Friday, October 2, 2015

UNO Establishes Joseph Canizaro and James Livingston Center for Environmental Informatics

AbdelguerfiMahdi Abdelguerfi

The University of New Orleans has established the Joseph Canizaro and James Livingston Center for Environmental Informatics, which will focus on the science of information applied to environmental science. The Center was approved by the Louisiana Board of Regents at its September meeting.

The Center will be housed within the Department of Computer Science and will be directed by Mahdi Abdelguerfi, professor and chair of computer science. Researchers in the Center will use computer science to develop systems to better manage environmental projects such as wireless fish tagging and sustainable oyster harvesting. 

“UNO’s new environmental informatics center will be the first in Louisiana and the first in the Gulf States region,” Abdelguerfi said. “The Center will help attract funding as well as highly qualified students, faculty and staff to the University. It will improve our undergraduate and graduate curriculum, advance research, and create workforce and economic development."

The establishment of the Center was made possible by a donation from real estate developer Joseph Canizaro and Major General James Livingston; the gift will fund three endowed professorships in UNO’s computer science department. 

Some of the major research projects of the Center include:

• Wireless fish tagging of speckled trout in Lake Pontchartrain to better understand the movement patterns and habitat use of the fish

• Numerical modeling to estimate sustainable oyster harvests for public reefs in Louisiana

• Fishing vessel monitoring to better manage commercial fisheries

• Evaluation of the impacts of freshwater diversions on oyster habitat suitability

• Improving the quality of geospatial and environmental data by mining large-scale geospatial data

The multidisciplinary center will draw on the expertise of faculty members and research staff from a number of academic departments, including computer science, biology, mathematics, electrical engineering, and civil and environmental engineering. Center personnel will also work with collaborators from the Naval Research Laboratory at Stennis Space Center, the Army Corps of Engineers and the Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries.