(March 04, 2020) --

On October 1, 2019, the United States Department of Treasury, in cooperation with the Alabama Gulf Coast Recovery Council (AGCRC) and the Alabama Department of Conservation and Natural Resources (ADCNR) issued a Notice of Grant Award selecting the Dauphin Island Sea Lab (DISL) as the home for Alabama’s Center of Excellence.  Alabama’s Center of Excellence will build upon the network of experts from the Marine Environmental Sciences Consortium (MESC), the Mobile Bay National Estuary Program (MBNEP), and the Mississippi-Alabama Sea Grant Consortium (MASGC).  

Building on 46 years of proven academic and scientific success, the DISL will implement a competitive grant program that awards $5million in RESTORE Act funds to academic institutions in Alabama to perform cutting edge, forward-looking, scientific research over the next 3 years.  These studies are expected to mimic changes in ocean conditions and will be possible, in large part, due to upgrades to DISL’s wet lab facilities paid for with the Center of Excellence funds.  

“Establishing Alabama’s Center of Excellence marks a milestone in Alabama’s ongoing recovery from the 2010 Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill, said Governor Kay Ivey.”  “A strong economy on the Alabama coast and throughout the State depends on a healthy, vibrant Gulf of Mexico that supports industry and recreation.  Through the success of our Center of Excellence, Alabama’s leaders can call on Alabama researchers for science-driven guidance on keeping our Gulf and our beaches healthy and prosperous.  And, as always, reminding us all how very fortunate we are to live in ‘Alabama the Beautiful!”   

Data and information generated by the Center of Excellence funded research will help provide science-driven solutions and recommendations for current and future conditions in coastal Alabama. Funds will also be used to create new and enhanced education activities to inform policymakers and concerned citizens on the role and importance of our coastal resources in the lives of Alabama citizens.

“On behalf of the Presidents of the 23 member schools of the state-wide Marine Environmental Sciences Consortium, better known as the Dauphin Island Sea Lab, I want to thank the members of the Alabama Gulf Coast Recovery Council and the Governor of the State of Alabama for designating the Sea Lab Alabama’s Center of Excellence,” said Dr. John Valentine, Executive Director of the Dauphin Island Sea Lab and Director of the Alabama Center of Excellence.

Centers of Excellence have also been established in Florida, Mississippi, Louisiana, and Texas.  The Centers of Excellence will focus on science, technology, and monitoring in the following disciplines:

1.   Coastal and deltaic sustainability, restoration and protection, including solutions and technology that allow citizens to live in a safe and sustainable manner in a coastal delta in the Gulf Coast Region;
2.   Coastal fisheries and wildlife ecosystem research and monitoring in the Gulf Coast Region;
3.   Offshore energy development, including research and technology to improve the sustainable and safe development of energy resources in the Gulf of Mexico;
4.   Sustainable and resilient growth, economic and commercial development in the Gulf of Mexico; and
5.   Comprehensive observation, monitoring, and mapping of the Gulf of Mexico. 

The Center of Excellences are paid for (in part) with federal funding from the Department of the Treasury under the Resources and Ecosystem Sustainability, Tourist Opportunities, and Revived Economies of the Gulf States Act, also known as the RESTORE Act, signed on July 6, 2012.