Ecosystem Science Conference

Gulf of Mexico Oil Spill and Ecosystem Science Conference

Faculty, students, and postdoctoral researchers from the Halmos College of Natural Sciences and Oceanography attended and presented research at the 2016 Gulf of Mexico Oil Spill & Ecosystem Science Conference, held February 1–4, 2016, in Tampa, Florida. 

Almost 1,000 scientists, researchers, and environmental experts worldwide attended the conference to share the latest oil spill and ecosystem scientific discoveries, technologies and policies. The conference theme, “One Gulf: Healthy Ecosystems, Healthy Communities,” focused on opportunities to promote and sustain a healthy Gulf environment and economy, with an emphasis on the human dimensions of the oil spill in addition to ecosystem science research.

Tracey T. Sutton, Ph.D., associate professor at the college, is director and principal investigator of the DEEPEND (Deep Pelagic Nekton Dynamics) Consortium within the Gulf of Mexico Research Initiative (GoMRI). Seven NSU scientists from the DEEPEND Consortium attended the conference, including Sutton, Jose Lopez, Ph.D., professor; Tamara Frank, Ph.D., associate professor; Matthew Johnston, Ph.D., research scientist; Cole Easson, Ph.D., postdoctoral researcher; Andrea Bernard, Ph.D., postdoctoral researcher; Rosanna Milligan, Ph.D., postdoctoral researcher; April Cook, M.S., DEEPEND project manager, as well as three of Sutton’s former and current graduate students, Lacey Malarky, M.S., Nina Pruzinsky, and Michael Novotny. Cook, Frank, Easson, Lopez, and Sutton presented work on the ecology of organisms living in the deep Gulf interior, and how these organisms may have been affected by the Deepwater Horizon oil spill. This work, currently ongoing, is an extension of work initiated shortly after the oil spill in 2010 at the request of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA).

Alexander V. Soloviev, Ph.D., professor at the college and a co-principal investigator in the CARTHE/GoMRI Research Consortium, and doctoral student Cayla Dean presented the results of laboratory experiments and numerical simulations on the dynamics of oil emulsions and plankton behavior. In addition to the conference, Soloviev and Dean attended a two-week research cruise in the Gulf of Mexico on the R/V Walton Smith. They were accompanied by graduate students Kathryn Howe and John Kluge. During the research cruise, the college team collected sea surface microlayer samples during TerraSAR-X and RADARSAT-2 satellite overpasses as part of the LASER/CARTHE experiment.

D. Abigail Renegar, Ph.D., research scientist at the college, is co-principal investigator of the Clean Caribbean and Americas CoralTox project with Richard Dodge, Ph.D., dean of the college, and Bernhard Riegl, Ph.D., professor at the college. Renegar presented work with graduate student Nicholas Turner on hydrocarbon toxicity in shallow water corals, providing much needed data on coral resilience to hydrocarbon exposure. Renegar, who also is co-principal investigator of the GoMRI project DeTOX with Bernhard Riegl and Tamara Frank, presented upcoming research aimed at understanding oil toxicity in several ecologically important deep-sea zooplankton/micronekton.

Conference presentations by college members included: