New Leader Named for Gulf Research Program

The Gulf Research Program was established in 2013 as part of the settlement of criminal charges against two companies involved in the Deepwater Horizon oil spill. The federal government entrusted the National Academies with $500 million to enhance human health, environmental resources, and the safety of offshore energy systems in the Gulf of Mexico region.

A new leader, Lauren Alexander Augustine, has been appointed executive director of the Gulf Research Program of the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine, that organization announced Dec. 5.

The Gulf Research Program was established in 2013 as part of the settlement of criminal charges against two companies involved in the Deepwater Horizon oil spill. The federal government entrusted the National Academies with $500 million to enhance human health, environmental resources, and the safety of offshore energy systems in the Gulf of Mexico region. The program will continue until 2043; Augustine will oversee the management and use of the money.

"I look forward to building on the foundation of this program's first five years and continuing its evolution into a flagship program that benefits the people of the Gulf," Augustine said. "The region faces challenges that are wide-ranging, complex, and dynamic. This program provides an extraordinary opportunity for science to address these challenges in direct and collaborative ways."

The Gulf Research Program currently has initiatives to support activities in four areas: healthy ecosystems, thriving and healthy communities, safer offshore energy systems, and capacity building. It issues grants for projects that integrate monitoring and evaluation into environmental restoration efforts underway in the Gulf; other grants support efforts aiming to advance the safety culture in the offshore oil and gas industry. A third group of activities seeks to enhance coastal community resilience and well-being in the Gulf region, and the fourth works to expand the ability of researchers, decision-makers, and communities to use science to solve problems.

Prior to accepting her new position, Augustine was director of the National Academies' Resilient America Program, which supports communities' efforts to build resilience to disasters using science and stakeholder engagement.

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