Press Releases

RESTORE Act Center of Excellence for Louisiana awards third round of grants

Nearly $4 million awarded to fund coastal research

BATON ROUGE, La. (June 24, 2024) – Today, the RESTORE Act Center of Excellence for Louisiana (LA-COE) announced the third 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 (the Institute) was selected by the Louisiana Coastal Protection and Restoration Authority (CPRA) to serve as the state’s Center of Excellence. In this role, the 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, a total of nearly $4 million was awarded to 12 grantees with three awards supporting graduate students and nine additional research awards led by Louisiana organizations or universities.

“During this round, LA-COE received 23 full proposals for the Graduate Assistantship and Research Awards for a total of more than $8.2 million in requested funding,” said Jessica Henkel, director of LA-COE and Research Operations at the Institute. “The scope and innovative thinking of the proposals submitted for RFP3 was impressive, and the grant awardees will greatly add to scientific knowledge of Louisiana’s coast 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, including LA-COE External Review Board members, evaluated each proposal. Representatives from CPRA also evaluated the proposals to help determine how well each proposal applied to advancing the Coastal Master Plan work.

“CPRA is pleased to continue our collaboration with the Center of Excellence for Louisiana and the coastal research community. The research produced by the program will help address priority information needs and ensure that the state’s efforts to restore and protect coastal Louisiana incorporate the best available science,” said David Lindquist, manager of CPRA’s Research Section.

Graduate Assistantship Awards
* Salinity dynamics between the Mississippi River and adjacent estuaries, led by Dr. Matthew Hiatt, Louisiana State University, $131,588.

* Projecting future estuarine hypoxia and habitat in Louisiana, led by Dr. Junhong Liang, Louisiana State University, $135,684.

* Quantifying small-scale genetic variation in Spartina alterniflora, led by Dr. Robyn Zerebecki, University of Louisiana Lafayette, $100,260.

Research Awards
* Wind resilience in coastal Louisiana: A social equity approach to enhanced building code practices, led by Dr. Ayat Al Assi, Louisiana State University AgCenter, $349,995.

* An automated tool for water quality assessment in Louisiana’s watersheds and basins, led by Dr. Corina Barbalata, Louisiana State University, $341,597.

* Reconnaissance geophysical and geotechnical investigations to characterize Ship Shoal, led by Dr. Patrick Bradley, Chenier Environmental Consulting, $677,258.

* An analysis of vegetation establishment and its feedback with coastal inundation via modeling, led by Dr. Muriel Brückner, Louisiana State University, $344,917.

* Determining vegetation establishment thresholds with custom-built sensors, led by Dr. Madeline Foster-Martinez, University of New Orleans, $345,194.

* Measurement of greenhouse gas emissions and carbon dynamics across a hydrologic gradient in fresh forested wetlands, led by Dr. Rachael Hunter, Comite Resources, $346,243.

* Instrumented settlement plates enhancement for marsh creation monitoring, led by Dr. Navid Jafari, Louisiana State University, $348,810.

* Developing methods to measure flotant marsh extent and stability in the Barataria-Terrebonne Estuary System, led by Dr. Gary LaFleur, Nicholls State University, $521,837.

* Does propagation of Roseau cane alter the efficacy of restoration to enhance saltmarsh fisheries production? Led by Dr. Jeffrey Plumlee, Louisiana State University AgCenter, $345,011.

Read more about the awards here.

About The RESTORE Act Center of Excellence for Louisiana Grants Program

The mission of the 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 Institute. More information about LA-COE can be found at

This program is 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).