image used as white space
Link to home page
Logos of MSU, Extension Service, and MAFES Links to home page of website.

2010 Gulf of Mexico Oil Spill


In cooperation with the Mississippi Emergency Management Agency, Mississippi Department of Homeland Security, and Federal Emergency Management Agency through USDA, the Mississippi State University Extension Service is providing relevant, research-based, information on this page that deals with various disaster preparedness and recovery issues pertaining to the Gulf of Mexico oil spill.

Fact Sheets and Publications


Frequently Asked Questions / Experts


Get Flash to see this player.

In spite of the massive clean up following the Gulf Coast oil spill, the Coast's economy is still absorbing the after-effects. Since the disaster, coast merchants have seen a decline in sales and visitors. At the recent Mississippi-Louisiana Regional Tourism Summit, tourism officials discussed what is being done to clear up misconceptions about the Gulf's condition. - Farmweek Television news segment, August 27, 2010. (Text script)

Peer-Reviewed Publications


Related Websites


Get Flash to see this player.

U.S. Commerce Secretary Gary Locke declares a fishery failure in the Gulf of Mexico due to the economic impact of the oil spill on commercial and recreational fisheries - Farmweek Television news segment, May 28, 2010. (Text script)

When Your Income Drops (MSU Extension publications)


- Top of page -

Mississippi State University Capabilties and Needs

Mississippi State University (MSU), the Mississippi Agricultural and Forestry Experiment Station (MAFES), and Forest and Wildlife Research Center (FWRC) have research facilities and researchers throughout the state. The National Science Foundation (NSF) ranks MSU’s agricultural and forestry research seventh nationally among universities in terms of expenditures, surpassing far larger states. Famous for its applied research, this team of biological experts is well positioned to respond to the impacts of the oil spill with real-world solutions.

Proposed MSU Members for Mississippi Research Consortium (MRC) Oil Spill Response Team:

Dr. Michael Carron
Director, Northern Gulf Institute
Bldg. 1103 Rm. 233
Stennis Space Center, MS 39529
(228) 688 3228 (O), (228) 342 6086 (C)
Dr. Joe Street
Assoc. Director, MSU Extension Service
P.O. Box 9601
Mississippi State, MS 39762
(662) 325-3034


MSU MRC Officers
Dr. David Shaw, Vice President for Research and Economic Development, Mississippi State University, 662-325-3570;



Northern Gulf Institute
Contact: Mike Carron, (228) 688 3228 (O); (228) 342 6086 (C).

The Northern Gulf Institute (NGI) is a National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) Cooperative Institute of five collaborative academic research institutions led by Mississippi State University partnering with University of Southern Mississippi, Louisiana State University, Florida State University, and Dauphin Island Sea Lab (Alabama). NGI has established MOAs with NOAA, Sea Grant, Harte Research Institution (TAMU), and the Mississippi Department of Marine Resources (representing the governor’s Gulf of Mexico Alliance). NGI can facilitate and simplify the transfer of funds from NOAA and other government agencies directly to MSU scientists and engineers and researchers at our partner universities.

Immediate Response by Northern Gulf Institute (NGI) partners (Mississippi State University, Louisiana State University, Florida State University, University of Southern Mississippi, and Dauphin Island Sea Lab):

  • NGI Ecosystem data Assembly Center (EDAC) Server (in collaboration with the NOAA National Coastal Data Development Center) provides up-to-date Navy ocean models to NOAA operational units
  • Remote sensing Imagery processing ocean-current models and measurements and delivers up-to-date data sets to the Deepwater Horizon incident responders
  • Ongoing baseline habitat and animal sampling and assessment for response and recovery efforts
  • Ongoing oil burn smoke cloud modeling for response and recovery efforts
  • Active collaboration with NOAA’s Gulf of Mexico Regional Collaboration Team for informed and coordinated efforts
  • NGI economists actively support NOAA’s impact assessments and collaboration with the Economic Development Administration
  • NGI director met (May 11) with Dr. Larry Robinson, NOAA Assistant Secretary, David Kennedy, NOAA Office of Ocean And Coastal Resource Management, Dr. Bonnie Ponwith - Director of NOAA’s SE Fisheries Science Center, and Dr. Nancy Thompson, Science Director, Northeast Fisheries Science Center to coordinate NGI actions with the NOAA requirements to respond to the Deepwater Horizon incident.

