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CSAP Projects for 2023 Announced

The Louisiana Coastal Protection and Restoration Authority (CPRA) continues its commitment to the Coastal Science Assistantship Program (CSAP). This program supports Master of Science students in science or engineering research relevant to Louisiana coastal protection efforts. This collaboration offers the dual benefit of engaging students in CPRA activities while potentially recruiting qualified personnel for the agency.

The Louisiana Sea Grant College Program (LSG) administers these assistantships available to all Louisiana university faculty to recruit outstanding students to coastal restoration-related research. Annually, up to four new students are chosen, based on the review of proposals, and awarded $25,000 each for up to three years. The latest students and projects are:

Anissa J. Hyde, Louisiana State University
Major professor: Thomas Douthat
Title: Flooding, Migration and the Coastal Master Plan: Linking Small Areas and Regional Dynamics to Big Events, Long-term Stressors and Planning Processes

Large-scale disasters such as hurricanes, as well as sea level rise and coastal land loss, result in long-term stressors on coastal communities. This project aims to predict how disaster events cause human population migration – into, out of, and within the state – independent of normal migration patterns, as well as how the sensitivities to event-based migration may vary. Hyde will study how communities’ sociodemographic and economic statuses could reveal information not previously considered during community planning. The research team hopes the resulting project model could be utilized by CPRA within the Coastal Master Plan, and to inform future population modeling predictions.

Student to be Determined, Louisiana State University
Major professor: Lei Wang
Title: Cloud-based Implementation and Dissemination Tool for Long-term River Diversion and Land Restoration Assessment near the Mid-Barataria Basin in South Louisiana

River sediment diversions have been used for wetland restoration. Long-term assessment of restoration projects can help in determining diversion efficacy. However, traditional, large geographic, long-term assessment can be costly, subjective and tedious. Existing and planned land monitoring satellites can detect vegetation abundance and suspended sediment concentration in water, while Unmanned Aircraft Systems (UAS) can be used to calibrate that data, at significantly lower cost. Using information collected by these instruments, the research team plans to develop a cloud-based tool to assess the magnitude of land restoration near the Mid-Barataria River Diversion. The research team is hopeful this tool can be used for other wetland-river diversion projects, as well.

Student to be Determined, Nicholls State University
Major professor: Jonathan M. Willis
Title: Elucidating the Successional Trajectories of Louisiana Barrier Island Vegetation Communities through Data Mining

Barrier islands – which are vulnerable to hurricanes and tropical storms – play an integral role in mitigating coastal land loss. The state has made considerable investment in barrier island restoration, which includes vegetation plantings to armor islands against storms. Currently, data gaps exist regarding vegetation propagation and community composition through time on restored barrier islands. This project plans to fill in those data gaps by utilizing existing monitoring data from restoration projects, as well as geospatial data – such as LIDAR and satellite imagery – to determine land stability for various vegetation habitat types. By filling in the gaps, this research’s results could aid coastal restoration planners in determining where and when follow-up plantings are needed to enhance barrier island stability after hurricanes and high-energy storms.