Panel: The Gulf of Mexico – A Case Study in Resilience

The Gulf of Mexico – A Case Study in Resilience Special Panel

Thursday, October 8

The Gulf of Mexico is a place where the environment and economy both coexist and contend. This is possible because the Gulf is also a resilient large marine ecosystem and a living case study of absorbing our demands and like a stretched rubber band, rebounding from that explotation. The Gulf is home to a diverse cadre of marine species.  From nearshore oyster beds to offshore billfish, the Gulf is teaming with life and many residents rely on this dynamic ecosystem for their livelihood.  Additionally, land-based and offshore aquaculture is gaining interest in the region, addressing the growing need for sources of high-protein food.  The Gulf is also plagued by recurring phenomena such as hypoxia and harmful algal blooms,  challenging both ecosystem and coastal community health and productivity. This track focuses on these issues and explores the drivers and pressures that buffet the resilient and productive Gulf.

Moderator/Panelist: Dr. Larry McKinney
Harte Research Institute

Dr. McKinney received his doctorate from Texas A&M University in 1976. He is the Senior Executive Director of the Harte Research Institute for Gulf of Mexico Studies, leading an interdisciplinary team that integrates science, policy and socio-economic expertise to assure an economically and environmentally sustainable Gulf of Mexico.

Dr. McKinney has over fifty years’ experience working in the Gulf of Mexico as a researcher and resource manager. His publications and reports reflect a diverse range of expertise from benthic ecology to fisheries to ecosystem health. He is currently working on a Report Card for the Gulf of Mexico and leading biodiversity studies in Mexico and conservation projects in Cuba. Dr. McKinney is a recognized national leader on recreational fisheries issues, leading the Morris – Deal Commission on Recreational Fisheries Management. Dr. McKinney has led the State of the Gulf Summits in 2011, 2014 and 2017 bringing 400 Gulf leaders together in common cause. Dr. McKinney was the first director of Texas OneGulf, a consortium of Texas’ nine leading marine research institutions and the first RESTORE Center of Excellence designated as such in the Gulf of Mexico. Dr. McKinney is a founding board member and former chair of the Gulf of Mexico University Research Collaborative (GOMURC), an organization of 80+ marine research institutes from across the Gulf of Mexico and chaired the GOMOSES Program Committee for 2018, 2019 and 2020. Dr. McKinney serves on the Florida Institute of Oceanography Board of Visitors and Florida’s RESTORE Center of Excellence; Texas State Audubon Board of Directors; and the Consortium for Ocean Leadership’s Policy Committee. He has served as a member and chair of the Texas Sea Grant Advisory Committee, NASA’s SSC Applied Sciences Steering Committee, the EPA Science Advisory Committee for the Gulf of Mexico, the Gulf Alliance’s Ecosystem Assessment and Integration Team, the Flower Gardens National Marine Sanctuary Advisory Committee (a former chair); and the Texas Academy of Science, where he was also a past President.

Panelist: Dr. Barbara Kirkpatrick
Gulf Coast Ocean Observing System (GCOOS)

Dr. Barbara Kirkpatrick is the Executive Director for the Gulf of Mexico Coastal Ocean Observation System (GCOOS). She has more than 35 years of experience in human and environmental epidemiology and started her career as a Respiratory Care Supervisor at Duke University Medical Center before going on to receive a Master’s Degree in Health Occupations Education at North Carolina State University and a Doctorate in Educational Leadership from the University of Sarasota.

After completing her graduate program, Kirkpatrick served as an Associate Professor at Manatee Community College in Bradenton, FL, where she continued her research interests in human respiratory health and assessing clinical teaching effectiveness. In 1999, Kirkpatrick joined Mote Marine Laboratory as a staff scientist and shifted her research focus to environmental human health, particularly the respiratory effects linked to harmful algal blooms.

