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Thriving Communities Grant Awards

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Grant Awards TC 4
Image: William Folsom, NOAA NMFS

Thriving Community Grants 4 (Awarded 2018)

Topic: Improving Risk-Based Evaluations to Support a Public Health Response to the Next Oil Spill
Total Awards: 2 projects totaling $1,692,415
Grant Type: Research-Practice
Grant Type Description: For projects that bring together researchers, practitioners, and other perspectives to collaborate on efforts that both inform research and facilitate use of research results.
Press Release

Assessing Toxicity of Oil Weathered on the Sea Surface: The Importance of Oil Photo-Products
Award Amount: $992,415
Project Director: Christoph Aeppli (Bigelow Laboratory for Ocean Sciences)
Project Team Affiliations: Bigelow Laboratory for Ocean Sciences in cooperation with Applied Science Associates, Inc.; Louisiana State University; University of California – Davis; and Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution
Overview: Oil floating at the ocean surface during an oil spill interacts with sunlight and forms “photo-products.” These photo-products are persistent and potentially toxic, but knowledge about their biological impacts, including ecosystem and human health risks, is limited. Thus, they are not adequately accounted for by decision makers when evaluating oil spill risks and impacts. This project, which includes practitioner engagement and input throughout, aims to address this knowledge gap and improve oil spill risk assessment by investigating the chemical composition, bioavailability, toxicity, and long-term health effects of oil photo-products and incorporating this information into models used for oil spill risk assessment.

Prioritizing Risks from Oil Spills: Supporting Decisions with Read-Across Using 21st Century Exposure and Toxicological Sciences
Award Amount: $700,000
Project Director: Weihsueh Chiu (Texas A&M University)
Project Team Affiliations: Texas A&M University in cooperation with Center for Toxicology and Environmental Health and Pacific Northwest National Laboratory
Overview: Current evaluations of public health impacts of oil spills are largely based on only what is known about a few specific chemicals in oil. However, an oil spill can involve a complex mix of interacting substances and environmental factors and this produces many unknowns that are either difficult or not currently possible to account for. Alternative approaches are needed to address existing limitations and improve assessment and decision-making processes relating to public health risks resulting from oil spills. This project, which includes interactions with a diverse range of practitioners, aims to address this need using new approaches and technologies in exposure science and toxicology that try to predict the toxicity of substances for which there is limited information using information from analogous or similar substances.


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Grant Awards TC 3
Image: CampPhoto/iStock

Thriving Community Grants 3* (Awarded 2017)


Topic: Enhancing Coastal Community Resilience and Well-Being in the Gulf of Mexico Region
Total Awards: 4 projects totaling $10,800,550
Grant Type: Research-Practice
Grant Type Description: For projects that bring together researchers, practitioners, and other perspectives to collaborate on efforts that both inform research and facilitate the use of research results.
Press Release
*Awarded in collaboration with the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation.

Community and Family Resilience, Strength and Well-Being: Sociocultural Influences on Cambodian and Laotian Refugee Communities' Responses to Environmental Challenges
Award Amount: $3,076,003
Project Director: Denise Lewis (University of Georgia)
Project Team Affiliations: University of Georgia in cooperation with Cambodian Association of Mobile and Lao Association of Mobile
Overview: Refugee and immigrant communities’ histories and cultural differences present unique vulnerabilities and challenges for achieving community resilience in response to environmental stressors and disasters. This project will engage with Cambodian and Laotian families in coastal Alabama to determine how individual, family, and community-level strengths and vulnerabilities contribute to community health and well-being and how individuals utilize social networks and formal services to respond to stressors. Culturally responsive interventions and strategies for increasing community capacity and resilience will be developed.

Community Resilience Learning Collaborative and Research Network
Award Amount: $2,522,193
Project Director: Benjamin Springgate (Louisiana State University Health Sciences Center New Orleans)
Project Team Affiliations: Louisiana State University Health Sciences Center New Orleans in cooperation with Barataria-Terrebonne National Estuary Program; Community and Patient Partnered Research Network; Greater New Orleans, Inc.; Healthy African American Families II; Louisiana Community Health Outreach Network; Louisiana Department of Health;
Lower 9th Ward Center for Sustainable Engagement and Development; Resilient Baton Rouge; St. Anna’s Episcopal Church; Tulane University; University of California – Los Angeles; and University of Southern California
Overview: The project aims to improve resilience and mental health outcomes in six communities in southern Louisiana that are vulnerable to poor health outcomes and the impacts of disasters. By establishing a community-partnered learning collaborative and research network, this project will build the capacity to test and promote practices that can strengthen resilience. The project team will directly engage with communities within Baton Rouge, New Orleans, and coastal southern Louisiana, although the efforts and lessons are likely scalable to other Gulf States and beyond.

