Springboard Projects 2023

College of Fine Arts & Communication

  • Resiliency Within Music

    Investigators: Dr. Brielle Frost (lead)

    “Resiliency Within Music” demonstrates the tremendous perseverance among our Lamar music students and their enthusiasm to educate others through musical performance. The global pandemic prevented most in-person musical collaborations and events from taking place for our students. Though the students had to cope with a lack of community, collaboration, and connection within their artform, their resiliency allowed them to overcome obstacles to improve their craft. As a result of their hard work, perseverance, and dedication to excellence, the Lamar University Flute Ensemble will perform at the Texas Music Educators Association (TMEA) Convention in San Antonio, TX in February of 2023.  TMEA is the largest music educators’ conference in the world in which to present research, performance, and creative activities. The event attracts directors, educators, students, and exhibitors from across the state and country to present and attend music workshops, clinics, performances, and exhibits. The program will include arrangements of standard repertoire in addition to new works by under-represented composers. These works will be performed in front of hundreds of audience members. Presenting these pieces will help educate teachers and directors of new musical repertoire and provide an opportunity for educators to integrate them into their own curriculum. 

  • Forgotten No More: Strategies and Recommendations to Improve Disaster Resiliency of the SETX DHH Community

    Investigators: Dr. Ashley Greene (lead) and Dr. M. Diane Clark 

    As Southeast Texas knows all too well, natural disasters are often quick, difficult to predict, and do not discriminate against who becomes a victim of their chaos. What does make a difference, however, is how prepared an individual is to face such disasters. In an ideal world, every citizen would be equally and adequately prepared to survive any disasters, regardless of any socially determined differences. However, research shows that these differences (e.g., age, gender, income, ethnicity, and disability) play a significant role in how an individual becomes resilient when faced with emergencies outside their control (Cutter, 2017; Dominey-Howes et al., 2014; Folke, 2006). Past events in Southeast Texas show that the community’s resiliency when faced with disasters while simultaneously casting a spotlight in a group often labeled “forgotten causalities”: the deaf and hard of hearing (DHH) community (Calgaro et al., 2021). This oversight is harmful to a community that experiences a great deal of communication barriers, lives in a world that provides limited linguistic input (Hall, 2017; Humphries et al., 2012) and has a high percentage of adults who show the permanent impacts of growing up with limited access to language (Bosworth, 2022; Mayberry et al., 2011). These impacts include diminished cognitive processing (Mayberry, 2002) and problems with executive function (Hall et al., 2017). The United Nations Office for Disaster Risk Reduction (UNDRR) states that all social groups and their needs must be integrated into disaster reduction policies (Calgaro et al., 2021). However, past experiences with disasters in Southeast Texas show that beyond simply providing an interpreter, the DHH community is often overlooked. The idea for this project is borrowed from the Sendai Framework for Disaster Risk Reduction (2016). The Sendai Framework proposes the need for a strengthened focus on Disability-inclusive Disaster Risk Reduction (DiDRR) to help disabled populations prepare for, survive, and overcome the effects caused by natural disasters (Calgaro et al., 2021). The need for this tight focus on assisting specific groups is influenced by the knowledge that these groups tend to have insufficient levels of human capital, reduced access to emergency services, limited or uneven access to social capital (Greene-Woods et al., 2021), reside in areas with unsupportive governance structures, or have limited funds as well as a severe lack of immediate community engagement (Calgaro et al., 2021; Knight et al., 2021). 
  • Inspiring Resiliency in Southeast Texas Through the Life and Music of Beethoven: CD Recording, Digital Distribution, and Outreach/Educational Performances

    Investigators: Jacob Clark (lead)

    One of the most remarkable aspects of the composer Ludwig van Beethoven is the enormous level of adversity that he faced throughout his life. Despite an abusive childhood, the destruction of war, family strife, financial hardships, and physical disability, Beethoven created some of the greatest and most recognizable music of all time. For this reason, Beethoven’s life is an amazing example of individual resiliency and success despite seemingly overwhelming negative circumstances. By sharing Beethoven’s story and music in Southeast Texas, we hope to inspire and encourage resiliency in those in need who may be struggling with similar problems in their lives. In addition, due to the circumstances surrounding COVID-19, opportunities for live musical performance had been greatly curtailed, and through this project, we hope to bring quality live music to underserved communities. This project will address resiliency in Southeast Texas through two outreach methods: 1. A minimum of ten educational outreach performances and talks featuring the life and music of Beethoven will be scheduled at area schools, libraries, churches, and retirement homes. Our outreach will primarily involve venues that serve rural and/or underprivileged populations. The presentations will discuss the life of Beethoven, particularly focusing on the story of his life being an amazing example of personal resiliency. Many people in Southeast Texas do not have access to or even much awareness of classical music and this project will also help to enrich cultural awareness and musical education. 2. Contribute to the St. Anthony Cathedral Basilica’s Backpack Project by performing a live recital at the cathedral to collect additional donations of items needed for the Backpack Project in lieu of paid tickets. The St. Anthony Cathedral has an annual donation project of non-perishable snacks, personal items, clothing, etc. inside of backpacks that are distributed as needed for disaster relief as well as to the homeless and children in need. By giving a performance to collect donations to be placed in the backpacks, we hope to promote resiliency and help this charitable endeavor be prepared for future natural disasters like Hurricane Harvey not only through providing necessities but also by providing music that can comfort those in need. Besides the live performances and lectures on the life and music of Beethoven a new album of the complete works for four hand piano by Ludwig van Beethoven will be commercially recorded through Centaur Records in Baton Rouge, LA. This recording will be provided in a digital format such as a QR code to the album on Spotify to each venue visited in the recital/lecture tour. A limited number of physical CDs may also be distributed at venues where the audience may prefer physical media. 

  • Bounce Back2: Artmaking and Resiliency

    Investigators: Dr. Donna Meeks (lead)

    Xenia Fedorchenko, Associate Professor (printing/drawing)

    Joana Hyatt, Associate Professor (art education)

    Claire Elestwani, Assistant Professor (graphic design)

    Bounce Back2: Artmaking and Resiliency is a continued development of departmental community outreach programming first presented in summer 2022. The Summer 2023 program includes enhanced branding, marketing, and outreach efforts. Assistant Professor Maha Claire Elestwani is designing e-materials, print materials, and working with university entities to develop online registration user experiences. The Summer 2023 program materials emphasize continuing education credit for teachers through the Region 5 Service Center. An area art teachers’ invitational exhibition will be used to further the exploration of resiliency and related themes through art. The call to exhibit will be sent to all Region 5 art educators, and Bounce Back2 workshop participants will be encouraged to submit works. Potential outcomes for this project are improved coordination of current departmental community outreach and recruitment efforts that will serve to increase enrollment. Dr. Joana Hyatt will engage preservice art education students with current disciplinary investigation including topics such as social justice, climate change, social emotional artistic learning (SEAL), teaching for artistic behavior (TAB), and community art practices. With Dr. Hyatt’s guidance, preservice art education students will develop SEAL based art curriculum and instruct campers in artmaking that explores themes of resiliency. For summer 2023, the 5-day high school art camp is thematically organized around a SEAL focus. Social-Emotional Learning (SEL) seeks to promote an understanding of self-awareness, an ability to process experiences, to understand others, and make responsible decisions. When art is added, SEAL based instruction promotes the creative act of making and analyzing art from multiple perspectives. All resulting work created by SEAL Art Camp participants will be featured in a pop-up art exhibition in the Dishman Art Museum. The In-Service workshops will be increased from 2 to 3 days to further support and explore current art education investigation, specifically Hetland’s Eight Studio Habits of developing craft, engage and persist, envision, express, observe, reflect, stretch and explore, and understand art world. Fedorchenko will present Marked and ReMarked, an exploration of stretch and explore through the rapid processing of visual ideas using papermaking and fibers techniques. Through play and experimentation, workshop participants will be asked to capitalize on visual mistakes and explore personal narratives about experience and recovery in Southeast Texas. Finished artworks may incorporate found and collected imagery, materials, and objects to develop surfaces of complex marks and meanings. Meeks will present Discovery and Surprise, an exploration of envision and express using an online AI image generator to rapidly generate surprising visual ideas using acrylic paint on canvas. Participants will be asked to abstract a composition from generated imagery and explore painting technique and color palette to establish mood and content. Finished artworks may be image based, abstract or non-objective expressions of personal experience and recovery in Southeast Texas. Lamar Art & Design Studio Art drawing, painting, and printmaking upper division students will be engaged as workshop studio assistants. 

