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The Center for the Integrated Modeling and Analysis of the Gulf Ecosystem

A tale of two Gulf spills: A research consortium of 19 institutions from 5 countries studying the impacts of oil spills on the Gulf of Mexico.

C-IMAGE Blog

Whether in the field or in the lab, C-IMAGE highlights the research of our members and our students.

Susan Snyder, Student of the Month, November 2016

Susan Snyder, Student of the Month, November 2016

The public often asks "Is Gulf seafood safe to eat after the Deepwater Horizon spill?" Short answer: Yes. So long as we're not eating gallbladders or fish livers. Susan Snyder studies ecotoxicology at the University of South Florida-College of Marine Science where she takes tissues and bile from fish and analyzes the amount of oil in them.  Susan is the C-IMAGE Student of the Month for November 2016!

Susan's research focuses on how sick a fish gets when it is exposed to oil, specifically exposure to Polycyclic Aromatic Hydrocarbons (PAHs), the larger and more toxic components of oil. Her research on PAH Exposure in Gulf of Mexico Demersal Fishes, Post-Deepwater Horizon in Environmental Science and Technology. 

What is the focus of your research? How will your findings contribute to the overall understanding of oil spills or oil spill response?

I measure polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs) in fish tissues.  PAHs are the toxic and persistent component of oil.  We measure PAH metabolites in fish bile to get a level of short-term (days) exposure to oil.  The idea behind this method is similar to a urinalysis drug test of a human.  We also measure PAH levels in fish liver and muscle tissue to understand accumulation of these contaminants.  Chronic exposure and accumulation of PAHs is linked with negative health effects in fish, such as liver cancer.

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Juan Viamonte, Student of the Month, October 2016

Juan Viamonte, Student of the Month, October 2016

Juan Viamonte, a PhD student in the Institute of Technical Biocatalysis at the Hamburg University of Technology (TUHH), studies microorganisms in extreme conditions. With jars of sediments from the Gulf's floor shipped half-way around the world, Juan cultures the bacteria and repressurizes them to simulate the conditions at the bottom of the ocean. With these lab simulated conditions he is able to provide more accurate estimates of deep-sea biodegradation, important information when developing models during response efforts. The scope of Juans work makes him the C-IMAGE Student of the Month for October 2016.

What is the focus of your research? How will your findings contribute to the overall understanding of oil spills or oil spill response?

My research focus is evaluating how microorganisms can degrade Light Louisiana Sweet (LLS) oil when specific physicochemical conditions, similar to the ones surrounding the Deepwater Horizon (DWH) blowout, are simulated in the lab. With the help of high pressure reactor prototypes, biodegradation reactions are carried out at 150 bar and 4°C, assisted by bacterial communities present in the upper layer of sediments collected near the Macondo well by the C-IMAGE cruises.

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Lindsey Dornberger, Student of the Month, September 2016

Lindsey Dornberger, Student of the Month, September 2016

Lindsey is a PhD student at the College of Marine Science at the University of South Florida. She is a part of the Fisheries and Ecosystems Ecology Lab led by Dr. Cameron Ainsworth. 

What path did you take to make it to where you are now? Bachelor’s degree, internship experience, working experience?

I started my Bachelor of Science degree in Biology at the University of Texas at Arlington (UTA)  with the intention of studying large land mammals. I’d always had a love for all things cute and fuzzy, and I thought I’d make a career out of it. While in school, I applied for and was selected as one of four biology scholars for the NSF Undergraduate Training in Theoretical Ecology Research (UTTER) program at UTA. This two year program combined biology and mathematics majors in ecological modeling coursework and research projects. Originally I was disappointed that none of the program mentors had a specialty in lion pride modeling, however I did not anticipate how enraptured I would become in epidemiological modeling. The creativity needed to make a mathematical equation that captured the dynamics of disease transmission among bees in a hive was the exciting challenge I didn’t know I had been looking for.

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Will Overholt, Student of the Month, August 2016

Will Overholt, Student of the Month, August 2016

Will is a PhD student at the School of Biological Sciences at Georgia Tech in Joel Kostka's lab. He is interested in how the Deepwater Horizon oil spill affected environmental microorganisms, and the possible mechanisms by which the microbial community aided in removing contaminating oil.  The combination of field and lab work makes him our C-IMAGE student of the Month for September 2016. We asked Will some questions so we can get to know him and his research better.

