Monday, May 12, 2014

UNO Doctoral Student Receives Two Awards At International Conference on Oil Spills

Phoebe Ray, a doctoral student in the UNO Department of Chemistry, recently received two awards from the International Oil Spill Conference, held in Savannah, Ga.   Ray received a scholarship and won a top prize for a poster presentation on her oil spill research, “Effect of Dispersant on Molecular Composition and Fate of Oil Exposed to Sunlight in Seawater Systems.”Phoebe Ray, a doctoral student in the UNO Department of Chemistry, recently received two awards from the International Oil Spill Conference, held in Savannah, Ga. Ray received a scholarship and won a top prize for a poster presentation on her oil spill research, “Effect of Dispersant on Molecular Composition and Fate of Oil Exposed to Sunlight in Seawater Systems.”

A doctoral student in the University of New Orleans chemistry department recently received two awards from an international conference designed to help communities better prepare for and respond to oil spills.

Phoebe Ray, a Ph.D. student in the UNO Department of Chemistry, received two awards from the International Oil Spill Conference, held May 5-8 in Savannah, Ga. The International Oil Spill Conference is designed as a forum for professionals from the international response community, private sector, government and non-governmental organizations to come together to exchange ideas and lessons learned from spill responses and research around the world.

Ray, who will complete her doctoral studies this summer, presented a poster on her oil spill research, "Effect of Dispersant on Molecular Composition and Fate of Oil Exposed to Sunlight in Seawater Systems." Her poster was selected as best poster in the science and technology category.

Ray's research focuses on how sunlight changes the composition of oil through photochemistry and how these changes affect the behavior of oil in the environment. The work is funded by a three-year $1.47 million grant from the U.S. National Science Foundation and BP/The Gulf of Mexico Research Initiative. Matthew Tarr, chair of the UNO Department of Chemistry, is Ray's research advisor and a principal investigator on the grant, which UNO holds with professors from Tulane Univeristy and the University of Oklahoma. The project is part of $500 million that BP has committed to fund independent research related to the Deepwater Horizon oil spill.

In this project, the research team studies the chemical transformations caused by sunlight as well as how these transformations affect biological systems. Overall, the project will provide a better understanding of what happens to oil that is floating on the surface of seawater as it ages under natural conditions. Such information can help assess the impacts of an oil spill and provide better tools for cleaning up a spill.

Ray received a full scholarship, including all travel expenses and registration, to attend the conference, Tarr said.

"IOSC 2014 scholarships are intended to support those whose attendance would enhance the oil spill preparedness, response and restoration community, body of knowledge and experience, across a broad range of perspectives," according to the organization's website.

 

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