Project: Science Partnerships Enabling Rapid Response (SPERR)


The Deepwater Horizon disaster required unprecedented engagement and collaboration with scientists from multiple disciplines across government, academia, and industry. Although this spurred the rapid advancement of valuable new scientific knowledge and tools, it also exposed weaknesses in the system of information dissemination and exchange among the scientists from those three sectors. As oil demand pushes drilling into increasingly extreme environments, addressing the challenge of effective, science-based disaster response is an imperative.

In collaboration with Stanford’s ChangeLabs, the project team is using a user-centered design process to tackle this complex interdisciplinary problem. Ultimately, the project strives to understand the obstacles to and opportunity spaces for effective scientific communication during oil spill crises, identify possible tools and strategies to enable rapid information exchange between federal responders and non-governmental scientists from multiple relevant disciplines and build a network of key influencers to secure sufficient buy-in for large-scale implementation.

Where we are now

The SPERR project was completed in July of 2015.  The SPERR team decided to implement Science Action Network.

The Science Action Network aims to:

>Bridge cultural gaps between response agencies, industry, and academic scientists and create new norms for scientific collaboration.

>Drive disaster-relevant and interdisciplinary scientific research through novel, academic-agency partnerships and funding opportunities.

>Catalyze cross-disaster and cross-institutional scientific exchange.

Marcia McNutt, editor-in-chief of the journal Science, highlighted SPERR in an op-ed as a promising approach to create “a community for disaster science.”  The SPERR project has also been highlighted on the Huffington Post, the PBS Newshour, GoMRI, and in a recent op-ed in the San Francisco Chronicle.