Category Archives: GoMRI Students

Stories about GoMRI Students

GoMRI StudentsPeople Get to Know CRGC Grad Student Patel 4594

Megha Patel is a social work Ph.D. student at Tulane University and a member of the consortium’s Community Action Planning and Resilience Building efforts. Learn more about her background and research interests here.

GoMRI StudentsResearch Stories Grad Student Malone Uses Engineering Skills to Put Pressure on Oil Karen operates a high-pressure test center. (Provided by Hamburg University of Technology)

The 2010 Deepwater Horizon incident highlighted new challenges and science gaps in our understanding of and ability to respond to deep-water oil releases.  Of particular importance is how highly pressurized oil and gas behaves in a deep-sea environment.  Karen Malone uses her engineering background to build high-pressure tanks that replicate deep-sea conditions in a laboratory Read More

GoMRI ScientistsGoMRI StudentsOutreachPeopleTeachers and Students DEEPEND Hosts American Heritage School Science Camp Students 4577

Twenty students recently visited consortium researchers at Nova Southeastern University to learn about deep-sea organisms. The students heard presentations from graduate students, observed an active toxicity experiment, and helped researchers collect data during an hourly monitoring of oil-exposed crustaceans. Read about the event here.

GoMRI StudentsResearch Stories Grad Student Johnson Uses Amino Acids to Demystify Salt Marsh Food Webs Jessica presents her research at the 2016 Gulf of Mexico Oil Spill & Ecosystem Science conference in Tampa, FL. (Photo by Michael Polito)

Salt marshes support commercially and culturally important species and are often subject to natural and human-caused stressors. Gaps in our knowledge of salt marsh food webs made management and restoration decisions difficult after the Deepwater Horizon spill. Jessica Johnson helps fill this gap using novel chemical analysis techniques to describe the diets of salt marsh organisms and trace how Read More

Fact SheetsGoMRI StudentsMaterialsOutreach CRGC Releases Two-Pager Detailing Transdisciplinary Student Outreach 4557

CRGC experts come from from diverse fields. Working directly with experts outside their own fields of study enhances students’ insights about disaster, recovery, and resilience, while improving their problem solving skills and passion for their work. The two-page pamphlet describes the consortium’s efforts to provide graduate and undergraduate students with hands-on opportunities to work with Read More

GoMRI StudentsPublication Highlights Study Finds UV Exposure Late in Mahi-Mahi Embryo Development Enhances Oil Toxicity Ph.D student Jason Magnuson collects embryos at the University of Miami RSMAS. Photo provided by RECOVER.

Researchers conducted laboratory experiments on mahi-mahi embryos to determine the effects of ultraviolet radiation (UV) and oil co-exposure during different times in their development. The team observed that UV affected the success of mahi-mahi hatch in all exposure scenarios compared to controls but was highest (a 1.6- to 6-fold increase) when co-exposure occurred late in Read More

GoMRI StudentsResearch Stories Grad Student Parks Assesses How Disasters and Social Factors Influence Human Health Vanessa inside a helicopter at a heliport in Cut Off, LA, where offshore oil workers commute to and from work. (Provided by Vanessa Parks)

A person’s socioeconomic position can influence their health and well-being, and disasters can place additional strain on those whose health and well-being are already compromised. Vanessa Parks compiles and analyzes data on Gulf Coast communities that explores how the Deepwater Horizon oil spill affected mental and physical health and how social factors contributed to post-disaster health outcomes. “I Read More

GoMRI StudentsPeople CWC Launches Blog Series Featuring Undergraduate Interns 4528

Since 2011, LUMCON has been host to groups of undergraduate students taking part in the Research Experience for Undergraduates (REU) Program. The REU Program helps student interns interested in scientific careers gain experience conducting research in the field. CWC will profile these students and their research through a series of blog and social media posts. Read More

GoMRI Students Grad Student Mahmud Makes Acoustics and Tracking Marine Mammals “Click” Sakib stands on the deck of the R/V Pelican during LADC-GEMM’s 2015 recovery cruise. (Photo by Natalia Sidorovskaia)