As a senior scientist and program manager at Mote Marine Laboratory, her continued research efforts focused on harmful algal blooms and the effects they have on humans. She was co-leader of the first major multi-institution study of Florida’s red tide on humans that was funded by the National Institutes of Health. The 11-year study was the first to scientifically document the impacts that red tide has on humans — particularly those who have chronic respiratory diseases.

Panelist: Dr. Kelly Lucas
University of Southern Mississippi

Kelly Lucas serves as Interim Associate Vice President for Research, Coastal Operations and Director of the Thad Cochran Marine Aquaculture Center at the University of Southern Mississippi (USM). Lucas promotes and guides USM’s vision and mission for research, creates innovative, multidisciplinary research opportunities and expands the research portfolio through partnerships with industry, government, academic partner institutions and non-profit organizations. She serves on the board of Stronger America through Seafood and recently served as the Chair (2018-2019) for the Gulf of Mexico University Research Collaborative. Prior to joining USM in December 2016, Lucas served as the first Chief Scientific Officer for the Mississippi Department of Marine Resources where she was responsible for ensuring the agency was using the best available science to make policy decisions.

Lucas is a Mississippi Gulf Coast native and holds a Doctoral degree in coastal science from USM, a Master of Business Administration from University of Alabama-Birmingham and a Bachelor of Science degree in microbiology from Mississippi State University. She served as Deputy Director of USM’s Gulf Coast Geospatial Center. In addition, Lucas was a USM Science Fellow in the Office of Senator Thad Cochran advising on ocean and atmosphere legislation and policy. She has written and co-authored numerous scientific publications and has been instrumental in creating industry partnerships and securing grant funding.

Panelist: Carl Gouldman
NOAA – U.S. Integrated Ocean Observing System (IOOS®)

Carl Gouldman has been Director of the U.S. Integrated Ocean Observing System (IOOS®) Office in NOAA, since February 2017. Prior to becoming the director, Carl served as the Deputy Director of the program since June 2014 and has been in NOAA since 2000. U.S. IOOS is a coordinated network of people and technology that work together to generate and disseminate continuous data on our coastal waters, Great Lakes, and oceans.

Before NOAA, Carl spent 3 years in the education department at the Chesapeake Bay Foundation where he led field programs teaching students about bay ecology and conservation. He holds a B.S. in political science from Duke University and a Masters (MEM) in Coastal Environmental Management from the Nicholas School of the Environment and Earth Sciences at Duke.

Dr. DiMarco

Panelist: Dr. Steven F. DiMarco
Texas A&M University

Dr. Steven F. DiMarco is a Professor in the Department of Oceanography and the Department of Ocean Engineering and is Ocean Observing Team Lead in the Geochemical and Environmental Research Group at Texas A&M University. He was elected Fellow of the Marine Technology Society (MTS) in 2020. His research specializes in the interactions of physical and biogeochemical processes of the coastal and deep ocean. He has served as Chief Scientist on 37 oceanographic cruises. He has served as a Plank Owner Member (2010-2017) of the National Science Foundation University-National Oceanographic Laboratory System (UNOLS) Ocean Observing Science Committee (OOSC); he also served on the National Academy of Science, Engineering, and Medicine Committee to Advance the Understanding of the Gulf of Mexico Loop Current (2017). He currently is Principal Investigator the Texas Automated Buoy System (TABS), a real-time ocean observing network in the western Gulf of Mexico, which includes moored, shipboard, hi-frequency radar, and autonomous vehicles (principally funded by the Texas General Land Office – Oil Spill Division).

From 2003-2018, he led a large group of Principal investigators from seven institutions that investigated the processes that lead to and sustain the hypoxic region of the northern Gulf of Mexico (; NOAA-funded). From 2007-2014, he led a research group investigating the circulation characteristics of the northwestern Indian Ocean and Sea of Oman (funded through the Sultanate of Oman). He was Co-PI and Executive Committee Member of the Gulf Integrated Spill Research Consortium funded by the Gulf of Mexico Research Initiative. DiMarco received his PhD from the University of Texas at Dallas (Physics, 1991).