Communications banner image

2024 CSAP Projects Selected

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 $30,000 each for up to three years. The latest projects are:

Coastal Master Plan’s Effect on Hurricane Safety of Aboveground Storage Tanks in Louisiana
Student To Be Determined (TBD), Louisiana State University (LSU)
Principal Investigator (PI): Sabarethinam Kameshwar

 Aboveground storage tanks (ASTs) are a key component of the petrochemical plants that line the coastal areas of Louisiana. Unfortunately, they are susceptible to damage from tropical storms. When damaged, ASTs can disrupt the oil and gas industry supply chain, as well as potentially damage the surrounding environment and residential communities with toxic chemical spills. Kameshwar’s team plans to utilize aerial imaging to locate coastal ASTs; quantify their probability of failure from hurricane-force winds, storm surge and wave action; and factor-in the effect of the Coastal Master Plan’s flood mitigation strategies on AST failure probability.

Development of a Suitability Index Tool for Coastal Louisiana to Inform Site Selection for Oyster Based Living Shorelines that Both Enhance Estuarine Oyster Metapopulations and Promote Shoreline Stabilization
Student TBD, LSU AgCenter
Principal Investigator: Megan La Peyre

Estuarine systems provide many ecological and socioeconomic benefits to coastal communities. Yet, estuarine systems are declining globally as the result of sea level rise, extreme weather events and other factors. Louisiana has some of the most extensive coastal marshes in the United States, but also the highest rates of relative sea level rise and wetland loss. The state also supports up to 40 percent of the nation’s oyster production but is experiencing significant declines. As part of La Peyre’s project, data will be collected from across the state’s existing living shoreline reefs on oyster populations, water quality and shoreline movement. That data will be used to develop a habitat suitability model to identify coastal locations likely to support oyster population enhancement and sustainability, as well as marsh edge stabilization. The project will aid CPRA in developing comprehensive protection and restoration plans for coastal Louisiana which utilize natural processes.

Revealing Phytoplankton Diversity in Louisiana Estuaries: A Hyperspectral Exploration with Field, Laboratory and Satellite Data Powered by Spectral Mixture Analysis
Student TDB, University of Louisiana Lafayette
PI: Bingqing Liu

Understanding phytoplankton community composition (PCC) in coastal estuaries is instrumental in gaging water quality and habitat suitability for many aquatic species. Additionally, PCC is important for monitoring harmful algal blooms (HABs), predicting when and where they might occur.

Due to limited data on PCCs, current estimates of phytoplankton diversity in coastal waters are lacking. Hyperspectral imaging, however, can be used to determine and identify phytoplankton groups and range. Liu’s goal is to develop better, advanced algorithms so hyperspectral imaging can be used to clarify the abundance of phytoplankton communities, as well as subaquatic vegetation species, in order identify important coastal environmental stressors. The algorithm could then be used with satellite hyperspectral imagery to better inform coastal resource managers decision making.

The Relative Contribution of Plant Uptake vs Denitrification of Nitrate in Water Quality Improvement from Sediment River Diversion Operations
Student TBD, LSU
PI: John R. White

Sediment diversions are one type of coastal restoration project being used to lessen Louisiana land loss caused by sea level rise and subsidence. Diversions also carry relatively high nitrite concentrations (NO₃) which impact water quality. While there is research on the spatial distribution of denitrification rates across a diversion’s flow area, what is still relatively unknown is how much of this nitrogen will be absorbed by aquatic plants. White hopes to reduce the uncertainty in predicting water quality impacts from diversions by determining aquatic plant absorption of NO₃. His team plans to collect vegetation from the Barataria Bay area and conduct experiments that mimic a sediment diversion to determine the fate of surface water nitrate in a vegetated marsh.