Environmental stressors can cause changes in the abundance and location of certain marine mammal species, which can affect future populations. Researchers can track marine mammals using the number of vocalizations or clicks picked up by acoustic monitoring systems, which can provide insights into their recovery from environmental stressors and, more broadly, deep-water ecosystem health. Sakib Read More

GoMRI Students Grad Student Morales-McDevitt Explores How Nutrients Influence Marine Snow Formation Maya presents her preliminary findings at the 2016 Gulf of Mexico Oil Spill and Ecosystem Science Conference. (Provided by Maya Morales-McDevitt)

Marine oil snow is the largest commuter of carbon to the seafloor and occurs when oil and marine particles aggregate and sink through the water column. Previous studies show that oil and dispersant significantly increased marine microorganisms’ production of exopolymeric substances (EPS), an extremely sticky goo that holds marine snow together. Maya Morales-McDevitt conducts mesocosm experiments investigating how certain Read More

GoMRI StudentsPeople Meet C-IMAGE Student of the Month Melissa Rohal 4479

Melissa Rohal is on a mission to stick up for the little guys. They’re not as attractive as dolphins or sea turtles, but benthic macrofauna are all the rage in the deep ocean. Small animals like worms, copepods and nematodes fill a key role in the food web and act as indicator species of the Read More

GoMRI ScientistsGoMRI StudentsPublication Highlights Study Describes Response from Distinct Bacterial Groups to Marine Oil Snow First Author Tingting Yang [right], thesis advisor Andreas Teske [left], and fellow graduate student Lisa Nigro [left] point to the multicorer full of seafloor sediments, onboard R/V Atlantis in the northern Gulf of Mexico, November 2010. Photo provided by Andreas Teske.

Scientists conducted genetic sequencing on bacteria to document the oil-associated groups in sediment affected by marine oil snow post-Deepwater Horizon. The researchers observed increases in bacteria that degrade aerobic Polycyclic Aromatic Hydrocarbons (PAHs) and anaerobic sulfate-reducing bacteria in sediment collected from September-November 2010. Aerobic bacteria likely used oxygen rapidly when consuming PAHs and caused localized Read More

GoMRI StudentsPeople Get to Know CRGC Grad Student Betsy Lopez 4460

Betsy is a masters student at Tulane University’s Disaster Resilience Leadership Academy. She is also the program coordinator of Internships and Experiential Learning at the Newcomb College Institute, where she manages grants and endowments and oversees experiential learning opportunities, the alumnae-mentoring program, and the Kenya summer abroad program. Learn more about Betsy here.

GoMRI StudentsPeople Meet C-IMAGE Student of the Month Katelyn Knight 4436

The role of microbial communities during oil spills gets a bit of attention due to their role in biodegradation of oil and dispersants. Since 2010, research have discovered that dispersed oil inhibits growth of certain bacteria strains, and biodegradation occurs in different phases depending on the weathering of the oil. Katelyn Knight looks to make Read More

GoMRI ScientistsGoMRI StudentsLesson PlansMaterialsOutreachStudent ActivitiesTeachers and Students Virtual Lab Creates More “Wow” Moments in Science Discovery 4009a

A child’s face lit up with wonder as she peered into a microscope for the first time and discovered a new world. Researchers at the Miami-based RECOVER consortium want experiences like this to happen more often for more students, so they designed and developed the RECOVER Virtual Lab. Now, scientists can engage students ages 8 Read More

GoMRI StudentsPeople Grad Student Girard Uses High-Definition Imagery to Assess Post-Spill Coral Recovery 4014a

Deep-sea corals are important organisms that support a healthy and diverse deep-sea ecosystem. However, there is much we do not know about certain coral species, including how they grow, reproduce, or interact with other organisms. Fanny Girard’s research helps bridge that knowledge gap through her work on how disturbances such as oil spills affect deep-sea Read More

GoMRI StudentsPeople Grad Student Dykstra Sees Global Applications for Local Ocean Circulation Maps 4031a

When Deepwater Horizon oil approached coastal environments, it was unclear how river water entering the Gulf of Mexico would affect the oil’s transport and fate. Steve Dykstra uses drifters and ship-deployed sensors to study how freshwater plumes disperse in the coastal environment over different seafloor topography. He plans to someday use his findings and experience Read More

