The final Gulf of Mexico Oil Spill and Ecosystem Sciences (GoMOSES) conference in Tampa, Florida, welcomed nearly 700 people, representing 32 U.S. states and 10 countries, and included 82 oral sessions and two poster sessions. A pre-conference symposium offered reflections on research accomplishments and collaborations fostered through the Gulf of Mexico Research Initiative (GoMRI) since the 2010 Deepwater Horizon incident. The conference concluded with the exciting anticipation of future Gulf-focused convenings at a new bi-annual Gulf of Mexico Conference (GoMCON) that will combine the GoMOSES conference with the Harte Research Institute’s tri-annual Gulf Summit and the Gulf of Mexico Alliance’s annual All Hands meeting.

The day-long pre-conference symposium began with an insightful conversation between Dr. Rita Colwell, GoMRI Research Board Chair, and Ellen Williams, former BP Chief Scientist, who provided a historical perspective of GoMRI’s beginnings. Keynote speaker John Farrington described lessons learned from oil spills spanning before IXTOC and Exxon Valdez to Deepwater Horizon. Two panel discussions followed: “User Group Perspectives” (moderator John Shepard and panelists Chris Robbins, Tom Coolbaugh, Paul Schuler, and Lisa DiPinto) and “Outreach Perspectives” (moderator Debra Benoit and panelists Maggie Dannreuther, Steve Sempier, Eric Chassignet, and Tracy Ippolito). A recap of science advancements followed: “Physical Circulation: Where Did the Oil Go?” (Tamay Ozgokmen), “Degradation of Oil: What Happened to the Oil?” (Ryan Rodgers); and “All Things Microbial” (Samantha “Mandy” Joye). The day ended with panel discussions on “The Impacts of Oil on Life” (moderator Margaret Leinen and panelists Cynthia Smith, Steve Murawski, Melissa Finucane, Paul Sandifer, and Gene Turner) and “GoMRI Scholars’ Perspectives for the Future”(moderator Ken Halanych and panelists Kathryn Keating, Cheng Li, Nikaela Flournoy, Kait Frasier), and closing remarks by GoMRI Chief Scientist Chuck Wilson.

The conference opening plenary featured a panel discussion on “A Vision for the Future: Integrating Gulf of Mexico Research” (moderator LaDon Swann and panelists Christoph Aeppli, Ed Buskey, Jessica Henkel, Julien Lartigue, Steve Murawski, and Burt Singer). The closing plenary began with honoring Chuck Wilson with the Wes Tunnell Lifetime Recognition for Gulf Science and Conservation award. It continued with a panel discussion “Gulf Science in the Next 10 Years” (Laura Bowie, Nicole LeBoeuf, and Larry McKinney).

Larry McKinney closed the conference with an announcement on the future convenings for Gulf-focused ecosystem sciences, restoration, and management, “The GoMOSES conference established itself as the go-to conference for Gulf science. A number of us who have hosted other Gulf-related meetings decided to combine forces with GoMRI to keep the spirit of GOMOSES alive. Starting in April 2021, we will launch the Gulf of Mexico Conference in Baton Rouge, Louisiana. It will be held every other year after that in a different Gulf state. We hope to continue what GOMOSES started and provide a place where Gulf science is championed.”

A list of the sessions for the 2020 GoMOSES conference is available here and presentation abstracts are available here. A list of all GoMOSES conferences is available here, including conference reports, programs, oral abstracts, and poster abstracts.

By Nilde Maggie Dannreuther. Contact maggied@ngi.msstate.edu with questions or comments.

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The Gulf of Mexico Research Initiative (GoMRI) is a 10-year independent research program established to study the effect, and the potential associated impact, of hydrocarbon releases on the environment and public health, as well as to develop improved spill mitigation, oil detection, characterization and remediation technologies. An independent and academic 20-member Research Board makes the funding and research direction decisions to ensure the intellectual quality, effectiveness and academic independence of the GoMRI research. All research data, findings and publications will be made publicly available. The program was established through a $500 million financial commitment from BP. For more information, visit http://gulfresearchinitiative.org/.