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USF Bridges Schools for Gulf Oil Spill Recovery Efforts

Last year's federal Resources and Ecosystems Sustainability, Tourist Opportunity, and Revived Economies (RESTORE) Act made hundreds of millions of dollars in funds available for projects related to the Gulf region's recovery from the 2010 Deepwater Horizon oil spill.

Now the University of South Florida is making a concentrated effort to bolster its reputation - and its funding coffers - by planning new research efforts on the effects of the disaster.

Almost 80 researchers, faculty and administrators from over a dozen USF colleges and divisions attended an oceanography summit Friday at the Marshall Student Center.

The 'usual suspects' were there from the Colleges of Marine Science and Engineering, as well as the Florida Institute of Oceanography. But what made this event unique was that representatives also came from the Colleges of Arts and Sciences, Business, Education, even the Library.

Marine Science Dean Jackie Dixon says this initial meeting was about opening the lines of communication among departments.

"The goal for today is to just make sure that people that are interested in collaborating know how to collaborate, who to collaborate with, and that we facilitate those collaborations," Dixon said.

USF President Judy Genshaft said this cooperation will help the university pursue millions of dollars in funding for projects related to the Gulf region's recovery from the 2010 spill.

"As they work together across a variety of colleges, they will really make a difference when they put together proposals for whatever funding agency," Genshaft said.

Dixon added that encouraging collaboration among researchers across USF will help with more than just today's efforts.

"The challenges we face for the environment and for the planet in the future requires that all of the different sciences share their expertise and that we're working with people in education and public health and public policy in order to be successful to help give us a better planet in the future," Dixon said.

Dixon says the initial plan is to hold a summit every six months.

Mark Schreiner is the assistant news director and intern coordinator for WUSF News.