GoMRI StudentsPeople Grad Student Diamante Investigates How PAHs Affect Fish Development 4084a

Polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs) can disrupt important signaling pathways that transcribe genes during fish’s early embryonic development, which could cause malformations. Graciel Diamante is conducting laboratory experiments with fish embryos to understand how weathered PAHs affect fish development. She is also finding that her work demonstrates the importance of perseverance, giving back, and collaborating within Read More

GoMRI StudentsPeople Grad Student Quas Analyzes Sediment Grain Size to Characterize Oil Behavior 3915a

Oil droplets can attach to tiny sediment particles suspended in the water column, causing them to sink to the seafloor where they can linger for a long time. Sediment grain size influences if and how oil droplets are resuspended into the water column. Larger particles sink faster and are more difficult to resuspend in the Read More

GoMRI Students How Grad Student Cui Uses River Diversion Models to Inform Oil Spill Remediation 3831a

When oil from the Deepwater Horizon spill began approaching land, one proposed response was to divert Mississippi River water and sediment into the marshes to try and push surface oil more towards the Louisiana-Texas shelf. Linlin Cui is investigating the impacts of Mississippi River diversions on Barataria Bay hydrodynamics to help inform how future oil Read More

GoMRI Students How Grad Student Seubert Interprets Gulf of Mexico Resiliency Using Predator Diet 3820a

Major environmental disturbances such as oil spills can alter a marine ecosystem’s structure and even cause species losses or additions in impacted areas – changes which may have long-term consequences for an ecosystem’s functions. Emily Seubert investigates the diets of marine predators in the northern Gulf of Mexico food web to better understand how the Read More

GoMRI Students Grad Student Pasparakis Looks to Fish Embryos for Long-Term Oil Spill Answers 3739a

Studies that investigate the effects of oil exposure on developing fish are typically conducted at otherwise non-stressful ambient conditions, which may result in conservative impact estimates. Christina Pasparakis is studying the combined effects of oil exposure and other environmental stressors to create a more comprehensive assessment of Deepwater Horizon impacts. Christina is a marine science Read More

GoMRI Students Grad Student Fiore Investigates Oil Spill Impacts on Gulf Economy and Fisheries Resiliency 3719a

Natural and manmade disasters often involve long-term effects, but the majority of follow-up research tends to focus on the biophysical impacts rather than the social. Jacqueline Fiore, a Louisiana resident, understands how disasters such as hurricanes and oil spills can impact local industries, citizens, and ecosystems. Jacqueline, a Ph.D. student in Tulane University’s Economic Analysis Read More

GoMRI Students Grad Student Max Weber Fishes for Insight into Deep-Pelagic Fish Taxonomy Max removes tissue from a fish for future genetic analysis aboard the RV Point Sur. (Provided by Max Weber)

There are hundreds of deep-pelagic fish species in the Gulf of Mexico, but we know very little about their taxonomy, diversity, and population sizes. Max Weber plans to catch fifteen individual specimens of each of the 500 known deep-sea Gulf fish species to help us better understand these organisms and how the Deepwater Horizon oil Read More

GoMRI Students ACER Grad Student Presents Research at 2016 AES Meeting Emily Seubert’s presentation at the American Elasmobranch Society

Emily Seubert’s presentation at the American Elasmobranch Society meeting focused on her hypothesis that the species and functional diversity of apex and mesopredators can impact an ecosystem’s resiliency following a natural disaster. Emily has also been collecting tissue samples from her catch for stable isotope analysis, which will give insight to the short term and Read More

GoMRI Students Grad Student Sun Uses Sun Glint to Assess Oil Spills  Shaojie presents his research on sun glint requirements for oil film detection at the 2016 Gulf of Mexico Oil Spill & Ecosystem Conference in Tampa, Florida. (Photo by Chuanmin Hu)

Those who have ever photographed the ocean on a sunny day have likely noticed how the reflected sunlight made the water gleam, often distorting the image. Shaojie Sun has quantified this phenomenon, called “sun glint,” to help address a longstanding limitation in scientists’ ability to assess oil seeps and spills using satellite imagery. Shaojie is Read More

