, the project team hopes to help address chronic and acute challenges that Galveston Bay faces, including oil spills, shipping traffic, development, commercial fishing, and climate change. Working with local partners, the team will extend its regional network while fostering scientific literacy, encouraging interdisciplinary collaboration, and communicating the value of bay-wide monitoring efforts.

Building industry engagement within GOMA to increase impacts to regional efforts – $150,000
Project Director: Laura Bowie, M.A. (Gulf of Mexico Alliance)
Project Team Affiliation(s): Gulf of Mexico Alliance, in cooperation with the Mississippi Department of Marine Resources, Harte Research Institute, Louisiana Coastal Protection and Restoration Authority, Mississippi Department of Marine Resources, and the Dauphin Island Sea Lab
GOMA is a regional ocean partnership created by the five Gulf state governors with a goal of enhancing the ecological and economic health of the Gulf of Mexico through increased regional collaboration. With this award, the project team plans to engage and build relationships with business leaders in industries connected to the Gulf’s coastal and marine environments. By encouraging more participation of these sectors in GOMA, the team hopes to facilitate the exchange of science-based knowledge, tools, and experience among government, industry, and other regional stakeholders. This exchange could improve resource management, encourage more science-based solutions to coastal challenges, and result in more accessible data made available to more users.

Expanding Coastal Community Capacity for Climate Change Adaptation – $359,000
Project Director:
Tracie Sempier, Ph.D. (GOMA)
Project Team Affiliation(s):  GOMA, in cooperation with Northern Gulf of Mexico Sentinel Site Cooperative and Louisiana Sea Grant
GOMA is a regional ocean partnership created by the five Gulf state Governors with the goal of increasing regional collaboration to enhance the environmental and economic health of the Gulf of Mexico. As part of this mission, GOMA is working with the Gulf of Mexico Climate and Resilience Community of Practice (CoP) to expand its capacity for addressing coastal resilience issues. The CoP is a network of coastal communities and outreach and extension professionals working together to adapt to climate change in the coastal zone through the exchange of ideas, opportunities, and expertise. With this award, project team members plan to work on key environmental and economic challenges associated with flooding. They will develop a survey for CoP members to prioritize actions for community project implementation, form working groups, collaborate with local communities to execute next steps, and develop video case studies to share best practices and lessons learned. This project is intended to help coastal communities become more resilient by pairing climate scientists with practitioners, local decision makers and other technical experts to solve real-world problems related to coastal flooding, saltwater intrusion, and climate communication.

Using Island Institute Cross-boundary Connections to Build Disaster Preparedness in Maine and Beyond – $240,000
Project Director:
Suzanne Arnold, Ph.D. (Island Institute)
Project Team Affiliation(s): Island Institute, in cooperation with the University of Maine at Machias, and Bowdoin College
The Island Institute works to sustain Maine's island and remote coastal communities, and exchanges ideas and experiences to further community sustainability in Maine and beyond. With this award, the project team plans to partner with coastal communities to determine the risks they face from storms and sea level rise, and the strategies they can use to increase their resilience. Working with a network of 150 participants, the team will create multimedia case studies, provide community-based support and training, and share project impacts and lessons learned through national networks. The team’s goal is to ensure that fishing communities in Maine and beyond can continue to make their living from the sea.

Sustainable Solutions During Disaster – $414,000 
Project Director:
Chandra Brown, M.S. (Lifelines Counseling Services [formerly Family Counseling Center of Mobile, Inc.])
Project Team Affiliation(s): Lifelines Counseling Services in cooperation with the University of South Alabama
Lifelines Counseling Services works to facilitate positive changes in individuals, families and communities in Mobile and southwestern Alabama by providing comprehensive education, referral and counseling services for social, emergency and financial problems. The project team plans to use this award to provide disaster-related trauma and mental health training for community members, mental health professionals, and social service providers; to support a train-the-trainer model to sustain this network over time; and to partner with the University of South Alabama to develop mental health trauma training courses in existing undergraduate and graduate programs. Through this project, Lifelines Counseling Services will work to increase community resilience and reduce stigma associated with seeking mental health services in southwestern Alabama.

