Colwell Concludes a Decade of Work with Gulf of Mexico Research Initiative

Jun 17, 2021

Rita Colwell, a Distinguished University Professor in the University of Maryland Institute for Advanced Computer Studies, recently concluded a decade of work with the Gulf of Mexico Research Initiative (GoMRI), an independent group of experts formed in 2010 following the Deepwater Horizon explosion and oil spill.

Colwell served as the research board chair for GoMRI, leading a group of almost two-dozen senior scientists and public policy experts who provided guidance on a large-scale effort to investigate the impacts of oil, dispersed oil, and oil dispersants on the ecosystems of the Gulf of Mexico and affected coastal states.

The research board oversaw an unprecedented investigation into the effects of the Deepwater disaster—a multidisciplinary undertaking that would ultimately involve more than 4,500 people, including scientists, lab techs, data and outreach specialists, students, and countless others.

The goal of the initiative, officials say, was to improve society’s ability to understand, respond to and mitigate the impacts of petroleum pollution and related stressors of the marine and coastal ecosystems, with an emphasis on conditions found in the Gulf of Mexico.

A detailed accounting on the history, scope—and successful outcomes—of this 10-year effort was recently published in a special edition of Oceanography magazine. Go here to view a PDF that highlights the efforts by Colwell and others associated with the GoMRI project.