These immediate actions and partnerships position NGI to quickly move forward and provide leadership in regional recovery and impact monitoring.


- Top of page -

College of Veterinary Medicine
Contact: Carla Huston, DVM, PhD., Dipl. ACVPM,, 662-325-1183 (O).

The College of Veterinary Medicine (CVM) serves as a support agency under the state’s emergency management plan Emergency Support Function (ESF-11) for agriculture and natural resources. The CVM has a Disaster Response Team that has been actively involved in the state’s preparedness for this event under the direction of the Mississippi Board of Animal Health (MBAH). Dr. Carla Huston serves as the Veterinary Services Branch Director for the State’s Animal Response Team and is coordinating all veterinary and veterinary technical volunteers.

(1) Representatives from the MBAH have been on-site at the Emergency Operations Center on the coast to assess the needs pertaining to birds, mammals and other wildlife.

a. Team members have completed Incident Command Training and are in compliance with the Department of Homeland Security’s National Incident Management System responder requirements. Personnel are available to serve the state in both clinical as well as emergency management positions.

b. Veterinarians and veterinary students have been organized to respond as needed to the oiled bird and mammal recovery and response. The CVM maintains a cache of supplies and pharmaceuticals that can be utilized in the event of a deployment or response.

2) Response.

a. Veterinarians and veterinary students have unique training in personal protective equipment, hazardous materials, public health and animal care.

b. Volunteers from the CVM have taken additional training modules in hazardous material handling and safety in order to respond as needed to the oiled bird and mammal recovery and response.

c. Faculty experienced population medicine and ecology are available to assist in both short-term and long-term studies of the effects of hazardous materials in birds and mammals. This includes epidemiologists, diagnosticians/clinicians, pathologists, and others.

3) Monitoring and Recovery.

a. Researchers at CVM are able to assist in environmental monitoring and site characterization.

b. The immune system is often a sensitive indicator of environmental stress, and MSU CVM scientists (Dr. Lora Petri-Hanson, Dr. Larry Hanson, Dr. Mark Lawrence, and Dr. Attila Karsi) have substantial experience in fish immunology and infectious diseases. Similar expertise is also available from CVM faculty at the Thad Cochran Center for Warmwater Aquaculture in Stoneville, MS (Dr. Lester Khoo, Dr. Pat Gaunt, and Dr. Mike Mauel). If samples can be provided, assessment of immunological and infectious disease processes could be provided to evaluate short and long term effects. Similar expertise is available with regard to immunological and parasitological-characterization of birds (Dr. Todd Pharr and Dr. Linda Pote). Similar capabilities also exist for any mammals that might be exposed (Dr. Stephen Pruett). We can also evaluate molecular changes using next generation sequencing or proteomics. Dr. Shane Burgess, who directs the Life Sciences and Biotechnology Institute here, has expertise and equipment for both of these types of analysis. We also have a unique capability to do detailed pathological analysis to identify changes in particular organ systems, in feather structure, or other changes mediated by exposure to petroleum. Pathologists at CVM and the Mississippi Veterinary Research and Diagnostic Labs in Stoneville and Pearl can perform necropsy to assess cause of death as well as monitor cellular changes over time with exposure. This may be particularly important because exposure to oil may not directly cause mortality, but might increase susceptibility to particular infections. This cannot be effectively determined except by a complete necropsy. Several board-certified Veterinary Pathologists are available for such studies.

c. Dr. Henry Wan is interested in evaluating microbial populations and their changes in response to this spill. In addition to his training in microbiology, he is a computational biologist and can develop mathematical models to describe and ultimately predict effects of contamination on microbial populations.

4) Education and Outreach.

a. Faculty members, including wildlife specialists and toxicologists, are prepared to serve as subject matter experts for the official federal responding agencies.

b. Educational materials have been distributed to communities, including veterinary clinics, on the rescue, treatment, and recovery of oiled animals.


