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  • Stageworks Theater 1120 E. Kennedy Blvd Tampa, FL (map)

Oil Spills and Ecosystems

The Story Collider is excited to join the Oil Spill & Ecosystem Conference to present five true, personal stories connected to the Deepwater Horizon oil spill. This event is free, but register to reserve your seat!

Hosted by Erin Barker and Ari Daniel.

Stories by:

Kendra Daly is a Professor in the College of Marine Science, University of South Florida. She was a member of NOAA’s Emergency Response Team in 1979 to assess the ecological impacts of the IXTOC-1 oil spill off Campeche Bay, Mexico.  She currently is a member of the Center for Integrated Modeling and Analysis of Gulf Ecosystems (C-IMAGE), which is studying the impact of the Deepwater Horizon oil spill on the Gulf of Mexico ecosystem, and she also is a PI on a project entitled “Oil-Marine Snow-Mineral Aggregate Interactions and Sedimentation during the 2010 Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill”, both funded by the Gulf of Mexico Research Initiative (GoMRI).  Daly’s group has completed 22 cruises in the northeastern Gulf of Mexico since 2010, as part of the oil spill response effort.


Steven A. Murawski, Ph.D. is Professor and the St. Petersburg Partnership – Peter Betzer Endowed Chair of Biological Oceanography at the University of South Florida, College of Marine Science in St. Petersburg, Florida. Dr. Murawski is a fishery biologist with 40 years of professional experience.  He worked at NOAA for 35 years before coming to the University, where he retired as the Director of Scientific Programs and Chief Science Advisor for the National Marine Fisheries Service. Since coming to the Gulf of Mexico region he has been actively involved in assessing the environmental impacts of the Deepwater Horizon oil spill, and its implications for fisheries in the Gulf of Mexico.  Murawski serves as Principal Investigator for the Center for Integrated Modeling and Analysis of Gulf Ecosystems (C-IMAGE) funded through the Gulf of Mexico Research Initiative. In addition to research on oil spill impacts, he and his graduate students have an active program to assess the status of fishery stocks and map their habitats in the Gulf of Mexico, with particular emphasis on reef fish stocks.  This includes a program to develop new technologies focusing on the use of towed video camera systems. Dr. Murawski continues to be involved in international fisheries and marine science activities, recently serving a term as vice-president and current USA delegate to the International Council for the Exploration of the Seas (ICES).  Additionally, he is a member of the National Academy of Science’s Ocean Studies Board.  He is an elected Fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science.  He is the recipient of the Senior Executive Service Meritorious Service Award, conferred by President Obama, and the Department of Commerce Gold Medal, among other professional awards.    His Ph.D. in Wildlife and Fisheries Biology was conferred in 1984 from the University of Massachusetts-Amherst


Dr. Ernst Peebles is a professor of Marine Science at the University of South Florida. He received his Bachelor’s degree from Tulane University in his native New Orleans, and his Master’s and doctoral degrees from USF in Tampa. After receiving his doctoral degree, Dr. Peebles worked as summer faculty at the Gulf Coast Research Laboratory in Ocean Springs, Mississippi and also served as adjunct graduate faculty at Florida Gulf Coast University in Ft. Myers, Florida. He has more than thirty years of experience working with coastal ecosystems in the Gulf of Mexico, and recently collaborated on a manuscript led by friend and colleague Dr. Steve Murawski entitled Prevalence of fish diseases in the Gulf of Mexico, post-Deepwater Horizon, in which the authors present correlations between fish disease and exposure to crude oil. He currently resides in St. Petersburg, Florida with his wife Diane and their two teenage children.


Isabel C. Romero is an Oceanographer at the University of South Florida. Her research focuses on environmental responses to disturbance using geochemistry analyses in sediments, water, and animals. She has been involved in multiple projects related to the Deepwater Horizon Blowout providing a time series assessment of hydrocarbon contamination in sediments and fish populations in the Gulf of Mexico. Originally from Colombia, she received her B.S. in Marine Biology at the Universidad del Valle studying estuarine mangrove forests. After moving to the U.S., she obtained her PhD in Ocean Sciences at the University of Southern California where she studied plant-microbial interactions, and continued her research in saltmarshes and inland lakes. When she is not on research cruises or in the lab, she enjoys sharing her boat’s adventures with elementary students and with her husband and daughter.


Jim Verhulst, 57, grew up on a farm in Prophetstown, Ill. He graduated from the University of Chicago with a bachelor’s in behavioral science and from the University of Illinois with a master’s in journalism. He was a reporter and editor at the Concord (N.H.) Monitor for six years before joining the national desk of the Tampa Bay Times in 1987. He has held several positions at the Times, including editing the national report and the front page, before becoming editor of the Sunday Perspective section in 2006. He joined the editorial board in 2008, writing editorials, editing the op-ed page and compiling the Saturday “Reading File.” A resident of St. Petersburg, he is married and has two sons. 

Earlier Event: January 15
New York City - STEM Fest
Later Event: February 10
Washington DC