Dec. 5, 2018

For Immediate Release

Lauren Alexander Augustine Appointed to Lead National Academies’ Gulf Research Program

WASHINGTON -- Lauren Alexander Augustine has been appointed executive director of the Gulf Research Program of the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine.

The Gulf Research Program was established in 2013 as part of the settlement of criminal charges against two companies involved in the Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill. The federal government entrusted the National Academies with $500 million to enhance human health, environmental resources, and the safety of offshore energy systems in the Gulf of Mexico region. The funds form the centerpiece of the program, which will continue until 2043. In her role as executive director, Augustine will oversee the management and use of these funds.

“I look forward to building on the foundation of this program’s first five years and continuing its evolution into a flagship program that benefits the people of the Gulf,” said Augustine. “The region faces challenges that are wide-ranging, complex, and dynamic. This program provides an extraordinary opportunity for science to address these challenges in direct and collaborative ways.”

The Gulf Research Program currently has initiatives to support activities in four areas: healthy ecosystems, thriving and healthy communities, safer offshore energy systems, and capacity building. It issues grants for projects that integrate monitoring and evaluation into environmental restoration efforts underway in the Gulf; other grants support efforts that advance safety culture in the offshore oil and gas environment. A third body of activities seeks to enhance coastal community resilience and well-being in the Gulf region, and the fourth works to expand the ability of researchers, decision-makers, and communities to use science to solve problems. The program is designed for flexibility to adapt to new needs and challenges as they arise.

Prior to accepting her new position, Augustine served as director of the National Academies’ Resilient America Program, which supports communities’ efforts to build resilience to extreme events using science and diverse stakeholder engagement. Developing disaster and community resilience are an important component of the Gulf Research Program’s mission, and Augustine’s knowledge and experience in these areas will be valuable in her new role. She earned her B.S. in applied mathematics and systems engineering and her M.S. in environmental planning and policy from the University of Virginia, and her Ph.D. from Harvard University in an interdisciplinary program that combined hydrology, geomorphology, and ecology.

The National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine are private, nonprofit institutions that provide independent, objective analysis and advice to the nation to solve complex problems and inform public policy decisions related to science, technology, and medicine.  They operate under an 1863 congressional charter to the National Academy of Sciences, signed by President Lincoln.  For more information, visit

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