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University of Southern Mississippi Scientists Receive $507,000 for Research Program

Fri, 12/11/2015 - 02:29pm | By: James Skrmetta

The Gulf Research Program of the National Academies of Sciences awarded a project led by University of Southern Mississippi researchers with $507,000 in data synthesis grants. The two-year grant will go towards a project working to advance marsh preservation and restoration in the northern Gulf of Mexico.

The University of Southern Mississippi's Gulf Coast Research Laboratory (GCRL) research scientist and associate professor Dr. Patrick D. Biber, is the acting program director and will lead a team consisting of fellow GCRL researcher Dr. Wei Wu, Dr. Deepak Mishra, University of Georgia, and Dr. Gregory Alan Carter, The University of Southern Mississippi.

The group was awarded a data synthesis grant to continue their project: Understanding the trajectory of coastal salt marsh structure, function, and processes in the face of sea-level rise: A synthesis from historical imagery, biophysical processes, and hierarchical modeling.

“It's always a pleasant surprise when a grant is awarded,” Biber said. “These funds will allow us to achieve significant science relevant to residents along the Gulf Coast.”

Biber said The Center for Plant Restoration (CPR) is excited to be able to grow their project and continue to lead research into the long-term resilience of coastal wetlands. The team plans to combine historical aerial photography and satellite imagery with analysis of wetland fragmentation to improve predictions of the health and productivity of coastal wetlands, which are vulnerable to degradation by natural and human-induced changes.

“These projects will add value to earlier investments in monitoring while improving our understanding of Gulf of Mexico ecosystems and communities,” said Gulf Research Program senior program officer Evonne Tang.

The Gulf Research Program awarded data synthesis grants to nine participants, totaling more than $4.4 million. Each proposal was selected after an external peer-review process.

The Gulf Research Program was established by agreements arising from the settlement of the U.S. government's criminal complaints following the 2010 Deepwater Horizon oil spill. The Program seeks to improve understanding of the interconnecting human, environmental and energy systems of the Gulf of Mexico and other U.S. outer continental shelf areas, and foster application of these insights to benefit Gulf communities, ecosystems and the nation.

The Program funds studies, projects and other activities using three broad approaches: research and development, education and training, and environmental monitoring.

The National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine are private, nonprofit institutions that provide independent, objective analysis and advice to the nation to solve complex problems and inform public policy decisions related to science, technology, and medicine.  The Academies operate under an 1863 congressional charter to the National Academy of Sciences, signed by President Lincoln.