It was recently announced that Nicholls State University is partnering with the United States Bureau of Ocean Energy Management to develop a database for coastal research conducted on the Bayou Region and Gulf Coast, according to a press release from the school.
It was outlined that the $400,000 project would take place over a four year period, wherein a database and repository would be created for scholars, agency officials, and members of the community to contribute to and benefit from. The project is titled, “Digital Curation: Streamlining Access to Research Across Gulf of Mexico Communities.” Aptly named, the project’s title also stands as a concise mission statement for the goals set forth by the partnership.
Nicholls’ dean of the College of Sciences and Technology and director of coastal research initiatives, Dr. John Doucet remarked on this momentous collaborating, saying: “The Digital Curation Project will improve how levels of government from federal to local find key resources for environmental impact statements and other reports related to the Louisiana Gulf Coast, The Digital Curation Project will improve how levels of government from federal to local find key resources for environmental impact statements and other reports related to the Louisiana Gulf Coast.”
Dr. Doucet went on to say, ““The project is an important addition to our growing portfolio of coastal services at Nicholls as the Louisiana university ‘Closest to the Coast.’ It shows our continuing commitment to coastal communities.” He will oversee the project alongside Dr. Gary LaFleur, R.E. Miller Endowed Professor of Honors Studies and executive director of the Center for Bayou Studies.
Overseeing the day-to-day project operations and student training as project manager will be Dr. Shana Walton, Nicholls associate professor of English, modern language and cultural studies. Walton remarked to Nicholls press that the Center for Bayou Studies is notable in that it alone is uniquely qualified to develop the database because much of the research is composed of qualitative reports based on structured interviews, surveys, oral histories, field notes, and observations. Because of this variety of qualitative reporting, the accurate coding of coastal research reports requires a deep knowledge of the surrounding region and its culture.
The project initially started its work back in October by conducting studies that had been commissioned by the U.S. Bureau of Ocean Energy Management and other agencies. In addition to the studies, the work involved archival material and projects, such as regional oral histories and information gathered, analyzed, and collected from local historical groups.
Dr. LaFleur remarked on the project’s meaning, saying: “this project represents a history of hard work laid down by Dr. Walton through her past BOEM projects, and Nicholls researchers taking the innovative step to work together within the Center for Bayou Studies.”
Not only will the project fund graduate fellows to help construct the database itself, but it will also allow for the professional utilization of that information. Additionally, opportunities will emerge for Nicholls faculty to develop their own research initiatives, allowing for undergraduates to take part in class-based projects.
This project opens the doors for accomplished faculty, graduate fellows, and inquisitive undergraduates to combine their eagerness for research and respect for their surrounding region. This pursuit of information, data, methods, and knowledge undertaken by the university and the U.S. Bureau stands tall as a perfect encapsulation of higher education at its best. The Center for Bayou Studies is housed at Nicholls State University, and it’s a multidisciplinary faculty collaborative focusing on the cultural and natural resources of the Bayou Region and its famed wetlands.
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