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Coastal Science Assistantship Program

Coastal Science Assistantship Program (CSAP)

Background | Protocol | Requirements | Benefits | Priority Research AreasApplication | Selected Proposals | Student BiosContact


Note: Application deadline for 2019 assistantships was November 15, 2018.

CSAP info flyer

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The Louisiana Coastal Protection and Restoration Authority (CPRA) continues its support for an assistantship program called the Coastal Science Assistantship Program (CSAP). This program provides assistantships for up to three years to support Master of Science students both enrolled full-time at Louisiana colleges/universities and involved in science or engineering research relevant to Louisiana coastal protection and restoration efforts. The program will both expose students to CPRA activities and provide a potential avenue for recruitment of new CPRA personnel.

The Louisiana Sea Grant (LSG) College Program will administer these assistantships with funding provided by CPRA. The assistantships will be available to all faculty pursuing appropriate coastal restoration-related research at Louisiana colleges/universities to recruit 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 support for each student is $25,000 for up to three years; however, CSAP funds may only be used to cover graduate assistantships and any associated tuition and fringe benefits in accordance with the applicant institution’s normal policies.  The total award for each student will not exceed $25,000 per year for up to three years under any circumstances. No other costs are allowed to be charged to CSAP funds.

Program Protocol

In the fall 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 coastal protection and restoration projects in Louisiana. Faculty at Louisiana colleges/universities will be responsible for submitting applications via Louisiana Sea Grant’s online eSeaGrant system and research must be consistent with the CPRA mission of protecting coastal communities and offsetting coastal wetlands loss. These applications will typically be due to LSG in mid-November. After receipt of applications, CPRA personnel will evaluate each for technical merit and relevance to CPRA ongoing or proposed activities. Decisions on award of the four new assistantships will be made by the end of January of each year. This deadline should allow faculty sufficient time to recruit students during the winter and early spring prior to the initiation of assistantship duties either in the summer or in the falll.

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 CPRA at mutually convenient times during their pursuit of a master’s degree. To expose the students to CPRA’s various functions and activities, internships will involve work either at the headquarters in Baton Rouge or at one of the regional offices in New Orleans, Lafayette, or Thibodeaux. Students will also be required to give a presentation on their research findings to CPRA personnel in Baton Rouge upon completion of their research and prior to graduation.

Participation of CPRA personnel on student academic advising committees is not required; however, CPRA will encourage participating institutions to allow for that possibility consistent with existing policies on status requirements for committee members. CPRA feels that their personnel can serve as an invaluable mentoring resource to the student awardees and that promoting interactions between CPRA 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 CPRA 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 CPRA

CSAP will allow CPRA to address two important issues: funding applied coastal ecosystem restoration research and relevant work experience for CPRA job applicants. Funding these assistantships will allow CPRA to direct scientific research to answer questions about planning, designing, constructing and evaluating coastal protection and restoration projects, which will ultimately contribute to program success. In addition, these assistantships will improve CPRA’s scientific credibility by developing relationships among the students, the professors, their universities, and CPRA. These improved relationships will allow for greater communication and participation in the state’s coastal protection and restoration program. Finally, the program will provide valuable recruitment opportunities to assist CPRA 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 CPRA staff will offer on-the-job training that promotes understanding of CPRA’s daily activities and of broader issues relevant to coastal protection and restoration. This training will make the students attractive job candidates, thus increasing their opportunity for employment within CPRA after graduation. If not ultimately employed with CPRA, students will have been exposed to the issues of coastal land loss and will hopefully remain engaged with the protection and restoration effort in some other capacity.

Priority Research Areas

This RFP solicits proposals on general topics that have a direct link and application of demonstrated outcomes to the CPRA’s mission and mandate ‘to develop, implement, and enforce a comprehensive protection and restoration master plan for coastal Louisiana.’  More specifically, this RFP solicits proposals for research advancements that will assist the CPRA in achieving the objectives in Louisiana’s Comprehensive Master Plan for a Sustainable Coast.  The five objectives of the Master Plan are to: (1) reduce storm surge flooding, (2) use natural processes to promote a sustainable coastal ecosystem, (3) provide habitats for a wide array of activities, (4) sustain cultural heritage, and (5) promote a working coast.  More information on the 2017 Coastal Master Plan can be found at Proposals should indicate relevance to CPRA’s mission and mandate and Master Plan objectives and implementation.

Research topics that are of particular interest under this RFP include, but are not limited to, improvements and advancements to the following:

  • Evaluation of the key drivers of coastal population shifts and methods to project those shifts over time. The research should also identify coastal communities that may be expected to receive an influx of population over time, as well as those expected to decrease in population over time.
  • Identification of the anticipated impacts of persistent population loss on communities, and the planning approaches and best practices that can be used to maintain existing infrastructure and services with a decreasing tax base.
  • Improvement of development of methodologies processing remotely sensed elevation data of coastal wetlands (e.g., LiDAR, InSAR, etc.) to improve understanding of system evolution on short (annual to decadal) timescales.
  • Development of a standardized (American Society for Testing and Materials, ASTM), repeatable, and consistent geotechnical laboratory testing procedure for the Low Stress Consolidation Test for the Marsh Fill to help provide reliable geotechnical data for engineering analyses, which is required to predict the long-term performance of the marsh fill material.


Applications must be submitted via Louisiana Sea Grant’s online eSeaGrant system by November 15, 2018; a decision on award of the assistantships will be made by CPRA by the end of January 2019.

For information or questions specific to the eSeaGrant system, contact Katie Lea at (225) 578-6445 or [email protected]


For additional CSAP information, please contact either:

Matthew Bethel, Ph.D.
Louisiana Sea Grant
232 Sea Grant Bldg.
Louisiana State University
Baton Rouge, LA 70803-7507
(225) 578-6345
[email protected]
Summer Langlois
Coastal Protection & Restoration Authority
150 Terrace Avenue
Baton Rouge, LA 70802
(225) 342-1594
[email protected]