NSU receives grant from BP for oil-spill research

NSU’s Oceanographic Center will use part of a $10 million block grant, received from BP in August, to research the Gulf of Mexico oil spills’s impact on marine ecosystems.

Richard Dodge, dean of the OC, said, “We are very pleased the OC is continuing its mission of high quality education in the marine sciences. The research being done here makes up 75 percent of NSU’s overall research.”

The OC will collaborate with other universities on four major projects, which were selected from proposals by the Florida Institute of Oceanography, a group of 20 educational institutions throughout the state.

The research projects include: Assessing the impact of oil exposure to marine life in the deep–sea areas of the Gulf of Mexico; periodic evaluation of offshore fish communities to understand the effects of the Deepwater Horizon spill on their feeding habits and amount of contaminants in their tissue; measuring the current oil spills’s impact on marine sponge and microbe communities; and analysis of the coral; sponge communities of the West Florida shelf to establish current conditions and to evaluate changes as a result of the spill.

Richard Dodge, dean of the OC, said, “We hope that those results will be published in scientific literature and will become available to other scientists. With our newly found information, we can better prepare for the future of our marine ecosystems.”

Jose Lopez, Ph.D., associate professor at the OC and David Kerstetter, Ph.D., research scientist at the OC, are principal investigators on two of the projects. Mahmood Shivji, Ph.D., professor and director of the OC’s Guy Harvey Research Institute and Jim Thomas, Ph.D., OC professor are co-investigators on two additional projects.

Dodge said the facility members who received the projects were very pleased since it was a competition between many universities to come up with worthwhile proposals to even be considered for the grant.

“We are very proud that NSU could be apart of it and come out successful,” he said.

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