GoMRI Students Grad Student Boyette Maps Plankton to Better Understand the Nearshore Environment Adam Boyette retrieves a glider on the deck of the R/V Point Sur, where he served as chief scientist on the three-day cruise examining the impacts of the Bonnet Carré spillway opening. (Photo by Alison Deary)

Microscopic organisms called plankton, an important component of the marine food web, congregate in the freshwater-laden coastal waters of the northern Gulf of Mexico. Adam Boyette wants to learn more about how and where these plankton live to better understand how an oil spill or other disaster might impact their populations. He is collaborating with Read More

GoMRI Students CWC Releases 2016 LEAD Camp Photos 2016 LEAD Camp Participants and collected periwinkle snails. (Photo Credits: CWC)

LEAD Camp 2016 Highlights on Facebook… The science-based discovery camp provided campers with knowledge about and experience with Louisiana’s coastal and marine environments through hands-on field and lab work conducted alongside actual researchers, such as this project measuring and labeling periwinkle snails.

GoMRI StudentsStudent Activities ECOGIG Researchers Host STEMSEAS Students 2016 STEM SEAS students in front of the R/V Endeavor, the night before they left on their transit. Welcome aboard! Photo courtesy of STEM SEAS.

Ten undergraduate students and two faculty with the Science, Technology, Engineering and Math Student Experiences Aboard Ships (STEMSEAS)program joined the R/V Endeavor’s journey from Moorhead, NC, to Gulfport, MS, to learn more about the consortium and oceanographic research. The students will blog from the ship about their experiences. The STEMSEAS Facebook page will be very active during the Read More

GoMRI StudentsPublication Highlights Study Compares Natural Sunlight Effects on Macondo and Surrogate Oil University of West Florida Associate Professor in Chemistry, Pam Vaughan (far right), mentors undergraduate students Cynthia McCord and Michelle Waters in determining photochemical degradation and relative toxicity of MC252 and Surrogate oil water accommodated fractions. (Photo credit: Michael Spooneybarger)

Scientists developed the first molecular-level comparison of photochemical effects on surrogate and Macondo (MC252) oil to better understand this weathering process and the toxicity mechanisms it produces. The team observed increased nitrogen in surrogate oil’s response to sunlight and oxidation across a wider range of carbon numbers than MC252. Solar exposure inhibited microbial production in Read More

GoMRI Students Get to Know Simeon Pesch: C-IMAGE II’s July 2016 Student of the Month Simeon Pech C-IMAGE Student

The behavior and mechanics of deep sea plumes is been studied using samples of liquid oil, “dead oil,” expelled from nozzles to view turbulence in the plume and estimate how the droplets distribute in sub-surface and surface plumes. But how does a mixture of oil and gases, like methane and known as “live oil,” change droplet Read More

GoMRI Students Meet Cameron and Oscar, two undergrads that have been working with ADDOMEx Undergrads at work

Cameron Jackson, a sophomore, is studying marine biology Texas A&M University at Galveston (TAMUG) and Oscar Agueda is a senior who will be getting his degree in marine science (TAMUG); both students are minoring in chemistry. When asked about career aspirations they stated that they hoped to go on to graduate school. “I want to Read More

GoMRI StudentsPublication Highlights Study Examines Sediment East of Deepwater Horizon for Oil-Associated Marine Snow  Eckerd College students transferring a multicore from a collection barrel to a working barrel aboard the R/V Weatherbird II, June 2011. (Photo provided by Gregg Brooks)

Scientists analyzed sea floor sediment in the Gulf of Mexico’s DeSoto Canyon region to investigate potential oil spill impacts. Evidence from sedimentological, geochronological, geochemical, and biological sources pointed to a rapid, 4-5 month sedimentation event in late 2010. The sediment’s top centimeter was distinct from underlying compositions, with deposited particles originating from the sea surface. Read More