Supporting the Isle de Jean Charles Community Resettlement through Cross-boundary Networks and Knowledge Synthesis – $200,000
Project Director:
Alessandra Jerolleman, Ph.D. (Lowlander Center)
Project Team Affiliation(s):
Lowlander Center, in cooperation with MASS Design Group, Isle de Jean Charles Band of Biloxi-Chitimacha-Choctaw, Inc., Evans + Lighter, Sustainable Native Communities Collaborative, Tulane University
Based in the bayous of Louisiana, the Lowlander Center is a nonprofit organization supporting lowland people and places through education, research and advocacy. With this award, the project team plans to develop cross-boundary networks of professionals and experts to support the Isle de Jean Charles Band of Biloxi-Chitimacha-Choctaw as the community resettles from southeastern Louisiana to land that is less environmentally vulnerable. By pilot-testing an approach that synthesizes scientific, professional, and community knowledge—as well as outreach and educational activities—the project team hopes to create a model that other coastal communities can adapt to address the social and environmental challenges that they face.

Building Bridges to Understand Fishing Communities and Fisheries – $433,000
Project Director:
Thao Vu (Mississippi Coalition for Vietnamese-American Fisher Folks and Families [MCVAFFF])
Project Team Affiliation(s): MCVAFFF, in cooperation with the University of Southern Mississippi
MSCVAFF works to address the immediate and long-term needs of the Vietnamese-American fishing communities that have been adversely impacted by the Deepwater Horizon oil spill. With this award, the project team plans to connect scientists with multi-ethnic fishing communities in Mississippi, Louisiana and Alabama to encourage a two-way information exchange. Scientists will benefit from the traditional ecological knowledge that they learn from fisher folks, while fisher folks will learn about ecosystem research and data collection methods from their academic research scientist partners. By encouraging cooperative research that connects these two groups, the project team hopes to inform scientific research and fisheries restoration priorities with more comprehensive information about coastal ecosystems and to develop solutions to address chronic challenges that fishing communities face.

Enhancing Community Resilience by Linking Conservation and Restoration with Coastal Hazards Risk Reduction via the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) Community-rating System – $244,000
Project Director:
Christine Shepard, Ph.D. (The Nature Conservancy)
Project Team Affiliation(s): The Nature Conservancy, in cooperation with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, Louisiana State University, and Barber and Mann, Inc.
TNC works to conserve the lands and water on which life depends. With this award, TNC and its partners plan to work with three Gulf of Mexico communities to develop tools that can help them identify and select projects that restore habitats, enhance coastal resilience, and earn FEMA community rating system points that reduce flood insurance rates. TNC and its partners will share case studies and lessons learned from this process via GOMA’s Coastal Resilience Team and TNC’s Coastal Resilience Network. They anticipate that this project will increase communities’ capacity to make strategic investments in natural solutions that help protect them from storm and flood impacts. This work could benefit coastal communities in the Gulf of Mexico and across the U.S.

Building scientific literacy and resilience through community citizen science in the Gulf of Mexico – $158,000
Project Director:
Ellen (Stevie) Lewis, M.Sc. (Public Laboratory for Open Technology and Science [Public Lab])
Project Team Affiliation(s): Public Lab
Public Lab seeks to change how people see the world in environmental, social, and political terms by teaching them how to investigate environmental concerns using inexpensive, do-it-yourself techniques. With this award, the project team proposes to build a community citizen science network of New Orleans, Biloxi, Mobile, and Pensacola residents who can collect and use data to enhance environmental protection and increase community resilience. Through a series of workshops, the Public Lab team will encourage communities to engage in collaborative approaches to prioritizing and answering local environmental questions. Over the course of this project, Public Lab will work to encourage collaborative learning and civic engagement via community-led scientific exploration and investigation.

View the full press release for this announcement.