What path did you take to make it to where you are now? Bachelor’s degree, internship experience, working experience and what initially interested you in working with your GaTech colleagues?

From a “birds-eye-view” my path to Georgia Tech and C-IMAGE seems rather straight forward. I have been fascinated with nature and the environment from a young age, and I was an avid birder by the time I was 8 years old. My father is an Entomologist and with a trusty butterfly net we collected, grouped, and displayed insects from every camping trip and walk that we would take. My mother was trained as a toxicologist / immunologist so I was also widely exposed to the names and effects of common household chemicals as well as diseases and their agents. I was fascinated by the enormous diversity of life and would pester my parents with questions of “Why?”, “Why does the male widowbird have so many colors and such a long tail while the females are a drab brown?”, “Why do you have different eagles in forests vs. savannahs, and why are the savannah eagles so much bigger?”

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Simeon Pesch, Student of the Month, July 2016

Simeon Pesch, Student of the Month, July 2016

The behavior and mechanics of deep sea plumes is been studied using samples of liquid oil, "dead oil," expelled from nozzles to view turbulence in the plume and estimate how the droplets distribute in sub-surface and surface plumes. But how does a mixture of oil and gases, like methane and known as "live oil," change droplet sizes and turbulence within a plume? Live oil is the natural way oil discharges from a well head, and Simeon Pesch is working to incorporate live oil into future oil fate models.

Simeon is a PhD student at the Institute of Multiphase Flows at the Hamburg University of Technology in Germany. His work with gas plumes makes him our C-IMAGE student of the Month for July 2016. We asked Simeon to share his research within the blog. 

What path did you take to make it to where you are now? Bachelor’s degree, internship experience, working experience and what initially interested you in working with your TUHH colleagues?

In 2009 I began studying process engineering at the Hamburg University of Technology (TUHH) and in 2012 I got my bachelor’s degree. During my study I worked as tutor for the Institute of Multiphase Flows (IMS) for several years, teaching undergraduate students fluid mechanics.

In the year 2014 I went to Ghana for an internship in a petroleum engineering company. This was a very intense and instructive experience, not primarily in terms of engineering but also because I learned a lot about the culture and the way of solving problems there.

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Listen to our Podcasts

  • #9 Forensic Oceanography +

    Listen to learn how scientists reanalyzed remotely sensed data taken in the late 1970s to study the Ixtoc 1 oil Read More
  • #8 In the Mud in Mexico +

    #8 In the Mud in Mexico “We were of the mind that with studying the Deepwater Horizon in the northern Gulf we weren’t getting a full Read More
  • #7 The Ixtoc Spill: Reflections +

    #7 The Ixtoc Spill: Reflections The Deepwater Horizon oil spill happened just a few years ago, but it might be possible to predict its impact Read More
  • #1 Overview of C-IMAGE +

    #1 Overview of C-IMAGE C-IMAGE PI Dr. Steven Murawski talks to David Levin about the research goals of our center and the importance of Read More
  • #2 Sampling for oil in the sediments in the Gulf of Mexico +

    #2 Sampling for oil in the sediments in the Gulf of Mexico C-IMAGE PI's Steven Murawski and David Hollander on board the Weatherbird II in August of 2012 talking to David Levin Read More
  • #3 The "not-so-visible" impacts of the Deepwater Horizon oil spill on the Gulf of Mexico +

    #3 The Three years after the BP oil well disaster, scientists are struggling to understand the effects on the Gulf ecosystem. From Read More
  • #4 Fitting the Gulf of Mexico inside a computer: how to build an ecosystem model +

    #4 Fitting the Gulf of Mexico inside a computer: how to build an ecosystem model Mind Open Media's David Levin talks with C-IMAGE members Cameron Ainsworth, Jason Lenes, Michelle Masi and Brian Smith about building Read More
  • #5 The Pressure is On +

    #5 The Pressure is On Mind Open Media's David Levin talks with C-IMAGE PI Steven Murawski and scientists from the Technical University of Hamburg at Read More
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