On April 16, LSU Day at the Capitol brought together students, faculty and staff from across campus to illustrate the value of the work being done in their respective LSU units. This annual event was an opportunity for LSU to share all of the ways that the university positively impacts the state of Louisiana—a $5.1 billion annual economic impact. Included in this figure are the economic impacts on the coast. Some of the world’s premier coastal and environmental scientists work at Louisiana’s flagship university and the College of the Coast & Environment highlighted some of their valuable research.
“There is no better place to get accurate and timely data about critical coastal and environmental challenges in this state than here at LSU. The College of the Coast & Environment houses two of the top six wetland and marsh scientists in the world and our faculty are performing research on every continent. We also prepare our students to become future coastal workforce leaders,” said Chris D’Elia, professor and dean of the College of the Coast & Environment.
During the event, Assistant Professor Giulio Mariotti, in the Department of Oceanography and Coastal Sciences, and two graduate students from the Mariotti lab, Kendall Valentine and Shamim Murshad, demonstrated the importance of LSU’s coastal and environmental research using their delta table, a 12-by-4 foot basin that reproduces coastal processes. As water ran through the basin, they illustrated how rivers transport sediment, and how material accumulates where the river meets the sea, forming a delta. Additionally, they simulated the effects of sea level rise and fall, floods and storms. Mariotti often also uses this delta table as a teaching tool to talk about levees, sediment diversions and other man-made alterations to Louisiana’s coastline.
That same day, the speaker of the Louisiana House of Representatives, Taylor Barras, signed a resolution commending D’Elia for receiving the Wes Tunnell Lifetime Recognition for Gulf Science and Conservation. The Gulf of Mexico University Research Collaborative, or GOMURC, presented this inaugural award to D’Elia in February for his lifetime of dedication and achievement in support of a healthy and sustainable Gulf of Mexico environment and economy.
“This is quite an honor. I am privileged to have had a career in which I could contribute to better understanding and stewardship of the coastal marine environment, and I continue to do so out of an intense desire to improve and preserve the Gulf of Mexico’s beauty, ecology and valuable natural resources,” D’Elia said.
D’Elia has received numerous research grants and has authored or coauthored more than 80 scientific publications on the nutrient dynamics of estuaries and coral reefs, science policy and energy and environment. Throughout his career, D’Elia has been a strong advocate for science-based environmental stewardship, strengthening international science partnerships and fostering access to environmental education.
For nearly a century, LSU’s College of the Coast & Environment has been at the forefront of coastal and environmental research and education that helps to improve environmental conditions affecting the Mississippi River Delta and coasts and deltas around the world.