Housing Resilience in Greater New Orleans
Award Amount: $2,265,985
Project Director: Carlos Martin (Urban Institute)
Project Team Affiliations: Urban Institute in cooperation with Greater New Orleans Fair Housing Action Center, Texas A&M University, and University of California – Berkeley
Overview: Although homes provide a first line of defense for individuals against environmental stressors and disasters, little is understood about how housing shapes community resilience. This project plans to examine housing policies and practices that affect household vulnerability to disasters along with the quality and accessibility of related tools and resources that households can use to reduce those vulnerabilities. The project will develop strategies for equitable housing programs, policies, and practices that can strengthen the resilience of communities as a whole. The focus will be on populations most vulnerable to the effects of climate change in the greater New Orleans area, but the information and tools developed are intended to help build household resilience throughout the Gulf region.

Inland from the Coast: A Multi-Scalar Approach to Regional Climate Change Responses
Award Amount: $2,936,369
Project Director: Traci Birch (Louisiana State University Coastal Sustainability Studio)
Project Team Affiliations: Louisiana State University–Baton Rouge in cooperation with Louisiana Sea Grant and University of New Orleans
Overview: Risks from sea-level rise, land subsidence, and extreme weather are not limited to coastal areas but threaten entire inland-coastal regions. This project takes a multi-scalar, multi-disciplinary approach to river flood modeling, health and well-being research, and applied community design to improve flood recovery and long-term resilience across the greater Baton Rouge inland-coastal region. The team links university researchers with engineers, building and landscape architects, planners, policymakers, and community members to improve understanding of inland-coastal environmental conditions and vulnerabilities, determine indicators of community health and well-being, and develop design and planning best practices for reducing risk and increasing adaptive capacity. While the project is focused on helping the greater Baton Rouge region emerge more resilient from the devastating 2016 floods, the resulting framework will be applicable to inland-coastal regions across the Gulf Coast and beyond.


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Grant Awards TC 2
Image: Patrick Kelly, U.S. Coast Guard

Thriving Community Grants 2 (Awarded 2016)


Topic: Scientific Synthesis Connecting Environmental, Social, and/or Health Data
Total Awards: 3 Projects totaling $2,120,401
Grant Type: Synthesis
Grant Type Description: For projects that bring together methods or data from different disciplines and sectors to generate novel insights or develop new approaches.
Press Release

Community Cohesion and Recovery After the Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill
Award Amount: $590,462
Project Director: So-Min Cheong (University of Kansas)
Project Team Affiliations: University of Kansas in cooperation with Stanford University and St. Mary's College of Maryland
Overview: This team of researchers plans to use environmental, social, and economic data to examine how coastal communities’ abilities to self-organize and mobilize helped them respond to and recover from the Deepwater Horizon oil spill. They will investigate the social-ecological drivers of community-level spill response and the role of nonprofit organizations and nonprofit networks in enhancing community cohesion after the spill. The researchers will generate outputs that scientists, nonprofits, and government stakeholders can use to help communities respond to and recover from oil spills more effectively.

Synthesizing Ship Tracking Data, Oil Spill Model Results, and Subsistence Use Information into a Unique, Interactive Tool to Aid Research and Planning in Coastal Communities Bordering the Alaska Beaufort Sea
Award Amount: $529,803
Project Director: Molly McCammon (Alaska Ocean Observing System)
Project Team Affiliations: Alaska Ocean Observing System in cooperation with Axiom Data Science and Stephen R. Braund & Associates
Overview: The project team plans to develop an interactive, web-based mapping tool for planners, public and private stakeholders, and community members who rely on subsistence resources in Northern Alaska. This tool will integrate data products that describe vessel traffic patterns, estimated oil spill impacts, and subsistence use patterns for coastal communities along the Beaufort Sea. It is intended to help stakeholders understand how increased vessel traffic or an oil spill could affect different subsistence activities by comparing vessel track and spill impact density maps with newly available subsistence mapping and species distribution data. This tool could help decision makers and stakeholders in the Beaufort Sea area identify which subsistence use areas are particularly vulnerable to increased shipping activities and potential oil spills. A team of resource and community managers who are potential users of the tool will help guide its development. The final tool will have potential utility in other regions of the U.S. outer continental shelf that are experiencing some form of offshore oil development.