  • Promoting Community to Support Living with Dementia in Southeast Texas: A Pilot Cognitive Stimulation Group Program

    Investigators: Karen Whisenhunt Saar

    This resiliency grant will fund development for a pilot Cognitive Stimulation Therapy (CST) group in the Lamar speech-language pathology clinic. This program will serve community-dwelling individuals living with a dementia diagnosis in the early stages of disease progression access to evidence-based cognitive therapy for dementias, increased social infrastructure, and communication support. In addition, current LU speech-language pathology graduate students will develop competency with these tools and strategies that they can apply to work with this population in their future clinical careers. Vulnerable populations are at increased risk at times of disaster and crisis. The benefits of social infrastructure and increased communication support will provide additional tools for families and individuals living with a dementia diagnosis during every-day tasks and especially at times of crisis and confusion.

    Cognitive Stimulation Therapy (CST) is a highly structured, evidence-based, group-format, non-invasive, non-pharmacological intervention for individuals living with dementia that can be administered by speech-language pathologists, occupational therapists, and psychologists and is adaptable to meet diverse cultural needs. The therapy design integrates underlying principles and theories of cognitive stimulation, reminiscence, and neuroplasticity and is driven by a person-centered care philosophy. There is strong external evidence to support post-CST gains in cognition, quality of life, and caregiver experiences, with strongest cognitive performance maintenance benefits observed in earlier stages of cognitive decline. Despite this strong evidence-base, there are currently no CST programs offered in Southeast Texas. The Springboard 23 Resiliency grant will fund the initial preparation phase to create a community-based CST program within the existing speech-language pathology clinic on the Lamar University campus.

    Many individuals face increased stigmatization and social isolation after receiving a dementia diagnosis. Socially isolated community members are at increased risk during a disaster. CST members staged with mild to moderate dementia symptoms reported strong positive social benefit of feeling connected to others. Social connections, combined with strengthened communication strategies, further alleviate some of the strain faced by families living with dementia during disasters.

    During this development phase of the program, initial material development, personnel training, and research foundations will be built for a program that will ultimately address a gap in social infrastructure for Southeast Texans living with dementia.

College of Education and Human Development

  • Disaster Preparedness Training for Non-Profit Foodservice Organization Employees in a Multi-disaster Region

    Investigators: Dr. Jill Killough (Lead), Dr. Kim Wallet & Dr. Amy Shows

    Non-profit foodservice organization employees play a unique and vital role in providing essential services to vulnerable populations within a community. Disaster preparedness for foodservice operations can contribute to efficient food production and minimize food safety concerns in perilous times. The goal of this project is to develop two types of educational training methods tailored to meet the needs of non-profit foodservice organization employees to support their continued efforts in disaster preparedness. The effect of the educational trainings on knowledge, attitudes, and confidence level in disaster preparedness for non-profit foodservice organization employees will be examined. One educational training approach will be a one-day workshop. Non-profit foodservice organization directors and employees will be invited to participate in the in-person educational training workshop. A second educational training approach will be the development of an educational handout and video for distribution to employees for annual training. Non-profit foodservice organization employees within the Southeast Texas region have experienced multiple disasters for several years. Most of these disasters are weather-related and are expected to recur in the future. Providing disaster preparedness training to these employees will contribute to resilience in their ability to provide essential services in the face of future disasters.  


  • Emphasizing The Importance of Physical Activity After Natural Disaster: Critical Information for Municipalities and Community Dwellers

    Investigators: Dr. Shannon Jordan (Lead), Dr. Jeanne Mullican, Dr. Daniel Chilek, and  Dr. Robert Spina

    Tropical system season on the gulf coast occurs during the hottest months of the year. In addition, tropical systems in recent history have been followed by the building of sprawling high-pressure areas that tend to suppress afternoon showers and thunderstorms resulting in much warmer temperatures without relief (NWS, Lake Charles). This has been the trend with recent tropical landfalls in our area including hurricanes Rita and Laura.  Anecdotally, community dwellers can attest that conditions of post-tropical systems are “blazing hot and humid.” Educating the community on proper hydration strategies AND symptoms of heat exhaustion and heat stroke is paramount.  Hydration is more than water consumption, adequate electrolytes must be factored in.  Recommendations for hydration post disaster from the CDC, American Red Cross, and even local municipalities, recommend drinking “a lot of water” while barely addressing electrolyte replenishment (one source suggest eating a salty snack).  During recovery efforts (i.e., tearing out dry wall or carpet in extreme heat and humidity), drinking water is critical, however, when humans sweat and urinate, they are also losing essential electrolytes such as sodium, potassium, calcium, magnesium, and chloride.  Dehydration leads to low blood volume which, in turn, leads to increased heart rate, reduced ability to maintain optimum core body temperature, and metabolic alkalosis (a life-threatening condition which affects the body’s acid-base balance).  Not replenishing electrolytes can lead to life-threatening conditions such as hyponatremia (Low blood sodium), heart rhythm abnormalities (ECG arrhythmias), and metabolic alkalosis (through low potassium and/or low chloride ions). Emergency department visits for dehydration and cardiovascular events are increased after floods and tropical storms, therefore, people must remain hydrated.  Due to recovery efforts, physical activity (PA) is typically overlooked in the weeks following a natural disaster (ND). Current literature suggests the combination of NDs and heat stress exacerbate symptoms of mental illness post-ND.  PA has been shown to mitigate symptoms of depression, anxiety, and stress.  PA should be safely incorporated into the daily routine of both children and adults post-ND. Research has shown reduced PA in children several months to years post-ND. Municipal areas of recreation may sustain damage during an ND limiting community options for recreation due to flood water or safety concerns.  Previous research examining PA in Houston, TX after Hurricane Harvey found decreased PA in public recreational areas. This was due to flood water, downed trees or power lines, and damaged infrastructure.  It is important to plan PA for all ages when access to parks, playgrounds, or walking trails may be restricted or not available. We will analyze PA data for public recreational areas within Beaumont, TX and surrounding areas pre- and post-ND using data from Strava Metro. We will develop educational material regarding hydration strategies and symptoms of heat stress.  We will develop educational material for home exercise/activities for the whole family to assist families with incorporating PA into daily routines post-ND. Providing this information to municipalities and the community may reduce heat related hospital admissions, reduce sedentary behavior post-ND, and mitigate symptoms of mental illness post-ND. 

  • I am Stronger Today

    Investigators: Dr. Rebecca Weinbaum (Lead), Dr. Kimberly McGough 

    The crux of the mental healthcare workforce crisis is the need to recognize educational interventions for school-aged populations. Approximately one-half of all mental illnesses begin by age 14 and students who are exposed to disasters and/or trauma are at an increased risk of developing long-lasting mental health issues. Aligned with the need toward increased mental health care services for youth, the state of Texas in 2015 implemented House Bill 2186 requiring mental health training to all school educators and staff. In response, region service centers have been the main provider for educator training in suicide prevention in Texas Education Code §21.451. Yet, despite mandatory training for school community members, additional resources are needed for trauma care and wellness. This resiliency and recovery project presents a curriculum that targets grades 3-5 to address coping and resiliency as prevention and intervention during times of distress or trauma. The intention of the project is to equip elementary school educators with the opportunity to address the mental health aspects of resiliency. The curriculum I’m Stronger Today (IST) includes 8 lessons, intended to be conducted by a teacher or a school counselor in the areas of a) the mind body connection; b) feelings and thoughts; c) communities where I belong; and d) I'm stronger today. 

  • Emotionally Responsive Teaching: Reframing Resilience for Children and Youth Experiencing Homelessness through Story Books Reading Practices

    Investigators: Dr. Yan Yan (lead), Dr. Jill Killough, and Dr. Mehmet Akkurt

    The multi-disaster events in the Gulf Coast region and its associated social and economic stressors can undermine children and youth’s emotional and educational development. Children and youth experiencing homelessness due to the multi-disaster events may not receive adequate emotional and educational support they need, especially when their families struggle to meet basic life needs or community services are limited. To reframe resilience of children/youth experiencing homelessness to positively adapt to adversity, emotional responsive teaching can provide great emotional and educational support to them. The primary aim of this project is to investigate what kind of positive story reading activities as emotional responsive teaching practice can reframe children and youth experiencing homelessness’s social-ecological resilience. The secondary aim of this project is to explore how children/youth experiencing homelessness’s attitudes towards reading will change over time when engaged in story book reading activities with adults. The third aim of this project is to provide service, outreach, and education to local southeast Texas communities through a non-profit homelessness organization. To meet these aims, researchers will teach the children and youth experiencing homelessness with positive story reading activities as emotional responsive teaching practice, and then measure their social-ecological resilience by pre- and post-test through 5-point scales of Child & Youth Resilience Measure-Revised (CYRM-R) that consist of 17-items. For this project, researchers utilized the 5-point scales for both child and youth version. All the items are positively worded. Scoring involves summing the responses, which produces a total score. Child Resilience Measure-Revised is appropriate for ages 5-9, and Youth Resilience Measure-Revised is appropriate for the ages of 10-23. Using CYRM-R responses, researchers’ notes, and audio recording of the responses (for participants who cannot write), researchers will employ a mixedmethod approach to analyze data. Quantitative data of CYRM-R responses will be used to identify which social-ecological resilience has been reframed for children/youth experiencing homelessness and how well their social-ecological resilience has been reframed. Qualitative data of CYRM-R with last open-ended responses and researchers’ notes will be used to respond to how children and youth experiencing homelessness’s attitudes towards reading will change over time when engaged in positive story book shared reading activities with adults. The findings may also reveal the differences of resilience reframing levels between language backgrounds that associated with reading comprehension strategies for bilingual/English language learners and monolingual children and youth.

