Lamar Projects 2023

  • Coastal Sociological-Ecological Restoration Group (CSERG) & Pilot Project: North Pleasure Island Reconstruction Continuation

    Investigator: Dr. Matthew P. Hoch, Dr. Kole Kubicek, Dr. Garrick Harden, Dr. Zhe Luo, Dr. Xingya Liu, Dr. John McCollough, Dr. Qin Qian

    Over recent decades societal awareness of the progressive degradation or loss of coastal ecosystems (dune, systems, salt to freshwater marshes, barrier islands, estuaries) due to climatic change and other anthropogenic drivers has increased. These losses include the ecological services and goods that coastal communities depend on for sustainability and resiliency to natural and anthropogenic hazards, including infrastructure protection from destructive storm energy, economic values of fisheries and wildlife, food security, tourism income, and water quality. Environmental restoration of coastal ecosystems includes hydrological modification to increase freshwater and sediment input to marshes, restriction of saltwater intrusion, elevation of subsiding marsh with dredge material, stabilization of eroding shorelines, and reconstruction of barrier islands. Within the past decade in Jefferson County, TX, all these restoration types have been implemented in Salt Bayou Watershed and Sabine Lake estuary.  However, much more coastal restoration is needed, not just in SETX but across the Gulf Coast. Growing expectations for new coastal restoration projects include designs that maximize enhancement of ecological outcomes and provide benefits to society for sustainability and resiliency.  

    Research and innovation on “nature-based” coastal restoration design, which places greater focus on maximizing ecological outcomes and makes greater use of living organisms, is on-going yet some new approaches are becoming mainstream. The US Army Corp of Engineers (USACE), Engineering with Nature (EwN) Program has led many of these advances in nature-based coastal restoration design.  Economic analyses demonstrate nature-based approaches can also lower costs compared to traditional “grey-work” coastal protection.  Increased funding incentive for nature-based restoration design has coincided with increased expectations for community engagement to better understanding sociological issues and societal priorities that can benefit project planning and design.  The collective approach is called Sociological-Ecological Restoration.  Lamar University, CfR needs to lead in research into, and contracts for implementing, this approach to coastal restoration, which will provide project opportunities for students interested in LU’s growing multidisciplinary EwN curriculum.  

    To this end, the proposed project will galvanize a group of Social Scientists, Coastal Ecologists, and Environmental Engineers into a research and contract implementation collaborative called the Coastal Sociological-Ecological Restoration Group (CSERG, pronounced “sea surge”).  CSERG will improve communication within and expand a network of external experts from County, State, and Local government agencies, and Stakeholder organizations from the environmental sector.  Planning and coordination workshops will aim to establish the sociological-ecological framework of SETX coastal restoration for community resiliency and sustainability research, outreach, and project planning based on community needs and ecological benefits into the future.  Web-based and mobile-app tools for outreach and education will be developed, initially with focus on nature-based coastal protection.  Also proposed is a pilot study of sociological perceptions and needs as well as ecological conditions to help guide the City of Port Arthur in designing the reconstructive restoration of the north end of Pleasure Island.  The initial engineering assessment and design is funded by TxGLO-CEPRA, cycle 12, but the sociological-ecological assessment is needed.  CSERG will elevate the LU CfR as a coastal sustainability and resiliency leader in this United Nations, Decade of Ecosystem Restoration. 

  • Robust and Reliable IoT-based Wireless Sensor Networks for Environmental Monitoring Infrastructure Resiliency

    Investigators: Dr. Qin Qian, Dr. Jing Zhang, Dr. Thinesh Selvaratnam, and Frank Sun

    This project aims at continuing our previously awarded Lamar project funded by the Center of Resiliency (CfR) in March 2022, with a focus on systematically designing and implementing various building blocks for an open-source Internet of Things (IoT)-based Wireless Sensor Network (WSN) testbed for Environmental Monitoring Infrastructure Resiliency. The goal of this project is to address the shortcomings of previously proposed approaches and to provide accurate measurements including Temperature, Dissolved Oxygen, Water Depth, Flow Rate, pH Value, and Turbidity for data modeling and decision making. This infrastructure will also be enhanced with more functionalities to improve robustness and reliability. Specifically, we plan to: 1) systematically design and implement various building blocks for an open source IoT WSN testbed. This will provide great flexibility to customize research needs and have a dramatic impact on education; 2) revise, maintain, and improve the deployed Storm3 WSN and continue to collect more water data. Sites with the deployed Storm3 WSN will be periodically visited to ensure its correct functioning. More water data is essential to further improve our designed data models; 3) improve a web server by integrating data visualization with embedded statistical data preprocess tools.  