GoMRI Students Meet C-IMAGE Student of the Month Marcia Trillo 3146

Our Near-field and far-field modeling group is working to recreate oil spills under varying conditions. Applying strong currents and adding dispersants which changes droplet sizes in computer models can make predicting their eventual fate easier. Marcia Trillo, a M.S. student studying in Dr. Claire Paris’ lab, is helping answer questions about oi-water interactions. Marcia is the Read More

GoMRI Students Grad Student Tang Studies Whale Populations’ Oil Spill Recovery 3019a

When disaster strikes, responders look at how creatures in its path may be impacted to mitigate damage. Tingting Tang takes the process one step further, using mathematical models to predict how long recovery may take. The creatures that Tingting focuses on are some of the Gulf of Mexico’s largest predators and most charismatic animals, beaked Read More

GoMRI Students Grad Student Jaggi Seeks Solution to World’s Clean Water Shortage 3031a

As a child in India, Aprami Jaggi witnessed firsthand how polluted water sources impact society. Her desire to make water remediation her life’s work has led her from Delhi to Calgary, Canada, to study oil mitigation. There she combines geochemistry and geophysics to hunt for scientific answers and practical solutions to the worldwide water pollution Read More

GoMRI Students Grad Student Robinson Follows Little Blue Crabs for Bigger Food Web Picture 2978f

Elizabeth Robinson studies blue crab’s role in the northern Gulf of Mexico food web, looking closely at how Deepwater Horizon oil might have affected the natural predator-prey balance. Many people who hear the phrase ‘marine life’ typically think first about big ocean animals like whales and dolphins. Elizabeth explained why smaller marine animals – like Read More

GoMRI Students Grad Student Timm Tracks Crustacean’s Oil Spill Recovery 2657a

Laura Timm examines connections among shellfish ecology and evolution to help scientists understand how the Deepwater Horizon oil spill affected certain Gulf of Mexico species: “My work focuses on establishing pre-spill baselines and comparing them to samples taken 3-7 years after the oil spill, providing a timeline of crustacean recovery.” Pursuing a Ph.D. in biology Read More

GoMRI Students Grad Student Rogers Traces Gulf Oil as Scientific CSI 2573a

  Kelsey Rogers looks for evidence of oil and methane intrusion into Gulf of Mexico water and sediment, but finding these hydrocarbons is only the beginning of her work. Like a scientific crime scene investigator, Kelsey analyzes the chemical fingerprints of oil and gas and uses them to identify their source, such as from an Read More

GoMRI Students Grad Student Pinales Designs “Smart” Oil-Spill Detection Tool 2534_a

Juan Pinales is working on a computational modelling system that will aid oil spill monitoring efforts. He combines Synthetic Aperture Radar (SAR) data and oceanographic conditions recorded during theDeepwater Horizon incident to improve surface oil detection using a semi-automated machine learning method known as artificial neural networking. This method will help the system’s computations “learn” Read More

GoMRI Students Grad Student Chancellor Estimates Deepwater Horizon Impacts on Larval Fish Chancellor_2210

Emily Chancellor is applying her engineering and computer science background to a field that inspires her – marine science – focusing on how the oil spill may have impacted larval fish populations. Emily recently completed her masters in marine resource assessment at the University of South Florida (USF) and is a GoMRI scholar with the Read More

GoMRI Students Grad Student Young Studies Gulf Water at Its Most Basic Level young_2016a

Chemical engineer Jordan Young has found his happy place on a research vessel in the Gulf of Mexico. He’s looking for changes in ocean acidity following the Deepwater Horizon spill. As the oil biologically degrades, some of it oxidizes to carbon dioxide and may increase acidification. The Earth’s oceans have maintained a relatively stable pH level Read More

GoMRI Students Grad Student Hamilton Hunts Oil Using Microbes Hamilton_2023a

Bryan Hamilton never planned to be a microbiologist, but when the opportunity arose to study microbes that produce biosurfactant in response to oil exposure, he was drawn in completely. His research investigated the potential connection between these microbes and natural surface slicks and if this connection could help scientists detect oil below the water’s surface. Read More

GoMRI Students Grad Student Cruz Bridges Disciplines to Track Tiniest Plankton’s Response to Oil Spill Deep-C_Cruz_MicroscopeIMG_0537-web-225x169.jpg" alt="Jarrett Cruz examines nannoplankton samples under a microscope. (Photo provided by Jarrett Cruz)

