On Friday, February 24, 2012, the Gulf of Mexico Research Initiative (GoMRI) Research Board announced the selection of Dr. Charles “Chuck” A. Wilson to serve as the GoMRI Chief Science Officer.

“I am pleased that Dr. Wilson has accepted this important position,” said Dr. Rita Colwell, chairman of the GoMRI Research Board. “His professional experience and leadership skills make him the ideal person for this important position.”

“This is an exciting opportunity,” said Dr. Wilson. “My career has spanned the conduct of research, administration, and the management of a research, outreach and education program. I enjoy envisioning partnerships and motivating people towards common goals. There are numerous opportunities for collaboration and interaction between the research consortia and other scientific teams funded by the GoMRI and I look forward to helping facilitate this collaboration.”

The Chief Science Officer is a new position created by the Research Board to provide scientific and research advice and leadership to the GoMRI. Dr. Wilson will coordinate the work of the GoMRI Research Board with the various administrative units implementing the research program and with the Gulf of Mexico Alliance. Additionally, he will support the Research Board’s efforts to ensure the intellectual quality, research effectiveness, and scientific independence of the $500 million GoMRI research initiative.

Dr. Wilson is a distinguished scientist and academic leader. He has held faculty and administrative posts at Louisiana State University (LSU), where he joined the faculty in 1984 as an assistant professor in the Department of Oceanography and Coastal Sciences. Since then, he has risen through the academic ranks to full professor and department chairman. Most recently, he has served as Executive Director of the Louisiana Sea Grant College Program, and prior to that as the Vice Provost for Academic Affairs. During his tenure at LSU, Dr. Wilson has received more than $15,000,000 in private, state, and federal funding for research and education programs, and has authored or co-authored more than 100 scientific publications.

“I am extremely grateful to LSU for an exciting and fulfilling academic career and for opportunities that the University has afforded me over the past 28 years,” said Dr. Wilson.

Dr. Wilson’s leadership goes well beyond the academic setting. He has distinguished himself through service in scientific organizations and on scientific advisory bodies, including the GoMRI Research Board.

“Chuck has demonstrated an ability to get big things done and to bring people and organizations together to accomplish common goals,” said Dr. Colwell. For example, his accomplishments include co-founding the Louisiana Artificial Reef Program, and helping to establish the Louisiana Artificial Reef Trust Fund and the Louisiana State Universities Undergraduate Research Opportunities Program. He has led research teams investigating fisheries management, life history studies of fish, and the impact of oil and gas platforms on fish and fish communities.

A search committee was established by the GoMRI Research Board to conduct a rigorous review of candidates for the Chief Science Officer position. The committee carefully considered applications and interviewed candidates before it ultimately recommended Dr. Wilson for the post.

Dr. Wilson will continue to serve on the GoMRI Research Board until the Gulf of Mexico Alliance announces a replacement or until he begins work as the Chief Science Officer, whichever occurs first.

The GoMRI Research Board is an independent body that administers BP’s ten-year, $500 million commitment to independent research into the effects of the Deepwater Horizon incident. Through a series of competitive grant programs, the GoMRI is investigating the impacts of the oil, dispersed oil, and dispersant on the ecosystems of the Gulf of Mexico and the affected coastal States in a broad context of improving fundamental understanding of the dynamics of such events and their environmental stresses and public health implications. The GoMRI also funds research that improves techniques for detecting oil and gas, spill mitigation, and technologies to characterize and remediate spills. Knowledge accrued will be applied to restoration and to improving the long-term environmental health of the Gulf of Mexico.

The GoMRI is an independent scientific research program and is separate from the Natural Resources Damages Assessment process.


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