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The National Academies of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine
Gulf Research Program
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Program Initiatives
Many complex challenges exist at the intersections of human, environmental, and energy systems for both the Gulf region and the Nation. Addressing these challenges requires a long-term, multi-faceted approach that supports a strategic and mission-driven portfolio of activities.

Four program initiatives advance the Gulf Research Program’s mission and vision: Each initiative is focused on a long-term outcome that is critical to the GRP's vision and the initiatives guide the development and implementation of its grants, fellowships, and other activities. The program's initiatives seek to address a broad and overlapping set of issues through research and development, monitoring and synthesis, and education and capacity building. As the program proceeds, these initiatives will continue to evolve to meet new needs and challenges as they arise.

 

Healthy Ecosystems
Healthy Ecosystems
Advance understanding of ecosystem processes and dynamics to facilitate sustainable use of natural resources

Overview
Managers and decision makers can better anticipate and mitigate environmental change and community and ecosystem disruptions with timely, accurate observation and monitoring information. We are working with others to improve how researchers and practitioners collect, interpret, and use monitoring and observing information.

Our Approach
  • Support long-term monitoring, modeling, and synthesis activities to advance understanding of how stressors affect the ecosystems and associated natural resources that coastal communities and industries depend on.
  • Foster the development of more effective tools and methods for collecting data about human and natural systems, including new technological approaches and common metrics, to transform the way data are used and advance scientific collaboration in the Gulf and beyond.
  • Improve mechanisms for data accessibility, interpretation, and synthesis to advance models of human and natural systems and their interactions.
  • Support research and other activities that facilitate information exchange among scientists, decision makers, and other stakeholders to encourage holistic and regional approaches to complex challenges.
Featured Activities

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Resilient Coastal Communities
Thriving Communities
Enable people and coastal communities to successfully prepare for, respond, and adapt to stressors and adverse events
 
 
Overview
Natural disasters, climate change impacts, and other stressors, such as those related to offshore oil and gas operations, present complex challenges to the health and well-being of coastal communities and to the integrity of the environments upon which they depend. In collaboration with others, the GRP supports the work of researchers, communities, and public- and private-sector actors to enhance the resilience of communities to the adverse impacts of environmental and economic stressors.

Our Approach
  • Strengthen the science and practice of resilience through research and capacity-building activities that account for the social, cultural, environmental, and health factors that influence a community’s capacity to thrive.
  • Support community-driven and scientific activities that can improve understanding and mitigation of drivers and impacts of complex challenges facing coastal regions, especially those at the intersections of societal, environmental, and energy-related needs.
  • Improve the quality, accessibility, and use of information to minimize harm to individuals and communities from oil spills and related stressors on community health and well-being.
Featured Activities
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Offshore Oil and Gas
Safer Offshore Energy Systems
Foster minimization and management of risk to make offshore operations safer for both people and the environment

Overview
Comprehensive risk awareness can help both industry and regulators to better anticipate, reduce, and avoid risks in the offshore energy environment. In collaboration with others, the GRP is working to identify risk-management approaches that can prevent oil spills, loss of life, and harmful exposures related to offshore operations.

Our Approach
  • Encourage collaboration among industry, regulatory, and academic communities to advance understanding and communication about systemic risk in the offshore environment.
  • Characterize deepwater processes and ecosystems to better understand the offshore energy work environment.
  • Support fundamental scientific and technological research to spur innovation aimed at reducing or managing risks associated with offshore energy systems.
  • Develop and implement educational or training programs to promote a skilled and safety-oriented workforce and to retain that workforce through economic cycles in the oil and gas industry.
Featured Activities
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Capacity to Address Cross-boundary Challenges
Capacity Building
Enhance the ability of researchers, decision makers, and communities to use science to solve challenges at the intersections of human, environmental, and offshore energy systems
Overview
Collaboration and communication among individuals in communities, industry, universities, and the public sector are essential to understanding and addressing the interwoven scientific, social, and environmental challenges associated with offshore energy operations. By supporting the development of new approaches, tools, and education and training experiences, the GRP seeks to foster cross-boundary leadership and capacity for solving complex challenges in coastal regions along the U.S. outer continental shelf.

Our Approach
  • Enhance leadership and decision-making capabilities in professions related to offshore energy development, ecosystem and public health protection, and community planning and development through education and training.
  • Develop the capacity of scientists and institutions to conduct cross-disciplinary scientific syntheses to obtain unique types of insights from research and analyses.
  • Improve the use of scientific information in local, state, and federal decision making by supporting the work of organizations that connect scientific researchers, policy makers, and communities.
  • Work with communities in the Gulf of Mexico region, especially underrepresented and vulnerable populations, to identify the scientific, social, and environmental challenges most important to them and opportunities to address these challenges through research, education, and other collaborative activities.
Featured Activities

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Photo credits (from top to bottom): ©iStock/nielubieklonu; NASA image courtesy Norman Kuring, Ocean Color Team; ©iStock/stretchc; Photograph by Kelly M. Darnell