    This proposed interdisciplinary project will have a significant impact on computer science and water resource resiliency research. It will: 1) provide an excellent case study to apply state-of-the-art computer technology to solve real-world challenging problems; 2) utilize research results to provide effective and economic solutions for sustainable water resource management; 3) establish an excellent environment to broaden students' knowledge and research experience and encourage the participation of underrepresented minorities/women; 4) integrate research results into undergraduate and graduate curricula in computer science, water resource education, and environmental engineering.  

    Local high school students will have an opportunity to visit the constructed infrastructure and experience cutting-edge technology and its impact on society. The related outreach program will attract and encourage more K-12 students from local high schools to study Science, Technology, and Engineering.  

  • Drone-based Internet Access for Temporary Communications during Natural Disaster

    Investigators: Dr. Ruhai Wang, Dr. Xingya Liu and Dr. Zhe Luo 

    Hurricanes/storms and flooding are recognized as the most common natural disasters in the Gulf Coast Region. They frequently lead to major power outages and Internet interruptions. During a heavy disaster hit, all traditional communication systems, such as the telephone, radio, Wi-Fi, and cellular, may not function anymore. If the affected individuals lose their Internet connections, they may be unable to report damage, search for evacuation routes, or obtain rescue or medical aid. It is also critical to ensure smooth wireless connections for local energy and petrochemical factories, which provides the remote control for secure shutdown and restoration operations. In the past five years, hurricanes Harvey, Delta, and Laura, as well as the winter storm Uri have shown that even a temporary disruption in this region, can have a ripple effect on the global scale. The unacceptable disruption loss necessitates a practical and cost-efficient solution to quickly establish emergency communications in a disaster-stricken area.  

    Drone-based cellular/Wi-Fi/satellite networks have received a lot of attention by providing the temporary Internet availability after a disaster since drones can be set up fast, distributed effectively, and flexibly across the intended target. Recent research indicated that the drone enabled small cellular networks, also known as “flying cellular networks,” are a promising alternative for supplying public safety networks. However, they are not cost-effective regarding the service range. Meanwhile, little work has been done in studying the resilience and reliable data delivery performance of Internet protocols in presence of the lengthy link disruptions.   

    The Lamar Project proposed here has the aim to investigate and build a novel drone-mounted base station (DBS) system that can serve local people and industries to quickly reestablish connectivity in a disaster-stricken environment with a larger service area and lower cost. With the integration of multiple reconfigurable intelligent surfaces (RISs) and optimized deployment, the system can provide coverage expansion, interference reduction, and energy savings, but at a much lower cost than DBS-only systems. As part of the project, we will also analyze the resilience and reliable data delivery of the TCP/IP and propose new transmission mechanisms to provide effective transmission performance in transition from the link disruption to the proposed DBS access. Meanwhile, the installation and uninstallation procedures of RIS for different infrastructures will be investigated. Field studies will be conducted and later disseminated into tutoring videos. The goal of the current phase of this project is to develop a proof-of-concept prototype to validate the proposed schemes in an emulated disaster-stricken scenario. 