  • Going to the Source: Assessing Needs of Unhoused Southeast Texans

    Investigators: Dr. Janeal White and Dr. Kim Wallet

    In 2023, the annual Point-In-Time (PIT) Count mandated by the U. S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, documented 382 individuals experiencing homelessness in Southeast Texas on a single night in January (THN, 2023). While this data provides a starting point for understanding homelessness, many gaps remain in the current knowledge. The goals of this project are to identify authentic needs of Southeast Texans currently experiencing homelessness and to disseminate findings to homeless service providers, faith communities, government officials, and other individuals and groups who have a vested interest in addressing.These goals will be accomplished by conducting needs assessments with 50 individuals with lived experience of homelessness and the findings will be distributed to social service organizations, faith communities, government officials, and other individuals and groups interested in addressing homelessness in Southeast Texas. Needs assessments will be conducted via focus groups comprised of unhoused individuals recruited through small community partners such as Mae’s Love Beyond Walls, Night Strike, and Love Lunchsack Ministry. Participants will engage in focus group sessions during which they will answer questions about their current living situations, the challenges that led to experiencing homelessness, and the support they need to achieve their desired life outcomes. Focus group sessions will be transcribed, validated for accuracy, and coded to identify recurring themes in responses and to create a list of desired support services. Findings will be checked for interrater reliability and then engaged in member checking during an additional focus group. Final report will be provided to community partners.

    References: Texas Homeless Network. (2023). HUD Point in Time Report – Jefferson, Hardin, Orange Counties Combined.

  • Assessing Post Disaster Resilience Among Elementary & Secondary Teachers

    Investigators: Mamta Singh

    The purpose of the study is to address post disaster resilience among elementary and secondary teachers. This study will assess how preservice and in-service teachers have develop a capacity or ability to resist and overcome post disaster challenges when it comes to elementary teaching and learning.

College of Arts and Sciences

  • Development of Molecular Agglutination Assay for Rapid and Low-Cost Pathogen Detection Platform

    Investigators: Dr. Ian Lian (lead)

    Diseases/illnesses caused by waterborne bacteria are common and can lead to costly problems in public health. Therefore, pathogen detection in water samples, without complex and time-consuming procedures such as fluorescent-labeling or culture-based incubation, is essential to regions challenged by water supply issues caused by natural disasters. To leverage on the smart phone-based microscope platform we developed previously, this proposal focuses on the molecular approach to detect pathogenic species through nuclear acid identification. Technically, we plan to develop the workflow to immobilize a pair of oligonucleotide probes on microparticles, followed by agglutination formation against target bacterial nucleic acid through a hybridization reaction. 

  • Promoting Resiliency and Aging in Place through Preventative Care, Education, and Remote Patient Monitoring, and Telehealth/Telemedicine

    Investigators: Dr. LeAnn Chisholm (lead) , Dr. Troy Palmer, Dr. Patti Moss, Carmen Rolf, Dr. Tilisa Thibodeaux, Dr. Ashley Dockens, and Dr. Virginia “Ginger” Gummelt  

    Sabine County is a medically underserved area with numerous health risks. Rural areas exhibit greater needs for support in healthcare and health education than more urban counterparts. A higher number of barriers exist for accessibility to healthcare, including financial needs, lack of or inadequate insurance, transportation, low fluency or literacy in healthcare communications, lack of trust for healthcare providers, workforce shortages, and stigma associated with certain conditions, particularly mental health (Rural Health Information Hub of the Health Resources and Services Administration, 2022). This project aims to increase access to healthcare and improve health literacy for rural residents of Sabine County by providing health education programming and state of the art telemedicine equipment. Telemedicine will be available in the local clinic in order to connect patients with their providers in Jefferson, Harris, and surrounding counties (eliminating the barrier of travel). In addition, students and technicians will utilize portable telemedicine units to connect patients in the home with providers at the local clinic. Ten patients with chronic conditions (i.e.. Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease and Congestive Heart Failure) will be selected to receive remote monitoring devices which transmit data daily to the local clinic in order to facilitate timely management of chronic conditions and prevent exacerbation. Health education will be provided in person, through videos created by previous Center for Resiliency (CfR) Lamar Projects, and at health fairs scheduled during the Fall 2022 and Spring 2023 field experiences. Beginning August 2022, faculty will schedule students for intensive rural field experiences at a rural health clinic in Sabine County and West Sabine Independent School District. Interprofessional students from nursing, social work, audiology, and the Honors College will rotate through these intensive experiences and participate in health screenings, telehealth/telemedicine encounters, as well as remote patient monitoring in the home and the provision of health promotion education. This project will increase access to healthcare, health promotion education, and provide interprofessional students with an immersive multiday experience in rural healthcare innovations. Additionally, CfR will provide lodging in Sabine County which will facilitate immersion in the environment and help students understand the beauty and challenges of rural life while building a helping and trusting relationship with the Sabine County community.  


  • Importance of Shallow Dredge Material Lagoon Habitat to Resiliency and Sustainability of Fisheries of Commercial and Recreational Value

    Investigators: Dr. Matthew P. Hoch (lead) and Dr. Kole Kubicek 

    Nursery habitats in fisheries sciences are areas within an aquatic ecosystem where juveniles of finfish or invertebrate species are exceptionally greater in abundance and productivity than other habitats. Conservation of nursery habitats is an important aspect of fisheries management as they sustain fisheries for ecological integrity and exploitation for human society.  Nursery habitats are a source of adult individuals of different species throughout an aquatic ecosystem.  Thereby, nursery habitats provide a mechanism for a more resilient ecosystem and its fisheries of economic and cultural value. Along the Gulf Coast of North America, the nursery habitats for many fisheries species associated with estuarine ecosystems are seagrass beds, mangrove lagoons, and coastal marshes with their tidal creeks.  However, Sabine Lake Estuary which demarcates the border of Texas and Louisiana is devoid of seagrass and mangrove nursery habitat, and the coastal marsh habitat is effectively relegated to the Louisiana shoreline. The latter is because of extensive hydrological modifications and shoreline rock revetments because of creating ship channels for maritime commerce.  One consequential type of manmade habitat found along the Texas shoreline of Sabine Lake and elsewhere along the Gulf Coast are revetment lagoons constructed as ship channel dredge material placement/storage area.  These manmade lagoons have marsh vegetation along their perimeter and their water connect to the open estuary habitats via a series of 3 ft diameter pipes allowing tidal exchange of water and the life within.  The revetment lagoon at the northern portion of Pleasure Island, Port Arthur, Texas, is locally known for high angler catches of crab, shrimp, and sport fish, and was once studies 50 years ago by Mr. Ronnie Moon and others on a Texas Sea Grant award through Lamar University.  A long-standing hypothesis yet to be tested is that these dredge placement revetment lagoons, due to their shallow and protected nature may be important nursery habitat for commercial and recreational fisheries species of Sabine Lake Estuary on the Texas shoreline. This project aims to test if the dredge placement revetment lagoon is important as nursery relative to other areas of Sabine Lake Estuary.  We plan monthly sampling with a crew of four undergraduate students and two faculty, using established gear and methodologies of the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department, Coastal Fisheries Division. The latter enables us to directly compare our revetment lagoon fisheries dataset to those previously collected by TPWD, Sabine Lake Ecosystem Unit on other locations of the estuary. Specifically, we will compare the areal density of recruits and juveniles for target fisheries species, such as southern flounder, redfish, Atlantic croaker, blue crab, and white shrimp.  If this manmade shallow revetment lagoons, fringed and protected by a marsh vegetation, is demonstrated to be an important fisheries nursery habitat, one valuable outcome will be to incorporate similar habitats in the design and construction of coastal erosion protection and restoration projects.  Such an approach will enhance ecological and sociological value to these expensive endeavors and increase resiliency of fisheries and fishing industries. 