- Top of page -

Extension Service
Contact: Joe Street,, 662-325-0676

As a unit of MSU’s Division of Agriculture, Forestry and Veterinary Medicine, the MSU Extension Service is prepared to assist disaster responders and communities impacted by the oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico.

  • Every county in Mississippi has an Extension Service office and agents trained to provide community education and outreach including food safety and nutrition information, housing recommendations and counseling to families, businesses and local governments as well as environmental monitoring and damage assessment. While the financial impact of the disaster remains unknown, Extension FCS Agents can offer guidance in coping with sudden drops in family income and commercial resources. One example is Healthy Homes where families are provided information on clean up from contamination. MSU Extension is closely associated with other units within DAFVM to disseminate research based information developed in response to the disaster.
  • About 280 of MSU’s Extension faculty and staff are trained in the Incident Command System, or ICS, that is required for individuals responding to a disaster area. Hazmat training is scheduled for the first week of June to provide additional training for personnel involved in clean-up efforts.
  • MSU Extension Service’s Center for Governmental Technology is the ICS training arm for Mississippi. The state plan outlines 15 essential emergency support functions (ESF). MSU’s responsibilities are within the designated functions of ESF #6 -- Mass Care, Housing and Human Services, and ESF #11 -- Animal and Natural Resources. This includes recovery assistance for sheltering, nutrition, food safety, financial management, child development, and animal containment. Extension Disaster Assessment Strike Teams have the capability to assess damage to land and wildlife. We have seven team members who are HAZMAT trained.
  • MSU Extension Service is a partner in the Extension Disaster and Emergency Network (EDEN) which provides disaster preparedness information and collaborative capabilities with other universities. The five Gulf States Extension Directors have asked EDEN to utilize its infrastructure and expand its oil spill response efforts to include identifying regional expertise in a number of subject matter areas, providing programmatic guidance and resources for the Extension systems (both Cooperative and Sea Grant) and extending information to the public through the Extension website.
  • Extension Service personnel, working with representatives of MSU’s College of Veterinary Medicine and the Forest and Wildlife Research Center, are prepared and trained to assist in animal and environmental needs.
  • Specialists at MSU’s Coastal Research and Extension Center in Biloxi have been closely involved in the monitoring of the current situation in the Gulf. They are providing quality, unbiased information to the public. If needed, the center can provide a teleconferencing and meeting location for responders to the disaster area.
  • MSU Extension has a history of cooperating extensively with Alcorn State University in southwest Mississippi which is the other land grant institution in the state.
  • MSU Extension Service is providing HAZMAT training and Incident Command System (ICS) training.


  • Personnel and fiscal resources may be diverted from normal work activities to those addressing disaster and related issues. This will reduce productivity.
  • Miscellaneous materials and supplies will be needed to respond to disaster needs.


Coastal Research Extension Center
Contact: Dr. Patricia Knight,, 228-388-4710.

Three Coastal Research and Extension Center Scientists have been directly involved in the Deepwater Horizon oil spill. Those employees are: Ben Posadas, Dave Burrage, and Mark Woodrey.

Dr. Ben Posadas - Contact: (228) 388-1375,

  • On April 30, 2010, the Mississippi Department of Marine Resources requested Dr. Posadas to represent the department at the NOAA Technical Working Group on Human Use Impacts of the MS Canyon 252 (Deepwater Horizon) oil spill. For now, this group has started daily benchmark monitoring of human uses of the state's marine resources since Thursday, May 7, 2010.
  • A new CREC Web page has been under development to provide economic information about the potential economic impacts of the oil spill to the state of Mississippi,


Mr. Dave Burrage - Contact: (228) 546-1028,

  • Mr. Burrage has fielded calls and worked with seafood industry clientele since the beginning of the spill.
  • We have engaged the Vietnamese-American community which would be an otherwise unreached audience.
  • The Electronic Logbook Program has been used to document and mitigate the effects of fishery closures on the Gulf shrimp fishery. Mr. Burrage’s input was critical in the opening of some areas for sport fishing to mitigate the impact of the spill on the industry.


