ECU News Services


ECU Faculty Awarded NSF Grant to Study Effects of Crude Oil on Fish Development
East Carolina University biology professors have received a National Science Foundation grant funding their ongoing research on the BP Gulf oil spill to study the effects on dispersant-treated crude oil on fish development.

Ed Stellway, Anthony Overton, Xiaoping Pan and Baohong Zhang received $199,477 for their project, “RAPID: Influence of Environmental Crude Oil Exposure on Genetic Mechanisms of Fish Development.” The project includes research related to the BP Gulf oil spill.

Research will include detailed experiences in the field and laboratory to examine developmental defects related to dispersant-treated crude oil. They will apply Next Generation DNA sequencing technologies and bioinformatics analysis to examine the molecular mechanisms that underlie the developmental defects.

Their goals include categorizing the defects and pinpointing the mechanisms behind the sensitivity of embryos to environmental pollutants like crude oil. Results may be useful in establishing measures to mitigate the pollutants’ damaging effects.

“This project is a great example of how ECU biologists with very different skills in ecology, development, toxicology and molecular biology can collaborate to address an important research problem of national relevance,” said Jeff McKinnon, chair of the biology department.

“This work complements other ECU studies of how the Gulf Oil Spill is affecting our natural environment.”

Additional individuals within the Harriot College of Arts and Sciences who are performing funded research on the Gulf Oil Spill include David Kimmel, assistant professor of biology, and Siddhartha Mitra, assistant professor of geological sciences.

For more information, contact Stellwag at 252-328-6302 or


This story appeared originally in the Oct. 29, 2010 issue of Pieces of Eight. An archived version of that issue is available at