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Social Work Team Receives Grant, Conducts Study Following BP Oil Crisis

Thu, 11/18/2010 - 04:24pm | By: Charmaine Williams Schmermund

Researchers at The University of Southern Mississippi have been awarded an $80,000 grant to study the psychosocial impact of the Deepwater Horizon oil spill disaster on Mississippi Gulf Coast residents.

The grant, a subsection of a $1 million grant funded by the Northern Gulf Institute at Stennis Space Center, will fund research concerning residents within Mississippi's three coastal counties. Research surveys were conducted by Southern Miss students who visited randomly selected residences south of Interstate 10 in Hancock, Harrison and Jackson counties.

The research study will not only focus on the oil disaster, but also takes into account the impact residents still face from Hurricane Katrina which struck in August 2005. Dr. Tom Osowski, assistant professor in the School of Social Work and research study lead, said Southern Miss researchers “are attempting to ascertain the impact and severity of the oil spill disaster on an already disaster weary coast community.”

“Southern Miss and the School of Social Work are in a unique situation to assess the impact of the oil spill disaster on the mental health needs of our neighbors and friends,” said Osowski. “The university has the professional and research capability to work with our neighbors after having experienced yet another disaster alongside each other. The university, being in the same area as disaster victims, gives Southern Miss credibility and opens more doors for us.”

While results from the research study are expected in spring 2011, master of social work student and research participant Laura Smith hopes the results bring awareness to the situation.

“I hope there is awareness for what's going on in Mississippi, awareness for the agencies bringing in goods and services to these residents and also for BP to understand what these citizens actually need following this crisis.”

For more information about this research study in the School of Social Work, contact Dr. Tom Osowski at tom.osowskiFREEMississippi or 228.214.3297.