  • Virtual Assistant Platform for Resilience and Safety in Trenching Construction in Southeast Texas

    Investigators: Dr. Xingya Liu, Dr. Thi Thuy Minh Nguyen, Dr. Zhe Luo, and Dr. Tianxing Cai 

    Southeast Texas has historically booming industrial construction development. The excavations and trenching are common activities in most of the constructions, which are very dangerous to the on-site workers, as identified by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA). During trench excavations, two frequently encountered hazards to the workers are the trench collapse and toxic compounds in soils. The trench collapse (or cave-in) can cause serious injuries and fatalities of the workers in and near the trenches. The workers in the trenches are also exposed to the hazardous atmospheric and chemical hazards and need well-inspected environment and health protection to ensure the safe construction practice. To promote the resilience in the construction practice of Southeast Texas by reducing the workers’ injuries and fatalities, this project aims to invent a virtual assistant platform that incorporates three critical research-based components: 1) a calculator that can efficiently quantify the safety factor for a trench configuration specified by OSHA; 2) a synthesis of how to identify and inspect the common toxic and chemical hazards in soil excavation; and 3) a recommendation of the best practice for decontaminating the polluted soils to protect the workers and environment. All these components will be implemented into a new software-based tool that will be posted on the internet and be accessible by various stakeholders in Southeast Texas and beyond. Any user can access this URL and perform a query by entering their trench project data, such as the trench depth, width, slope, soil layers and types, strength of soils, and type of excavations on an interactive graphical user interface. Next, our virtual platform will calculate and present the safety factor for this specific trench based on the user input and provide the procedures to inspect the hazardous gas and chemicals in the trench and recommend the required personal protective equipment (PPE) to protect the workers. Further, if the week soil conditions and/or contaminated soils are encountered, our virtual assistant will answer how to use various agents (lime, fly-ash, and Bio Enzyme) to stabilize and decontaminate the on-site soils. This virtual assistant platform and other findings from this project will be disseminated in three ways: 1) the research team will reach out to the local  practitioners using approaches such as the training workshops in collaboration with the local chapters of various professional associations such as the Associated General Contractors and the Associated Builders and Contractors; 2) the project outcomes will be implemented into the construction safety courses and chemical process safety courses at Lamar University; and 3) the findings in this project will be presented through publications on journals and presentations in conferences. 

  • Trauma Informed Pathways (TIP)

    Investigators: Dr. Ginger Gummelt (lead), Lori Wright, and Dr. Angeliqueca Avery

    Innovative approaches for addressing the social, emotional, and mental health needs of individuals exposed to trauma have become increasingly necessary over the past five years. Beyond the COVID-19 pandemic and the historic winter storm of Texas, residents of Southeast Texas have been impacted by one or more of the following events: tropical storms, hurricanes, flooding, and a plant explosion. In Texas, trafficking of individuals for sexual and/or labor exploitation is a criminal enterprise where (as identified by the U.S. Department of Justice) I-10 serves as the corridor of the largest human trafficking route in the U.S. Estimates from the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement indicates 1 in 5 girls and 1 in 10 boys are vulnerable to sexual exploitation. Other factors such as poverty, violence, food insecurity, homelessness, unemployment and historical trauma further add to the hardships that individuals may experience. Often due to their age and status, youth are at an increased risk of the long-term negative effects related to exposure to trauma. Failure to thrive academically, impaired personal relationships, aggressive or acting out behaviors, chronic mental health issues are all examples of the long-term effects of adverse childhood experiences. As such, it is vital to adequately address the complex needs of youth who have experienced one or more traumatic events. This project is a collaborative effort between Lamar University, the Beaumont Independent School District (BISD) Pathways alternative campus, and the Karen Purvis Institute of Child Development (KPCID). TIP will offer a trauma-informed approach to working with at-risk youth in a highly structured alternative educational placement with embedded socioemotional support.  The focus of TIP will be to provide Trust Based Relational Interventions (TBRI) skills within the alternative learning environment to better support both the youth and the faculty at the school. Key components of this program include extensive teacher training and support, student progress monitoring and support, and the implementation of a trauma-informed culture across the school. Research for this project will address two main components of this program: faculty satisfaction/support and positive youth development. Faculty satisfaction and support will be measured three times throughout delivery using the Professional Quality of Life Survey (PQLS) and the Empathy Quotient (EQ) Short Form.  

  • Installing and Conducting Data Analysis for a Weather Station at Lamar University

    Investigators: Dr. Stefan Andrei (lead) and Dr. Brian Williams 

    A weather station is a device that informs us about the local weather. In Southeast Texas, it is imperative to have data analysis regarding the weather. This data may be used to recheck the area's temperature, humidity, wind direction, speed, and other variables periodically. Our project plans to test and analyze the collected data. Whenever these data values go above a specified threshold limit, a notification is posted alerting them to take the appropriate action. It will be a great benefit for our community if Lamar University will acquire, install and use the weather station for the benefit of our society. The research team will include the design and implementation of a weather station, including the associated software. Then a report on the specification, implementation, and functionality of the system, including its software, will be written. In addition, the grant will provide a mechanism to collect the data for future analysis and mining. Following the Center for Resiliency Data Management Plan, a webpage containing key results and conclusions of the weather station will be designed and posted accordingly. A user manual will document the installation and deployment of the developed system. In addition, this grant includes designing a workshop for interested students and the general public about the weather station. The audience will be exposed to the benefits and the design of weather stations.    Furthermore, this grant considers organizing outreach events for BISD, private schools, and Region 5 to inform them about this project’s outcomes and findings. 

  • Legal Challenges to Community Resilience: A Comparative, Constitutional, and State Law Investigation of The Legal Challenges of Intergovernmental and Intersectoral Relations to Community Resilience

    Investigators: Dr. Christina Gregory (Lead), Dr. Bianca Easterly, Dr. Brian Williams, and Dr. Terri Davis 

    It is widely accepted that disaster is local. This means that it is the local populace that feels the effects of disaster when a hazard impacts society. While there is a vast amount of knowledge on reducing the effects of disaster, local communities continue to face increased loss of life and property at the hands of what seems to be avoidable consequences. Local government, as the initial response to a hazard, finds itself caught between state and federal requirements for funding and the needs of the community that define resilience for that community. This gap between higher level requirements and local community needs produces a void where communities can find themselves in an avoidable disaster. Legal requirements such as mandated accommodations for pets, medical conditions, special dietary meals, and incarcerated individuals may result in a lack of services when funding is not provided, and local government cannot afford these provisions. For example, in Texas, it is not mandated that a local government provide sheltering accommodations, but if local government does provide shelters, they must adhere to massive accommodation requirements, needed or not, which discourages sheltering operations. This results in the need to better understand the legal challenges of community resilience. The first is a comparative analysis of community needs within Southeast Texas and across the Gulf Coast. Second is a constitutional law analysis through court rulings that place requirements on government in preparing and responding to disaster. The third is an analysis of state laws that inform local and state agencies on disaster preparedness, response, recovery, and mitigation efforts as well as any other laws that may have negative externalities (unintended consequences) on community resilience. 

  • Degree Correlation in Networks and Applications to the ERCOT grid

    Investigators: Dr. Jennifer Fowler (lead)

    In February of 2021, Winter Storm Uri froze power plants and left millions of people without power for several days. Hundreds of Texans lost their lives, because they lacked the tools to combat the cold.  In many ways, Texas is an energy island unto itself as approximately 75% of Texas’ land mass and 90% of the state’s electric load is covered by the ERCOT (Electric Reliability Council of Texas) grid.  Unlike other power grids in the country, the ERCOT grid is contained entirely in the state of Texas.  This means that the ERCOT grid does not fall under federal regulations, but it also means that ERCOT cannot borrow power from other states when the infrastructure fails. While Texas regulators debated the issue, the heat wave this Spring knocked six power plants offline and influenced ERCOT to advise residents to turn up their thermostats to avoid another blackout. Public outrage pressured the regulators to mandate infrastructure upgrades to more than 19K natural gas facilities. These upgrades aim to replace the old infrastructure with more weather-resilient equipment. The upgrade projects require a large investment of time and money, and the question becomes how should Texas move forward optimizing impact and minimizing service interruption? In this proposed study, the team will consider the ERCOT grid as a naturally occurring network where the nodes represent generators, transformers and substations and the edges represent the high voltage transmission lines between them. Coding the grid in this way requires a fairly substantial data-mining endeavor. We propose hiring a Mathematics graduate student – who has an undergraduate degree in Computer Science to help with the ERCOT data extracts (https://www.ercot.com/services/mdt/userguides/).  Many naturally occurring networks follow a power-law degree distribution. Such networks have been studied regarding their robustness to random failure and their vulnerability to targeted attacks. Any possible degree-correlation within the network has been largely ignored. In [Alm-Mack 2018 https://arxiv.org/pdf/1606.08768.pdf], degree-correlation was considered, with the surprising result that in the presence of sufficiently high positive correlation, a network can be more vulnerable to random failure than targeted attack. This tells us that when studying vulnerabilities of networks, degree-correlation must be considered. In this study, we consider the time-evolution of power-law networks under the removal and reinstatement of nodes. For our purposes, removing and reinstating nodes corresponds to taking infrastructure offline for weathering upgrades and reconnecting the upgraded components to the grid. 

