Nicholls, Federal Government to Develop Coastal Research Database

Planting at the Nicholls Farm Summer 2019 (Misty Leigh McElroy/Nicholls State University) 6/11/19

THIBODAUX, La. — Nicholls State University is partnering with the U.S. Bureau of Ocean Energy Management to develop a database of Bayou Region and Gulf Coast research. 

Dr. John Doucet 2018 (Misty Leigh McElroy/Nicholls State University)

The 4-year, $400,000 project titled “Digital Curation: Streamlining Access to Research Across Gulf of Mexico Communities,” will create a database and repository of resources for scholars, agency officials and the community. 

Dr. John Doucet, dean of the College of Sciences and Technology and director of coastal initiatives, and Dr. Gary LaFleur, R.E. Miller Endowed Professor of Honors Studies and executive director of the Center for Bayou Studies will be co-directors who will oversee the project. Dr. Shana Walton, associate professor of English, modern language and cultural studies, will oversee day-to-day project operations and student training as the project manager. 

“The Digital Curation project will improve how levels of government from federal to local find key resources for environmental impact statements and other reports related to the Louisiana Gulf Coast,” said Dr. Doucet. “The project is an important addition to our growing portfolio of coastal services at Nicholls as the Louisiana university ‘Closest to the Coast.’ It shows our continuing commitment to coastal communities.”

Walton said the Center for Bayou Studies is uniquely qualified to develop this database because much of the research is qualitative reports based on surveys, structured interviews, oral histories, field notes and observation. This means that accurate coding of coastal research reports requires a deep knowledge of the region and culture.

Dr.Shana Walton 2016 (Photo by Misty Leigh McElroy/Nicholls State University)

The work, which began in October, includes studies commissioned by BOEM and other agencies, and archival material and projects, such as regional oral histories and information collected by historical groups.

“This project represents a history of hard work laid down by Dr. Walton through her past BOEM projects, and Nicholls researchers taking the innovative step to work together within the Center for Bayou Studies,” said Dr. LaFleur.

The project will fund graduate fellows to not only help construct the database but conduct research using the information. In addition, there will be opportunities for Nicholls faculty to develop their own research initiatives and for undergraduates to take part in class-based projects. 

Housed at Nicholls, the Center for Bayou Studies is a multidisciplinary faculty collaborative that focuses on the cultural and natural resources of the wetlands of the Bayou Region. For more information, visit