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Coastal Science Assistantship Program

Coastal Science Assistantship Program (CSAP)

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

Background

Application deadline for 2023 assistantships is December 2, 2022 at 4:00 pm, CST.

Image: CSAP flyer, FY 2023

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The Louisiana Coastal Protection and Restoration Authority (CPRA) continues its support of a graduate assistantship opportunity called the Coastal Science Assistantship Program (CSAP). This program provides graduate assistant stipends for up to three years to Master of Science students both enrolled full-time at Louisiana colleges/universities and involved in research relevant to Louisiana coastal protection and restoration efforts (see: THE MASTER PLAN – Coastal Protection and Restoration Authority of Louisiana). The program will both expose students to CPRA activities and provide a potential avenue for recruitment of new CPRA personnel. 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. Students may be permitted to complete internship hours and their presentation remotely on a case-by-case basis.

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 protection and restoration-related research at Louisiana colleges/universities to fund Master of Science students. Up to four new students will be funded each academic year based on evaluations of applications submitted by faculty members. The annual student stipend 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 early-December. After receipt of applications, CPRA personnel will evaluate each for technical merit and relevance to CPRA’s 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 fall.

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 upon completion of their research and prior to graduation.

Participation of CPRA personnel on student academic advising committees is not required; however, CPRA personnel can serve as invaluable mentoring resources to the student awardees helping to promote interactions between CPRA and universities that is 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 protection and ecosystem restoration research; and providing relevant work experience for potential 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 experiences 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 help 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 http://coastal.la.gov/our-plan/2017-coastal-master-plan/. 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:

  • Evaluate barrier island plant succession. There is a data gap regarding  habitat development, timing, and overall succession of barrier island plant communities, particularly in relation to resilience after disturbance (i.e. how likely are certain plant communities to respond/recolonize based on community composition prior to impacts).
  • Evaluate the effects of hydrological modifications in the Atchafalaya River Basin on water quality and sedimentation.  More specific suggested topics to meet data needs in the Atchafalaya Basin include:
    • Conduct post-construction water quality, sedimentation, and cypress tupelo planting success monitoring for the Henderson Lake Spoil Bank Gapping project.
    • Evaluate the impact of changes in water quality and water flow regime on the crawfish fishery in the Atchafalaya Basin.
    • Evaluate the impact of hydrologic restoration on woody species presence/diversity involving establishment, survivorship/mortality, and growth in the vicinity of the Henderson Lake Spoil Bank Gapping project.

Application

Applications will be reviewed and scored by CPRA in the following five categories: Scientific Merit, Relevancy to CPRA, Originality, Body of Knowledge, and Credibility. Applicants will also be evaluated based on past performance on CPRA funded projects, if applicable. To keep the review process fair and impartial, please do not list CPRA personnel by name or contact them in advance of submitting a proposal. Applications from faculty must be submitted via LSG’s online eSeaGrant system (NOTE to LSU PIs: GeauxGrants routing is not needed) by 2 December 2022; a decision on award of the assistantships will be made by CPRA by the end of January 2023. Funding should be available 1 June 2023.

The application consists of:

  • Information about the applicant and prospective student
  • An agreement of CSAP term and condition
  • A narrative (two-page maximum) description of the research that would be conducted as part of the recruit’s Master’s Degree at your institution
  • The anticipated curriculum for the student including the classes that the student might take
  • A description of additional current or anticipated funding sources that will be applied to support the research activities proposed for the student (if applicable)

For information or questions specific to the eSeaGrant system, contact Katie Lea at [email protected].

Contact

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]