Dr. Mark Woodrey - Contact: (228) 546-1012,

  • Dr. Woodrey is currently engaged in an on-going research project concerning the ecology of secretive marsh birds in coastal marshes in Mississippi. This is a collaborative effort with Dr. Bob Cooper at the University of Georgia and we currently have a graduate student and technician engaged in field research. This work is currently being funded through the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. Activities including monitoring bird populations since 2005, detailed ecological studies of Clapper Rails, and detailed ecological studies of Seaside Sparrows.
  • Officially nominated by Mississippi Department of Environmental Quality to serve as a Trustee on the Avian (Bird) Workgroup. This involves daily conference calls to providing technical guidance for the development of Natural Resource Damage Assessments from the bird perspective
  • Serving as a technical member of the Marsh Bird Sub-Working Group to develop sampling protocols to evaluate the long-term ecological effects of the oil spill on ecology of secretive marsh birds.
  • Currently coordinating the collection of environmental monitoring data for pre-spill assessment at the Grand Bay National Estuarine Research Reserve. Sampling efforts include marsh fishes, bird counts, submerged Aquatic vegetation, water quality data, oysters, diamondback terrapin nesting surveys, periwinkle snails, fiddler crabs, and photo-monitoring.


Coastal Research and Extension Center Capabilities:

  • Assessment of economic impacts of natural disasters -- Hurricanes Katrina in 2005 and Gustav in 2008 --
  • Assessment of community economic recovery -- selected 20 counties and parishes from Tallahassee to Hammond --
  • Assessment of community economic preparedness -- selected 20 counties and parishes from Tallahassee to Hammond --
  • Assessment of community disaster preparedness -- selected 20 counties and parishes from Tallahassee to Hammond --
  • Will continue to respond to concerns and questions from the seafood industry about the oil spill.
  • Will continue to provide information as it becomes available to the seafood industry.
  • Will work with the underserved Vietnamese population involved in the seafood industry.
  • Expertise and vast experience with conducting research on the birdlife of the Gulf Coast.
  • Extensive experience with research and habitats used by coastal birdlife; we have the only long-term marsh bird data set on the Mississippi Gulf Coast.
  • Work directly with colleagues at the University of Georgia who have strong sampling design and data analysis skills.
  • High degree of familiarity with coastal habitats of Mississippi.
  • High degree of familiarity with various natural resource professionals on the Mississippi Gulf Coast.
  • Have two “extra” boats which could be used for field work on coast; however, they both need outboard motors and new trailers.
  • Capability to monitor Gulf Coast seafood for the influence of the oil spill on pathogen levels.
  • Ability to research and provide information concerning coastal ecological impacts of the oil spill.
  • Research laboratories and facilities, computerized classrooms, animal and plant researchers, and high-speed communication capabilities throughout the state and a presence in every county via Mississippi Agriculture and Forestry Experiment Station and Mississippi State University –Extension Service.

- Top of page -


Social Science Research Center
Contact: Art Cosby,, 662-325-8587.

The SSRC has a long history of researching human and community aspects of disasters, including the Exxon-Valdez Oil Spill (over 20 years of research), Hurricane Katrina, and the San Diego County Wildfires of 2007.

  1. The Wolfgang Frese Survey Research Laboratory (SRL) has the capacity for consistently monitoring the coastal population of the Gulf of Mexico via computer assisted telephone interviewing and web-based surveys.
  2. The Facilitation for the Advanced Collaborative Solutions (FACS) has the capacity to conduct computer assisted group processes for focus groups, strategic planning, and conflict resolution on issues associated with the Deepwater Horizon technological incident.
  3. The Family and Children Research Unit (FCRU) has the capacity to monitor and help mediate impacts upon family and children along the coast with special focus on vulnerable populations.
  4. The Media Laboratory has the capacity to monitor and analyze the communications, including crisis communications, associated with the oil leak. The laboratory has begun initial monitoring.

