CONTACT: Kathleen Haughney, University Communications (850) 644-1489; [email protected] 


April 2020 


TALLAHASSEE, Fla. – Ten years ago, an estimated 200 million gallons of oil flowed into the Gulf of Mexico from a damaged well below the Deepwater Horizon offshore drilling rig. Scientists and first responders scrambled to predict where the released oil would go and how it would affect the circulation, ecology and biogeochemistry of the Gulf.  

Florida State University researchers were at the forefront of that effort, attracting millions in research dollars to conduct thorough investigations into the crisis and its aftermath.  

Some of these scientists are available to comment on the 10th anniversary of the spill.  

Dean Grubbs, associate director of research, FSU Coastal and Marine Laboratory (850) 445-0652; [email protected] 

Grubbs is a fish ecologist with interests in the biology and management of exploited and poorly studied estuarine and marine fishes. Grubbs is the Associate Director of Research at Florida State University’s Coastal and Marine Lab where he mentors graduate and undergraduate students and maintains an active research program on the ecology of deep sea and coastal fishes. As part of his research program, Grubbs led 16 research expeditions over eight years to monitor the toxicological and population level effects of the Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill on deep sea sharks and bony fishes. 

“The Deepwater Horizon oil spill taught us that there is a critical lack of baseline data concerning the structure and function of deep sea communities in the Gulf, and what our research has shown is that the toxicological effects of the spill on deep sea fishes are persistent.”  

Ian MacDonald, professor of oceanography, Department of Earth, Ocean and Atmospheric Science (361) 548-9648; [email protected] 

MacDonald is a professor of oceanography in the Department of Earth Ocean and Atmospheric Science at Florida State University. He is an internationally recognized authority on the biology and geology of marine oil seeps with more than 100 peer-reviewed articles and more than 80 reports and popular articles on related topics. He was a prominent voice for academic science during the Deepwater Horizon blowout and was one of the first to challenge the accuracy of official discharge rates in the early days of the emergency. Subsequently, he published scientific papers detailing the magnitude and distribution of surface oil and its impact on mesophotic corals for the National Resource Damage Assessment program. 

Amy McKenna, research faculty, National High Magnetic Field Laboratory (850) 644-4809; [email protected] 

McKenna and colleagues at the National High Magnetic Field Laboratory at FSU have received multiple grants to use the lab’s sophisticated instrumentation to analyze the molecular signature of the oil involved in the spill and monitor it over time to determine what degradation byproducts formed.