  • Research, Education, and Outreach toward a Center for Resiliency and Reliability of Semiconductor Packaging

    Investigators: Dr. Xuejin Fan, Dr. Sushil Doranga, Dr. Ping He, Dr. Berna Eren Tokgaz, Dr. Jiang Zhou, Dr. Paul Bernazzani, Dr. Chun-Da Chen, Dr. Julia Yoo

    Semiconductors are the foundation of today’s information age and underpin the global economy. They are critical to U.S. economic and national security. The COVID-19 pandemic led to unprecedented supply chain disruptions, which highlighted both the critical importance of semiconductors and the fragility of the semiconductor ecosystem. Statewide, Texas is poised to become a new semiconductor hub in the U.S. to improve the supply chain resilience of crucial semiconductor manufacturing. The recent passage of the CHIPS and Science Act is a once-in-a-generation opportunity to revitalize the U.S. semiconductor ecosystem. While traditional silicon transistor scaling continues, heterogeneous integration through advanced semiconductor packaging is driving future innovation and breakthroughs. However, given the complexity of three-dimensional packaging toward 3D chip’s city, ensuring the reliability of heterogeneously integrated semiconductor packaging imposes many new challenges that were never addressed in the past. Additionally, semiconductor devices operating in southeast Texas are constantly under attack by marine tropical environments. The deleterious effects of marine tropical environments, including temperature extremes, humidity, moisture, dust, mud, oil and solvents, corrosive effects of chemicals, and the destructive effects of tropical storms and hurricanes, present threats to the integrity and reliability of the regional infrastructures including electronics infrastructure. Research into the reliability of semiconductor packaging in marine tropical hazards is extremely important in terms of cyber-security and resiliency. In this proposed project we aim to develop a framework of a multidisciplinary program including research, education, and outreach for semiconductor packaging resiliency and reliability, with cross-college collaboration. There are six tasks in a short term. Task 1 is to develop multi-physics models considering a combination of tropical marine environments. Task 2 is to perform vibration analysis focusing on the reliability of electronic components in rail transportation. Task 3 is to study risk and supply chain management. Task 4 is to identify talented graduate/undergraduate students with interests in the semiconductor field. Task 5 is to perform outreach activities including both professional workforce development and recruiting high school students. Task 6 is to assess the study for the project including research, education, and outreach. In a long-term outlook, we seek to create an internationally recognized program in the field of semiconductor packaging manufacturing resiliency and reliability, in partnership with semiconductor company stakeholders, toward a Semiconductor Packaging Resiliency and Reliability Center. The proposed project will have broad impacts, not only contributing to the next-generation workforce development in the semiconductor industry but also preparing LU for the future of education and training for diverse industries. 


    texasinstrumentsvisit2024From the right, Mr. Sylvester Ankamah-Kusi (TI), Dr. Rajen Murugan (TI) (manager), Dr. Guangxu Li (TI), Dr. Yutaka Suzuki (TI), and Xuejun Fan. They are from SC Packaging Co-Design · Texas Instruments, Inc., Dallas, TX. Electronics Materials Testing and Characterization Lab
  • Mental Health Intervention, Networking, & Diversion (MIND)

    Investigators: Dr. Ginger Gummelt, Karen Roebuck, Lori Wright, Dr. Mamta Singh, Stephen Malick, Tommy Smith

    In collaboration with the Spindletop Center Local Mental Health Authority (LMHA), the District Attorney’s Office of Jefferson County, local judges and defense attorneys, and the Jefferson County Sheriff’s Office, the MIND project seeks to evaluate the effectiveness of a pilot program aimed at diverting mental health referrals away from the criminal justice system and develop a model for replication in other counties and Centers. Research indicates that mental health issues and referrals to the criminal justice system increase significantly following disasters and individuals involved in the legal system are at significantly greater risk of mental health and/or substance use issues (Prelog, 2016; Spencer, 2017).  The trauma related to natural disasters is exacerbated for vulnerable populations who often lack the resources to effectively handle these drastic situations.  This project aims to expand mental health diversion services within the courts systems in three primary ways: (1) provide outcome analysis of a pilot program addressing mental health diversion services; and (2) develop a model program for mental health intervention and diversion services focused on post-disaster trauma for replication in other courts, counties, and Centers; and (3) establish experiential learning internships to improve the identification, treatment, and referral services for undiagnosed mental health issues. These goals will be met by providing outreach, education, training, and supervision to target populations and providers in a culturally sensitive and trauma-informed approach.  

