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Contact: Christine Payton July 18, 2011
(337) 482-6397, payton@louisiana.edu
Three professors in the University of Louisiana at Lafayette’s Biology Department will continue to investigate the impact of the BP Oil Spill last year on the Gulf of Mexico’s ecosystem.

Drs. Darryl Felder, Suzanne Fredericq and Joe Neigel were awarded grants by the Gulf of Mexico Research Initiative earlier this month. They were among 17 researchers who received $1.5 million in stop-gap grants. The funding allows researchers to collect crucial summer data in the short term, while waiting for more BP funds to become available this fall.

“ We’re elated,” said Fredericq. “Otherwise we would miss an entire summer.”

She and Felder will continue to research the impact of the oil spill on seaweed and macrocrustaceans deep in the Gulf.

The pair received an $185,608 RAPID grant from the National Science Foundation last year. They led expeditions in the Gulf to revisit banks and pinnacles where offshore seaweeds and macrocrustaceans have previously been documented. The two, along with undergraduate and graduate students, collected more samples for a comparison.

The Gulf Research Initiative funding will allow the two to lead another expedition to collect samples between August and September.

Neigel’s research focuses on blue crabs in the Gulf. His lab was actively investigating blue crabs along the coast of Louisiana at the time of the spill. His research was addressing the extent to which the dispersal of blue crab larvae connects populations and whether individual populations have become adapted to their local environments.

“ During the second year of our research the spill occurred, which because of its likely impacts on blue crabs, placed our study in an entirely new context,” said Neigel. “It became vital that we received this funding to continue sampling larval, juvenile and adult blue crabs from the coast of Louisiana.”

He will be coordinating his efforts with Dr. C.A. Taylor from Tulane University, who is developing oceanographic models of the dispersal of blue crab larvae.


About UL Lafayette
The University of Louisiana at Lafayette is the second largest university in the state, with over 16,000 students. It’s a public institution that awards bachelor’s, master’s and doctoral degrees. It includes diverse offerings from the humanities to scientific research and leads the nation in areas like computer science, biology and nursing. Its student-athletes – Louisiana’s Ragin’ Cajuns – compete in NCAA Division I, the highest level of collegiate competition.

Document last revised Monday, July 18, 2011 2:27 PM

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