A provisional committee of experts from a wide range of disciplines has been appointed by the chair of the National Research Council (NRC). Expertise on the committee includes the following areas: pipeline operations, oil spill response and cleanup techniques/regulations, hydrology, weathering effects, bioremediation, and fate and effects of diluted bitumen in the environment.


Diane M. McKnight (Chair)
University of Colorado Boulder

Michel Boufadel
New Jersey Institute of Technology

Merv Fingas
Independent Consultant

Stephen K. Hamilton
Michigan State University

Orville Harris
O.B. Harris, LLC

John M. Hayes
Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution (Retired)

Jacqueline Michel
Research Planning, Inc.

Carys Mitchelmore
University of Maryland Center for Environmental Science

Denise Reed
The Water Institute of the Gulf

Robert M. Sussman
Sussman and Associates

David L. Valentine
University of California, Santa Barbara


Formal comments on the provisional appointments are solicited during the 20-calendar day period following the posting of the committee on November 18th.

Please provide any comments here.



Diane McKnight (Chair), University of Colorado Boulder

Diane McKnight is a professor of civil, environmental and architectural engineering and a fellow of the Institute of Arctic and Alpine Research at the University of Colorado. Her research focuses on interactions between hydrologic, chemical, and biological processes in controlling the dynamics in aquatic ecosystems. This research is carried out through field-scale experiments, modeling, and laboratory characterization of natural substrates. In addition, Dr. McKnight conducts research focusing on interactions between freshwater biota, trace metals, and natural organic material in diverse freshwater environments, including lakes and streams in the Colorado Rocky Mountains and in the McMurdo Dry Valleys in Antarctica. She interacts with state and local groups involved in mine drainage and watershed issues in the Rocky Mountains. Dr. McKnight is a member of the NRC’s Polar Research Board and is a former member of the Water Science and Technology Board. She is a past president of the American Society of Limnology and Oceanography and the Biogeosciences section of the American Geophysical Union. She received her Ph.D. in environmental engineering from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and is a member of the NAE.

Michel Boufadel, New Jersey Institute of Technology

Dr. Michel Boufadel is professor of environmental engineering and director of the Center for Natural Resources Development and Protection at the New Jersey Institute of Technology. He is a professional engineer in Pennsylvania and New Jersey. Dr. Boufadel has conducted, since 2001, research projects funded by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) on oil dispersion and transport offshore. He has adopted a multiscale approach where he conducts experiments in flasks and wave tanks of various sizes and models processes from the microscopic scale to the sea scale. Dr. Boufadel was involved in the response to the Deepwater Horizon blowout and assisted NOAA personnel conducting various tasks within the response. Dr. Boufadel has more than 80 refereed articles in publications such as Marine Pollution Bulletin, Environmental Science and Technology, and Journal of Geophysical Research. He also has more than 30 publications in oil spill conference proceedings, such as those of the International Oil Spill Conference and Arctic and Marine Oil Spill. He is an associate editor of the Journal of Environmental Engineering, American Society of Civil Engineers.

Merv Fingas, Independent Consultant

Merv Fingas is a scientist working on oil and chemical spills. He was Chief of the Emergencies Science Division of Environment Canada for over 30 years and is currently working on research in Western Canada. Mr. Fingas has a Ph.D. in environmental physics from McGill University, three masters degrees; chemistry, business and mathematics, all from University of Ottawa. He also has a bachelor of science in Chemistry from Alberta and a bachelor of arts from Indiana. He has more than 860 papers and publications in the field. Merv has prepared 7 books on spill topics and is working on 2 others. He has served on two committees on the National Academy of Sciences of the United States on oil spills including the recent ‘Oil in the Sea’. He is chairman of several ASTM and inter-governmental committees on spill matters. Importantly, he was the founding chairman of the ASTM sub-committee on in-situ burning and chairman of oil spill treating agents and another on oil spill detection and remote sensing, positions he holds today.

Dr. Fingas began his career in 1974 working for Environment Canada as a scientist working on oil and chemical spills. His first tasks were largely to work on the Beaufort Sea Studies, a multi-million dollar joint industry-government program to develop oil spill readiness for the Canadian Beaufort Sea. His role in these studies was to coordinate chemical and physical studies and to prepare overview documents. With the completion of these studies a new study of large magnitude, the Arctic and Marine Oil Spill Program, was founded in 1977. Dr. Fingas, one of the founders of this program, worked in general coordination on the program and specifically managed a number of sub-projects including those on chemistry, oil behaviour, remote sensing, spill tracking and spill treating agents. Dr. Fingas continued in many of these research fields until today. His specialties include Arctic oil spills, oil chemistry, spill dynamics and behaviour, spill treating agents remote sensing and detection, spill tracking, and in-situ burning.  He continues research and writing on these topics to this day.

