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Science Seminar: Impacts of the Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill

April 6-8, 2011
Louisiana Universities Marine Consortium

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Edward J. Chesney is an associate professor Louisiana Universities Marine Consortium. His recent research projects include collaborative studies of the source and fate of methyl-mercury in the Gulf of Mexico fishes and the magnitude and source of exposure to methyl-mercury in Louisiana saltwater recreational anglers. He recently helped organize and participated in a Baird science symposium on the ecology of wind farms and most recently in a workshop to consider the potential for trophic cascades in response to the DWH event. Chesney obtained his B.S. in natural resources form the University of Michigan and his Ph.D. in biological oceanography from the University of Rhode Island, Graduate School of Oceanography. (E-mail:

Britt Christensen is currently a Master's degree student in the Manship School of Mass Communication at Louisiana State University. His primary research focuses on how the media cover and discuss foreign policy and global relations. His previous professional experience includes work in media and with Fox Sports Net, ESPN/ABC Sports, and sales and finance with RBC Wealth Management and LTC Specialties. Christensen has a B.A. in communication studies from California State University, Long Beach. (E-mail:

Michel Claudet is an attorney and businessman and was elected Terrebonne Parish President in 2007. He has been a member of the Terrebonne Parish community for over 26 years. After completing his undergraduate education and obtaining his CPA, he worked for Peat, Marwick, Mitchell & Co., Cotton Products Co., Inc., and Central Gulf Lines. Claudet then earned his law degree and worked for three years with Hammett, Leake & Hammett in New Orleans. He was admitted to the Eastern, Middle and Western Federal District Courts of Louisiana, U. S. Court of Appeals, Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals, U. S. Tax Court and the U. S. Supreme Court. In 1981, he set up his own practice which stretched 26 years before he retired in 2003. During his career, Claudet formed locally-owned Synergy Bank, founded the Houma Civic Center, and bought local businesses including Café Milano & Aficionados, which was voted Best Restaurant at "A Taste of South Louisiana" from 2002 through 2008. He led the charge for the Houma Library which was subsequently voted "Best Library in Louisiana," and he co-produced the Broadway play, The Kingfish, featuring Louisiana Governor Huey P. Long. Claudet was the head of the Downtown Development Committee and the first president of the Houma Downtown Development Corporation. He was awarded the 1996 Volunteer of the Year for the State of Louisiana presented by the Southeast Economic Development Council and the 2006 Tri-Parish Hall of Fame-Humanitarian Award. Claudet earned a B.S. from Louisiana State University in 1970 and his J.D. from Loyola Law School in New Orleans in 1977. (E-mail:

Nicole Cotten is the university education coordinator and marine education instructor for Louisiana Universities Marine Consortium. In 2008 she was appointed state commissioner for the South Louisiana Wetlands Discovery Center. She has served on numerous planning and advisory committees in Terrebone Parish and is currently participating in the Applied Environmental Education Program Evaluation workshop at the University of Wisconsin at Stevens-Point. The wetlands of south Louisiana have been her home and classroom for over thirty years. In 1999, Cotten earned a Bachelor of Science degree in biology from Nicholls State University. In 2002, she received her Master of Science degree in coastal sciences from the University of Southern Mississippi while studying larval flyingfishes and serving as research assistant at the Gulf Coast Research Laboratory in Ocean Springs, MS. While completing her Master's degree, she was biologist for the Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries. (E-mail:

Melissa Trosclair Daigle is the legal coordinator for the Louisiana Sea Grant Law & Policy Program (SGLPP). She is currently a member of the Center for Natural Resource Economics and Policy, the Louisiana Crab Task Force, and the Louisiana Wild Caught Crawfish Task Force. Her focus areas include sustainable coastal community development and hazard resiliency, specifically when dealing with storm surge, sea level rise, and other flooding events. The mission of the SGLPP is to provide timely and relevant legal information and services for the many users of Louisiana's coastal lands and waters, including state and local governments; coastal businesses, including commercial fishers, recreational fishers and non-governmental organizations, and the general public. (E-mail:

Christopher F. D'Elia earned his A.B. in Biology from Middlebury College, his Ph.D. in Zoology from the University of Georgia, and did postdoctoral work at UCLA and at the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution. Prior to joining Louisiana State University in July 2009 as Professor and Dean of the School of the Coast and Environment, he was Associate Vice Chancellor for Academic Affairs for Research and Graduate Studies and Professor of Environmental Science & Policy and Marine Science at the University of South Florida St. Petersburg. There he also directed the International Ocean Institute-USA and the Center for Science and Policy Applications for the Coastal Environment and served from 2007-2008 as Interim Vice Chancellor for Academic Affairs. He has also held professorships in Biological Science and Public Administration and Policy and was Vice President for Research & SUNY Research Foundation Operations Manager at the University at Albany, SUNY. From 1977-1999, he was a Professor at the Chesapeake Biological Laboratory, University of Maryland Center for Environmental Science. He served as Director of the Maryland Sea Grant College Program of the University System of Maryland from 1989-1999. He has held appointments as the Ruth Patrick Distinguished Scholar in Aquatic Science at the Academy of Natural Sciences (Philadelphia), as the Director of the Biological Oceanography Program at the National Science Foundation in Washington, D.C., and as Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs at the University of Maryland Biotechnology Institute. D'Elia has held numerous research grants and has authored or coauthored over sixty scientific publications on the nutrient dynamics of estuaries and coral reefs, and on science policy. He is a Fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science and has served on numerous advisory panels to the National Science Foundation and other federal, state and private funding agencies. He was elected to membership in the Cosmos Club, Washington, DC, in 1994. D'Elia is a former President of the Estuarine Research Federation and former Chair of the Board of Directors of the Council of Scientific Society Presidents. He has chaired the Mid-Atlantic Regional Marine Research Board and the Public Affairs Committees of the Ecological Society of America and of the American Society of Limnology and Oceanography. He has served twice as President, and as Co-Chair of the External Relations Committee, of the Sea Grant Association. He has been a member of the Scientific and Technical Advisory Committee to the Chesapeake Bay Program and has been Co-Chair of the Legislative Committee of the Commission on Food, Environment and Renewable Resources and Co-Chair of the Board on Oceans and Atmosphere of the National Association of State Universities and Land Grant Colleges (NASULGC), and a member of the Executive Committee of the NASULGC Council on Research Policy and Graduate Education. He has been a member of the Board of Directors of the Hudson River Foundation since 1998 and also served as Chairman of the Executive Board of the Science Center of Pinellas County until from 2007 to 2009. He is serving a 3-year term as a member of the U.S. National Committee for the Intergovernmental Oceanographic Commission of UNESCO representing the Coastal and Estuarine Research Federation. (E-mail:

Eurico J. D'Sa is an associate professor in the Department of Oceanography and Coastal Sciences, Coastal Studies Institute, at the Louisiana State University, Baton Rouge. His current research involves the use of satellite remote sensing and field bio-optical measurements to study the biogeochemical processes in coastal and oceanic waters in the Gulf of Mexico and the Bering Sea. D'Sa received his Ph.D. in marine sciences from the University of Southern Mississippi, Hattiesburg, in 1996. He did post doctoral research on an National Research Council fellowship at NOAA, a NASA-funded fellowship at the University of South Florida, and as a scientist at NASA Stennis Space Center, Mississippi, before joining LSU as an assistant professor in 2004. (E-mail:

Robert J. (Joe) Griffitt is assistant professor in the Department of Coastal Sciences at the University of Southern Mississippi. His research centers around the study of the effect of anthropogenic contaminant on aquatic organisms with a We focus on molecular approaches, aimed at identifying the precise cellular and molecular pathways that are affected by different contaminants. Current research projects address the effects of nanoparticulate metals on marine and freshwater fish; the application of molecular tools for assesment of ecosystem health; and the isolation and characterization of miRNA expression patterns in non-model species. Prior to this, he was a postdoctoral research associate for the Center for Environmental and Human Toxicology at the University of Florida, Gainesville. Griffitt received his B.S. in marine biology from the University of North Carolina, Wilmington, his M.S. in marine science, his C.A.S. in statistics, and his Ph.D. in environmental health sciences all from the University of South Carolina. He did his post-doctural research in nanotoxicology at the University of Florida. (E-mail:

Daniel Harrington is an assistant professor of environmental and occupational health sciences at the Louisiana State University Health Sciences Center School of Public Health in New Orleans. He received his bachelor's degree in environmental health from Illinois State University, and he received both a master of science in public health and a doctor of science in environmental health sciences from the Tulane University School of Public Health and Tropical Medicine. He is currently researching the health effects of the BP Gulf oil spill on women, the long-term health effects on children who lived in FEMA trailers after hurricanes Katrina and Rita, and environmental tobacco smoke exposure in Louisiana bars and casinos. (E-mail:

Kelly Marie Henry is a doctoral student with a Board of Regents Graduate Fellowship working under the guidance of Robert Twilley at Louisiana State University. Her research strives to understandhow anthropogenic stressors, such as nutrient over-enrichment and climate change, impact biogeochemical cycling and energy flow in aquatic ecosystems. Her dissertationexplores interactions between carbon and nitrogen cycling and the impact climate change and humans have on these cycles in coastal Louisiana. Henry earned a Master of Science degree in oceanography from the University of Rhode Island in 2007. Advised by Scott Nixon, she studied the environmental influences on the growth pattern and growth rate of the hard clam, Mercenaria mercenaria in Narragansett Bay, Rhode Island. In 2003, she graduated as the valedictorian from Franklin Pierce College with a Bachelor of Arts degree in environmental science. (E-mail:

Alexander S. Kolker is an assistant professor at the Louisiana Universities Marine Consortium. He studies how climate variability and human activities impact the coastal zone. Recent research activities have involved exploring the climatic drivers of annual and inter-annual sea level fluctuations; examining the impacts of storms and relative sea level variability on coastal geology; quantifying the impacts of the recent BP oil spill on coastal bays and wetlands; and understanding the natural geological processes that can be used to restore the Mississippi River Delta. He has worked in wetland systems across the country, including wetlands in the Everglades ecosystem, surrounding Long Island, NY, and more recently those in the Mississippi River Delta. Kolker received his Ph.D. in marine and atmospheric sciences from Stony Brook University. (E-mail:

Elizabeth Kujawinski has a bachelor's degree in Chemistry from MIT and a PhD in chemical oceanography from the MIT/WHOI Joint Program in Oceanography. After completing her PhD, she completed a postdoc appointment at Ohio State in the chemistry department and then taught for 2.5 years at Barnard College in New York City. She returned to WHOI in 2004 and is currently an associate scientist in the Marine Chemistry & Geochemistry department. Liz got involved in the Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill in order to understand the behavior and eventual fate of the polar components of the oil and dispersants. (E-mail:

Lisa Lundy serves as the associate dean for Sponsored Research & Programs in LSU's Manship School of Mass Communication. Her teaching and research focus on public relations, strategic communication, and health and science communication. Her current research includes an analysis of media coverage of the gulf oil spill. Professionally, she worked in public relations for the University of Florida's College of Agricultural and Life Sciences and the March of Dimes. In 2006, she received the Tiger Athletic Foundation Teaching Award, which recognizes teaching excellence at LSU. She currently serves as chair of the editorial board for the Journal of Applied Communications. Lundy earned a Ph.D. in agricultural communication from the University of Florida in 2004. (E-mail:

Amy M. McKenna is assistant scholar-scientist in the Ion Cyclotron Resonance program at the National High Magnetic Field Laboratory and faculty member at Florida State University. She received a B.A. degree in chemistry from the University of Tampa and Ph.D. in analytical chemistry from Florida State University. Her main research interests are in petroleum characterization, with specific emphasis on heavy fuels and deposits and asphaltenes, as well as environmental impacts of crude oil on various marine environments. (E-mail:

Sunshine Menezes is the executive director of the Metcalf Institute for Marine & Environmental Reporting and associate director for communication in the University of Rhode Island (URI) Office of Marine Programs. She was previously a research associate at the URI Coastal Resources Center and Rhode Island Sea Grant, where she led a multidisciplinary team that developed an innovative urban coastal management policy for Narragansett Bay in the Providence metro region of Rhode Island. In 2003, she was selected to be one of ten Legislative Dean John Knauss/Sea Grant Marine Policy Fellows in Washington, DC. As a Knauss Fellow, Menezes was responsible for environment and energy issues for Congressman Frank Pallone, Jr., where her duties included preparing written statements, testimony, and briefing materials for Rep. Pallone in his role as Ranking Member of the House Subcommittee on Fisheries Conservation, Wildlife, and Oceans. Menezes’ doctoral research assessed biodiversity of single-celled organisms (nanoplankton) in a small Rhode Island estuary. She received a B.S. in zoology from Michigan State University in 1995 and a Ph.D. in biological oceanography from the URI Graduate School of Oceanography in 2005. (E-mail:

Scott Miles is currently working on his Ph.D. in environmental and civil engineering from Louisiana State University. He received a Master's in environmental sciences from LSU and a B.S. in biology and environmental engineering from the Southeastern Louisiana University and LSU, respectively. He joined the Department of Environmental Sciences in 1990 and is currently the lead research scientist for the Response and Chemical Assessment Team laboratory. His research interests focus on investigating the fate and transport of oil/chemicals in the marine environment, water quality monitoring, bioaccumulation of toxic constituents in biota, and detection of contaminants in environmental matrices. His research group works closely with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s Emergency Response Division and has been involved in a wide range of environmental sampling and analysis efforts following Hurricanes Katrina, Ike, and Gustav. In addition, his research group has responded to most major oil/chemical spills in the United States, including the Exxon Valdez, the COSCO Busan, Texas City acid spill, and the Deepwater Horizon. (E-mail:

Edward B. Overton is a professor emeritus in the Department of Environmental Sciences, School of Coast and the Environment at Louisiana State University. He received his B.S. (1965) and Ph.D. (1970) degrees from the University of Alabama, Tuscaloosa. His research interests include understanding the fates and distributions of hydrocarbons following an oil spill, the environmental chemistry of hazardous chemicals, and the detection of environmental pollutants at the site of sample collection. He has been active in understanding the fate and effects of petroleum hydrocarbons in marine environments from oil spills since the 1978 Well blowout at the US DOE Strategic Petroleum Reserve West Hackberry Site, flowed by the Amoco Cadiz Tanker wreck and the IXTOC 1 blowout in 1979, the Exxon Valdez wreck in 1989, and currently the Deepwater Horizon fire and blowout in 2010. Overton has given hundreds of interviews concerning the oil spill to international print, radio, and TV media sources including an appearance on the Late Show with David Letterman. He held the Clairborne Chair in Environmental Toxicology and Air Quality prior to his retirement, and he was honored as an LSU Distinguished Faculty in 2008 and was the 1996 Louisiana Technologist of the Year. (E-mail:

Randy Pausina is a New Orleans native who has worked for the Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries for 15 years. Before being named the assistant secretary for the Office of Fisheries by LDWF Secretary Robert Barham, Pausina served as first a field biologist with the Division's Coastal Ecology Section and later as the manager of the Marine Fisheries Research Laboratory in Grand Isle. Pausina led Fisheries staff in the response to the 2010 BP Deepwater Horizon oil spill both in the days immediately following the response and throughout the initiation of a long-term plan for recovery and research. Currently, he works with LDWF to oversee the Department’s Marine, Inland, Extension and Oversight divisions, which are charged with managing marine and freshwater fish populations and habitats for the conservation and improvement of recreational and commercial fishing. After Hurricanes Katrina, Rita Gustav and Ike, Pausina coordinated efforts with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, and the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development to initiate and oversee fisheries disaster grants for Louisiana residents and business owners impacted by the storms. Pausina graduated from Louisiana State University with a Bachelor's degree in Forestry, Wildlife and Fisheries, concentrating in Aquaculture/Fisheries Management. He has served on the Jefferson Marine Fisheries Advisory Board, the Gulf and South Atlantic Fisheries Foundation, and worked with the Barataria-Terrebonne National Estuary Program. He is currently the Department’s representative on the both the Gulf States Marine Fisheries Commission and the Gulf of Mexico Fisheries Management Council. (E-mail:

Ralph J. Portier is distinguished professor of environmental sciences at Louisiana State University. He is also director of the Aquatic/Industrial Toxicology Laboratory at LSU’s School of the Coast & Environment and adjunct professor of oceanography and coastal sciences and food sciences. His research has focused on alleviating the problems associated with industrial and oil production activity in coastal estuarine environments. Current research areas include evaluation of fate and effect of potential carcinogens in aquatic and marine environments; the evaluation of microorganisms for detoxification of contaminated soils and sediments; and the development of new technologies using immobilized bacteria for the continuous detoxification of trace contaminants in typical coastal industrial effluents. Portier has worked extensively with scientists from both the federal agencies and the private sector in assessing the environmental fate of oil in the BP Horizon spill in near shore and marsh habitats. His team at LSU provided some of the first data sets on rates of biodegradation of both the spilled crude and added dispersants in open ocean and weathered beach /marsh environments. He is currently leading an investigation into viable applications for oil spill residuals bioremediation efforts. He has worked with state agencies, particularly Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries, in evaluating residual oil in commercial seafood. His team at LSU is leading a research project with investigators from Seton Hall and Rutgers universities assessing long-term chronic effects of oiling on menhaden and other residents in coastal communities.

Portier has served on five different boards of directors/trustees, five different editorial boards, and on 24 different international, national, and regional committees, and he has developed and taught six undergraduate and graduate courses. Portier's honors include the George W. Goethals Medal, The Society of American Military Engineers, American Forest & Paper Association Environmental Achievement Award. Tiger Athletic Foundation Excellence in Teaching Award, and the LSU Distinguished Faculty Award. He received his B.S. in science and math education from Nicholls State University in 1974, his M.S. in marine sciences from Louisiana State University in 1979, and his Ph.D. in marine sciences from Louisiana State University in 1982. (E-mail:

Nancy N. Rabalais is a professor and executive director at the Louisiana Universities Marine Consortium in Cocodrie, LA. Rabalais’ research interests include the dynamics of hypoxic environments, interactions of large rivers with the coastal ocean, estuarine and coastal eutrophication, and science policy. She is currently serving as a member of the National Research Council, Division of Earth and Life Studies Committees on Cleanwater Act Implementation Across the Mississippi River Basin, the Effects of the Deepwater Horizon Mississippi Canyon-252 Oil Spill on Ecosystem Services in the Gulf of Mexico, the Evolution of the National Oceanographic Research Fleet, and, recently, the Review of Water and Environmental Research Systems Network. She is an elected member of the Board of Trustees for the Consortium on Ocean Leadership, the Council for the University National-Oceanographic Laboratory System, vice chair of the National Sea Grant Advisory Board, president-elect of the Southern Association of Marine Labs, and member of the Board of Directors for GCOOS the Gulf of Mexico Coastal Ocean Observing System. Rabalais received her Ph.D. in zoology from the University of Texas at Austin in 1983. (E-mail:

Paul Sammarco is a professor at the Louisiana Universities Marine Consortium (LUMCON). He has been conducting research on coral reef ecology for over almost 40 years in the western Atlantic and on the Great Barrier Reef, Australia. He is currently conducting an interdisciplinary study of coral communities associated with oil/gas platforms in the northern Gulf of Mexico (US-DOI Minerals Management Service), and the effects of climate change and global warming on coral reefs at the cellular level within the coral hosts and their symbionts. Another current project focuses on coral species which have invaded the Atlantic Ocean from the Pacific, as part of continuing studies on coral dispersal, recruitment processes, and reef-regeneration processes. He has become heavily involved with environmental issues resulting from the BP/Deep Horizon oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico. Sammarco has over 235 publications and has served as an assistant professor at Clarkson University, a senior research scientist at the Australian Institute of Marine Science, and executive director and a research professor at LUMCON.

