Media Advisory: UGA Oil spill experts to give regular briefings

Athens, Ga. – University of Georgia marine scientist Samantha Joye and other faculty members directly involved in assessing the impacts of the Gulf of Mexico oil spill will hold regular briefings for media beginning Tuesday, June 22.

The briefings will be held every Tuesday until further notice at 11 a.m. EST in room 261 of the Marine Sciences building on the UGA campus. Reporters can join the briefing via teleconference by dialing toll-free 888-204-5987 and entering access code 2560397. (International callers call or e-mail Sam Fahmy at the number or e-mail address above for special instructions). A podcast of the briefing will also be made available online at www.uga.edu after the event.

The briefings will begin with an update of research findings by Joye and other scientists who are analyzing water samples and other data from their recent mission aboard the National Science Foundation funded ship, the R/V F.G. Walton Smith. A question and answer session will follow. In addition, Joye continues to provide regular updates on her research findings through her widely read blog, www.gulfblog.uga.edu.

Joye is an expert in the cycling of nutrients, metals, and organic materials between the living and non-living components of the ecosystem (a field known as biogeochemistry) as well as microbial ecology, metabolism and physiology. She has conducted research in the Gulf of Mexico for about 15 years. When the Deepwater Horizon oil rig exploded on April 20, she was coordinating a research mission aboard a NOAA-funded research vessel that was just 8 miles from the disaster site. Researchers aboard the vessel shifted their focus to quantifying the impact of the oil spill on the area and discovered an oil plume estimated to be more than 15 miles long, 5 miles wide and some 300 feet thick at depths ranging from approximately 2,300 feet to 4,200 feet. From May 25 through June 6, Joye and her team were aboard the Walton Smith to document the plume’s distribution, to measure the activity of microbes that break down the oil, and to measure variables such as dissolved oxygen concentration. Since the discovery of the plumes was first reported, Joye has been featured in a number of media outlets, including The New York Times, the Associated Press, Reuters, CNN, ABC Good Morning America and CBS News.

For a complete listing of UGA researchers involved in the response to the oil spill, background information on Joye and other resources see http://www.uga.edu/news/artman/publish/100609Joye_resources.shtml

The Marine Sciences Building is located on the corner of Sanford Drive and West Green Street. Parking is available in the South Campus Parking Deck off Lumpkin Street. For a campus map, see this link: http://maps.uga.edu/website/htmlviewer/hyperlink/viewer.htm.