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Gulf Research Program Sponsored Activities

The projects and activities on this page are financially supported by the Gulf Research Program, but GRP staff are not direct participants and the final products are not authored by the Gulf Research Program.

Projects or Opportunities Currently in Progress 

Consensus Studies

Evaluation of the Use of Chemical Dispersants in Oil Spill Response
This study will assess the effects and efficacy of dispersants as an oil spill response tool through review and evaluation of domestic and international research reports and results, including both laboratory and field studies. The study will evaluate trade-offs associated with dispersant use, in part through use or review of net environmental benefit analyses conducted for past oil spills.

Long-term Coastal Zone Dynamics: Interactions and Feedbacks between Natural and Human Processes and their Implications for the U.S. Coastline
An ad hoc committee will conduct a study to determine research needed to improve the understanding of long-term (years, decades, centuries) coastal dynamics and the long-term impacts of coastal engineering and development along three types of U.S. coastlines -- the barrier island coastlines of the mid-Atlantic, the deltaic coastline of Louisiana and Mississippi, and the tectonically active coastline of the Pacific. The study will also consider how to make such information more useful to coastal communities.

Measuring Community Resilience
The project will explore metrics for resilience used at a national level and identify strategies for measuring resilience at the community level. The project is foundational in that the findings and conclusions will directly inform the work of the Gulf Research Program on how to measure resilience and enhance or build resilience in Gulf coast communities. The report will also be of interest to a wide range of audiences, including community decision makers and community organizations; local, state, and federal agencies; practitioners; the private sector; the foundation and philanthropic community; the research community.

Performance-Based Safety Regulation
Many countries, including the United States, use forms of performance-based regulation to promote safety and reduce risk in high-hazard industries. The term “performance-based” is often used to refer to (a) standards that mandate outcomes and give firms flexibility in how to meet them, or (b) requirements for firms to use management systems consisting of internal plans and practices for promoting safety and reducing risk. Performance-based regulation is usually contrasted with “prescriptive” regulation – sometimes called specification, design, or technology standards – that requires firms to adopt specific means to promote safety and reduce risks. This study will compare the advantages and disadvantages of prescriptive- and performance-based forms of safety regulation and identify possible opportunities for, and constraints on, making greater use of the latter. The study will be informed by experiences of performance-based safety regulation in the U.S. and abroad and will make recommendations about the application of this regulatory approach in high-hazard industries, such as off-shore oil and gas, pipelines, and other modes of transportation.

The Science of Effective Mentoring in Science, Technology, Engineering, Medicine, and Mathematics (STEMM)

The quality, vigor, and innovation of the U.S. science, technology, engineering, mathematics, and medicine (STEMM) enterprise depend on increasing the diversity of individuals, research teams, and leadership in STEMM fields. This in turn requires the advancement of women, individuals from racial/ethnic groups historically underrepresented in STEMM, and first-generation students at the undergraduate and graduate levels. Effective, high-quality, and sustainable mentoring relationships for diverse individuals across career stages are essential in supporting student success (e.g., performance, persistence) in STEMM fields, especially for many members of these historically underrepresented populations. . The study will focus on identifying evidence (or lack thereof) regarding successful programs for mentoring of individuals traditionally marginalized in STEMM fields.


Discovering the Deep Blue Sea: Research, Innovation, Social Engagement Conference

The National Academies Keck Futures Initiative (NAKFI) and the Gulf Research Program announced the recipients of 21 interdisciplinary seed grants, totaling $1.55 million. These competitive grants support collaborations and investigations resulting from Discovering the Deep Blue Sea: Research, Innovation, Social Engagement. Major federal funding programs do not typically provide support in areas that are considered risky or unusual. Futures grants aim to fill this critical gap in funding for bold new ideas. The seed grants allow investigators to recruit students and postdocs to the research effort, purchase new equipment, acquire preliminary data, develop prototypes of exhibits, or create new collaborative teams and modes of inquiry -- all of which can position the project to compete for larger awards from other public and private sources.


The Human Factors of Process Safety and Worker Empowerment in the Offshore Oil Industry: A Workshop
A steering committee will plan and execute a public, two-day workshop on the human factors of worker empowerment in the offshore oil industry in the context of process safety and the broader system in which it is embedded. The workshop committee and participants will review current scientific research from the behavioral and social sciences from fields such as human-systems integration, human factors, naturalistic/recognition primed decision making, hazard recognition and response, risk management, risk analysis, perception and process safety design.  The workshop will also explore best practices and lessons learned from other high-risk, high-reliability issues.


Completed Projects 

Consensus Studies
GOM Restoration Report Cover
Effective Monitoring to Evaluate Ecological Restoration in the Gulf of Mexico (2017)
A tremendous number of restoration projects are planned and underway in the Gulf of Mexico to help mitigate damage done by the 2010 Macondo Well Deepwater Horizon oil spill. In order to ensure that restoration goals are met and money is well spent, restoration monitoring and evaluation should be an integral part of those projects. However, evaluations of past restoration efforts have shown that monitoring is often inadequate or even absent. This report explains the value of monitoring restoration activities and lays out essential elements for effective monitoring. The report offers specific guidance for a subset of habitats and taxa to be restored in the Gulf including oyster reefs, tidal wetlands, and seagrass habitats, as well as a variety of birds, sea turtles, and marine mammals.
Get the report | Report highlights | Download a booklet based on this report


NCEAS Open Science for Synthesis Training (2017)
Open Science for Synthesis: Gulf Research Program was a hands-on data science course for both early career and established researchers to gain skills in data science, including scientific synthesis, reproducible science, and data management. These skills are critical for understanding the complex environmental, human, and energy systems in the Gulf of Mexico, especially following large disturbance events like the Deepwater Horizon oil spill in 2010.


Middle-Skilled Workforce Report Cover Opportunities for the Gulf Research Program: Middle-Skilled Workforce Needs: Summary of a Workshop (2014)
During the period 1990 to 2010, U.S. job growth occurred primarily in the high-skilled and low-skilled sectors. Yet, one-third of projected job growth for the period 2010-2020 will require middle-skilled workers – who will earn strong middle-class wages and salaries – important to both the production and consumption components of our economy. These jobs typically require significant training, often requiring more than a high school diploma but less than a baccalaureate degree. In the Gulf of Mexico, middle-skilled workers play key roles in maintaining oil system safety, completing the numerous environmental restoration projects needed along the Gulf coast, and as workers in an integrated and resilient public health system. Educational pathways that lead to middle skilled jobs in these areas include: apprenticeship programs offered by schools, unions, and employers; high school career and technical education programs; community college courses, certificates, and associate degrees; and employer provided training. 
Get the summary
Preparing for a Rapid Response to Major Marine Oil Spills - Cover Preparing for a Rapid Response to Major Offshore Oil and Gas Spills: A Workshop on Research Needs to Protect the Health and Well-being of Communities (2017)
On August 2-3, 2017, the Standing Committee on Medical and Public Health Research During Large-Scale Emergency Events hosted a public workshop in Washington, DC to explore research needs and other opportunities for improving public health response and protection during and after oil spills and inform the design of a rapid response in the event of future offshore oil spills.
Get the workshop proceedings in brief
| View the recorded workshop webcast |
View graphic depicting human impacts of marine oil spills discussed at workshop