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Mississippi Scientists Competing for Millions in Oil Spill Research Grants

By Rhonda Miller | Published 25 Apr 2011 03:34pm | comments
Bill Hawkins is Director of Gulf Coast Research Laboratory

The Gulf Research Initiative is offering $450 million in grants for projects related to the BP oil spill. MPB’s Rhonda Miller found Mississippi scientists ready to jump into the competition when it was announced Monday.

"I’m very pleased to announce the release of the first request for proposals..." Rita Colwell of the Gulf Research Initiative said when she announced the grants at the National Press Club in Washington, D.C. Colwell said the grants are to study the environmental and public health impacts of the BP oil spill.

"This allows an understanding over a long period of time, which is really unique and very important for the citizens of the Gulf of Mexico states," Colwell said.

Bill Hawkins, Director of the Gulf Coast Research Laboratory in Ocean Springs, said the lab is likely to be involved in several grant projects.

"For example, a project on aquatic toxicology that’s been going on for several decades, we are really well-positioned to look at dispersants and petroleum itself, or its toxic properties on marine organisms," Hawkins said.

Each grant will be awarded to a consortium of scientists and will range from one million to $7.5 million and will run for three years.

"This will be an opportunity to build on the data sets that we have, not only that were collected during the oil spill, but also the historical data we have for our coastal region from long before any of this happened," said Steven Lohrenz, chair of the Department of Marine Science at the University of Southern Mississippi.

Researchers must submit letters of intent by May 9.

The entire $500 million research project began last year and is funded by BP. However, the research is independent and scientists will be free to publish their findings where and when they choose.

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Bill Hawkins is Director of Gulf Coast Research Laboratory


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