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University of Mississippi Gets $20 Million Grant to Study Effects of Oil Spill

By Rhonda Miller | Published 14 Sep 2011 10:58pm | comments
Vernon Asper, professor of Marine Biology at the University of Southern Mississippi, said sensors to sense dissolved or droplets of oil will be used to study the impact of the BP oil spill on the Gulf of Mexico.

A $20 million research grant to study the environmental effects of the BP oil spill has been awarded to the University of Mississippi.  MPB’s Rhonda Miller reports the project will bring top scientists from around the county into the Gulf.

The $20 million grant will help scientists analyze the effects of the oil spill from the surface of the water to floor of the sea. The three-year project will also examine the impact of dispersants.

Ray Highsmith at the University of Mississippi is lead investigator on the study.

"We will now have a significant role in trying to determine what happened and what could happen in the Gulf. This is extremely important in my mind for Mississippi to be a player and not be on the sidelines while others come in from elsewhere and do our work for us. We need to be involved and I’m very happy that we are," Highsmith said

While the University of Mississippi is leading the project, top scientists from around the country and the state are part of the consortium.

Vernon Asper is a professor of marine biology at the University of Southern Mississippi.

"And we have sensors to actually sense dissolved or droplets of oil in the water column. Like these two right here. This is called AquaTrackaand it is the most sensitive oil sensor that is commonly available now," Asper said.

The scientific team assembled for the study gets top ratings from Terese Collins, president of  the Gulf Islands Conservancy. She saw the need for more immediate research when she was on a flight looking for whale sharks.

"And when we were flying out over the Gulf we found this other slick, which was near the Macondo well disaster site, and it was an extensive amount of oil and no one seems to be concerned about it," Collins said.

Scientists taking part in the research project have their work cut out for them.

 

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Vernon Asper, professor of Marine Biology at the University of Southern Mississippi, said sensors to sense dissolved or droplets of oil will be used to study the impact of the BP oil spill on the Gulf of Mexico.


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