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Home > Opportunities > Coastal Science Assistantship Program

COASTAL SCIENCE ASSISTANTSHIP PROGRAM

Background

The Louisiana Department of Natural Resources (LDNR) Office of Coastal Restoration and Management (OCRM) Coastal Restoration Division (CRD) has initiated a new assistantship program called the Coastal Science Assistantship Program (CSAP). This program provides stipends for up to three years to Master of Science students both enrolled full-time at Louisiana colleges/universities and involved in research relevant to Louisiana coastal restoration efforts. The program will both expose students to CRD activities and provide a potential avenue for recruitment of new LDNR personnel (see below).

The Louisiana Sea Grant (LSG) College Program will administer these assistantships with funding provided by LDNR. The assistantships will be available to all faculty pursuing appropriate coastal restoration-related research at Louisiana colleges/universities to recruit outstanding new graduate students. Up to four new students will be funded each academic year based on evaluations of applications submitted by faculty members. The annual student stipend is $25,000; student benefits, tuition, and other fees (if applicable) must be paid from money allotted in the stipend. The total award will not exceed $25,000 under any circumstances. LDNR requests that overhead (F and A) charges not be applied to these awards.

Program Protocol

In October of each year, LSG will release an announcement to the in-state academic community soliciting applications for funding to support graduate students involved in research relevant to restoration projects in coastal Louisiana. Faculty at Louisiana colleges/universities will be responsible for submitting applications (see application) and research must be consistent with the CRD mission of offsetting coastal wetlands loss. These applications will be due to LSG on 15 December. Note: Please route your application through the proper department, school, or college channels for appropriate signatures and include the routing sheet with your completed application.

After receipt of applications, LDNR personnel will evaluate each for technical merit and relevance to LDNR ongoing or proposed activities. Decisions on award of the four new assistantships will be made by 30 January of each year. This deadline should allow faculty sufficient time to recruit new students during the winter and early spring prior to the initiation of assistantship duties either in the summer or in the fall.

Program Requirements

Standard graduate assistantships, both research and teaching, require the student both to be registered as a full-time student and to apply a specified number of hours per week (this may vary among institutions) during each semester to either assistantship duties or thesis research. In addition to these requirements, students recruited under this assistantship program will be required to complete 240 hours of internship with LDNR-CRD at mutually convenient times during their pursuit of a master’s degree. To expose the students to the Department’s various functions and activities, internships will involve work either at the LDNR headquarters in Baton Rouge or at one of the CRD field offices in New Orleans, Lafayette, and Thibodeaux. Students will also be required to give an annual presentation on their research findings to LDNR-OCRM personnel at a venue to be determined.

Participation of either CRD or other LDNR personnel on student academic advising committees is not required; however, LDNR will encourage participating institutions to allow for that possibility consistent with existing policies on status requirements for committee members. LDNR feels that CRD personnel can serve as an invaluable mentoring resource to the student awardees and that promoting interactions between the Department and universities will be mutually beneficial.

Due to the budget process in Louisiana state government, CSAP awards beyond the first year will be contingent upon approval of OCRM budgets for succeeding years. Students will be funded for the first year with the understanding that the following two years will be funded based on both outstanding performance of the student and state budget appropriations.

Program Benefits

Benefits to DNR
CSAP will allow LDNR to address two recurring problems: the lack of funding for applied coastal ecosystem restoration research and the lack of relevant work experience among CRD job applicants. Funding these assistantships will allow CRD to direct scientific research to answer questions about planning, designing, and constructing coastal restoration projects, which will ultimately contribute to program success. In addition, these assistantships will improve the Department’s scientific credibility by developing relationships among the students, the professors, their universities, and the Department. These improved relationships will allow for greater communication and participation in the state’s restoration program. Finally, the program will provide valuable recruitment opportunities to assist CRD with its recurring need for capable employees with M.S. Degrees.

Benefits to Student Awardees
In addition to monetary support for up to three years, participation in the CSAP will provide students invaluable professional working experience beyond that gained in traditional academia. The required internship with CRD staff will offer on-the-job training that promotes understanding of the Department’s daily activities and of broader issues relevant to coastal restoration. This training will make the students attractive job candidates to the Department, thus increasing their opportunity for employment within CRD after graduation. If not ultimately employed with CRD, students will have been exposed to the issues of coastal land loss and will hopefully remain engaged with the restoration effort in some other capacity.

For additional information, please contact either:

David Nieland
Louisiana Sea Grant College Program
233 Sea Grant Building
Louisiana State University
Baton Rouge, LA 70803-7507
225-578-6373
dniela@lsu.edu
Joseph “Wes” LeBlanc
Coastal Restoration Division DNR
617 North 3rd St, 10th Floor
POB 44027, Capitol Station
Baton Rouge, LA 70804-4027
225-342-4117
joseph.leblanc@la.gov

 

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