Skip to main content

NSU, UVA Receive $5M to Fight Sea Level Rise

Norfolk State University professors Drs. Ashley Haines, Sharon Alston, and Renny Fernandez have successfully partnered with the University of Virginia on a $5 million grant. This interdisciplinary collaboration between faculty from Biology, Social Work, and Engineering at NSU is designed to address rising seawater levels and the associated problems in Hampton Roads. In addition, they have leveraged opportunities for NSU students to gain access to innovative learning opportunities and training that advance their skills for post-graduate education and job readiness.

The grant is part of the larger National Science Foundation’s Coastlines and People, or CoPe, program to help coastal communities protect natural, social, and economic resources. 

"These awards will support Coastal Research Hubs that bring together experts from multiple disciplines to synthesize coastal research results into actionable solutions," said Alexandra Isern, NSF assistant director for Geosciences. "The Hubs are designed for stakeholder involvement in the research process through community engagement, partnerships with coastal economic sectors, and citizen science activities to foster inclusive diversity and to broaden participation in STEM."

“Focused CoPe: Enhancing Resilience and Equity in Urban Coastal Communities through the Co-Generation of Community Capitals” is the name of the grant received by NSU and UVA. According to the grant, “The overarching goal of this project is to create transferable methods for enhancing resilience and equity in urban coastal communities.”

Dr. Haines explains that “Marginalized communities bear the brunt of the impacts of climate change around the world. Here in Norfolk, we want to be sure that communities of color have a voice in designing the interventions intended to mitigate the impacts of climate change, particularly sea-level rise. We believe this project’s commitment to a co-design process that involves both community members and scientists is an ideal way ensure that any storm-water interventions, whether big or small, truly meet the needs of the people who live there.”

The research team will include the Elizabeth River Project, which recently presented NSU with the Model Level River Star Business award, which means "Norfolk State University is known as a community leader in environmental stewardship" for its exemplary efforts.

The collaboration between NSU and UVA is a novel interdisciplinary approach that reaches outside of traditional STEM fields and aligns with NSU’s strategic theme #3: The University will aggressively pursue value-added public and private partnerships that leverage NSU’s institutional strengths and expand our economic impact within Hampton Roads and beyond as well as NSU’s value of financial empowerment.