For Immediate Release:

For interviews, please contact:
Dr. Barbara Kirkpatrick, Executive Director, 941-724-4320, email
GCOOS-RA Members Appointed to Board Implementing Gulf Research Plan in Wake of Oil Spill
As members of the National Academy of Sciences Gulf Research Program Advisory Board, they will help enhance oil system safety, human health and environmental resources

Four members of the Gulf of Mexico Coastal Ocean Observing System Regional Association (GCOOS-RA) have been appointed to the National Academy of Sciences (NAS) Gulf Research Program.


The Gulf Research Program was created after the 2010 explosion of the Deepwater Horizon caused the largest marine offshore oil spill in U.S. history. The Program will receive $500 million in penalties paid by the companies involved in the spill, to be held in an independent endowment and used over 30 years. The goal is to establish programs and support research that enhances oil system safety, human health and environmental resources in the Gulf of Mexico and other continental shelf regions that support oil and gas production.


In 2013, a volunteer advisory group and NAS Gulf Research Program staff held public meetings to develop a strategic research plan for the Gulf - outlining the organization's mission and goals. Now, this new Advisory Board's goal is to implement the Program's strategic plan.


"The Deepwater Horizon blowout and its aftermath really exposed gaps in our knowledge about the Gulf of Mexico marine environment as well as our ability to predict where the oil spill would move so we could protect important ocean resources or even remediate the resulting damage," said Dr. Barbara Kirkpatrick, Executive Director of GCOOS-RA. "One of our goals is to fully implement and fund a Gulf-wide monitoring system that will improve the situation. We hope that having four of our members - including one of GCOOS' own Board Members - on the Gulf Research Program Advisory Board will help to bring attention to the need and the benefits that a sustained monitoring system could bring."


GCOOS-RA Members who are serving on the National Academy of Sciences Gulf Research Program Advisory Board:


  • Dr. William (Monty) Graham, Chair of the Department of Marine Science, University of Southern Mississippi at Stennis Space Center and Professor of Marine Science. Dr. Graham is a biological oceanographer with a specialization in gelatinous plankton. His primary research explores the causes and consequences of jellyfish variability in heavily fished ecosystems.
  • GCOOS-RA Board Member Dr. Sara J. Graves, Director of the Information Technology and Systems Center, Board of Trustees University Professor and Professor of Computer Science at the University of Alabama in Huntsville. She directs research and development in sustainable distributed data infrastructures, data mining and knowledge discovery, semantic technologies, information analytics, and cyber security/resilience.
  • Dr. Anthony H. Knap, James R. Whatley Endowed Chair in Geosciences, Professor of Oceanography and Director of Geochemical and Environmental Research Group (GERG) at Texas A&M University. Dr. Knap has had extensive experience with both chemical and physical monitoring systems in the Gulf and elsewhere.
  • Dr. LaDon Swann, Director of the Mississippi-Alabama Sea Grant Consortium (MASGC), and Director of the Auburn University's Marine Programs. Dr. Swann implements practical solutions to coastal issues through competitive research, graduate student training, extension services, and outreach and K-12 education in Alabama and Mississippi.


Recently, the Program began accepting online applications for three-initial, short-term funding opportunities: exploratory grants, research fellowships and science policy fellowships.


This year, the Program will offer a funding opportunity related to the synthesis of environmental monitoring data. The Advisory Board will identify future activities that align with the Program's mission and objectives, including larger-scale initiatives.


About the Gulf Research Program

In 2010, the Deepwater Horizon explosion and fire caused the largest offshore oil spill in U.S. history, which had significant impacts on the Gulf environment and people. As part of legal settlements with the companies involved, the federal government asked the National Academy of Sciences (NAS) to establish a new 30-year program to fund and conduct activities to enhance oil system safety, human health, and environmental resources in the Gulf of Mexico and other U.S. outer continental shelf regions that support oil and gas production. 


About the National Academy of Sciences

The NAS is a private, non-profit organization chartered by Congress in 1863 to provide independent, expert advice to the nation. Activities involve scientists, engineers, health experts, educators, and others from throughout the United States, the Gulf region, and relevant other countries in a variety of ways. 



The Gulf of Mexico Coastal Ocean Observing System Regional Association is a 501(c)3 organization responsible for developing a network of business leaders, marine scientists, resource managers, non-governmental organizations and other stakeholder groups that combine their data to provide timely information about our oceans  - similar to the information gathered by the National Weather Service to develop weather forecasts. Visit us online at

GCOOS, which includes members from Texas, Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama and Florida, seeks to establish a sustained observing system for the Gulf of Mexico to provide observations and products needed by users in this region for:
  • Detecting and predicting climate variability and consequences,
  • Preserving and restoring healthy marine ecosystems,
  • Ensuring human health,
  • Managing resources,
  • Facilitating safe and efficient marine transportation,
  • Enhancing national security, and
  • Predicting and mitigating against coastal hazards.

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