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2016 Gulf Research Program Synthesis Grants Recipients


The Gulf Research Program announced the recipients of three synthesis grants, totaling over $2.1 million, for award year 2016.

Listed in alphabetical order by principal investigator, the award recipients and their research topics are:

Community cohesion and recovery after the Deepwater Horizon oil spill – $590,000
Project Director:
So-Min Cheong, Ph.D., University of Kansas
Project team affiliation(s):
University of Kansas, in cooperation with Stanford University and St. Mary's College of Maryland
This team of researchers plans to use environmental, social, and economic data to examine how coastal communities’ abilities to self-organize and mobilize helped them respond to and recover from the Deepwater Horizon oil spill. They will investigate the social-ecological drivers of community-level spill response and the role of nonprofit organizations and nonprofit networks in enhancing community cohesion after the spill. The researchers will generate outputs that scientists, nonprofits, and government stakeholders can use to help communities respond to and recover from oil spills more effectively.

Synthesizing ship tracking data, oil spill model results, and subsistence use information into a unique, interactive tool to aid research and planning in coastal communities bordering the Alaska Beaufort Sea – $530,000
Project Director:
Molly McCammon, Alaska Ocean Observing System
Project team affiliation(s): Alaska Ocean Observing System in cooperation with Axiom Data Science and Stephen R. Braund & Associates
The project team plans to develop an interactive, web-based mapping tool for planners, public and private stakeholders, and community members who rely on subsistence resources in Northern Alaska. This tool will integrate data products that describe vessel traffic patterns, estimated oil spill impacts, and subsistence use patterns for coastal communities along the Beaufort Sea. It is intended to help stakeholders understand how increased vessel traffic or an oil spill could affect different subsistence activities by comparing vessel track and spill impact density maps with newly available subsistence mapping and species distribution data. This tool could help decision makers and stakeholders in the Beaufort Sea area identify which subsistence use areas are particularly vulnerable to increased shipping activities and potential oil spills. A team of resource and community managers who are potential users of the tool will help guide its development. The final tool will have potential utility in other regions of the U.S. outer continental shelf that are experiencing some form of offshore oil development.

Understanding oil spill impacts on fishing communities of the Gulf of Mexico: From Deepwater Horizon to future spill scenarios – $1,000,000 
Project Director: Steven Murawski, Ph.D., University of South Florida
Project team affiliation(s): University of South Florida in cooperation with the University of Miami and the University of California, Davis
The project team plans to synthesize data to explore and quantify how oil spills like Deepwater Horizon affect fishing communities. This work includes both understanding how spills impact communities’ economic, ecological, and social systems — and modeling how these systems could be affected by future spills. Using high-resolution, fishery-dependent datasets, the team will identify how individual communities were affected by the Deepwater Horizon spill. Econometric and hydrodynamic modeling studies will be used to predict such impacts from future potential spills. Working with key fisheries stakeholders and local decision makers, the team plans to identify adaptive strategies that communities could use to mitigate future oil spills’ effects. This project has the potential to transform disaster planning and fisheries management responses to such disasters in the Gulf of Mexico and elsewhere.

View the full
press release for this announcement.

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2016 Gulf Research Program Exploratory Grants Recipients

The Gulf Research Program announced the recipients of nine exploratory grants, totaling almost $3 million, for award year 2016.

Listed in alphabetical order by principal investigator, the award recipients and their research topics are:

Enhancing community resilience and optimizing oil spill response through the participatory design of a decision support system – $460,000 
Project Director: Tony Grubesic, Ph.D., Arizona State University
Project team affiliation(s): Arizona State University in cooperation with the University of Utah
The project team plans to develop an open-source decision support system that helps responders minimize an oil spill’s environmental, economic, and social impacts by optimizing the deployment of response crews and equipment. By incorporating information from relevant stakeholders and community leaders and mathematically modeling different oil spill scenarios, this system is intended to help coastal communities proactively plan effective responses to deep and ultra-deep water oil spills.

