The Florida Institute of Oceanography (FIO) Council will hear presentations from more than two dozen research groups — including a team led by a University of Central Florida scientist — who are examining the impact of the Deepwater Horizon oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico.
The projects will be presented on Wednesday and Thursday, Sept. 15-16, at UCF’s Fairwinds Alumni Center.
The research projects are funded through $10 million provided to the FIO by oil company BP in the wake of the spill, the nation’s largest environmental disaster. In August, the FIO Council selected 27 projects totaling $9.5 million.
UCF Biology Professor Graham Worthy will present his project Wednesday, Sept. 15, from 2:15 to 2:45 p.m. His research team is studying bottlenose dolphins to evaluate the safety of consuming fish caught by recreational fishermen.
State University System Chancellor Frank Brogan said a collaborative effort is critical in utilizing the grant funds in the most efficient ways possible.
“I appreciate the time, energy and sense of urgency that the panel members have shown in order to utilize and leverage the tidal wave of experts and assets amid our universities and partners in both an organized and efficient fashion,” Brogan said. “I look forward to the collaboration that will be necessary to assist the needs of the state and its many agencies that are depending on this scientific data to be collected and confirmed in order to have facts and knowledge for the State of Florida’s wide-ranging response and recovery efforts.”
The FIO is a consortium of 20 public and private marine science centers and institutes in Florida who have worked cooperatively for more than four decades on scientific projects in Florida’s waters and along its more than 1,200 miles of coastline.
In its new focus on the Deepwater Horizon oil spill, researchers working through FIO will examine the full scope of the spill, from investigating the effect of Deepwater Horizon oil and dispersants on reefs, corals and salt marshes to examining how coastal and marine food webs have fared in the disaster.
“Taken as a whole, the projects will give Floridians a more complete scientific picture of the impact of the Deepwater Horizon oil on the Gulf of Mexico,” said William Hogarth, acting director of the FIO and Dean of the University of South Florida’s College of Marine Science. “Our scientific community has demonstrated unparalleled cooperation in creating scientific projects that will answer questions about this disaster and provide new insights into how to better protect and preserve our environment going forward.”
Each research group will make a 15-minute presentation followed by a 15-minute question and answer period. The complete list of FIO-selected projects can be found at fio.usf.edu.
Council meetings begin at 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. The Fairwinds Alumni Center is located on North Gemini Boulevard at the UCF campus, 4000 Central Florida Blvd. in Orlando.
Originally formed in 1967, the FIO is one of only three institutes in Florida approved by the State University System’s Board of Governors in 2009 as a statewide Academic Infrastructure Support Organization. USF serves as the host university.
As a State University System asset, the FIO operates under a Memorandum of Understanding with the 20 institutions and agencies engaged in marine research, education and resources management, including all 11 public universities in Florida. The FIO Director is informed by an Advisory Council and an Executive Committee; the FIO director reports to the Board of Governors through the USF Provost.
The Oil Spill Academic Task Force was formed by Chancellor Brogan on May 3, 2010, to bring together a myriad of research tools and experts to focus on the crisis in the Gulf of Mexico. The task force helps provide a conduit for dialogue on the scientific and external needs of the academic community.
The Florida Board of Governors is the constitutional body created by voters in 2002 to guide the State University System of Florida.