  • Quantifying Chemical Contaminants in Southeast Texas Surface Water bodies

    Investigators: Dr. Suying Wei (Lead), Dr. Perumalreddy Chandrasekaran, Dr. Ozge Gunaydin-Sen, and Dr. Sylvestre Twagirayezu 

    Hurricanes and massive rainstorms have caused unprecedented chemical disasters in the Southeast Texas (SETX) community. As rising floodwater moves through industrial sites, as well as other relevant enterprises, it becomes a toxic brew that mobilizes oil, sewage, heavy metals, and carcinogenic chemicals—a harmful pool of contamination that spreads to nearby communities. One of the immediate impacts of flooding is contamination of surface water bodies such as rivers, streams, and lakes, and these water bodies are the main water source for human consumption in many cities and support wild animals and aquatic life. Most towns and cities perform necessary water treatment prior to delivery for consumption, whereas water bodies as sources of farming and/or recreational purposes are not systematically monitored. This proposal is intended to acquire and understand the water quality of surface water bodies that are rarely investigated. Surface water quality information are critically important tools for managing our water resources, and quantitative analysis of water quality could help local communities and environmentalists to better understand how surface waters change in response to pollution resulted from storms and other severe weather conditions. Two major categories of contaminants on the surface water are microbial and chemical contaminants, and our colleagues at biology are looking into the microbial contaminants, and we as chemists are interested in studying chemical contaminants around SETX surface water bodies. Chemical contaminants could be further divided into three groups as follows: 1. Inorganic Contaminants (IOCs): Antimony, arsenic, barium, beryllium, cadmium, chromium, copper, cyanide, fluoride, lead, mercury, nitrate, nitrite, selenium, thallium. 2. Volatile Organic Contaminants (VOCs): VOCs typically are industrial solvents, such as trichloroethylene; fuel oxygenates, such as methyl tert-butyl ether (MTBE); or byproducts produced by chlorination in water treatment, such as chloroform. VOCs are often components of petroleum fuels, hydraulic fluids, paint thinners, and dry-cleaning agents. VOCs are common ground-water contaminants. 3. Synthetic Organic Contaminants (SOCs): SOCs are man-made, organic chemicals. They are used as pesticides, defoliants, fuel additives and as ingredients for other organic compounds. Some of the more well-known SOCs are atrazine, 2,4-D, Dioxin, polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) and glyphosate. EPA recommends assessment of all three classes of chemical contaminants on the surface water, which includes nearly 65 common chemical species. We will analyze those of most concern to the region. Herein, we are proposing to perform surface water quality assessment of ten surface water bodies around SETX. The list includes lakes, streams, and rivers as follows: Neches River at Port Neches Park, Hillebrandt Bayou at Beaumont botanical park, Village creek at Village creek state park, Sabine Lake, Lake Anahuac, Trinity River Lake Charlotte, John Gray center pond, Shangri La Botanical Gardens, and Sabine River. Sampling will be performed after the peak of hurricane season, followed by sample treatment and analysis for chemical contaminants based on published EPA methods. 

  • Cognitive Decline in the Aftermath of A Natural Disaster

    Investigators: Dr. Maryam Vasefi (Lead), Dr. Kami Makki, Dr. Ginger Gummelt, Dr. Stacey Knight, and Dr. Sommer Shackelford 

    The theoretical research from the early stage of this project indicated that there is a link between natural disasters and dementia development in communities. According to the current status of our literature research and article review, there appears to be a significant correlation between certain natural disasters and the development of dementia and cognitive decline. Several retrospective cohort studies, metanalyses, systematic reviews, and longitudinal epidemiological studies provide evidence that victims of natural disasters are at a greater risk of becoming cognitively declined and developing dementias such as Alzheimer’s disease. This danger has been shown to be especially pervasive in communities affected by natural disasters such as hurricanes, earthquakes, floods, wildfires, and tsunamis. Thus, disaster aftermath is a critical time to identify any cognitive decline and to slow down the progression of cognitive decline through therapeutic intervention. There is a gap in reports since disaster planning and preparedness would have a positive impact on successful aging regarding environmental stressors of elder adults.  This proposal investigates those who show signs of mild cognitive impairment and tracks their progression over the 3 years and finds what factors were associated with those who had the slowest rate of decline. Possible risk factors for cognitive decline among older survivors after a disaster include 1) Disruption of access to medicine and medical services for a preexisting condition such as diabetes, high blood pressure, etc., 2) Change in diet, 3) A decline in instrumental daily living activities (IDLA) 4) Daily social interactions 5) Exposure to the toxins such as mold, flood water, and smoke particulates, 6) Significantly increased levels of stress due to disaster impact damage, relocation, and change in social capital. Community-based research will be conducted to identify factors that were associated with those who had the slowest rate of decline. and improve adaptive skills and promote community resilience to disaster this stage of the project, we will complete the following objectives: 1) Assess prospective data using qualitative and quantitative measures and 2) Generate intervention for disaster resilience regarding cognitive decline progression. Data mining techniques are widely used for the prediction of a variety of chronic and progressive diseases such as cognitive decline, dementia, and Alzheimer's disease.  The capability of identifying risk factors is very critical since it affects the progression of cognitive decline and has enormous effects on the quality of life of the adult population. In addition, sampling will comprise those who experienced a disaster and were diagnosed with mild cognitive implements before or after a disaster (prospective data). Intervention for disaster resilience will be generated regarding cognitive decline progression. The outcome of this project will be beneficial for people's mental health and will suggest planning studies intended to reduce disaster impacts and community resiliency.  

  • Survey of Water Quality and Macrobenthos in the Tidal Neches River

    Investigators: Dr. Matthew Pyne (lead)

    The tidal Neches River, from the city of Beaumont downstream to its mouth at Sabine Lake estuary, has long been associated with industry in southeast Texas. The river became extremely polluted in the 1950s and 1960s, but water quality improved after implementation of the Clean Water Act in 1972 (Harrel and Smith 2002). Dr. Harrel, emeritus professor at Lamar University, began surveying the Lower Neches in 1971-72 (Harrel et al. 1973) and revisited the same survey sites in 1984-85 (Harrel and Hall 1991), 1999 (Harrel and Smith 2002), and 2007 (Harrel et al. 2008). The surveys focused on using aquatic invertebrates to detect the effects of water quality and pollution. Although the water quality of the Neches River has improved since 1971-72, the river still receives a substantial amount of waste and pollution each year. Additionally, the Neches River has experienced unprecedented flooding, both in magnitude and in frequency, in the last half-decade. In 2017, Hurricane Harvey flooded the river to unprecedented heights and flows. This event was followed by 5 major, 1 moderate, and 2 minor floods in just the last 5 years. This study intends to measure the resiliency of the Neches River macroinvertebrate community to pollution and disturbance by comparing current community composition to those of previous studies. Chemistry and macroinvertebrate samples will be collected during 2022-2023 and will be compared to the data from previous four studies (1971-72, 1984-85, 1999, and 2007). Water temperature, dissolved oxygen, conductivity, salinity, total dissolved solids, and pH will be measured monthly. Macroinvertebrates will be collected four times during 2022-2023: September, December, February, and May. Macroinvertebrates will be collected from both banks of the river using a Ponar grab.  The macroinvertebrate samples will be returned to the lab and identified to genus or species. From the species lists, the investigator will compute relative abundance, density, diversity, and similarity measures for each site and collection date; compare our results to the 4 previous studies to measure the change in community composition in the tidal Neches River over the last 50 years; and calculate trait profiles for communities across all 5 studies, allowing the comparison of the functional changes in the aquatic communities. 

