LSU College of the Coast & Environment Receives More Than $8 Million in Sponsored Research Awards

August 18, 2021

a wetland landscapeBy Kathe Falls

BATON ROUGE — With research and educational programs spanning decades, the LSU College of the Coast & Environment, or CC&E, provides sound, unbiased research that enables leaders to make scientifically-based decisions that improve the lives of individuals and communities while preserving, protecting, and restoring our coast and environment for future generations.

In fiscal year 2021, which ended on June 30, CC&E’s ability to do even more to preserve, protect and sustain the coast and environment has expanded thanks to a marked increase in the dollar value of sponsored research awards received by the college. During that time, the college received 77 sponsored research awards valued at $8,322,662—a 54 percent increase in dollar value compared to the previous fiscal year.

This increase allows the college to do even more for the citizens of Louisiana. For every dollar that the state invests in CC&E, the college returns $1.22 in research awards, enabling CC&E to address more environmental and coastal challenges facing our state, the nation, and the world. Additionally, research grants increase faculty expertise and help to attract the best students from around the world to study at LSU.

According to CC&E’s associate dean for research, John R. White, “Collectively, these projects go a long way toward helping the state and citizens of Louisiana to address problems related to fisheries, coastal protection, human health, the environment, and a changing climate. And, they further enable us to educate our graduate students so that they become productive, creative, and capable members of the workforce, joining the fight to preserve our coast, our economy and vulnerable communities.”

These 77 research awards were given by 35 different organizations, including but not limited to the U.S. Army Corp of Engineers, National Academies of Sciences, National Institutes of Health, U.S. Geological Survey, The Water Institute of the Gulf, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, and a total of nine grants from the prestigious National Science Foundation. 

Here are a few examples of the research projects that were funded by these awards and grants:

the LSU Lakes

Professor Robert Twilley, along with a multidisciplinary team, received a grant from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to explore how sea-level rise and other impacts of climate change will affect coastal military bases and ecosystems.

Associate Professor Crystal Johnson is part of a multidisciplinary LSU team that received an award to research how to make raw oysters safer to eat. This team is working to combine satellite images and artificial intelligence-based modeling to predict where dangerous levels of vibrios might be present in the water. This will help better predict oyster ground closures and prevent costly recalls while increasing oyster production efficiency. Vibriosis causes an estimated 80,000 illnesses and 100 deaths in the U.S. each year according to the U.S. Center for Disease Control and Prevention.

Associate Professor Mike Polito was funded by the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine’s Gulf Research Program to lead a team exploring the effects of freshwater inputs into coastal Louisiana salt marsh ecosystems and the resulting impacts on the recreational fishing industry. Model outputs from this project will help predict how ecological and socio-economic changes affect the livelihoods of recreational fishing communities. 

Professor Kehui “Kevin” Xu received a grant from the Louisiana Center of Excellence to create a model that will predict how to best protect the dunes and beaches around Port Fourchon from future hurricanes. The model will be based on data from one of the most devastating hurricanes to impact the area – Hurricane Gustav.

“These awards demonstrate just a small portion of the total breadth of research expertise available at CC&E, helping to safeguard both the physical environment and the health and economic well-being of citizens of Louisiana and beyond for both today and in the future.” White said. “And, based on the awards already receiving during July and August 2021, fiscal year 2022 is expected to be another banner year for research at the college thanks to our dedicated, passionate, and brilliant faculty.” 


Contact Christine Wendling
LSU College of the Coast & Environment