VICKSBURG, Miss. — Two researchers from the U.S. Army Engineer Research and Development Center’s (ERDC) Coastal and Hydraulics Laboratory (CHL) have been awarded funds through the Science, Mathematics, and Research for Transformation (SMART) Scholar Seed Grant (SEED) Program.
Research civil engineer Brian Harris and research physical scientist Joshua Humberston were two of 21 grant awardees named from across the Army, Navy, Air Force and other Department of Defense (DOD) agencies.
The SMART Scholar SEED Grant program aims to develop a cadre of future DOD subject matter experts who will conduct high-impact research at SMART sponsoring facilities. The program awards research grants worth up to $100,000 per year for a maximum of three years to promising SMART scholars as they transition from the pursuit of their doctorate degrees to become active DOD professionals.
The mentoring of SEED Grant awardees by established members of the DOD science and technology workforce is a key component of the SEED Grant initiative. This year, to illustrate SMART’s commitment to mentoring, SEED applicants were able to request an additional $25,000 to support mentoring activities.
“Receiving this grant will have a lasting impact on my career by providing funding and opportunity for mentorship at a critical period,” said Harris. “The main objective of the SMART program is to invest in the recipient’s career, and this has been made very clear by not only supporting my time and research, but by offering funds to my mentor. I am immensely proud to have received this SEED Grant and to be a part of the DoD’s SMART program.”
Harris will use his funds to address shortfalls in the collection of elevation data following the placement of beneficial use (BU) dredged sediment in back-bay environments. In an effort to more accurately determine the trajectory of wetland surface elevation post-BU placement, joint drone-based remote sensing methods will be implemented to determine their viability for implementation in future back-bay BU placements.
The goal of the project is to develop best practices, which emphasize repeatability and accessibility to monitor BU nourishments during the period between dredge placement and soil stability to better inform stakeholders if a sufficient volume of material has been reached to achieve a desired elevation.
Humberston echoed gratitude for the SEED program.
“I am truly grateful and excited to have received a SMART SEED grant,” he said. “It is already helping me to establish my own research program, and I believe the technology developed through this project will have broader applications that support many ERDC civil and military missions.”
His work focuses on facilitating validation efforts of environmental remote sensing systems and numerical models that have shed new light on the spatial complexity of phenomena such as winds and ocean currents. To achieve these ends, Humberston has created a Local Environmental Observation Network (LEON) that enables real-time streaming from swarms of sensors to a cloud storage system for access by end users. This prototype LEON will support ongoing research on the effects of coastal winds on nearshore waves, currents and morphology.
CHL Director Ty Wamsley offered his congratulations to the two recipients.
“Brian and Joshua are the only two researchers from ERDC to be awarded fiscal year 2022 grants,” he said. “I congratulate them and thank them for making CHL proud.”