Jarrett Cruz has been all over the world studying nannoplankton, a marine species he did not know existed when his journey began. Jarrett’s research into these minuscule creatures spans both biology and geology as he studies the impact of oil on nannoplankton that live in the Gulf of Mexico. Jarrett, a geology Ph.D. student at Read More

GoMRI Students Why Grad Student Martinec Digs the Seafloor RFP-IITroyGroup_Landers_1639a

Ceil Martinec picks microscopic creatures out of mud collected from deep in the Gulf of Mexico. She is looking for possible lingering effects of the 2010 oil spill on sediment-dwelling animals and making some exciting discoveries along the way. “We are documenting new species for the area and studying the natural links or relationships between Read More

GoMRI Students Grad Student Deb Adhikary Sees How Burrowing Shrimp Help Microbes Deal with Oil Nihar conducts a 14C-radiolabeled naphthalene assay in a radioactive laboratory to determine naphthalene degradation rate using sediments after each greenhouse microcosm experiment. (Photo credit: Suchandra Hazra)

Nihar Deb Adhikary uses his veterinary training and microbiology research to better understand the connections between oil fate, microbial degradation, and sediment-dwelling organisms such as shrimp and clams. “Oil in coastal sediment can significantly impact the animals that live there,” he said. “I think it will be amazing if we can show that these benthic Read More

GoMRI Students How Grad Student Chen Navigates the Whirlpool of Oil Transport Bicheng at Pennsylvania State University works on the coding for simulations involving oil plumes. (Provided by Bicheng Chen)

Bicheng Chen is dedicated to seeking the physical explanations behind everyday phenomena. His research on ocean turbulence and numerical modeling led him to investigate the interactions among wind, waves, and turbulence and their effect on oil transport and dispersion. Bicheng is a meteorology Ph.D. student at Pennsylvania State University and a GoMRI Scholar with the Read More

GoMRI Students Grad Student Shin Shines Light on Oil-Degrading Microbes in Sediment Bicheng working in lab

Boryoung Shin is breaking new ground in microbiology, uncovering little known facts about an enigmatic and important species in the Gulf of Mexico. Boryoung Shin works in an anaerobic chamber at the Kostka Lab at Georgia Tech. (Photo credit: Max Kolton) After the Deepwater Horizon incident, certain bacteria rapidly increased and helped degrade the oil. Read More

GoMRI Students Grad Student Dasgupta Assesses Oil and Dispersant Toxicity to Fish DNA and Mortality Subham conducts an ethoxyresorufin-O-deethylase or EROD assay to measure the activity of the detoxifying enzyme CYP1A1 under PAH exposure. (Provided by Subham Dasgupta)

Subham Dasgupta’s dedication to understanding oil and dispersant toxicology stems from his roots in India. Having grown up in a community where fishes are an important part of the diet, his research assessing oil and dispersant exposure’s effect on fish health has a special importance for him. “Oil spills can affect marine organisms, including the Read More

GoMRI Students Grad Student Owoseni Uses Small Particles to Tackle Large Spills Sehinde, at the Tulane University Coordinated Instrumentation Facility, sits beside the scanning electron microscope he uses to image halloysite nanotubes and oil droplets stabilized by them. (Photo by Chike Ezeh)

An interest in oil spill research led Olasehinde Owoseni from Ile-Ife, an ancient city in Nigeria, to the Louisiana coast. Such a change might seem intimidating, but Sehinde sees it is as a small step toward his greater goal. His research examines the use of miniscule clay particles for the development of safer and more Read More

GoMRI Students Grad Student Johansen Counts Bubbles to Understand Natural Oil Seeps Caroline Johansen displays one of her camera systems that was lost for 9 months and found after three days of searching the seafloor. (Photo provided by Johansen and taken by a crew member of the R/V Pelican)

Caroline Johansen laughs when her family tells others that her research involves counting bubbles. But the bubbles she studies come from seeps at the bottom of the Gulf and contain naturally-occurring hydrocarbons that are an important part of the deep-sea ecosystem. Caroline wants to shed light on how much oil enters the water every day Read More

