Water Institute, CPRA Award Nicholls Nearly $500,000 for Coastal Research

THIBODAUX, La. — Nicholls State University will receive $495,368 from the Restore Act Center of Excellence for Louisiana to help coastal scientists better understand coastal ridges.

Researchers will use the grant money to categorize the ecological attributes of the ridges to help coastal scientists design future ridge restoration and management projects.

Dr. John Doucet

The Coastal Protection and Restoration Authority selected the Water Institute of the Gulf as its center of excellence in 2015. In this role, the Water Institute administers competitive grants to assist research that reinforces the state’s Coastal Master Plan. Fines and penalties from the 2010 Deepwater Horizon oil spill distributed through the Restore Act provide the funding for the grants.

Nicholls’ proposal was one of eight projects, totaling $2.3 million, selected from 20 submissions, marking the first time university researchers have received Restore Act money.

“This funding is recognition of the strong reputation of Nicholls scientists and students and the important coastal work they’ve been conducting over the years,” said Dr. John Doucet, dean of the College of Science and Technology and director of coastal initiatives. “This grant award is a win for Nicholls and the Coastal Center, but it is also a win for the communities of the Terrebonne-Lafourche-Barataria region.”

Researchers will study ridges and similar man-made structures in the Barataria-Terrebonne estuary. They will note ecological factors such as physical features, plants, wildlife and carbon sequestration. The research will also describe the socioeconomic roles the ridges play in the Bayou Region. 

Dr. Jonathan Willis

“Our understanding of how ridges function and the ecological and sociological communities they support is limited,” said Dr. Jonathan Willis, assistant professor of biological sciences. “By resolving targeted data gaps and providing conceptual models of ridge function, we can facilitate planning for coastal ridge restoration projects.”

Faculty, undergraduate and graduate students from an array of departments including biology, geomatics, English and history and geography will contribute to the research.

Together, they will conduct field surveys, drone imaging, lab analysis, historical reviews and community interviews.

The research will start this fall and continue through 2023.

“I am proud that Nicholls State University continues to contribute meaningfully to the management and restoration of the Louisiana Coast,” Willis said. 

The mission of the RESTORE Act Center of Excellence for Louisiana (LA-COE) is to provide research directly relevant to the implementation of Louisiana’s Coastal Master Plan by administering a competitive grants program and providing the appropriate coordination and oversight support to ensure that success metrics are tracked and achieved.

The Water Institute of the Gulf is an independent, non-profit, applied research institution advancing science and developing integrated methods to solve complex environmental and societal challenges.

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: Monday, July 26, 2021

MEDIA CONTACT: Jacob Batte, Media Relations and Publications Coordinator, 985.448.4141 or jacob.batte@nicholls.edu

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