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Gulf Research Program Activities

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Long-Term Activities

In Progress
  • Understanding Gulf Ocean Systems (UGOS)
    UGOS is a comprehensive, cross-disciplinary, multi-institutional research initiative to improve understanding of the various interacting physical, biological, and chemical processes at work in the Gulf of Mexico. It involves observations, analyses, data assimilation and modeling, and technological advancements.

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Consensus Studies, Reports, and White Papers

In Progress
  • 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. Effective, high-quality mentoring relationships across career stages are essential in supporting success in STEMM fields, especially for many members of 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.


Building Community Resilience - cover
Building and Measuring Community Resilience: Actions for Communities and the Gulf Research Program(2019)
This report explores metrics for resilience used at a national level and identifies strategies for measuring resilience at the community level. Knowledge gaps, research directions, and approaches are identified that could be useful to a range of communities in building their resilience, including the Gulf Research Program's efforts to support the development of healthy and resilient coastal communities.
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Designing Safety Regulations for High-Hazard Industries(2018)
This report examines key factors relevant to government safety regulators when choosing among regulatory design types, particularly for preventing low-frequency, high consequence events. Safety regulations are often scrutinized after an incident, but their effectiveness can be inherently difficult to assess when their main purpose is to reduce catastrophic failures that are rare to begin with. Nevertheless, regulators of high-hazard industries must have reasoned basis for making their regulatory design choices.
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 Deepwater Horizon oil spill. 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, lays out essential elements for effective monitoring, and offers specific guidance for a subset of habitats and taxa to be restored in the Gulf.
Reports - Longitudinal Data and Systems White Paper Existing Longitudinal Data and Systems for Measuring the Human Dimensions of Resilience, Health, and Well-Being in the Gulf Coast* (2019)
This white paper, commissioned by the Gulf Research Program, outlines the availability, accessibility, operability, and gaps relating to existing longitudinal data and systems across the U.S. that measure, or could be used to measure, human dimensions of resilience, health, and well-being in the Gulf region, and highlights opportunities for long-term investments that can enhance capacity for monitoring community resilience in the Gulf Region.
Reports - The Use of Dispersants in Marine Oil Spill Response The Use of Dispersants in Marine Oil Spill Response* (2019)
Dispersants are one of a suite of tools available to respond to a marine oil spill. They are designed to break up oil into smaller droplets to decrease the thickness of surface slicks, enhance natural dispersion, and promote dissolution and biodegradation. Much has been learned about oil spill response, and dispersant use in particular, in the aftermath of Deepwater Horizon. This report examines and synthesizes both past studies of dispersants and what has been learned about dispersants since Deepwater Horizon to assess the effects and efficacy of dispersants as an oil spill response tool.
Understanding Long-Term Evolution of Gulf Coastal System - Report Cover Understanding the Long-Term Evolution of the Coupled Natural-Human Coastal System: The Future of the U.S. Gulf Coast(2018)
The U.S. Gulf Coast is a complex, dynamic region where natural processes and human activities are deeply intertwined. A better understanding of the physical, ecological, and human aspects of the Gulf’s natural-human coastal system can help promote resilience and future habitability in the area, as well as support effective decision-making and policies. This report identifies critical knowledge gaps where research is needed to increase understanding of the interactions and feedbacks between human and natural processes along the Gulf Coast, along with a research agenda and strategies to help address these gaps. The report also presents barriers to effective communication between scientists and stakeholders and opportunities to address these barriers.
cover Understanding and Predicting the Gulf of Mexico Loop Current: Critical Gaps and Recommendations (2018)
As the dominant ocean circulation feature in the Gulf of Mexico, the behavior of the Loop Current System influences all types of ocean processes and has major implications for a variety of human and natural systems. However, despite the far-reaching impact of the Loop Current System, knowledge about the underlying dynamics that control its behavior is limited. This report identifies existing knowledge gaps about the Loop Current System and calls for an international, multi-institutional campaign of complementary research, observation, and analysis activities that would help improve understanding and prediction of the Loop Current System.

