TX - Texas A&M-Corpus Christi center to study coastal resiliency

A new center at Texas A&M University-Corpus Christi aims at researching how technology and data can help coastal communities like Corpus Christi respond in the wake of disasters.

The CREST Center for Geospatial and Environmental Informatics, Modeling, and Simulation was established in December with a $5 million grant from the National Science Foundation.

"The whole idea is resiliency," said center principal investigator Dr. Lea-Der Chen, a professor and associate dean of engineering and computing sciences in the College of Science and Technology. "What happens if a hurricane hits us? How quickly can we recover from that extreme circumstance?"

Another goal of the center is to recruit and support underrepresented minority students in science, technology, engineering and math. In addition to undergraduate, graduate and doctoral opportunities, it is also planning to partner with local middle and high schools on STEM outreach.

A team of co-principal investigators will focus on applying tools such as artificial intelligence, machine learning and augmented reality to assess the societal impacts of a disaster on everything from infrastructure to public health. The center will also develop a baseline dataset based on historical data.

In addition to weather events like hurricanes, other implications of the research relate to sea level rise and the impact of urbanization on watersheds.

Chen hopes the center will be able to provide the data and research so that local governments can make informed decisions on building resiliency and deploying resources after an extreme event.

"We want to be here to serve our community, not just to develop technology," Chen said.

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