Stephen Hamilton, Michigan State University

Stephen Hamilton is currently a Professor of Ecosystem Ecology and Biogeochemistry at Michigan State University. He received his Ph.D. at the University of California, Santa Barbara in 1994. His principal research interests involve ecosystem ecology and biogeochemistry, with particular attention to aquatic environments and the movement of water through landscapes, especially in running waters, wetlands and floodplains because they represent an interface between aquatic and terrestrial ecosystems that is often His research integrates approaches from varied disciplines such as geology, chemistry, remote sensing, and hydrology as well as ecology. He is presently devoting much of his time to the study of various aspects of aquatic ecosystems in southern Michigan, including wetlands, streams, lakes, and watersheds. He also works on tropical ecosystems in South America and dryland river ecosystems in Australia. He served as an independent advisor to the US Environmental Protection Agency for the 2010 Enbridge pipeline release of oil sands crude into the Kalamazoo River, including its Scientific Support Coordination Group.

Orville Harris, O.B. Harris, LLC

Orville “O.B.” Harris is President of O.B. Harris, LLC, which is an independent consultancy specializing in the regulation, engineering, and planning of petroleum liquids pipelines. Currently, he is the Independent Monitoring Contractor for the Consent Decree between the United States and BP Alaska, Inc. From 1995 to 2009, he was Vice President of Longhorn Partners Pipeline, L.P., which operated a 700-mile pipeline that carried gasoline and diesel fuel from Gulf Coast refineries to El Paso, Texas. In this position, he was responsible for engineering, design, construction, and operation of the system.  From 1991 to 1995, he was President of ARCO Transportation Alaska Inc, which owned four pipeline systems, including a portion of the ALYESKA Pipeline Service Company transported 25 percent of the crude oil from the North Slope of Alaska to the Port of Valdez. From 1977 to 1990, he held several supervisory and managerial positions at the ARCO Pipeline Company, including District Manager for Houston and Midland, Texas, Manager of the Northern Area, and Manager of Products Business. While at ARCO Transportation, he directed the efforts of a team of corrosion experts guiding $400 million of repairs to the ALYESKA system. He is a past member of the Board of Directors of the AOPL and PHMSA’s Technical Hazardous Liquids Pipeline Safety Standards Committee. Mr. Harris joins this committee having previously served on the committee for the preceding NRC study, Effects if Diluted Bitumen on Crude Oil Transmission Pipelines. He holds a bachelor’s degree in civil engineering from the University of Texas and an M.B.A. from Texas Southern University.

John M. Hayes, Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution (Retired) 

John Hayes, Scientist Emeritus and retired Director of the National Ocean Sciences Accelerator Mass Spectrometry Facility, “NOSAMS”, at the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution, maintains a program of research in isotopic biogeochemistry. Since 1998, it has resulted in many peer-reviewed publications which are listed in the bibliography below. Topics include studies of carbon- and hydrogen-isotopic fractionations imposed by phytoplankton and other microorganisms, paleoenvironmental studies based on sedimentary isotopic and organic-geochemical records, studies of the anaerobic oxidation of methane in marine sediments, the long-term record of 13C in sedimentary organic carbon, and developments in stable-isotopic analytical techniques. On-going research supported by non-NOSAMS funds includes many of those topics as well as studies of 14C as an inverse tracer for fossil-fuel-derived organic materials in modern environments (with T. Eglinton and C. Reddy) and studies of the transport and sedimentation of biomarkers of paleoclimatic interest (with T. Eglinton and J. McManus).

Jacqueline Michel, Research Planning, Inc.

Dr. Michel is a geochemist specializing in terrestrial and marine pollution studies, coastal geomorphology, and environmental risk assessments.  She has specialized expertise in the behavior, tracking, recovery, and effects of submerged oil.  Having worked in 32 countries, she has extensive international experience and has worked in many different coastal and marine environments.

Dr. Michel is one of the founders of Research Planning Inc. and has been President since 2000.  She often leads multi-disciplinary teams on projects where her problem-solving skills are essential to bringing solutions to complex issues.  For example, her work during spill emergencies requires her to rapidly develop consensus and provide decision-makers needed information.  Because of her routine scientific support for spills, she has extensive knowledge of and practical experience in pollutant fate, transport, and effect issues.  She has been a leader in the development of methods and the conduct of Natural Resource Damage Assessments following spills and groundings.  She has taken a lead role in 29 damage assessments for Federal and State Trustees.

Dr. Michel has been recognized for her achievements through appointments to many respected committees and panels, including four National Academies committees: Spills of Nonfloating Oil (1999); Oil in the Sea (2002); Chairman of Spills and Emulsified Fuels: Risk and Response (2001); and Chairman of Committee on Understanding Oil Spill Dispersants: Efficacy and Effects (2005).  She was on the Oceans Board for 2001-2005 and is a Lifetime Associated of the National Academies.  She was on the Science Advisory Panel to the U.S. Commission no Ocean Policy.  She is an Adjunct Professor in the School of the Environment, University of South Carolina.  She has written over 185 technical publications.