    This research project will take a unique multidisciplinary approach to identify evidence-based communication strategies to increase public support for policies diverting people with mental illness from being processed into the criminal justice system.  This wrap-around approach will begin with the training and preparation of professionals in education and social services to provide early identification and referral to individuals and families at-risk of emerging mental health issues.  Undergraduate Education students will be paired with Social Work students in their field placement/student-teaching to effectively identify and refer high-risk students and families for coordinated services.  This experiential learning process will begin with the Professional Learning Workshop (PLW) and expand with weekly interdisciplinary supervision meetings to expand and enhance the knowledge and skills of the student interns, resulting in a trauma-informed social emotional learning environment for both student populations.  

    Early intervention approaches will be further supported by the networking and diversion services within the criminal justice system through the specialized training of emerging professionals as well as direct services to this vulnerable population. Student interns from criminal justice, social work, and communication will collaborate with external agencies to deliver coordinated mental health services for individuals identified through the court system.  These specialized services, such as assessment, diagnosis, medication evaluation referral, and healthy coping strategies offer clients an opportunity to meet their unique needs and successfully transition to sustained healthy lifestyle maintenance rather than the short-term punitive consequences of the criminal justice system. 

  • CRISys - Community Resilience Indicator System: Developing a Community Resilience Framework in Response to Natural Disasters – Phase II

    Investigators: Dr. Berna E. Tokgoz, Dr. Thinesh Selvaratnam, Dr. Ginger Gummelt, Dr. Brian Williams, Dr. Seokyon Hwang, Dr. Cagatay Tokgoz

    Senior Personnel: Dr. Marilyn Guidry, Chris Boone, and Angela Clavijo 


    In the United States, more than one-third of electricity has been used by residential buildings, which mainly includes space heating, spacing cooling, and lighting, even though some of the space heating is directly fueled by natural gas or other fossil fuels, not electricity. The power supply becomes the most critical component of a human’s life. Failure of grid power due to natural disasters in the Gulf Coast region has been a serious problem. As a big picture, there are two issues to be addressed in this proposal: (1) how to make the residential buildings more energy resilient towards any grid power failure and (2) how to make the residential buildings more energy resilient towards reduction of energy usage. A simple answer to the two questions above is a Net Zero Energy building. However, such a building needs to be fully demonstrated, considering the local weather conditions, in this case, Southeast Texas. Therefore, it is proposed to design and develop a Net Zero Energy building at Lamar, which can serve as a model for the energy resiliency of residential houses in the gulf coast region. The Net Zero Energy building relies solely on renewable energy resources such as solar, geothermal, and wind energy. To ensure people’s comfort in the building, a combination of heat pumps, solar heaters, solar panels, and earth cooling/heating, together with advanced insulation and lighting technologies, needs to be considered in the design. The incentive for working on solar energy is supported by three facts. First, Southeast Texas has stable and strong sunshine throughout the year; second, the area has considerably low utilization of renewable energy production. The last and most important fact is the low resiliency of the power system in this area. Hurricane Harvey, Rita, and Ike were the largest and most damaging hurricanes to hit Beaumont, TX, causing $125, $11.3 billion, and $31.5 billion, respectively, in total damage to the U.S, and there was no electricity for 21 days in some places. To further optimize electricity generation and usage, it is proposed to build a nanostructured photovoltaic cell that is controlled and monitored through a nanoscale extreme real-time communication network system. several challenges need to be studied such as monitoring and switching matrix. The project will leverage many existing modules developed under the local Infrastructure Simulation and Analysis Center at Lamar Microgrid for predicting infrastructure impacts of major natural disasters. This project aligns well with the CfR’s mission to confront multi-disaster events. It can also provide educational opportunities and community engagement. Therefore, the proposed project is a combination of research, education, and outreach, and it can have a long-term impact on the Lamar and Southeast Texas residents. Once sufficient data are collected from this research and a conclusion can be reached, the design of this model building can be promoted through partnering with city or local government agencies. Home builders can also incorporate some of the elements into their design when a new house is built.