Local professor receives oil spill research grant

Published 11:00 pm Thursday, August 30, 2012

A local professor has been awarded a grant to assess potential damage caused by the Deepwater Horizon spill.

Dr. Stephen Landers, a professor of biological sciences at Troy University, was one of 19 people chosen by the Gulf of Mexico Research Initiative to conduct research over a three-year period.

“The research project is aimed at understanding the sea floor and the microscopic animals that live in the sediment,” Landers said. “In the shadow of a huge environmental disaster, we have the opportunity to study the effects of the oil spill on the ecosystem and the animals near the base of the food change.”

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The project, “Analysis of continental shelf meiofauna in the Northern Gulf of Mexico: Effects of the Deepwater Horizon oil spill investigated during a long-term community study,” will receive about $650,000 in funding.

The research group will collect marine sediments from many locations across the continental shelf in the north central gulf and study worms, shrimp-like animals and other organisms in the sediment to better understand the community structure of those animals in polluted and non-polluted areas.

Dr. Kewei Yu, an assistant professor of biological sciences at Troy University, along with university graduate assistants, will assist Landers.

Landers was chosen after 629 letters of intent were received from applicants who were evaluated for scientific and technical merit.

“I’m very pleased and humbled by being chosen for funding given the intense competition for these grants, and I’m looking forward to my work during the next few years,” said Landers, who has been collecting data in the Gulf of Mexico since 2007.

The GoMRI group, established with funding by BP, awarded the grant.