By Amy Wold
Advocate staff writer
June 22, 2012
Denise Reed, coastal researcher and professor in the Department of Earth and Environmental Sciences at University of New Orleans, has been named new chief scientist for The Water Institute of the Gulf.
Chip Groat, president and chief executive officer of the institute, told the state Coastal Protection and Restoration Authority at the group’s Tuesday meeting that Reed is nationally respected and will be a great ambassador for the institute.
Groat updated the coastal authority on the progress of the relatively young nonprofit research institute and outlined future plans during his presentation.
Formed in 2011 as an independent research group, The Water Institute of the Gulf has put together a board of directors and a Science and Engineering Advisory Council and has hired several key staff members, Groat said.
Although there have been concerns from some that the institute would compete with established academic programs or private businesses, Groat said that’s not the case. Instead, he said, the institute will have few employees with a goal of providing a place where expertise can be drawn in from universities and private businesses to address specific questions dealing with coastal areas of the Gulf of Mexico.
One of the goals, according to Groat, is to “create science and technology in Louisiana to inform federal and state coastal restoration and hurricane protection efforts.”
The focus at first will be on Louisiana’s coastal land loss issues, restoration and protection, Groat said, but the larger goal will be to provide expertise to a much wider area in the future.
The institute’s next step is development of a science and engineering research plan that will be reviewed by the advisory council and then sent to the state Coastal Protection and Restoration Authority.
The plan is part of a cooperative endeavor agreement between the state and the institute that describes the work to be done to support state efforts.
This work includes continuing models and monitoring started by the state as part of the development of a state restoration and protection master plan; data management; and providing a place for scientific collaboration between universities, businesses, and state and federal agencies, Groat said.
A final science and engineering research plan should be ready to send to the state in August, he said.