Newswise — GAINESVILLE, Fla. — As Florida Sea Grant’s new Gulf oil spill research Extension specialist, Monica Wilson translates oil spill science to Gulf Coast residents and stakeholders.
Her audiences include commercial, recreational and for-hire fishermen, natural resource managers, elected officials, emergency responders and managers, tourism specialists, port and harbor employees and more.
Wilson works with three other specialists, one from each of the Sea Grant programs in the Gulf – Mississippi-Alabama, Louisiana and Texas — to create a new science education program that disseminates key oil spill research results to industry and community audiences. They hope to disseminate bulletins soon about dispersants as well as fisheries.
As Wilson works with Sea Grant programs in nearby Gulf states, she and other specialists bring different expertise to foster a more comprehensive understanding of oil spill science.
Wilson is interested in how oil moves throughout water.
“Tracking oil can be vital to minimizing the overall effects and damage to the surrounding environment and communities,” Wilson said. “Studying both surface and subsurface circulation patterns would help predict the movement of the oil.”The Gulf of Mexico Research Initiative awarded Florida Sea Grant $308,206 to pay for the oil spill research program. The award is part of a $1.52 million project shared with the other Sea Grant programs involved.
“Florida and the Gulf states will benefit from this team because the oil spill science will be effectively communicated to the stakeholders that need to make decisions if this were to happen again,” Wilson said.
Apart from her research, Wilson also has experience in outreach and education. The former college soccer star, who was inducted into the Eckerd College Athletics Hall of Fame in 2013, has been a soccer coach as well as a science mentor. She has led high school students on field trips and taught them about geological processes.
Wilson earned her master’s and doctorate at the University of South Florida. Throughout her graduate career at the University of South Florida, she was also a teaching assistant of oceanography and geology courses.
“Mentoring young girls in science was very rewarding, and I learned a lot about how to translate cutting-edge science for education audiences,” she said. “I believe that my strong work ethic, organizational skills, leadership experience and team-oriented nature are equally valuable in my professional life and will prove to be an asset for this position.”