  • Microbial source tracking and pathogen identification before and after storm-water surges in Jefferson County beaches

    Investigators: Dr. Ashwini Kucknoor (lead)

    Every year, bathing in coastal waters polluted with fecal contamination is estimated to cause more than 120 million cases of gastrointestinal illness and 50 million cases of respiratory disease worldwide. Stormwater contamination can threaten the health of aquatic ecosystems and humans exposed to runoff via nutrient and pathogen influxes. Microbial water-quality indicators, also known as fecal indicator bacteria (FIB) are used to determine whether water is safe for recreational purposes. Recently, the use of these indicators to regulate recreational water bodies, particularly in sub/tropical recreational marine waters without known sources of microbial contamination has been questioned. The objective of this study is to evaluate the risk to humans from exposure to recreational marine waters based on a detailed microbial source tracking (MST) analysis using molecular methods. MST data will be used to deduce the possible relationship between microbe densities as depicted by FIB enumeration which is regularly done as part of Beach watch program and to detect any changes related to environmental parameters such as storms and hurricanes. In addition, this study will also identify viral pathogens present in beach water. This study will be conducted on water samples from Jefferson County beaches including McFadden and Sea Rim State Park.   

  • Moms Are Not Alright (MANA)!! —The Impact of the COVID-19 Pandemic on Postpartum Depression in Southeast Texas 

    Investigators: Chiung-Fang Chang (PI) & Ginger S. Gummelt (Co-PI)

    Postpartum depression is a form of depression that mothers experience after childbirth. According to Texas Health reports, nearly 80% of new mothers experience the “baby blues”, resulting in approximately 1 in 8 women experiencing significant symptoms of depression after giving birth. When mothers encountered environmental hardship, symptoms of depression can become significantly worse, increasing risks of self-injury or thoughts of suicide. The objective of this project is to provide increased screening to identify early symptoms of depression in postpartum patients to provide better resources and social support in Southeast Texas. New research from the University of Michigan School of Nursing discovered that 1 in 3 new mothers screened positive for postpartum depression during the early stages of the COVID-19 pandemic, nearly triple pre-pandemic level (Shuman, C.J. et al, 2022). With over 8 million Texans having confirmed COVID-19 positive and over 94,000 deaths, the untold impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on Texan mothers requires significant additional research to better improve mental health outcomes among prenatal and postpartum patient. Maternal suicidality overall increased from 0.2 to 0.6% in 2017, with significantly higher increases among Black and low-income Americans, among others (Admon LK. El al, 2020). This trend coincides similar increases in maternal mortality, an urgent public health crisis particularly impacting Texas. From 2018 to 2020, severe medical complications from pregnancy and childbirth surged from 58.2 to 72.7 cases per 10,000 deliveries in Texas, according to the 2022 biennial report from the Texas Maternal Mortality and Morbidity Review Committee. Importantly, the biennial report found that suicide and homicide represented 27% of pregnancyrelated deaths in Texas, most commonly via firearms and airway restriction. Additionally, other mental health conditions proved to be the second largest contributor of pregnancy-related deaths. The University of Michigan study also found that almost 1 in 5 participants who screened positive for postpartum depression reported having thoughts of harming themselves. Because of this, public health professionals have expressed increasing concern that the rate of suicide among prenatal and postpartum patients may continue to rise. For Southeast Texas specifically, these statistics demonstrate a compelling need to comprehend pandemic era mental health for postpartum mothers due to the consequences of race and ethnicity on public health outcomes. Among all demographic groups, Black women face the highest rate of severe childbirth complications, at 118 deaths per 1,000 deliveries in Texas in 2019. Jefferson County, part of the Beaumont-Port Arthur Metropolitan Statistical Area, has the highest percentage of Black Americans in the state of Texas. The recent biennial report determined that discrimination in health services contributed to approximately 12% of pregnancy-related deaths (Klibanoff, 2022). Most distressing, several studies mentioned have emphasized the preventative nature of pregnancy-related deaths. For Texas alone, the 2022 biennial report noted that nearly 90% of 2019 pregnancy-related deaths, many of them mental health related, had some likelihood to preventing death with earlier intervention. The aim of this project is to enhance comprehension of severe mental health conditions in pregnant and postpartum individuals that affect residents of Southeast Texas. By providing targeted and localized aid throughout Texas, public health organizations can improve women's access to behavioral health services.


    Click here to participate in a MANA Project survey: Survey

  • Effect of Gull Abundance on Human Pathogen Concentrations in Seawater Along Jefferson County Beaches: A Research Proposal

    Investigators: Jim Armacost, Ashwini Kucknoor, undergraduate research assistant (TBD)

    Water-borne enteric pathogens, including viruses, bacteria, and protozoans can pose health risks to humans. Human waste and waste from domesticated animals are the main sources of enteric pathogens that pose a risk to humans, although wild animals, including birds, can also be sources. Dr. Ashwini Kucknoor and her students are currently working on a project funded by Lamar University’s Center for Resiliency that seeks to refine the methods used to monitor water quality in terms of human health risks and to better understand the effect of environmental variables, including rainfall and storm events, on the abundance of enteric pathogens in recreational waters. The proposed research will complement Dr. Kucknoor’s ongoing project by using an additional undergraduate research assistant to conduct surveys of gulls and other birds in conjunction with, and at the same sites as, current water quality monitoring. Gull surveys will be conducted weekly between April 1 and August 31 of 2023, at 13 sites along beaches in Sea Rim State Park and McFadden National Wildlife Refuge, both of which are located in Jefferson County, Texas. At each sampling site, the gull survey technician will walk at 1-km transect and record and identify to species all birds present on the beach along the transect between the surf zone and the base of the vegetated dunes. Only birds resting or feeding on the beach will be recorded. The results of the proposed research should allow for more accurate assessment of human health risks in recreational waters along Jefferson County beaches, and the results should inform future monitoring efforts.

  •  Disaster and Alternative Service Delivery: Investigating the Influence of Disaster on Local Governments Willingness to Partner with Local Industry (Public – Private Partnerships) for Community Resilience

    Investigators: Brian Williams, PhD

    This project seeks to better understand the influence of disaster experience on a municipality outsourcing of services to private organization (local industry and health care) for support functions such as emergency services, public utilities, public works and transportation, and health and human services. This research will examine the link between local government and local industry within the Center for Resiliency structure of community resilience. The research looks at 8 time periods, in five-year increments, from 1982 to 2017, to examine the influence of disaster declaration on community resilience considering local government and local industry. We expect one publication to be under review, at a minimum, by Fall 2023. We do expect at least three publications to result from these data sets within the next year. The research will help the Center for Resiliency better understand the links between Local Government and Local Industry for the South East Texas Region as well as the Gulf Coast.

  • In Disaster Prone Areas, to Which Constituency Do State Legislators Respond? Regional Resilience Building and Policy Agenda Setting in Southeast Texas

    Investigators: Bianca Easterly (PI)

    Beyond awarding degrees, public universities in the United States are increasingly becoming key players in the nation’s response to natural and manmade disasters by becoming hubs of knowledge designed to address the environmental, socioeconomic, cultural, and infrastructural needs of its region. As the need for outreach, research, and education to improve community resilience becomes more prominent across the country, centers of resiliency, especially those housed at public universities, overcome several political obstacles that often hinder disaster responsiveness and ongoing preparedness. Since program development to address issues surrounding resiliency is not dependent on individual legislators to prioritize them according to a two-year or four-year election cycle, subject matter experts from across the campus have the collective freedom to design, implement, and evaluate programs that will meet the short-term and long-term needs of the regional community. Public universities are government entities not geographically bound by political boundaries, enabling them to have greater reach to serve the interests of many communities. Furthermore, the longevity of universities makes them better equipped to build sustainable collaboration and encourage “buy-in” from community members than elected officials and even businesses that may depreciate over time (Foster et al. 2018).

    The economic resources state legislatures provide by establishing and financially supporting centers’ resiliency initiatives solidify the collective importance of legislators. Still, in what way does the presence of centers change the agenda-setting behavior of legislators who represent the regions in which the centers serve? Specifically, it is unclear the extent to which the representatives were previously involved in addressing issues of resiliency in their communities and how the establishment of a resiliency center in their region affects their responsiveness to what Fenno (1977) calls their geographic constituency. According to Fenno, every legislator must decide how much attention he will pay to his four constituencies: geographical, re-election, primary, and personal. A geographic constituency is everyone she presents in her district, whereas the other three constituencies are tied to the member’s reelection prospects in some compacity. Considering the varied constituencies legislators have, this study is interested in state lawmakers’ responsiveness to their geographic constituencies on resilience-related issues. Using Lamar University’s Center of Resiliency as the test case, this study seeks to identify the factors that motivate legislators who represent Southeast Texas (SETX), Gulf Coast region, to prioritize the needs of their geographic constituents based on their bill authorship and sponsorship behavior. Building from research conducted by Selvaratnam et al. (2023), the proposed study will concentrate on representatives’ bill authorship and sponsorship behavior before and after the four weather events to justify the need for the Center – Hurricanes Rita (2005), Ike (2008), and Tropical Storm Imelda (2019), and Hurricane Laura (2020). Indicators identified by the members of the Resilience Indicator Committee will be used to assess the extent to which state lawmakers who represent Southeast Texas (Houston, Beaumont, Port Arthur, and Orange) have prioritized resiliency indicators.

