After talking to two officials at the National Science Foundation, it is clear that the federal government is sponsoring essential research regarding the oil spill disaster. For details of their efforts, see the Gulf Oil Spill page on the NSF website. Attached is a recent list of NSF funded project — NSF-Funded Gulf Oil Spill RAPIDs — so that you can see the work that is, or soon will be, underway. There are more than 40 awards for a total of about $5M. Note that the NSF gives researchers full latitude to share their results. [Thanks to Dr. Josh Chamot of the NSF for this information.]
One example of an interesting website that provides details on the impacts and consequences of the Gulf Oil Spill is the work of Prof. James Corbett at the Univ. of DE.