The University of Florida’s Healthy Gulf, Healthy Communities team was awarded the W. K. Kellogg Foundation Community Engagement Scholarship Award presented by the Association of Public and Land-grant Universities, the Engagement Scholarship Consortium and the W.K. Kellogg Foundation. The award recognizes universities that have redesigned their learning, discovery and engagement missions to become even more involved with their communities.
The Healthy Gulf, Healthy Communities project worked to address the human health effects of the 2010 Deepwater Horizon oil spill in Gulf Coast communities throughout Alabama and Florida. Under the leadership of Dr. Glenn Morris, director of UF’s Emerging Pathogens Institute, the project combined community-based research, laboratory research and community outreach efforts.
Dr. Andrew Kane, an associate professor in the department of environmental and global health at the University of Florida College of Public Health and Health Professions, is one of the three principal investigators who conducted National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences-supported research as part of Healthy Gulf, Healthy Communities. The multi-institutional, transdisciplinary effort included Dr. Brian Mayer from the University of Arizona working on social networks and community resilience, and Dr. Lynn Grattan from the University of Maryland focusing on mental health, Dr. Kane said.
“My project focused on the safety of inshore-harvested seafood after the Deepwater Horizon spill,” he said. “Commercial fishers were very concerned about the safety of their catch.”
Dr. Kane and his team tested more than 900 individual samples of finfish and shellfish, conducted seafood intake surveys, and developed risk-assessments specific to Gulf Coast communities. Through outreach and environmental literacy programs, Dr. Kane communicated to residents that their research had found the seafood was safe, an enormous relief for many families, he said.
Dr. Kane’s Healthy Gulf, Healthy Communities efforts continue to support community-based projects in Gulf Coast communities, with support from the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation, Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission, Florida Sea Grant, the National Institute for Occupational Health and Safety, and the National Academies Gulf Research Program through his community partner network.