College of Engineering

  • The Southeast Texas Flood Coordination Study

    Investigators: Dr. Liv Haselbach (Lead), Dr. Nick Brake, Dr. Qin Qian, Dr. Xing Wu, Dr. Thinesh Selvaratnam, Dr. Xinyu Liu, Dr. Yong Je Kim, and Dr. Joseph Kruger 

    The Southeast Texas Flood Coordination Study (SETx FCS) is an ongoing multi-faceted project on flood related items in SETx. Focus items in FY23 include the following (1) FCS coordination which includes monthly meetings with stakeholders and other members for communication and outreach, plus select task group meetings with stakeholders such as a Terrain Modeling group led by the USGS and the University of Texas Austin (UT). (2) The largest ongoing subproject is the asset management of over 70 Low-Cost flood Sensors (LCS) in a 7-county region. This effort is in coordination with the Department of Homeland Security Science and Technology Directorate (DHS S&T). Tasks include sensor asset management, aiding with sensor technical support, and mapping high resolution elevations near sensor locations. A literature review and case study on IoT sensor acquisition and deployment, compound flood monitoring and sensor maintenance, and flood monitoring interagency communication will continue. A survey of surrounding sensing areas will be completed to establish alert thresholds and improve public data visualization within the OneRain sensor platforms. (3) The High Frequency Radar (HFR) subproject, with an external grant from the Texas GLO, is under a contract from UT El Paso (UTEP). High Frequency Radar networks provide near real-time surface current data, applicable to coastal hydrodynamic characterizations and enable more accurate modeling and assessment of pollutant fate and transport, and water quality mechanisms. To fill HFR coverage gaps, UTEP et al. propose to commission HFR networks in Galveston Bay and Sabine Lake. Lamar is assisting in FY23 with installations and regular site inspections. (4) NOAA Flood Governance is a project through NOAA led by UT with other partners. The primary goal of their project is to understand how coastal communities perceive current and future flood hazards, and how local governance networks emerge and are shaped by climate and flood factors. Lamar is assisting with connections to the stakeholders in the SETx region and helping to map their connections. (5) The Nonpoint Source Pollution (NPS) and Dredge study assesses nonpoint source pollution in the Lower Neches River and dredging issues of Port Arthur. This study applies deep learning neural networks and multiple linear regression models to analyze the historical field water quality data, and in-situ real-time wireless sensor water quality data, to understand the relationship between water quality and runoff from local rain events; and to develop HEC-RAS hydrodynamic and sediment transport models to predict dredging schedules at Port Arthur. Additional studies include water quality such as fecal bacteria loading hotspots. (6) EPA Green Stormwater Infrastructure (GSI) Project will assist this project with additional student support and materials for evaluating the efficacy of a combined pervious concrete/raingarden approach to flood and water quality management. (7) The Levee Tester study, in conjunction with the USACE ERDC will examine the feasibility and initial design of a portable levee tester for overtopping studies. 

  • AIS-Data based Waterway Resiliency Modeling and Analysis

    Investigators: Dr. Denizhan Yavas (lead) 

    This proposed project plans to build an automatic identification system (AIS) data-based methodological framework to study the resiliency of inland waterways, such as the Houston Ship Channel (HSC). The resiliency of waterway refers to the capability to restore its normal capacity after interruptions due to various reasons. This capability of resiliency is particularly crucial for a narrow busy inland waterway with big ships (such as tankers), such as HSC, because the destination docks are along this long and narrow channel, not just concentrated at one location, and vessels’ arrival and departure from their destination docks may significantly impact the traffic flow of the channel. A vessel’s AIS data reflects its real navigation status including speeds, courses and locations at consecutive timestamps. With AIS data, the detailed travel behavior of vessels, as well as the flow and demand can be revealed. Particularly, this proposed project aims to develop AIS data-based models to estimate (1) travel time delay, (2) travel demand, and (3) resiliency of waterway. With the model of travel time delay and travel demand estimates, an approach to evaluate the resilience of waterway will be developed. As a case study applied to the HSC, several scenarios (e.g., the channel blocked at some sections, the increased demand, etc.) will be used to study the resiliency of the HSC. The proposed methodological framework can be also applied to other inland waterways, such as Sabine-Neches Waterways (SNWW).   

  • Improved Infrastructure Resilience via Enhancing Structural Integrity of Additively Manufactured Carbon Fiber Reinforced PEEK Composite Parts for Oil & Gas Industry Use

    Investigators: Dr. Denizhan Yavas

    Recent advances in 3D printing (or additive manufacturing) technology facilitate the next generation of autonomous construction. The 3D printing industry has recently achieved building infrastructures such as houses, and bridges 3D printed in less than 24 hours. The oil and gas industry envisions the development of autonomous underground (or subsea) robotic systems equipped with 3D printing tools for constructing networks of stable bores and pipelines. The European Commission recently awarded a €3.7M Horizon project for the development of robots capable of drilling and 3D printing pipelines. According to the U.S. Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration (PHMSA), the steel gas distribution pipelines have been replaced by their plastic counterparts. As of today, more than 60% of miles of gas Distribution pipelines are made of plastics. Carbon Fiber (CF) reinforced Poly ether-ether-ketone (PEEK) is an excellent candidate material system for the future’s 3D printed pipelines since it offers excellent mechanical and physical properties such as low weight, high strength, and high chemical (corrosion) resistance. In addition, with the recent advancements in 3D printing (additive manufacturing) of high-performance thermoplastic composites such as CF-PEEK, several other components used in the Oil and Gas infrastructures such as tubes, rings, sealing parts, and compressor parts are being fabricated by the 3D printing method. A semi-crystalline PEEK can provide excellent mechanical properties such as a hightensile strength of 100 MPa, and a high-elastic modulus of 4 GPa, with a low density of 1.3 g/cm3 . The strength and elastic modulus values are about 2-3-fold of those of the common engineering plastic such as Polylactic Acid (PLA), Acrylonitrile Butadiene Styrene (ABS). With fiber reinforcement, these mechanical properties can be significantly increased by 4-5-fold. This makes CF reinforced PEEK composites a prime candidate to replace steel pipelines and certain metal parts used in the Oil and Gas Industry such as sealing and compressor parts, However, the structural reliability of the 3D-printed CF-reinforced PEEK composites has not been fully understood. The results reported in this research are anticipated to provide practical strategies for designing and 3D printing PEEK composite parts with superior strength and fracture resistance for Oil and Gas Industry use. This research ultimately aims to improve the infrastructure resilience in the Oil and Gas Industry applications.

  • Developing Reliability Indexes for Southeast Texas’s Energy Grid


    PI: Dr. Thinesh Selvaratnam 

    Co-PI: Dr. Berna Eren Tokgoz

    U.S. Utilities and regulators are systematically moving towards electricity decarbonization by integrating renewable energy into the power grid. This effort requires expanding electric transmission capacity through building new transmission infrastructure to accommodate renewable sources such as solar and wind. According to transmission systems operators and energy experts, the U.S. is currently lagging in improving its transmission capacity. Therefore, using the existing grid infrastructures more efficiently can be a stop-gap measure for this problem and allows the utilities to improve the transmission capacity without any short-term demand issues. Improving the transmission systems capacity (primarily overhead line capacity) requires diligent efforts to meet required safety and reliability standards. The Dynamic Line Rating (DLR) of overhead lines offers the potential to increase the flexibility of the power grids while using the existing infrastructure when environmental conditions allow it. DLR quantifies the thermal capacity of the powerlines in response to environmental and weather conditions. DLR offers many applications for the power system. DLR primarily reduces grid congestion and enables a cost-effective generation dispatch. The DLR technology’s reliability, applicability, and safe operation depend on its adaptability on reliable DLR estimation during communication constraints such as weather-related disasters. Given the increased frequency of weather-related natural disasters in the SETX, it is paramount to account for the impacts on weather-related disasters to the DLR estimations for the regional energy grid improvements. Therefore, this study aims to develop reliability indexes to perform DLR estimations for Southeast Texas’s Energy grid. Lamar PIs will collaborate with Brookhaven National Laboratory scientist and focus on data collection to develop reliability indexes and formulate corresponding DLR for the powerlines.