Understanding Oil Spill Impacts on Fishing Communities of the Gulf of Mexico: From Deepwater Horizon to Future Spill Scenarios
Award Amount: $1,000,136
Project Director: Steven Murawski (University of South Florida)
Project Team Affiliations: University of South Florida in cooperation with the University of Miami and the University of California, Davis
Overview: The project team plans to synthesize data to explore and quantify how oil spills like Deepwater Horizon affect fishing communities. This work includes both understanding how spills impact communities’ economic, ecological, and social systems — and modeling how these systems could be affected by future spills. Using high-resolution, fishery-dependent datasets, the team will identify how individual communities were affected by the Deepwater Horizon spill. Econometric and hydrodynamic modeling studies will be used to predict such impacts from future potential spills. Working with key fisheries stakeholders and local decision makers, the team plans to identify adaptive strategies that communities could use to mitigate future oil spills’ effects. This project has the potential to transform disaster planning and fisheries management responses to such disasters in the Gulf of Mexico and elsewhere.


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Grant Awards TC 1
Image: colinsands/iStock

Thriving Community Grants 1 (Awarded 2016)

Topic: Informing Coastal Community Planning and Response to Environmental Change in Regions with Offshore Oil and Gas Operations
Total Awards: 5 Projects totaling $1,762,640
Grant Type: Exploratory
Grant Type Description: For projects that jumpstart innovations and transformative ideas for novel approaches, technologies, or methods in their early phases.
Press Release

Advancing a Societal Impact Assessment Framework for Oil and Gas Operations in the Northern Gulf of Mexico
Award Amount: $249,999
Project Director: Victoria Ramenzoni (Rutgers Universityi)
Project Team Affiliation: Rutgers University in cooperation with Harte Research Institute at Texas A&M University – Corpus Christi
Overview: The project team plans to develop a framework that coastal decision makers can use to measure and track the socio-economic impacts of offshore oil and gas operations in the context of environmental change and extreme weather. After reviewing relevant publications, conducting interviews and surveys, and holding focus groups with affected communities, the project team will create a formal societal impact assessment protocol that Gulf of Mexico communities can access online.

Building Coastal Community Subject Matter Expert Capacity through an Innovative “Citizen Science” Program to Collect Quantitative Beach Dynamic and Tar Ball Data for Oil Spill Planning and Response in Coastal Regions with Offshore Oil and Gas Operations
Award Amount: $481,442
Project Director: Mark Kulp (University of New Orleans)
Project Team Affiliations: University of New Orleans in cooperation with Owens Coastal Consultants
Overview: The project team intends to pair community groups and volunteers with experienced scientists so the community members can learn how to collect shoreline data. This data can be used to inform oil spill planning and response. In addition to developing citizen scientists who can help address a typical gap in oil spill data, the project team intends to produce a program template that other coastal communities could use to develop similar efforts.

Can Deliberative Discussions Lay a Foundation for Integrated Decision-Making Networks?
Award Amount: $259,414
Project Director: Susan Lovelace (South Carolina Sea Grant Consortium)
Project Team Affiliations: South Carolina Sea Grant Consortium in cooperation with the College of Charleston and the University of Oklahoma
Overview: The project team will use an established approach in a new way to educate and engage coastal residents and community leaders. The team’s goal is to empower these stakeholders to prioritize coastal management issues and become more active in local natural resource management decisions. Through surveys, educational activities, and small-group discussions, project team members plan to identify insights about coastal management priorities and decision-making that they can share with local, state, and regional leaders, particularly those in areas with offshore oil and gas activity.

Enhancing Community Resilience and Optimizing Oil Spill Response through the Participatory Design of a Decision Support System
Award Amount: $459,502
Project Director: Tony Grubesic (Arizona State University)
Project Team Affiliations: Arizona State University in cooperation with the University of Utah
Overview: The project team plans to develop an open-source decision support system that helps responders minimize an oil spill’s environmental, economic, and social impacts by optimizing the deployment of response crews and equipment. By incorporating information from relevant stakeholders and community leaders and mathematically modeling different oil spill scenarios, this system is intended to help coastal communities proactively plan effective responses to deep and ultra-deep water oil spills.

Multidisciplinary Knowledge Integration to Support Louisiana Coastal Indigenous Communities’ Response to Natural and Technological Disasters and Adaptation to Climate Change
Award Amount: $312,283
Project Director: Tara Lambeth (University of New Orleans Center for Hazard Assessment, Response and Technology [UNO-CHART])
Project Team Affiliations: University of New Orleans in cooperation with Louisiana Sea Grant and the United Houma Nation
Overview: The project team plans to collaborate with two United Houma Nation communities to document how environmental stressors affect the livelihoods of these communities and shape the mitigation strategies they use to protect their coastal lands. Team members will record traditional ecological knowledge, local adaption plans, current mitigation efforts, and the tribe’s adaptive capacities. They intend to produce a resource that can be used by the United Houma Nation and other indigenous communities facing similar challenges. This work may encourage other mitigation and adaption planning efforts and increase communication between communities and policymakers.