Coastal Center at Nicholls Partners with BALANCED Media | Technology

Nicholls State University has made another monumental step towards putting their soon-to-be-constructed Coastal Center on the forefront of technology development, according to this news release from the university. The monumental step being Nicholls State University’s recently signed an agreement with the award-winning technology company, BALANCED Media | Technology. The company, BALANCED, specializes in advanced data infrastructure and using AI technology in order to enable both humans and machines to work together, complementing one another’s strengths and countering their weaknesses. The agreement that was signed between the award-winning technology company and Nicholls was reportedly made possible through the Nicholls Foundation’s support.

Nicholls President Dr. Jay Clune commented on the agreement by saying, “this is a unique opportunity to change the trajectory of our region and Nicholls State University. The partnership of Nicholls State University and the Coastal Center with BALANCED Media | Technology will allow Nicholls State University researchers to use an Advanced Data Infrastructure and the patented HEWMEN technology platform to solve some of our most pressing coastal problems and create a working coast.”

Dr. Clune’s mentioning of the school’s utilization of BALANCED Media | Technology’s HEWMEN® platform, ensures that Nicholls’ state-of-the-art research being conducted at The Coastal Center at Nicholls will be able to create unique opportunities that will be able to benefit the Gulf Coast region both economically and environmentally. The research conducted at the Coastal Center will focus on studies pertaining to the Atchafalaya River and the Terrebonne and Atchafalaya Basins, so now the conducted research will be aided by BALANCED’s HEWMAN® platform and the brevy of innovative technology solutions that come along with it.

This is because the soon-to-be-built Coastal Center at Nicholls is thought to become a leading research facility as it supports a “working coast” in the Coastal Center’s right against coastal land loss. The Coastal Center’s inception was originally established in 2019 thanks to a memorandum between both the State of Louisiana, through the Coastal Protection and Restoration Authority, and Nicholls State University. Dr. Clune commented on the historic agreement by saying, “this opportunity will allow our researchers to collaborate globally on an unprecedented scale by leveraging the advanced tools in data refinement to access information that has been out of reach until now.”

In speaking on what the agreement signing means for their award-winning technology company, CEO of BALANCED Media | Technology Robert M. Atkins said, “Nicholls has a wealth of data, and BALANCED has the technology to unlock that data. Through our partnership, solutions to the problem of coastal restoration will move from possibility to reality. As commercial partners join us in this effort, we not only protect our coast and the industries that rely on it but also pave the way for new industry and the preservation of our heritage.”

As of now, the Coastal Center at Nicholls State University is projected to be completed and open its doors in early 2024. The Coastal Center will focus its aims and sights on research, education, and solutions to the southeasternLouisiana Gulf Coast’s coastal problems. This will include community resilience and the preservation of community culture and history.

Nicholls Foundation President Christopher Riviere said, “This is an extremely exciting time for Nicholls State University to partner with a technology company like BALANCED. The Nicholls Foundation is committed to supporting endeavors like this one that will not only benefit Nicholls, but also the entire bayou region.”

In establishing this innovative partnership between their new Coastal Center and BALANCED Media | Technology,Nicholls State University is ensuring that their absolute best efforts are being put forward towards solving the detrimental coastal problems in Southeastern Louisiana.

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Two Endowed Professorships for Coastal Studies Created at Nicholls

Nicholls State University is positioned to have new endowed professorships in coastal studies thanks to the generosity of the Callais sisters, a press release from the university announced.

The Callais sisters, Rachel and Leah Callais, have been supporters of Nicholls State University for years, having recently awarded $200,000 to the University’s College of Nursing for the creation of a computer lab in Ayo Hall. More recently, it was announced that each sister is donating $60,000 for a total donation gift of $120,000 that will be used to create two professorships in honor of their father, Mike Callais.

Their donation will be matched by the University of Louisiana System Foundation with an additional $80,000 added to the Callais Sisters’ donation. This total $200,000 gift will create two endowed professorships in coastal studies, each named:

  • The University of Louisiana System Foundation and C. Michael Callais Endowed Professorship in Coastal Studies.
  • The University of Louisiana System Foundation and Charles M. Callais Endowed Professorship in Coastal Studies.

A joint statement from the Callais sisters read, “our family has always been involved with the coast and the Gulf of Mexico, and that is why it was so difficult to drive around after Hurricane Ida and see the impact to our community. We know that someday it could all be gone, so we believe it’s important to preserve the coast, to do our best to keep it around and keep it alive.”

The University of Louisiana System Foundation gifted their matching donation of $80,000 in an effort to support and fund new STEM professorships. In 2019, the Chicago Community Trust had gifted the ULS Foundation $800,000 in order to support new professorships concerning STEM fields, or fields focusing on the subjects of Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics. Along with their matching donation, the ULS Foundation emphasized that one professorship is to be awarded to a male and the other to a female.

The Nicholls press release also detailed that the Callais sister’s donation could not have come at a better time. This is due to the fact that a new Coastal Center is set to come to Nicholls’ campus to study the effect of land loss in the Terrebonne and Atchafalaya Basins, and according to Dr. John Doucet, the director of coastal studies and the dean of the College of Science and Technology, “these professorships will help the university attract and retain top coastal scientists.” The announcement of the new Coastal Center came from Nicholls State University and the Louisiana Coastal Protection and Restoration Authority back in 2019.

Dr. Doucet shared more about how the two new endowed professorships will directly impact those scientists in saying, “those professors will, in turn, develop solutions to restore and protect coastal communities where the Callais and other families live and work. The Callais family settled in the coastal marshland of the Lafourche Basin in the early 20th century. Over several generations, they have seen first-hand the changes and challenges of our coast that Nicholls will address through the Coastal Center.”

Rachel and Leah Callais’ donation will be highly beneficial for the future of coastal studies at Nicholls and the Louisiana Gulf Coast for years to come, and the Callais sisters reported in their joint statement that it’s all thanks to their father. “If it wasn’t for our dad then we wouldn’t have what we have, we wouldn’t be where we are and we wouldn’t know what we know. He showed us how to be a part of a community, how to live the right way and he instilled in us that we have to do whatever we can to help because it’s the right thing to do.”

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