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In Progress
Other Activities SWIMM Student Workshop on International Marine and Coastal Management (SWIMM)* (2018, 2020)
The Student Workshop on International Marine and Coastal Management in the Gulf of Mexico (SWIMM) program brings together graduate students from the United States, Mexico, and Cuba for week-long workshops involving peer-to-peer exchanges, shared learning, and intensive interactions with scientists, managers, and practitioners. It is organized by the Harte Research Institute at Texas A&M University - Corpus Christi, the National Autonomous University of Mexico, and the Center for Marine Research at the University of Havana, with support from the Gulf Research Program and the HRI Furgason International Fellowship. SWIMM 2020 will take place from January 8-17, 2020, in coastal Yucatán and Campeche, Mexico (Ciudad del Carmen, Campeche, and Mérida).


Reports - DWH Long Term Data Management Coordination Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill Long Term Data Management Coordination (2017, 2018)
The Deepwater Horizon Long Term Data Management Coordination working group was established in 2017 to foster collaboration, data-sharing, and best data management practices among the many groups working to restore and improve the coastal environment in the Gulf following the Deepwater Horizon oil spill. Members consist of data users, generators, and managers, as well as program managers, funders, and decision-makers from a variety of Gulf of Mexico partners, including the Gulf Research Program.
Human Factors of Process Safety Cover The Human Factors of Process Safety and Worker Empowerment in the Offshore Oil Industry: A Workshop* (2018)
While the human factors of personal safety have been widely studied and widely adopted in many high-risk industries, process safety—the application of engineering, design, and operative practices to address major hazard concerns—is less well understood from a human factors perspective, particularly in the offshore oil industry. The National Academies organized a workshop in January 2018 to explore best practices and lessons learned from other high-risk, high-reliability industries for the benefit of the research community and of citizens, industry practitioners, decision makers, and officials addressing safety in the offshore oil industry. This publication summarizes the presentations and discussions from the workshop.
cover Opportunities for the Gulf Research Program: Community Resilience and Health: Summary of a Workshop (2015)
There are many connections between human communities and their surrounding environments that influence community resilience and health in the Gulf of Mexico. The impacts of the Deepwater Horizon oil spill on Gulf communities and ecosystems—coupled with the region's preexisting health challenges and environmental stressors—illustrate the need to better understand these connections. In the future, natural and man-made disasters, climate change impacts, and other environmental stressors will present complex challenges to the physical, mental, and social well-being of communities in the Gulf. Understanding the interrelationships among health, ecological, and economic impacts of disasters and other environmental stressors will be crucial to addressing these challenges.
Middle-Skilled Workforce Report Cover Opportunities for the Gulf Research Program: Middle-Skilled Workforce Needs: Summary of a Workshop (2014)
From 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. 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.
cover Opportunities for the Gulf Research Program: Monitoring Ecosystem Restoration and Deep Water Environments: Summary of a Workshop (2015) Environmental monitoring in the Gulf of Mexico poses extensive challenges and significant opportunities. Multiple jurisdictions manage this biogeographically and culturally diverse region, with monitoring programs that tend to be project-specific by design and funding. As a result, these programs form more of a monitoring patchwork then a network. At the same time, the Gulf monitoring community faces a unique opportunity to organize and think differently about monitoring—including how best to allocate and manage the resources for this large marine ecosystem and its communities—as a result of the infusion of resources for environmental restoration and related activities after the Deepwater Horizon oil spill.
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.
Sea Grant Oil Spill Preparedness - Cover
SPE Summit: Safer Offshore Energy Systems - Summary Report SPE Summit: Safer Offshore Energy Systems* (2018)
On May 22-24, 2018, the Society of Petroleum Engineers (SPE) held the "SPE Summit: Safer Offshore Energy Systems Summit." The summit was sponsored by the GRP to identify specific and implementable research areas where the involvement of the GRP could help lead to safer offshore development. During the summit, a broad set of industry experts identified areas where research is needed to minimize and manage risks for both people and the environment by minimizing the possibility of a major incident. Following the summit, SPE prepared a summary report that includes presentations from the summit and shares the technical and human research opportunities identified by participants.

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  • 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.

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  • 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, to 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.

* Activities, projects, and publications denoted by an asterisk (*) have received financial support from the Gulf Research Program, but Gulf Research Program staff are not direct participants and the final products are not authored by the Gulf Research Program. All other activities, projects, and publications on this page represent work directly undertaken or led by the Gulf Research Program and its staff.

Images, from top: Christopher Henze, NASA/Ames; U.S. Coast Guard; Harte Research Institute; NCEAS; NAKFI