  • Summer Camp for Basketball and STEM Learning: Building Resilience in Health and Socioeconomic Well-being for the Economically Disadvantaged Community adjacent to Lamar University


    PI: Dr. Ping He 

    Co-PI: Dr. Shannon L. Jordan

    The South Park community adjacent to Lamar University faces a range of challenges that impact the health and socio-economic well-being of its residents. Many of these challenges are rooted in systematic issues related to limited access to educational and job opportunities, and a lack of resources for health and wellness. This project aims to address these challenges by offering a summer camp that combines basketball and STEM learning for youth in the community’s recreational gym. The camp will provide a fun and engaging way for participants to develop new skills in math through use of real world applications in STEM fields (Math/Physics/Chemistry/Kinesiology). We aim to achieve the following goals: • Increase physical activity and improve financial and math literacy in youth from the South Park community (adjacent to Lamar University) by combining STEM education sessions with a summer basketball camp. • Increase the disaster resilience of the local community by providing training in emergency preparedness and promoting the role of Health and Wellness in disaster response and recovery efforts. By achieving these goals, we hope to make a meaningful difference in the lives of youth in the adjacent community, increase their disaster resilience, and contribute to a more resilient and thriving community. A community basketball coach, Henry Simms II, will teach basketball and character development. Drs. He and Jordan will work together on resilience education and STEM learning, which are the main proposed activities in this project. The proposed work includes two parts: (1) studying the local neighborhood’s health and socio-economic state to help understand how to improve resilience in the community, and (2) developing 4 educational modules in Health & Wellness (2 modules) and STEM learning (2 modules) to teach in the summer camp for one hour per day. The camp duration is 2 repeated weeksfrom Monday to Thursday. In addition, Chase Bank will provide personnel to teach financial literacy outside the schedule of this proposed project.

College of Business

  • Natural Disaster Effect on Housing Market, Population Migration, and Flow of Earnings: Evidence from Southeast Texas (SETX)

    Investigators: Dr. Gevorg Sargsyan (Lead), Dr. Agim Kukeli, Dr. James Slaydon, and Paul Howell  

    The purpose of this project is to identify factors that influence the severity of natural disasters on the housing market, population changes and migration, and the flow of earnings. Literature has a large consensus that damage from natural disaster, despite their differences, affect mainly residential and commercial properties. Such damages have a direct effect on the housing stock, market value, number of houses posted and sold, and housing prices. The indirect effect of natural disaster damages will show in unexpected changes in population growth, net migration, and net flow of earnings to and from the affected area. There is an interconnection between the housing market and variations in population, migration, and the flow of earnings. For example, natural disaster damages to the existing stock of houses will lower the stock of houses for sale, will lower the market value of houses, and necessitates an increase in insurance against natural disaster damages. This chain of events exacerbates changes in the population of the area hit by natural disasters. Individuals and families leaving the area will exceed the individuals and families moving to the area. Population movements will affect the flow of earnings, and further affect the housing prices. Building codes and standards for the existing stock of houses, and newly constructed houses will put pressure on housing prices. As the economy rebounds, we expect that housing prices, building permits, and the number of houses sold to increase. Net migration will be reversed as more individuals and families move into the area relative to those leaving the area. In the same way, one would argue that the flow of earnings would change the direction in the favor of inflow of income.  The study will explore the effect of natural disaster events on population changes, changes in population structure, changes in the flow of migration, changes in the net flow of earnings, and changes in the housing market prices and value. The study aims to identify linkages between natural disaster damages and the housing market, migration, and flow of earnings. Second, the study will study the persistence of the effect of natural disasters on the housing market, population migration, and the flow of earnings. In this way, a “resilience” hypothesis is tested, and a contribution is made to the existing literature. Thirdly, the study will estimate the speed of recovery in the housing market, population migration, and flow of earnings. Finally, it will propose policy prescriptions and help government entities, households, and businesses to make sound decisions based on data and data analysis. These findings and prescriptions will speed the recovery process from natural disasters. In addition, this study will shed light on the sustainable growth of the areas affected and aid the process of preparedness and risk mitigation. 

  • Resilience of Construction Companies in SETX: Disaster Preparedness and Post-Disaster Recovery Capacity

    Investigators: Dr. Seokyon Hwang (Lead) and Dr. Dan French 

    Hurricanes and massive rainstorms have caused unprecedented chemical disasters in the Southeast Texas (SETX) community. As rising floodwater moves through industrial sites, as well as other relevant enterprises, it becomes a toxic brew that mobilizes oil, sewage, heavy metals, and carcinogenic chemicals—a harmful pool of contamination that spreads to nearby communities. One of the immediate impacts of flooding is contamination of surface water bodies such as rivers, streams, and lakes, and these water bodies are the main water source for human consumption in many cities and support wild animals and aquatic life. Most towns and cities perform necessary water treatment prior to delivery for consumption, whereas water bodies as sources of farming and/or recreational purposes are not systematically monitored. This proposal is intended to acquire and understand the water quality of surface water bodies that are rarely investigated. Surface water quality information are critically important tools for managing our water resources, and quantitative analysis of water quality could help local communities and environmentalists to better understand how surface waters change in response to pollution resulted from storms and other severe weather conditions. Two major categories of contaminants on the surface water are microbial and chemical contaminants, and our colleagues at biology are looking into the microbial contaminants, and we as chemists are interested in studying chemical contaminants around SETX surface water bodies. Chemical contaminants could be further divided into three groups as follows: 1. Inorganic Contaminants (IOCs): Antimony, arsenic, barium, beryllium, cadmium, chromium, copper, cyanide, fluoride, lead, mercury, nitrate, nitrite, selenium, thallium. 2. Volatile Organic Contaminants (VOCs): VOCs typically are industrial solvents, such as trichloroethylene; fuel oxygenates, such as methyl tert-butyl ether (MTBE); or byproducts produced by chlorination in water treatment, such as chloroform. VOCs are often components of petroleum fuels, hydraulic fluids, paint thinners, and dry-cleaning agents. VOCs are common ground-water contaminants. 3. Synthetic Organic Contaminants (SOCs): SOCs are man-made, organic chemicals. They are used as pesticides, defoliants, fuel additives and as ingredients for other organic compounds. Some of the more well-known SOCs are atrazine, 2,4-D, Dioxin, polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) and glyphosate. EPA recommends assessment of all three classes of chemical contaminants on the surface water, which includes nearly 65 common chemical species. We will analyze those of most concern to the region. Herein, we are proposing to perform surface water quality assessment of ten surface water bodies around SETX. The list includes lakes, streams, and rivers as follows: Neches River at Port Neches Park, Hillebrandt Bayou at Beaumont botanical park, Village creek at Village creek state park, Sabine Lake, Lake Anahuac, Trinity River Lake Charlotte, John Gray center pond, Shangri La Botanical Gardens, and Sabine River. Sampling will be performed after the peak of hurricane season, followed by sample treatment and analysis for chemical contaminants based on published EPA methods. 

  • Developing an Information Hub for Emergency Management and Response in Southeast Texas

    Investigators: Zhe Luo, Ph.D., P.E., Cheng-Hsien Lin, Ph.D., Mark C. Broome, M.S.

    To enhance emergency management and response in Southeast Texas, we propose the development of a web-based information hub that aggregates critical data and information from various government agencies. This hub will provide real-time information to first responders, as well as other stakeholders and the public, enabling them to better prepare, respond, and recover from emergencies. Our research will involve collecting and compiling data from FEMA, DHS, FBI, state and county government, police, and court systems. We will develop an intuitive user interface, test the system with various stakeholders, and incorporate best practices in emergency management. The expected outcomes include a robust and user-friendly information hub, as well as a data management plan and archive plan for the sustainability of the system. The impact of this project will be significant for the community of Southeast Texas, as the information hub will facilitate more efficient and effective emergency response. The system will provide timely and accurate support to first responders, enabling them to assess the situation quickly and take appropriate action. Additionally, the hub will be accessible to other stakeholders and the public, providing them with up-to-date information and resources to help them prepare for and respond to emergencies. Overall, this proposal presents a critical solution to improve emergency management and response in Southeast Texas. By developing a comprehensive information hub, we will provide the necessary tools and resources for all stakeholders, including first responders and the public, to better prepare, respond, and recover from emergencies. This project has the potential to serve as a model for other communities facing similar challenges and to contribute to a more resilient and prepared nation.