The RESTORE Act Center of Excellence for Louisiana Awards Second Round of Research Grants

$2.3 million awarded to assist graduate students and fund coastal research projects

Jul 22, 2021

BATON ROUGE, La. (July 22, 2021) – Today, the RESTORE Act Center of Excellence for Louisiana (LA-COE) announced the second round of two-year grants to fund research that directly supports planning and implementation of Louisiana’s Coastal Master Plan.

Through funding provided from fines and penalties in the wake of the 2010 Deepwater Horizon oil spill, The Water Institute of the Gulf (the Water Institute) was selected by Louisiana Coastal Protection and Restoration Authority (CPRA) to serve as the state’s Center of Excellence. In this role, the Water Institute administers a competitive grants program, in collaboration with CPRA, to support research that can help answer questions and provide guidance in the state’s $50-billion, 50-year Coastal Master Plan.

This year, eight grantees were selected with four of the awards supporting graduate students and four additional Research Awards led by Louisiana organizations or universities.

“During this round, LA-COE received 20 full proposals for the Graduate Studentship and Research Awards for a total of $5.9 million in requests,” said Melissa Baustian, director of LA-COE and coastal ecologist at the Water Institute. “The innovative thinking and scope of the proposals this year was impressive, and the grant awardees will greatly add to coastal scientific knowledge and to the implementation of the Coastal Master Plan.”

To select the projects, the LA-COE coordinated an external peer-review process where three independent subject matter experts evaluated each proposal. Representatives from the Coastal Protection and Restoration Authority of Louisiana and the LA-COE’s External Review Board also evaluated the proposals and determined how well each proposal applied to advancing the Coastal Master Plan work.

“This slate of research is dedicated to answering important questions about Louisiana’s dynamic coastal systems. This data will be invaluable to CPRA as the state continues to move forward implementing one of the most ambitious coastal restoration and protection plans in the country,” said Bren Haase, CPRA Executive Director.

Graduate Studentship Awards

1) Projecting 50 years of relative sea level rise in coastal Louisiana, led by Torbjörn Tornqvist, Tulane University, $99,910.

2) Dynamics of Nitrogen and Phosphorous cycling across Barataria Basin, led by John White, Louisiana State University, $91,798.

3) Improving the design and construction practice of marsh creation projects, led by Celalettin Ozdemir, Louisiana State University, $95,760.

4) Patch-scale effects of acute saltwater intrusion on carbon fluxes in a simulated coastal freshwater marsh environment, led by Jorge Villa, University of Louisiana at Lafayette, $86,250.

Research Awards

1) Ecological and social ridge dynamics in the Barataria-Terrebonne Basins, led by Jonathan Willis, The Coastal Center, Nicholls State University, $495,638.

2) Quantifying marsh edge erodibility as a function of salinity and water chemistry, and assessing possible effects of the Gulf Intracoastal Waterway in Barataria Bay, led by Giulio Mariotti, Louisiana State University, $497,849.

3) Subsurface stratigraphic controls on subsidence and carbon sequestration in Mississippi Delta diversion receiving basins, led by Carol Wilson, Louisiana State University, $499,675.

4) Past and future migration in coastal Louisiana: Modeling the impact of flood exposure and economic change with microdata on households and businesses, led by Robert Habans, The Data Center of Southeast Louisiana, $426,544.

About The RESTORE Act Center of Excellence (LA-COE)
The Water Institute of the Gulf was selected by CPRA to serve as the State’s RESTORE Act Center of Excellence, and on November 1, 2015, the U.S. Department of the Treasury awarded CPRA the first grant to begin its research program. Funding for the research program comes from fines and penalties in the wake of the 2010 Deepwater Horizon oil spill.

The mission of the RESTORE Act Center of Excellence for Louisiana (LA-COE) is to provide research directly relevant to implementation of Louisiana’s Coastal Master Plan by administering a competitive grants program and providing the appropriate coordination and oversight support to ensure that success metrics are tracked and achieved. The LA-COE is a separate program within The Water Institute of the Gulf. More information about LA-COE can be found at

This program was supported by the U.S. Department of the Treasury through the Louisiana Coastal Protection and Restoration Authority’s Center of Excellence Research Grants Program under the Resources and Ecosystems Sustainability, Tourist Opportunities, and Revised Economies of the Gulf Coast States Act of 2012 (RESTORE Act) (Award No. 1 RCEGR260007-01-00). The statements, findings, conclusions, and recommendations are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the views of the Department of the Treasury.