Newswise — The Gulf of Mexico Coastal Ocean Observing System (GCOOS) recently wrapped up its spring meeting in New Orleans where it:

  • Received project updates from GCOOS-funded investigators and members;
  • Announced results from recent Board elections;
  • Welcomed new members;
  • Opened solicitations for the first Howard Scholarship Award;
  • Signed a collaboration agreement with another Gulf-based organization.

GCOOS and the Gulf of Mexico Alliance Sign Collaboration Agreement

On Thursday, April 4, GCOOS Executive Director Dr. Barbara Kirkpatrick and Laura Bowie, Executive Director of the Gulf of Mexico Alliance (GOMA) signed a memorandum of understanding (MOU) outlining areas of collaboration between the two Gulf-based organizations.

GCOOS is the heart of data collection for ocean and coastal waters in the Gulf of Mexico — collecting thousands of data points from sensors and ensuring that the information is reliable, timely and accurate before disseminating it to the ocean sectors that rely on it. The organization is one of 11 regional ocean observing systems in the U.S. and is the only certified association solely focused on the Gulf of Mexico.

GOMA is a regional ocean partnership working to sustain the resources of the Gulf of Mexico. Led by the five Gulf states, the broad partner network includes federal agencies, academic organizations, businesses and other nonprofits in the region. The organization’s goal is to significantly increase regional collaboration to enhance the environmental and economic health of the Gulf of Mexico.

“GCOOS is one of our longest-term partners and a highly valued asset in the region,” Bowie said. “We are happy to renew this formal collaboration agreement with them.”

The collaborative focus areas outlined in the MOU include:

  • Developing and supporting Gulf of Mexico regional initiatives;
  • Facilitating educational opportunities that mutually benefit GOMA partners and GCOOS stakeholders;
  • Identifying observations and data products needed from the U.S. coastal estuaries, rivers and the Exclusive Economic Zone (a zone covering 200 miles from the U.S. shoreline;
  • Collaborating on efforts required for observing systems in the Gulf of Mexico;
  • Promoting Gulf-wide information integration and sharing of data and products. 

With members from Texas, Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama and Florida, GCOOS has established a sustained observing system for the Gulf of Mexico and always seeks to increase collaborations so that it can bring new data products to its user communities, Kirkpatrick said. “GCOOS and GOMA have always worked together and establishing a more formal framework for collaboration will ensure that will continue into the future.”

GCOOS Solicits Applications for First Howard Scholarship Fund Award

GCOOS is soliciting applications for the first Howard Scholarship award. The awardee will receive registration and travel support (a maximum of $1,500) to give an ocean data-related presentation at either the American Geophysical Union Meeting ( or 2020 Ocean Sciences Meeting ( Applicants must be from a GCOOS-member institution (see and be pursuing undergraduate, graduate or post-doctoral work that includes a strong element of collaboration.

Dr. Matthew Howard was an accomplished research scientist and long-time GCOOS Data Management and Communications Manager who made many contributions to the study of oceanography. Following his untimely death in 2018, his many friends and colleagues sought to memorialize his professional gifts and talents for oceanographic research and data system solutions, as well as his personal intellect, generosity, enthusiasm and — of course — his sense of humor. The Howard Scholarship Fund aims to support oceanography and data management students who embody Matt’s dedication to collaboration, his visionary data management practices, and his sense of community.

GCOOS Welcomes New Members

  • Gulf Shellfish Institute — GSI facilitates, supports and encourages increased production of shellfish in Florida and the Gulf region for both economic and environmental benefit through cooperative, industry-driven research and outreach.
  • RDSEA International Inc. — Founded in 2002, RDSEA is focused on ocean technologies in the blue-water and coastal regions of our oceans, bays and estuaries with a foundation in federal, state and local oceanographic programs and observing systems.
  • Perspecta — With offerings in mission services, digital transformation and enterprise operations, Perspecta’s team of 14,000 engineers, analysts, investigators and architects works tirelessly to create innovative solutions to customers in the U.S. government, defense, intelligence, civilian, health care and state and local market sectors.
  • Ocean Sierra LLC — Ocean Sierra is dedicated to providing meteorological and oceanographic (Metocean) services to the offshore oil and gas, offshore renewables, coastal engineering, and port and harbors sectors for both industrial and government clients. FDA Division of Seafood Safety — This division is responsible for ensuring that the nation's seafood supply, both domestic and imported, is safe, sanitary, wholesome and honestly labeled.

GCOOS Welcomes New Board Members

Each year, GCOOS holds elections for its Board of Directors, part of the organization’s leadership team that sets organization policy & budgets, provides direction to the Executive Director and maintains the overall structure of the regional association, including bylaws and strategic planning. Directors are nominated from the organization’s Membership, which also votes on appointments. Directors serve three-year terms.

Directors elected (or re-elected) in 2019, who will officially take their seats in Fall 2019:

Private Sector:

  • Jan van Smirren, Consultant Oceanographer, Ocean Sierra, LLC. van Smirren has more than 35 years of experience in commercial oceanography. Prior experience includes Partnership Managing Director for the Energy Sector at British Maritime Technology and global and regional senior management positions in the UK, Singapore and USA with Fugro. Smirren is treasurer of the GCOOS Board.
  • Dr. Ruth Perry, Shell Exploration & Production Company. Perry is a Marine Scientist and Regulatory Policy specialist responsible for offshore marine environmental policy for Shell Exploration and Production Americas teams. She is also responsible for helping Shell to develop public-private science collaborations, such as real-time monitoring programs, to improve industry’s knowledge of the offshore marine environment.