Collaborative modeling with fuzzy cognitive maps: A novel approach to achieving safety culture – $407,000
Project Director: Antonie Jetter, Ph.D., Portland State University
Project team affiliation(s): Portland State University in cooperation with Michigan State University, Northeastern University, and Vanderbilt University
Researchers plan to develop and test a scenario-planning toolkit that oil and gas industry stakeholders can use to explore the factors that strengthen or detract from their organization’s safety culture. They will consider how these factors can be modeled collaboratively, whether modeling can address uncertainty about these factors and their causal relationships, if this exercise helps participants understand what bolsters and hinders safety culture, and whether their participation results in actionable outcomes. Researchers hope this project will produce a modeling approach that organizations can use to develop context-specific safety culture training that is tailored to their unique needs.

Building coastal community subject matter expert capacity through an innovative “citizen science” program to collect quantitative beach dynamic and tar ball data for oil spill planning and response in coastal regions with offshore oil and gas operations – $481,000 
Project Director:
Mark Kulp, Ph.D., University of New Orleans
Project team affiliation(s): University of New Orleans in cooperation with Owens Coastal Consultants
The project team intends to pair community groups and volunteers with experienced scientists so the community members can learn how to collect shoreline data. This data can be used to inform oil spill planning and response. In addition to developing citizen scientists who can help address a typical gap in oil spill data, the project team intends to produce a program template that other coastal communities could use to develop similar efforts.

Multidisciplinary knowledge integration to support Louisiana coastal indigenous communities’ response to natural and technological disasters and adaptation to climate change – $312,000
Project Director: Tara Lambeth, Ph.D., University of New Orleans Center for Hazard Assessment, Response and Technology (UNO-CHART)
Project team affiliation(s): University of New Orleans in cooperation with Louisiana Sea Grant and the United Houma Nation
The project team plans to collaborate with two United Houma Nation communities to document how environmental stressors affect the livelihoods of these communities and shape the mitigation strategies they use to protect their coastal lands. Team members will record traditional ecological knowledge, local adaption plans, current mitigation efforts, and the tribe’s adaptive capacities. They intend to produce a resource that can be used by the United Houma Nation and other indigenous communities facing similar challenges. This work may encourage other mitigation and adaption planning efforts and increase communication between communities and policymakers.

Developing a systems-theoretic, cross-disciplinary, scenario-based approach to reducing risk in offshore oil and gas operations – $231,000
Project Director: Nancy Leveson, Ph.D., Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT)
Project team affiliation(s): Massachusetts Institute of Technology
Building on work that characterizes accidents as processes that involve complex interactions among social and technical factors, the project director plans to incorporate additional managerial, regulatory, environmental, and community preparedness factors into her new safety engineering approach. She proposes to strengthen cross-disciplinary efforts to prevent accidents such as Deepwater Horizon by creating tools that non-technical stakeholders can use to contribute relevant environmental and social knowledge to scenario planning, preventative design, and accident response activities.

Can deliberative discussions lay a foundation for integrated decision-making networks? – $259,000
Project Director: Susan Lovelace, Ph.D., South Carolina Sea Grant Consortium
Project team affiliation(s):
South Carolina Sea Grant Consortium in cooperation with the College of Charleston and the University of Oklahoma
The project team will use an established approach in a new way to educate and engage coastal residents and community leaders. The team’s goal is to empower these stakeholders to prioritize coastal management issues and become more active in local natural resource management decisions. Through surveys, educational activities, and small-group discussions, project team members plan to identify insights about coastal management priorities and decision-making that they can share with local, state, and regional leaders, particularly those in areas with offshore oil and gas activity.

Advancing a societal impact assessment framework for oil and gas operations in the Northern Gulf of Mexico – $250,000 
Project Director:
Richard McLaughlin, Ph.D., Harte Research Institute, Texas A&M University, Corpus Christi
Project team affiliation(s): Harte Research Institute, Texas A&M University, Corpus Christi
The project team plans to develop a framework that coastal decision makers can use to measure and track the socio-economic impacts of offshore oil and gas operations in the context of environmental change and extreme weather. After reviewing relevant publications, conducting interviews and surveys, and holding focus groups with affected communities, the project team will create a formal societal impact assessment protocol that Gulf of Mexico communities can access online.