- Top of page -


College of Engineering
Contact: Lori Bruce,, 662-325-9156

The MSU Bagley College of Engineering’s response consists of five major elements which include the following:

1) Coastal monitoring and mapping.
Including remote sensing via aircraft and spacecraft, with particular expertise in mapping and characterization of vegetation impacts over time using radar, multispectral, and hyperspectral imaging combined with advanced signal/image processing, pattern recognition, and high performance computing. MSU has numerous faculty in areas of civil engineering, electrical and computer engineering, computer science, agriculture and bioengineering, and geosciences with expertise in these areas.

2) Gas hydrates prevention and management.
Including biochemical reactions and diffusion of gas hydrates, gas hydrate stability – Note: Gas hydrates have been cited as a significant factor in frustrating BP's latest efforts to control the oil well currently losing oil into the Gulf (for example, see and,2933,592582,00.html). MSU’s Swalm School of Chemical Engineering has multiple faculty members with expertise in gas hydrates. For example, these faculty have experience with storage/transportation of natural gas in gas hydrates, including the design and construction of the pertinent equipment. Dr. Rudy Rogers has designed experimental apparatus, that is in place, to study gas hydrate formation on the Gulf of Mexico seafloor in Mississippi Canyon (about 8 1/2 miles from the blowout well).

3) Hazardous waste remediation.
MSU’s Swalm School of Chemical Engineering has faculty who are certified emergency response responders as well as HASWOPER certified, with expertise in hazardous waste remediation, as well as faculty with years of experience in the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers working in the areas of bioremediation. Likewise, MSU’s Department of Agricultural and Biological Engineering have several faculty with expertise in Mississippi Gulf Coast beach protection and preservation, with particular emphasis on establishing beach and emergent vegetation in that environment and a current project on island preservation with the Mississippi Department of Marine Resources and collaborators in the communities and local governments between Biloxi and Pass Christian. In the past few years, the College of Engineering’s Institute for Clean Energy Technology (ICET) has been collaborating with Kengro (a private company in Mississippi) and Department of Forest Products Lab of MSU in applying kenaf materials for clean up organic contaminants, including petroleum products, PCBs and PAHs and inorganic contaminants such as heavy metals.

4) Environmental monitoring and sampling for soil, water and air.
For example, for water analysis, ICET’s analytical laboratories are equipped with modern instrumentation employed for the analysis of brines and freshwater aquifer samples. ICET personnel have deep expertise in this area and can participate in the analysis of samples, where all measurements are performed according to U. S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) methods and existing quality assurance program plans (QAPP’s) will be adopted for any associated work. ICET has the capability to conduct quick-turn around ground-truth studies in controlled environment to investigate the impact of oil on selected vegetation species (such as seagrasses and marsh grasses). The outcome will contribute to calibration and interpretation of remotely sensed satellite/aerial data.

5) Estimation and prediction of natural gas and oil flow
Via expertise in fluid flows, transport theory, gas-oil-hydrate interactions, watershed modeling, computational fluid dynamics, advanced scientific visualization, and high performance computing. MSU has numerous faculty in civil engineering, chemical engineering, mechanical engineering, aerospace engineering, electrical and computer engineering, and geosciences with expertise in these areas.


MSU has extensive collaborations with federal, state, local and private agencies, institutions, and foundations for research, educational, and service related projects focused on the northern Gulf of Mexico, including the inter-relationships between gulf waters, coastal land, and the atmosphere. These long-standing collaborative relationships include but are not limited to the following: U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE), National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA), United States Department of Agriculture (USDA), Environmental Protection Agency (EPA),Department of Energy (DOE), Department of the Navy, Mississippi Department of Marine Resources, Gulf of Mexico Alliance (GOMA), and National Marine Sanctuary Foundation.

MSU is also collaborating with USM and Ole Miss in the efforts to monitor the environmental impact at the spill site. A significant portion of these collaborations are through Northern Gulf Institute, a NOAA funded cooperative institute. The Northern Gulf Institute is led by MSU and also includes the following gulf coast institutions (University of Southern Mississippi, Louisiana State University, Dauphin Island Sea Lab, Florida State University). The Northern Gulf Institute conducts extensive research related to land-ocean-atmosphere interactions, as well as community outreach related to the northern Gulf of Mexico.