Government Sector

  • Dr. Pat Hogan, Naval Research Laboratory. Hogan is an oceanographer who serves as the head of the Open Ocean Processes and Prediction Systems Section at the NRL, Stennis Space Center. In addition to directing the global ocean forecasting research, Hogan has been modeling and forecasting the Gulf of Mexico circulation for many years. These models have been and are used by many in the community for research and for boundary conditions to nested regional models within the Gulf.

Academic Sector

  • Dr. Stephan D. Howden, University of Southern Mississippi. Howden is an Associate Professor in the Department of Marine Science at the University of Southern Mississippi, where he has directed the Central Gulf of Mexico Ocean Observing System since 2003.

Outreach & Education Sector

  • Dr. Nan D. Walker, Louisiana State University. Walker is a Professor in the Department of Oceanography and Coastal Sciences and Director of the Earth Scan Laboratory. Over the last 25 years, Walker’s research has focused on advancing the understanding of circulation in the Gulf of Mexico by developing techniques to detect and track coastal and oceanic water masses. She has been involved in the real-time surveillance of Gulf of Mexico circulation (river plumes and Loop Current) since 1991. She served as Associate Director of LSU’s Earth Scan Laboratory ( alongside founder Oscar Huh, and became its Director in 2003. She has managed research programs funded by NASA, NSF, MMS, USACOE, LA Board of Regents, NOAA Sea Grant, GCOOS, GOMRI, and the Water Institute of the Gulf.

Directors who took their seats in Fall 2018 were:

Private Sector

  • Dr. Alyssa Dausman, Vice President of Science, The Water Institute of the Gulf. Dausman has more than 20 years of experience working in hydrology, research plan development and restoration project science and monitoring. She previously served as the Science Director for the Gulf Coast Ecosystem Restoration Council, an independent federal agency created by the RESTORE Act in 2012. She focused on Gulf restoration and science for the council, comprised of the governors of the five Gulf states and cabinet-level officials from six federal agencies.
  • Dr. Bill Lingsch, Director of Ocean Science and Technology, Perspecta (formerly Vencore, Inc.). Bill Lingsch’s 37-year career in the ocean sciences has included 31 years with Naval Oceanography and six years in the private sector supporting Navy Oceanography in R&D and operations. He is Past Chair of the GCOOS Board and has been a GCOOS member for five years. His responsibilities include serving as Program Manager for approximately $9-10M/Yr in contracts and 50 personnel who provide subject-matter expertise in the ocean sciences, software engineering, software development, database development, process improvement, web applications and documentation.

Government Sector

  • Mike Lee, United States Geological Survey. Lee is Coastal Science Coordinator of the Texas Water Science Center at USGS and has also served as the Studies Chief in the Gulf Coast Program Office and the Water Quality Specialist for Texas. As the Coastal Science Coordinator, he leads the scientific, technical and administrative direction of coastal investigations including those carried on in cooperation with local, state, and other federal agencies.

Academic Sector

  • Dr. Lynn. K. (Nick) Shay, University of Miami’s Rosenstiel School of Marine and Atmospheric Science. Shay is Associate Dean and Professor in the Department of Ocean Sciences and directs the Upper Ocean Dynamics Laboratory. He has published more than 115 peer-reviewed publications in top-tier journals and books and has chaired or served on 40 student committees. The overarching goal of the research is to conduct scientific and technological investigations that require both basic and applied research activities that have societal relevance at its core.

Outreach & Education Sector

  • Renee Collini, University of Mississippi. Collini has served as the Coordinator for the Northern Gulf of Mexico Sentinel Cooperative since 2014. Focused on sea-level rise, Collini works throughout the northern Gulf to facilitate the flow of information between researchers and decision-makers to improve science application. Collini integrates a multi-state network of stakeholders, researchers, NGOs and state and federal agencies to build tools, programs and projects to address gaps in sea-level rise observing, research and decision-making.

The Board also thanked outgoing Director Jean May-Brett, Louisiana Department of Education (Retired), for her service. May-Brett will remain a member of the GCOOS Outreach & Education Council.

Other Directors include

  • Chair Sara Graves, University of Alabama, Huntsville.
  • Chair-Elect Joe Swaykos, National Data Buoy Center (retired).
  • Secretary Steven Buschang, Texas General Land Office.
  • Alyssa Dausman, Water Institute of the Gulf.
  • David Driver, BP America (retired).
  • Ed Kearns, NOAA.
  • Nancy Rabalais, LSU.

Gulf Updates: Meeting speakers

  • Carl Gouldman, Director, U.S. IOOS Program;
  • Dr. Lauren Alexander Augustine, Executive Director, National Academies of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine’s Gulf Research Program;
  • Dr. Bill Burnett, Deputy Commander to Commander, Naval Meteorology, provided an update on CENOTE — Commercial Engagement through Ocean Technology;
  • Laura Bowie, Executive Director, GOMA;
  • Dr. Jim Gibeaut, TAMU Corpus Christi and Harte Research Institute provided an update about GRIIDC — the Gulf of Mexico Research Initiative Information and Data Cooperative, a data management system to store scientific data generated by Gulf of Mexico researchers;
  • GCOOS-funded investigators Dr. Chunyan Li, Louisiana State University; Dr. Bob Leban, University of Colorado; Dr. Evan Turner, Texas A & M University, Corpus Christi;
  • GCOOS program updates from Executive Director Dr. Barbara Kirkpatrick, Data Management & Communications Interim Director Felimon Gayanilo, Outreach & Education Manager Dr. Chris Simoniello and Jan van Smirren, Co-Investigotor on the GCOOS-led GULFHUB — which will compile data from NASEM GRP-funding Loop Current studies.