Factoring in the human in offshore operations: Forces for scenario planning – $199,000
Project Director:
Ranjana Mehta, Ph.D., Texas A&M University
Project team affiliation(s):
Texas A&M University in cooperation with the University of Texas at Austin and Benchmark
Researchers plan to explore how fatigue affects workers’ performance during simulated offshore drilling scenarios. They also plan to identify which methods drillers would be most likely to adopt to reduce fatigue during their shifts. By characterizing drillers’ cognitive performance across shifts and capturing the physiological impact of maintaining performance, this project could help planners develop scenarios to prevent or mitigate human (or systems) error that align more closely with workers’ capabilities.

Virtual reality offshore operations training infrastructure: Enhancing expert containment, decision making, and risk communications – $383,000
Project Director:
Saeed Salehi, Ph.D., University of Oklahoma
Project team affiliation(s):
University of Oklahoma
The project team plans to develop training modules to evaluate and strengthen workers’ decision-making skills by developing tools and modules that simulate loss of well control scenarios in the offshore oil and gas environment. These modules could enhance process safety in offshore oil and gas operations by helping operators, training organizations, and regulators assess and manage preventable risks related to human factors.

View the
press release for this announcement.

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2015 Gulf Research Program Data Synthesis Grants Recipients

The Gulf Research Program is pleased to announce the recipients of nine data synthesis grants, totaling more than $4.4 million, for award year 2015.

Listed in alphabetical order by principal investigator, the award recipients and their grant research topics are:

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
Project team affiliation(s):
University of Southern Mississippi in cooperation with the 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
Project team affiliation(s): 
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
Project team affiliation(s):
Dauphin Island Sea Lab in cooperation with The Nature Conservancy and Northeastern University
Restoration of coastal habitats has proceeded rapidly over the last 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 socio-economic 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
Project team affiliation(s):
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., MPH, CPH, Texas A&M University Health Science Center
Project team affiliation(s):
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 publically 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 policymakers 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
Project team affiliation(s):
University of Florida in cooperation with the Florida Fish and Wildlife Research Institute and the 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
Project team affiliation(s):
University of Central Florida in cooperation with the 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
Project team affiliation(s):
Florida State University in cooperation with Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution, Scripps Institution of Oceanography, University of Rhode Island, Leidos Corp., Centro de Investigacion Cientifica y de Educacion Superior de Ensenada, 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 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
Project team affiliation(s):
University of Maryland in cooperation with 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 upon 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.

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press release for this announcement.
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2015 Gulf Research Program Exploratory Grants Recipients

The Gulf Research Program announced the recipients of 12 exploratory grants, totaling more than $1.5 million, for award year 2015.

Listed in alphabetical order by principal investigator, the award recipients and their grant research topics are:

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
Project team affiliation(s): 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. Project team members include upstream oil and gas industry partners, industry associations, and higher education partners across the Gulf Coast.

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
Project team affiliation(s):
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. By mapping trends in these relationships at different levels (by parish, by community, and coast-wide), this work intends to help future land managers make informed decisions about coastal planning and restoration in Louisiana’s rapidly-changing coastal areas. The decision-making framework this research produces could also be relevant to other Gulf coast areas with developing oil and gas infrastructure.

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
Project team affiliation(s):
Stanford University in cooperation with the University of Minnesota and 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. By accounting for external factors like a changing climate and its effects on ecosystems and the benefits they provide to people, this project intends to identify the best places to enhance resilience in a region affected by oil and gas activity.