Carys Mitchelmore, University of Maryland Center for Environmental Science

Carys Mitchelmoree earned her Ph.D. from the University of Birmingham (UK) in 1997 investigating toxicity processes and effects in aquatic organisms exposed to organic pollutants, including oil and its constituent PAHs. Dr. Mitchelmore is an Associate Professor for the University of Maryland Center for Environmental Science at the Chesapeake Biological Laboratory, in Solomons, MD. Her expertise lies in aquatic toxicology and her research experience includes understanding the uptake, routes of exposure, mechanisms (bioaccumulation, metabolism, retention, depuration, trophic transfer) and target sites of metals and organic pollutants, including PAHs and emerging contaminants of concern, in addition to biological pollutants (bacteria) and invasive species. Investigations have used an array of organisms, from bacteria, algae, invertebrate and vertebrate species, such as, oysters, blue crabs, anemones and corals, fish and reptiles. Current research projects are directed at understanding the uptake, routes of exposure (including chemical partitioning of dissolved and particulate fractions), fate and effects of oil, chemical dispersants (e.g. Corexit and alternatives) and dispersed oil in sensitive species, such as, corals and reptiles. Focused areas of impact include DNA damage, oxidative stress and antioxidant responses, endocrine disruption and immune function. Dr. Mitchelmore is also co-author of the 2005 National Research Council (NRC) report “Oil Spill Dispersants: Efficacy and Effects.”

Denise Reed, The Water Institute of the Gulf

Denise Reed, Ph.D., is a nationally and internationally recognized expert in coastal marsh sustainability and the role of human activities in modifying coastal systems. She has studied coastal issues in the United States and around the world for over 30 years.

Dr. Reed has worked closely with Louisiana’s state government in developing coastal restoration plans. Her experience includes helping monitor natural resources in the Pontchartrain Basin following the Deepwater Horizon oil spill in 2010 and researching ecosystem restoration and planning in the California Bay-Delta.

She has served on numerous boards and panels addressing the effects of human alterations on coastal environments and the role of science in guiding restoration, including a number of National Research Council committees.

Prior to joining The Water Institute of the Gulf, Dr. Reed served as Director of the Pontchartrain Institute for Environmental Sciences and as a professor in the University of New Orleans’ Department of Earth and Environmental Sciences.

She is a member of the Chief of Engineers Environmental Advisory Board and the Ecosystems Sciences and Management Working Group of the NOAA Science Advisory Board. She earned a bachelor’s and doctoral degree in geography from the University of Cambridge.

Robert M. Sussman, Sussman and Associates

Robert (Bob) Sussman is the principal in Sussman and Associates, a consulting firm  that offers advice and support on energy and environmental policy issues to clients in the non-profit and private sectors. Bob recently completed four and a half years of service in the Obama Administration, first as Co-Chair of the Transition Team for EPA and then as Senior Policy Counsel to the EPA Administrator. In this position, Bob functioned as the Administrator’s principal policy advisor, providing oversight and guidance on the full suite of policy issues across the Agency.  Bob worked closely with all of EPA’s senior officials in Washington and the Regions. He also played a key role in EPA’s interface with OMB, CEQ and other White House offices and worked closely with other agencies, particularly the Department of Energy and Department of Interior.

Bob served in the Clinton Administration as the EPA Deputy Administrator during 1993-94. He was the Agency’s Chief Operating Officer and Regulatory Policy Officer, testified frequently before Congress and represented EPA at several international meetings.

At the end of 2007, Bob retired as a partner at the law firm of Latham & Watkins, where he headed the firm’s environmental practice in DC for ten years. He joined Latham in 1987 to start its environmental practice in DC after being a partner at Covington & Burling since 1974. Bob worked with a wide range of companies and trade associations on all aspects of energy and environmental policy, functioning as a policy advisor, advocate and litigator.

For several years, Bob was named one of the leading environmental lawyers in Washington, DC by Chambers USA: America’s Leading Business Lawyers and The International Who’s Who of Environmental Lawyers. Bob was a Senior Fellow at the Center for American Progress in 2008, writing and speaking about climate change and energy.  Bob is a magna cum laude 1969 graduate of Yale College and a 1973 graduate of Yale Law School, where he was an editor of the Yale Law Journal. Bob clerked for Judge Walter K. Stapleton of the Third Circuit Court of Appeals.

David Valentine, University of California, Santa Barbara

Dr. David Valentine currently serves as a Professor in the Department of Earth Science at the University of California, Santa Barbara (UCSB). His research interests focus on the interface of geochemistry and microbiology. Valentine is an Aldo Leopold Leadership Fellow and the recipient of a CAREER award in chemical oceanography from the National Science Foundation. He is best known for his research on archaeal ecology, methane biogechemistry, oil seeps, and the aftermath of the Deepwater Horizon event, as well as for engagement with popular media.


Three disclosures of conflicts of interest have been posted for this study at the bottom of this webpage.