GoM-SCHEMA Wins National Oceanographic Partnership Program 2017 Excellence in Partnering Award!

EiP Logo 2017

Our lab is excited to receive National Oceanographic Partnership Program’s (NOPP) 2017 Excellence in Partnering Award for our work in the Gulf of Mexico – Shipwreck Corrosion, Hydrocarbon Exposure, Microbiology, and Archaeology (GOM-SCHEMA) project led by Dr. Leila Hamdan of the School of Ocean Science and Technology at USM, and Ms. Melanie Damour of the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management.

Group photo
The GoM-SCHEMA team with the crew of R/V Pelican in 2014 after a successful research expedition.

After the 2010 Deepwater Horizon oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico, our team of scientists from Federal agencies, academic institutions, and the private sector initiated a partnership to examine the impacts of the spill on deep water historic shipwrecks. This project examined changes in microbial biodiversity and degradation/corrosion processes at wooden- and steel-hulled historic shipwrecks in deferentially spill-impacted and un-impacted areas. The project adopted a multiscalar approach to address micro-, meso-, and macroscale impacts through microbial ecological and archaeological analyses. The GOM-SCHEMA partners brought together expertise spanning natural science, social science and technology, and created a foundation for long-term monitoring of ecosystem recovery of these unique, and non-renewable deep-sea habitats. The study partners learned across disciplines, and in doing so provided a better understanding of ocean science, and supported the science and management missions of our many partner institutions.

Copper sheathing corrosion
Copper-sheathing from the Mica shipwreck, obtained during field work in 2014.

The study benefited from collaboration with 16 partners and funding through three agencies. Partners include the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management, Naval Research Laboratory, Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement, University of Southern Mississippi, George Mason University, Oceaneering Inc., Droycon Bioconcepts Inc., the PAST Foundation, Montana State University, Louisiana Universities Marine Consortium, American University, Deep Sea Systems International, University of Georgia, University of Texas at Austin, and Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution.

GOM-SCHEMA valued team work, interdisciplinary research, and engagement of diverse communities.  We are especially proud of our efforts towards supporting women in STEM.  More than half of the leadership team, including the two lead PIs, were women. Women led all six of the oceanographic expeditions under GOM-SCHEMA. Female students, staff, and managers contributed at every level of the project, and were provided with role models and mentors.

The depth of of expertise, viewpoints and talent at all career levels that GoM-SCHEMA strove for resulted in new perspectives,  paradigms, and a truly holistic partnership to build upon. We thank and congratulate our whole team for this award, and are grateful to NOPP for supporting ocean science.


Study leads Rob Church, Hamdan and Damour at BOEM’s Information Transfer Meeting in 2017.


Team members Damour, Chrissy Figan, Zeima Kassahun and Hamdan after a successful ROV mission.










To read more about the award, visit the NOPP website.