Expanding ecosystem service provisioning from coastal restoration to minimize environmental and energy constraints - $148,000
Project Director:
John Day, Ph.D., Louisiana State University
Project team affiliation(s):
Louisiana State University
Researchers intend to show how healthy ecosystems support healthy and resilient Gulf communities through benefits like 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. This work could help decision makers prioritize and sequence restoration projects by showing them how project timing affects project costs.

Virtual offshore safety awareness (VOSA) site - $125,000 
Project Director: Rich Haut, Ph.D., Houston Advanced Research Center
Project team affiliation(s): 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 “virtual rig” tool to identify situations and then practice how they may avoid or respond to an emergency offshore. This tool aims to help reinforce knowledge in areas like spill containment and response, equipment maintenance and repair, personal safety, and environmental protection. It will incorporate input from industry subject matter experts, environmental organizations, and other key stakeholders. The tool, the Virtual Offshore Safety Awareness (VOSA) website, is free to use.

Immersion simulation:  Interdisciplinary training for the  Gulf of Mexico workforce (ISIM) – $125,000
Project Director: Joan Hendrix, Ph.D., Mississippi Gulf Coast Community College
Project team affiliation(s):
Mississippi Gulf Coast Community College
The project team will work to train oil and gas workers and health professionals to better understand, communicate, and work with each other in simulated emergency environments, enhancing their ability to respond to medical and environmental emergencies in the Gulf of Mexico. By addressing existing gaps in interdisciplinary training for these two groups, the project team intends to build a cohort of Gulf-based responders who are prepared to collaborate with one another during future disaster response scenarios. This training program may also be useful in other U.S. coastal areas where oil and gas production occurs.

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
Project team affiliation(s):
Mobile Area Education Foundation in cooperation with the University of South Alabama, Sarpy and Associates, LLC, Mobile County Public Schools, and AH Environmental Consultants
This project team will work to cultivate future safety leaders for the energy and maritime workforce in Mobile by creating an environmental health and safety leadership program for high school students. This program will train students in risk analysis, occupational safety regulations, emergency scenarios, and leadership skills. The project team plans to assess the program’s performance and share lessons learned, empowering other schools and training organizations to use this work to develop their own student safety leadership programs.

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
Project team affiliation(s):
Tulane University in cooperation with Fletcher Technical Community College and 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 knowledge and skills and teaching them to community college students and current workers in oil production, marine operations, and nursing. Project partners plan to develop educational products that other organizations can adapt and use. The project team will work to ensure that key practical skills and training products are relevant to workplace settings by drawing on the expertise of its members, which include educational institutions, industry groups, and employers.

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
Project team affiliation(s):
Texas A&M University-Corpus Christi
Researchers propose 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. By developing a model with data from before and after the 2010 oil spill, researchers intend to determine how the benefits that ecosystems provide to people have changed during this period. They also intend to test the resilience of offshore environments and assess their potential for recovery. This 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, Ph.D., College of Charleston
Project team affliation(s): College of Charleston in cooperation with the University of Maryland, University of South Carolina, and University of Illinois
Researchers will examine how human health and well-being are affected when people in the affected area derive fewer benefits from ecosystems following a natural or technological disaster. They will test their hypothesis that healthy coastal environments and marine biodiversity support improved human health. This work could provide a framework for improving resilience and recovery planning for future disasters. It could also help researchers better understand and anticipate the health effects of future disasters.

Preparing underserved communities for career paths in energy, environmental health, and restoration – $177,000
Project Director:
Minor Sinclair, Oxfam America
Project team affiliation(s):
Oxfam America in cooperation with 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. Team members plan to develop relationships with these employers to cultivate opportunities for program participants. By growing this program designed to build employment equity in the workforce, the project intends to help communities be more resilient in the face of future disasters.

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
Project team affiliation(s): University of Southern Mississippi
This project proposes to develop a tool which 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 could allow decision makers to evaluate the potential risks and tradeoffs that these types of decisions entail in a dynamic system like the Gulf of Mexico. This tool may also be used by policymakers in other regions who want to maximize the benefits that ecosystems provide to people.

View the press release for this announcement.
 

 


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