The Subsea Systems Institute (SSI) was established in 2015 as a Texas Center of Excellence under the RESTORE Act and collaboration between the University of Houston, Rice University and the Johnson Space Center (NASA). In addition, the SSI and the University of Houston has partnerships with the Lone Star Community College, Texas Southwest University, Houston Community College, and other colleges to lead research and develop training and educational programs to accelerate energy related workforce development in critical areas for the state of Texas.
The Terms of Reference for SSI are developed within the activity of offshore energy development, including improving sustainable/safe development, with a particular focus on the Gulf of Mexico. The vision and objectives for the institute are to:
- Support economic and workforce development in the State of Texas through collaboration between research institutions, colleges and industry;
- Positively impact offshore safety by bringing together NASA, industry, and academic expertise to develop best available technology and risk mitigation practices to the Gulf of Mexico;
- Provide unbiased third party validation and establishment of best practices to build public trust in the sustainable and safe offshore drilling and production operations in the Gulf of Mexico region and beyond;
- Attract and retain talent for jobs and investments in the local, state and national economy and to reinforce Houston and the state of Texas’s reputation as the Energy Capital of the World.
As a result of the DeepWater Horizon incident, President Obama signed into law the Resources and Ecosystems Sustainability, Tourist Opportunities and Revived Economies of the Gulf Coast States Act, otherwise known as the RESTORE Act.
The RESTORE Act established the Restoration Trust Fund, which allocated 2.5 percent of the money received in civil penalties for the creation of Centers of Excellence in the five Gulf Coast states to further Gulf coast science, monitoring and technology.
Then-Governor Rick Perry and the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality (TCEQ) awarded the funds (about $4.1 million) for the Texas Center of Excellence to the consortium partners of the University of Houston, Rice University, and NASA Johnson Space Center.
University of Houston
Before becoming Interim vice chancellor/vice president for research and technology transfer and chief energy officer at the University of Houston, Dr. Krishnamoorti has served as chair of the UH Cullen College of Engineering’s chemical and biomolecular engineering department, associate dean of research for engineering, professor of chemical and biomolecular engineering with affiliated appointments as professor of petroleum engineering and professor of chemistry. Dr. Krishnamoorti obtained his bachelor’s degree in chemical engineering from the Indian Institute of Technology Madras and doctoral degree in chemical engineering from Princeton University in 1994.
Chuck McConnell is the executive director of the Energy and Environment Initiative at Rice University. Previously, he served as the assistant secretary of energy for the Department of Energy and was responsible for the strategic policy leadership, budgets, project management, and research and development of DOE’s oil, natural gas, coal and advanced technologies programs. Prior to his service at DOE, McConnell served as vice president of carbon management at Battelle Energy Technology in Columbus, Ohio, for two years, and he managed businesses at Praxair Inc. for 31 years. He holds a bachelor’s degree in chemical engineering from Carnegie-Mellon University and an MBA in finance from Cleveland State University.
NASA Johnson Space Center
Dr. Lulla is the director of the University Research, Collaboration and Partnership Office at Johnson Space Center. Internationally acclaimed for his research and scientific accomplishments in optical remote sensing technologies and Earth observation sciences, Dr. Lulla served as a chief scientist for Earth science payloads for shuttle and the International Space Station. His responsibilities included training shuttle astronauts in Earth imaging for more than 40 flights. Dr. Lulla is the author of over 200 scientific and technical papers and co-author and co-editor of the recent NASA book “Wings In Orbit.” Dr. Lulla holds two Ph.D. degrees in Earth and Space sciences.