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LSU Geographers Launch Coastal Research Project on Resilience

Jessica Simms on the docks at Leeville, Louisiana.

Jessica Simms on the docks at Leeville, Louisiana.

Craig Colten recently received a grant to extend ongoing research on community resilience along the Gulf Coast. This project will supplement an existing project that is being carried out by LSU geographers in collaboration with specialists from University of Texas Medical Branch at Galveston.

The key objective of this project includes interviewing coastal residents who have endured multiple extreme events, such as oil spills and hurricanes. Researchers hope to discover the locally-based resilience practices that have enabled communities to persist in perilous places. In addition, researchers will examine public records to document evidence of community-level trauma in the wake of storms and chemical spills. Their work offers a more direct means to document resilience than the commonly used proxy measures used to compile indirect indices of resilience.

For the past two years, researchers in the geography department have investigated the documentary record for resilience practices. The new research will augment that work by bringing in commentary by coastal residents who can speak about their actual experiences.

Jessica Simms, a Ph.D. student in Geography and Anthropology, will be leading some of the research along the coast.

“Jessica will be making contact with local groups and individuals in preparation for extended field work in the coming year. She will be our principal point of contact with local communities and coastal residents,” said Craig Colten, project director.

The Gulf Coast Health Alliance Health Risks Related to the Macondo Spill (GC-HARMS) Health Impacts and Community Resiliency is supported by Award Number U19ES020676 from the National institute of Environmental Health Sciences with supplemental funding from Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration. Related projects are underway at the University of Florida, LSU Medical School, and Tulane Medical School.

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