Student honoured for work with Gulf of Mexico oil spill response team
A graduate student in the Department of Biology has been honoured by Fisheries and Oceans Canada for her work during last year’s Gulf of Mexico oil spill crisis.
Colleen Greer spent two weeks on a ship a few hundred metres from the site of the spill collecting water samples to track the deep sub-surface plume of oil from the Deepwater Horizon. She was close enough to ground zero to see other ships as they frantically tried to cap the spill that lasted three months.
“I’m really honoured and happy to be able to take part and help out with the oil spill response,” says Ms Greer, who received a certificate from Oceans Assistant Deputy Minister Siddika Mithani and a crystal trophy thanking her for her efforts. “I didn’t expect to get an award. I felt that seeing a real oil spill would help me put my research into perspective.”
Being a part of the largest accidental marine oil spill in the history of the petroleum industry was a stunning and unforgettable experience.
“Every once in a while you would go through some oil and the water would turn dark brown. It was shocking because you think of the Gulf of Mexico being so pristine,” says Ms Greer.
Ms Greer’s master’s thesis is on the impact of oil dispersants on herring embryos and she was doing research at the federal government’s Centre for Offshore Oil, Gas and Energy Research (COOGER) when the spill happened last year. The centre’s director received a call from the U.S. government asking for help and the 25-year-old Queen’s student “begged and pleaded” to go to the Gulf of Mexico to help out.