Date of Award

Spring 5-1-2015

Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Coastal Sciences, Gulf Coast Research Laboratory

Committee Chair

Jeffery Lotz

Committee Chair Department

Coastal Sciences, Gulf Coast Research Laboratory

Committee Member 2

Richard Fulford

Committee Member 3

LaDon Swann

Committee Member 4

William Hawkins

Committee Member 4 Department

Coastal Sciences, Gulf Coast Research Laboratory


A set of twenty equally-weighted national ocean research priorities were define in 2007, but it was not clear if these priorities applied for the Gulf of Mexico. A series of three longitudinal surveys of people who conduct research, sponsor research or use research for professional or recreational purposes was released that focused on the twenty research priorities and asked people how they rated each. A convenience sampling method was employed, which suggests that the results are constrained to the survey respondents and should not be extrapolated to a larger population. More than 1,500 people completed the 2013 GMRP survey and 1,124 of them rated all twenty national research priorities and four ecosystem service valuation priorities. Survey respondents rated the majority of research priorities as “high” or “very high” priorities but indicated that the research priorities are not equally important in the Gulf of Mexico. In addition, several indicators influenced how they rated the research priorities in 2013. The survey respondent’s area of expertise or discipline had the greatest influence on how they rated the priorities. Research priorities were also rated differently based on respondent’s relationship to research, affiliation, and sub-region within the U.S. Gulf of Mexico. The categories that had the greatest differences compared to others include those that use research for recreational purposes and the business sector. Research sponsors had no difference in rating of research priorities between those that conduct research or use research for their profession. While comparing the same survey respondent’s ratings in 2007, 2010 and 2013 seven out of 60 (11.7%) combinations of the research priorities across the three survey years were significantly different. However, only two of the twenty research priorities were rated significantly different between 2007 and 2013. The regional events that occurred between 2007 and 2013 such as the Deepwater Horizon oil spill may have changed the importance of research priorities for survey respondents over a short time period, however it may not have significantly changed the importance of many of the research priorities at the end of the six-year time period. A follow-on survey in 2016 could compliment this longitudinal work.