UMass researchers get National Science Foundation grant

By Aviva Luttrell

Two University of Massachusetts professors and their team of researchers have received a five-year $737,000 grant from the National Science Foundation for coastal infrastructure planning in the Caribbean and Northeast, according to a University press release.

Led by Elisabeth M. Hamin, associate professor of the Landscape Architecture and Regional Planning Department, and Don J. DeGroot, professor of civil and environmental engineering, the team aims to create a network of scientists, engineers and policymakers to achieve their goal, the release said.

The project, “Sustainable Adaptive Gradients in the Coastal Environment: Reconceptualizing the Role of Infrastructure in Resilience,” will use the Caribbean as a focal point to examine different situations that demand increasing coastal resilience to events such as hurricanes and floods, according to Hamin’s scholar biography on the UMass website.

The research network will develop a framework for responses to coastal dangers and threats, giving policymakers better criteria for coastal infrastructure policy. Different social, geological and engineering situations will be reviewed, the release stated.

According to the release, recent major storms have indicated a need for increased research into the effects of both slow-moving situations, such as climate change, and resilience to fast-onset disasters, such as tsunamis. The new approach to infrastructure will be based on “multidisciplinary research insights,” according to the release.

Coordinated efforts between researchers from the Northeast and researchers and policymakers from the Caribbean region will increase the prospects for the project’s success, as each region brings its own expertise and experience to the initiative.

Melissa Kenney of the University of Maryland and Thomas Sheahan from Northeastern University will also join the initiative, as well as personnel from the International Institute for Environment and Development, the University of Puerto Rico, the University of the West Indies, Yale, Rutgers, the Norwegian Geotechnical Institute and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, the release said.

The project, which will begin this January and run until December 2018, is a Science, Engineering and Education for Sustainability activity in the NSF’s Research Collaboration Network program.

Aviva Luttrell can be reached at [email protected]