GoMRI Students Grad Student Temkin Links Dispersant Component with Fat Cell Differentiation Lexi poses with a baby alligator during an alligator release trip. Other graduate students Lexi works with treat alligator eggs with mixtures of oil, Corexit, and other environmental contaminants to assess their effects on development. Lexi enjoys taking a break from the lab to help on release and egg collection trips. (Provided by: Lexi Temkin)

Unhealthy diet and inactivity are the first things that people think about that cause obesity. However, Alexis Temkin is finding an unexpected potential contributor to increased fat cell production: a component in dispersants used for oil spill cleanup and many personal care products. She is excited to share her stories about the scientific detective work Read More

GoMRI Students Grad Student Smith Keeps Surface Currents and Disaster Response on His Radar Conor (left) and University of Miami marine specialist Mark Graham (right) prepare to deploy a CTD to measure salinity and temperature profiles near the Deepwater Horizon site. Data from these measurements provide insight into the movement of the ocean surface. (Photo credit: Nathan Laxague)

After the Deepwater Horizon oil spill, many Gulf residents wanted to know where the oil was going and how fast it would get there. Conor Smith is improving the accuracy and turn-around time of satellite-derived surface current velocity estimates for better ocean transport information. Conor is working toward a method that accurately interprets these velocities Read More

GoMRI Students Grad Student Tominack Answers “What is Normal?” for Gulf’s Smallest Organisms Sarah transfers DNA samples from single-cell organisms in the lab at University of West Florida. (Photo credit: Richard Snyder)

To show how the Deepwater Horizon oil spill impacted the Gulf of Mexico, Sarah Tominack is going back to basics. She feels that for scientists to quickly identify the Gulf in distress, they must have a better picture of what “normal” looks like, particularly for microscopic single-celled organisms at the marine food web base called Read More

GoMRI Students Grad Student Dannenberg is Unlocking Mysteries of Deepwater Coral Communities Richard Dannenberg on the R/V Falcor during an ROV dive to study Gulf coral beds. (Image credit: Schmidt Ocean Institute)

Deep below the surface of the Gulf of Mexico live vast canyons of coral. Recent news reports suggest that the Deepwater Horizon oil spill may have impacted the health of these corals. To find out, Richard Dannenberg is delving into their world, looking at the bacteria that live with the coral for clues about that Read More

GoMRI Students Grad Student Chen Knows Ants Are More Than Just Bugs – They’re Oil Detectors! Xuan (right) and Ben Adams, AKA “Max,” (left) collect insects in Louisiana marshes using a vacuum. (Photo provided by Xuan Chen)

Can watching ants really contribute to understanding an oil spill? Yes, it can! Ants have acted as indicators of environmental change in the past. After oil from the Deepwater Horizon spill entered his research sites, Xuan Chen began uncovering new ways that ants can act as bioindicators of oil’s presence in and impacts on Louisiana Read More

GoMRI Students Grad Student Li Creates Waves for Oil Dispersion Studies n an acrylic wave tank he designed and built himself at the Johns Hopkins Laboratory for Experimental Fluid Mechanics, Cheng observes a mechanically generated breaking wave and its associated turbulent flows. (Photo credit: Trevor Holmgren)

For Cheng Li, the beauty of our oceans is precious. He wants to protect that beauty by improving the tracking of and response to oil spills. Using a customized, self-built wave tank, he investigates the interactions between oil, dispersant, and breaking waves. Data from his wave experiments will contribute to better predictions about where and Read More

GoMRI Students Grad Student Laxague is Making Waves Using Sea-surface Ripples to Detect Oil Nathan stands proudly in front of the data acquisitions system he set up inside the Surface Physics Experimental Catamaran (SPEC) during the 2013 Surfzone-Coastal Oil Pathways Experiment (SCOPE) in Destin, FL. (Photo credit: Tamay Özgökmen)

Nathan Laxague studies a small-scale subject matter that has potentially large-scale applications. Capillary waves – or ripples – on the ocean surface can indicate the presence of a film or oil slick on the water’s surface, making them “an important link in the chain of oil spill response.” Nathan is a physics Ph.D. student at Read More