Sammarco served as the director of environmental research for the Resource Assessment Commission, Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet, Australia, providing him with intensive training and experience in government policy and decision-making. He is currently executive director of the Association of Marine Laboratories of the Caribbean, chairman of the State Commission for the South Louisiana Wetlands Discovery Center, associate editor of Aquatic Biology. Sammarco earned his Ph.D. in ecology and evolution and has worked interdisciplinarily with numerous collaborators in biophysics; natural products chemistry and chemical ecology; geology–stable isotope geochemistry, bioerosion, and reef growth processes; meteorology–climate change, sea surface temperatures, and prediction of coral bleaching; mathematics–analytical modeling; and oil spill remediation techniques. (E-mail:

Kalliat T. Valsaraj is currently both the department chair of Chemical Engineering and the Charles and Hilda Roddey Distinguished Professor in Chemical Engineering at Louisiana State University, Baton Rouge. Valsaraj was elected fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science in 2009 and fellow of the American Institute of Chemical Engineers in 2008. Valsaraj has published three books, 28 book chapters, 154 peer-reviewed journal articles and 230 international/national presentations. He obtained his Ph.D. in chemistry from Vanderbilt University in 1983. (E-mail:

Samuel Walker is senior technical data manager within NOAA’s Integrated Ocean Observing System (IOOS) Program where his responsibilities include chairing the national data management steering team, leading efforts to inventory the IOOS observing capacity, leading national planning for ocean glider technology, and integrating national program efforts with those of IOOS Regional Associations. Between May and January, 2010, Walker was on detail to NOAA’s Office of Response and Restoration, where he led the Subsurface Monitoring Unit as part of the national response to the Deepwater Horizon oil spill. His responsibilities included supporting NOAA’s on-site Scientific Support Coordinators, strategic planning, coordinating inter-agency communications, oversight of monitoring operations, interacting with the academic and news communities, and guiding data management activities for the sub-surface monitoring efforts. Prior to joining the NOAA-IOOS Program, Walker worked extensively in the private consulting sector, managed a university-based earth systems sciences laboratory, and served as a senior staff member in the SouthEast Regional Coastal Ocean Observing Regional Association. His areas of expertise include information management, strategic planning and execution of operational science programs, coastal and ocean observing systems, and geographic information processing. Walker holds an undergraduate degree in geography from University of Maryland, Baltimore County, an M.S. in public health and a Ph.D. in environmental health sciences from the University of South Carolina's Arnold School of Public Health. (E-mail:

Andrew Whitehead is an assistant professor in the Department of Biological Sciences at Louisiana State University. His laboratory activities revolve around Evolutionary and Ecological Genomics research, seeking to understand how genomes integrate cues from, respond to, and are shaped by the external environment. His research examines genomic responses to stress that occur over physiological timescales (acclimation responses) and over evolutionary timescales (adaptive responses). Many complementary approaches are integrated into his current program, including genome expression profiling, population genetics and phylogenetics, and physiology, in order to study how individuals and species respond to and adapt to environmental stress. Stressors of interest include those that are natural (temperature, salinity) or of human origin (pollutants). Whitehead's lab has initiated a series of laboratory and field studies to examine the impacts of Deepwater Horizon oil spill contamination on resident marsh fish health. In collaboration with several other laboratories, the research is characterizing the effects of oil exposure on fish from the molecular level to the physiological level. Field studies are used to maximize real-world relevance, and laboratory studies to provide increased scope for inference. His researchers are particularly interested in how exposure to oil compromises the ability of marsh fish to compensate for normal ecological stressors such as salinity fluctuation, temperature change, and hypoxia. Whitehead arned his B.Sc. from the University of Guelph in Ontario, Canada, and his Ph.D. from the University of California at Davis. He went on to do post-doctoral research at the University of Miami Rosenstiel School of Marine and Atmospheric Science. (E-mail:

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April 15, 2011