This story was reported for WWNO -- New Orleans Public Radio
This graphic shows how the BP oil spill settlement money is split up. Two and a half percent of is reserved for research, disbursed through a designated "Center of Excellence." (GULF COAST ECOSYSTEM RESTORATION COUNCIL)
Much of the money the state plans to get through the BP oil spill settlement will go toward big construction projects -- building barrier islands and levees.
Some of that money is reserved for coastal research projects, and the first projects have been announced.
One of the big ways the scientific research gets done on the coast is through specific projects. The state or the feds have money for a project -- like a barrier island -- and they might ask scientists to look into something for them.
Denise Reed, Vice President for Strategic Research Initiatives at the Water Institute of the Gulf says that research is usually “pretty narrow data collection -- or a fairly focused investigation of something that we're pretty sure we can get an answer [to].”
Reed says the studies funded with this BP settlement money are different. They’re still meant to improve future master plans, but they’re more exploratory.
“It's really a little bit more about pushing the envelope than learning something new in that sense,” Reed says. “It's perhaps a little higher risk some of the science work we do it was projects.”
Reed says that kind of research is important because the coast is always changing, and there’s a lot we still don’t know -- like how the newly built barrier islands perform over time.
It’s why one of the 13 studies funded is going to do just that, with all the latest technology. The hope is to work what they learn into future barrier island projects.