GoMRI Students Grad Student Christiansen’s Preemptive Research Enhances Galveston Bay Spill Response Dave Christiansen (left) and Garrett Kehoe (right) pose with their beloved but shambling boat trailer, which lost two of its four wheels during a data collection trip from Austin to Galveston Bay. (Photo credit: Matt Rayson)

David Christiansen is dedicated to investigating water movement and using those findings to improve local water systems. He got his start monitoring Galveston Bay’s complex flow patterns as a precautionary oil spill measure. Dave’s hard work has taught him innovative problem-solving and has been applied to real-world oil spill response. Dave was an Engineering master’s Read More

GoMRI Students Grad Student Vozzo Assesses Oil Impacts on Louisiana Oysters  Maria Vozzo grades oyster larvae at the LA Sea Grant oyster hatchery. Here, she filters out smaller, younger larvae and collects larger ones ready to settle into spat. Two weeks later, Maria counted the spat that had grown on the tiles and placed the tiles in predator exclusion cages in the field. (Photo credit: Stephanie Grodeska)

Maria Vozzo’s strong interest in Deepwater Horizon research led her from North Carolina to Louisiana to study the oil’s effects on local oysters. Her work has a wide scope, from the oyster’s environmental conditions to their cellular responses. Maria’s creative adaptation of commercial oyster equipment for her research may also improve them for fisherman’s use. Read More

GoMRI Students Grad Student Saha Makes Strides towards an Eco-friendly Dispersant Alternative Amitesh Saha displays his setup to study the underwater injection of dispersant on an oil plume. (Provided by Saha)

Amitesh Saha is on a mission to find safer alternatives to dispersants currently being used in oil spill cleanup. His research is showing promising results that nanoparticle materials could not only replace dispersants but may also help the marine environment’s response. Amitesh is a Chemical Engineering Ph.D. student at the University of Rhode Island (URI) Read More

GoMRI Students Grad Student Worthen Improves Oil Production and Cleanup Using Nanoparticles Andrew samples an oil-in-seawater emulsion, stabilized with polymer-coated iron oxide nanoparticles. (Photo provided by Worthen)

Andrew Worthen’s research is “all about discovering how we can steward the planet more responsibly,” something he gets closer to every day. While Andrew’s initial nanoparticle research focused on creating more efficient and eco-friendly oil extraction methods, he is now applying his findings to oil spill treatment and mitigation. Andrew is a chemical engineering Ph.D. Read More

GoMRI Students Grad Student Harper Seeks to Improve Marine and Human Health with Science-Informed Policy Alex Harper collects seawater samples from CTD Rosette Niskin bottles aboard R/V Weatherbird II. (Photo credit: Natalie Geyers)

Alexandra Harper, a passionate environmental advocate, is using her oceanography expertise to help “society better balance human need with ecological health.” She is researching the potential relationship between the Deepwater Horizon oil spill and mercury levels in Gulf of Mexico fishes. Because rises in methyl mercury levels in fish increase chances of these toxins making Read More

GoMRI Students Grad Student Frasier is Learning What Dolphins Can Tell Us Kait Frasier (L) and Rachel Gottlieb (R) with Scripps Institution of Oceanography onboard the Ocean Alliance’s R/V Odyssey in the Gulf of Mexico celebrate after finding dolphins. (Photo provided by Frasier)

Kait Frasier listens to Gulf marine mammals to estimate how many there are and find out if their numbers are changing after the Deepwater Horizon oil spill. Kait sees dolphins as a good species to study because “everyone can see and understand them, not just scientists.” Kait, a Ph.D. student at the Scripps Institution of Read More

GoMRI Students Grad Student Snyder Cites Integrated Sciences as Key to Success Susan poses with a large golden tilefish. (Photo credit: Liz Herdter)

Susan Snyder’s experiences researching fish bile have shown her an overwhelming truth: to solve complex problems, one simply cannot work alone. To understand her findings, Susan has found that working with different scientists such as chemists, geologists and physicists is not only helpful, it is imperative. Susan is a master’s student at the University of Read More