There are a variety of critical needs. While this list is still being compiled, here is a preliminary description:

Staff and personnel support: staff and personnel have necessarily been diverted from their normal work activities to address the needs of this catastrophic event including training, sampling and support operations. This represents a loss of resources and time. Many of the faculty and researchers are funded entirely on external grants and contracts. Their time allocated to characterizing the impacts of the event will need to be accounted for along with supplies and any necessary travel.

Equipment needs: specialized equipment is needed for a variety of activities including instrumentation to monitor oil in the water and sampling gear to collect various types of samples (more details can be provided by individual team members)

Vessel operations support: much of the sampling involves coastal boats and ships and these are being operated at a cost to the institution.

Materials and supplies: miscellaneous materials and supplies are needed to service the sampling operations.

Analytical services: analyses of oil samples collected in various field conditions will be required at some cost.


Other Capabilities/Expertise at MSU:

  • GeoSystems Research Institute
    • High-resolution modeling of coastal hydrodynamics, wind fields, plumes from burning oil, and soil slick trajectories
    • Remote sensing of water quality, Oil/water interaction, and vegetation stress
    • Data source for past/current/future status of water qualities (optical and biological)
    • Coastal plant ecology expertise
    • Extensive expertise in visualizing disparate datasets in common view volume to assist analysts in understanding dataset interactions
    • Extensive GIS expertise, proven in Hurricane Katrina response
    • Analysis of hyperspectral imagery (HIS), as well as multispectral imagery
    • Cleared employees, capable of dealing with imagery collected by DoD, DHS, and National Guard assets
    Contact: Robert Moorhead,, 662-325-2850.

  • Department of Geosciences
    Geospatial imaging, climatologically and meteorological observations and forecasting in collaboration with NGI. Contact: Darrel Schmitz,, 662-325-3915.

  • Institute for Clean Energy Technology (ICET)
    Water Analysis, Baseline Environmental Monitoring, Ground-level long-wavelength infrared imaging, Biosorption of oil spill and related contaminants, Methane Hydrates
    Contact: Glenn Steele,, 662-325-7305; Jeff Lindner,, 662-325-7641.

  • Office of the State Chemist and MSU Chemical Laboratory
    The MSU Chemical Lab is a component of the State’s Emergency Response Laboratory network and provides surge capacity support to other state agencies. Expertise includes chemical analysis (fingerprinting) of complex mixtures and identification of unknown chemical contaminants in complex mixtures. The lab has extensive instrumentation and expertise for documenting chemical analysis.
    Contact: Kevin Armbrust,, 662-325-3324 (o); 662-418-9458 (C).

  • MSU Coastal Research & Extension Center
    Outreach to stakeholders, first responders, fisheries response.
    Contact: Dave Burrage,, 228-546-1028

  • College of Forestry, Wildlife, and Fisheries
    Environmental Monitoring, Remote Sensing, Sediment Analysis, fisheries analyses
    Contact: Dr. Jim Shepard, College of Forest Resources,, 662-325-2781 (o); 662-722-0763 (C).

  • Biochemistry and Molecular Biology
    Analytical Analysis
    Contact: Ken Willeford,, 662-325-2651

  • Department of Landscape Architecture
    Community Planning, Landscape Perspective
    Contact: Wayne Wilkerson,, 662-325-7900

  • College of Education, Dept. of Counseling and Educational Psychology
    Crisis counseling
    Contact: Daniel Wai Chung Wong,, 662-325-7928.

  • College of Ag and Life Sciences, Food Science, Nutrition and Health Promotion
    Monitoring of fish and seafood quality
    Contact: Benjy Mikel,, 662-325-5508.

  • Life Science and Biotechnology Institute (LSBI)
    Dr. Shane Burgess at the Life Science and Biotechnology Institute is working with DoD ERDC in Vicksburg using the water flea (Dpahnia magna) as a biosensor for environmental toxicology. It is a highly sensitive system. We could employee tests such as these through the LSBI since it is appropriate for this situation.
    Contact: Shane Burgess,, 662-325-0533.

  • College of Engineering
    Computational modeling
    Contact: Lori Bruce,, 662-325-9156


- Top of page -