The National Academy of Sciences’ Gulf of Mexico Program has appointed Mississippi-Alabama Sea Grant Director LaDon Swann to an advisory group that will create a strategic vision and guide the program’s development and implementation. Serving for one year, Swann, who is also the director of marine programs with Auburn University, and the other 23 members of the advisory group will articulate the program’s mission, goals and objectives — including preliminary thinking about metrics to measure its impacts — and outline how the program will operate in the first three to five years.
The advisory group draws on the science, engineering and health expertise of the National Academy of Sciences (NAS), National Academy of Engineering (NAE), Institute of Medicine (IOM), and National Research Council (NRC). Chaired by outgoing NAS Vice President Barbara A. Schaal, dean of the Faculty of Arts and Sciences at Washington University in St. Louis, the group includes people with experiences in academia and industry, as well as people with deep connections to the Gulf region.
“The advisory group brings distinction, expertise from diverse disciplines, and a wide range of experience to the task of defining the program,” said NAS President Ralph J. Cicerone. “With Dr. Schaal’s leadership and her familiarity with the National Academy of Sciences and its values, we’re confident that the program’s design will be based on scientific merit and integrity.”
The $500 million, 30-year program was established as part of the settlements of federal criminal complaints against British Petroleum and Transocean Ltd. following the 2010 Deepwater Horizon explosion, which resulted in 11 deaths, 17 injuries and the largest oil spill in U.S. history. The program will focus on human health, environmental protection and oil system safety in the Gulf of Mexico and the United States’ Outer Continental Shelf. It also will fund and carry out studies, projects and activities in research and development, education and training, and environmental monitoring.
To identify broad opportunities in these areas that best meet the program’s charge, the advisory group will work to understand what other organizations and agencies are doing in the Gulf region. As part of its information gathering activities, the group will conduct a series of in-person and virtual meetings in Alabama, Florida, Louisiana, Mississippi, Texas and Washington, D.C., to identify how the NAS program can make useful and lasting contributions.
The program will be run under the auspices of the National Research Council, the principal operating arm of the NAS and NAE. Together with the IOM, these private, nonprofit institutions provide science, technology and health policy advice under a congressional charter granted to NAS in 1863.