USA Professor Receives National Academy of Sciences Fellowship

Posted on July 13, 2015 by Arts and Sciences
Arts and Sciences

Dr. Kelly Dorgan, Assistant Professor of Marine Sciences at the University of South Alabama and a senior marine scientist at the Dauphin Island Sea Lab, is one of five U.S. scientists to receive the prestigious National Academy of Sciences Gulf Research Program Early-Career Research Fellowship.

Dorgan will use the $70,000 award to study how worms, microalgae and bacteria stabilize or destabilize sediments against erosion. Her research interests focus on how worms and other burrowing animals interact with their environments. Although abundant and ecologically vital, worms are difficult to observe because of their burrowing behavior and muddy environment. “The idea is that worms that burrow can destabilize sediments, but microalgae and bacteria secrete ‘goo’ that holds sediment grains together and increases stability,” Dorgan explained.

The Gulf Research Program was established following the 2010 Deepwater Horizon oil spill when the federal government asked the NAS to establish a new program to fund and conduct activities to enhance oil system safety, human health and environmental resources in the Gulf of Mexico and other U.S. outer continental shelf regions that support oil and gas production. Dorgan received her doctorate from the University of Maine and conducted post-doctoral stints at the University of California at Berkeley and the Scripps Institute of Oceanography.

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