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Initiative in Energy, Environment, and Health


The ongoing Deepwater Horizon oil spill is widely considered to be the worst environmental disaster in US history. Surface and subsurface oil plumes are expected to dominate the northern Gulf of Mexico for months or years to come. Minimizing potential harm and speeding the recovery of impacted environments and communities will require support and guidance from entities with expertise in disaster recovery that are capable of rapid and timely engagement. Preventing similar disasters in the future will in turn require investment in local institutions with sufficient intellectual capital and infrastructure to advance environmental and community resiliency.


Recovery from the Horizon spill is expected to take years, if not decades. The event is also expected to change state and national policies on oil exploration that will have lasting effects on the economies, cultures and environments of the northern Gulf of Mexico. Tulane University is taking collaborative and preemptive actions to build institutional capacities that will speed recovery and help shape the post-Horizon sociopolitical landscape.

Tulane Oil Spill Response Committee (TORC)


The objectives of the Tulane Oil Response Committee are to:
  • identify and coordinate Tulane faculty and staff expertise in support of ongoing Horizon spill response and recovery efforts;
  • provide a platform for building intellectual capital, curricula, and infrastructure at Tulane in support of response and recovery efforts;
  • provide a platform for advancing long term environmental and community resiliency in New Orleans and elsewhere in the northern Gulf of Mexico.

Michael Blum Michael Blum, Ph.D.

Director, Tulane/Xavier Center for Bioenvironmental Research
Associate Professor, Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology
Eugenie Schwartz Professor of River and Coastal Studies
Phone (504) 862-8295 - Fax (504) 872-8706
  Mark Davis Mark S. Davis, J.D.

Senior Research Fellow and Director
Tulane Institute on Water Resources Law and Policy
Tulane Law School
Phone: (504) 865-5982 - Fax: (504) 862-8846
Expertise: Assessing ecological effects of exposure, specializing in coastal marsh plant responses to environmental stressors; integrative analysis of coupled human-natural ecosystem responses to disturbance.   Expertise: Water resources law and policy, natural resource damages, coastal restoration and protection, and coastal risk management.
Vijay John Vijay John, Ph.D.

Chief Scientific Officer, Tulane Oil Spill Response Committee
Leo S. Weil Professor and Department Chair
Department of Chemical & Biomolecular Engineering
Phone: (504) 865-5883 - Fax: (504) 865-6744
  Kyriakos Papadopoulos Kyriakos Papadopoulos, Ph.D.

Department of Chemical & Biomolecular Engineering
Phone: (504) 865-5826 - Fax: (504) 865-6744
Expertise: Dispersant technology and environmental implications, gas hydrate science.   Expertise: Multiphase transport through porous media, with applications in (bio)remediation of soils, sands and sediments.
Michael Scheeringa Michael S. Scheeringa, MD, MPH

Department of Psychiatry & Behavioral Sciences
School of Medicine
Phone: (504) 988-2167 - Fax: (504) 988-6531
  Eric Smith Eric Smith

Associate Director
Tulane Energy Institute
A. B. Freeman School of Business
Phone: 504-865-5427 - Fax: 504-862-8327
Expertise: Assessment of individuals exposed to trauma, Implementation of evidence-based interventions for posttraumatic stress and adversity, Special expertise in children.   Expertise: Clean and conventional energy economics, power generation and distribution, oil and gas exploration and extraction technologies.
Tor Tornqvist Torbjörn E. Törnqvist, Ph.D.

Department of Earth and Environmental Sciences
Director, DOE-NICCR Coastal Center
Deputy Director for Research
Tulane/Xavier Center for Bioenvironmental Research
Phone: (504) 314-2221 - Fax: (504) 865-5199
  Luann White Luann White, Ph.D., DABT

Department of Environmental Health Sciences
Center for Applied Environmental Public Health
School of Public Health and Tropical Medicine
Phone: (504) 988-1774 - Fax: (504) 988-7352
Expertise: Sea level and climate change, coastal subsidence, coastal and deltaic sedimentology.   Expertise: Toxicology; Public health; Assessment of human health effects from environmental contaminants; seafood safety.