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Creating a Digital Prototype to Redesign the Urban Shoreline


STONY BROOK, NY, October 8, 2021 – A significant infrastructure need in the United States is redeveloping and improving shoreline protection in urban areas, which are subject to continual damage due to storms, rising waters and the effects of climate change. Dianna Padilla, PhD, a Professor in the Department of Ecology & Evolution at Stony Brook University, has received a National Science Foundation (NSF) Convergence Accelerator phase 1 grant totaling nearly $750,000, effective October 1, to design a digital prototype of infrastructure replacements on urban shorelines that would prevent failing and also be scalable and transportable to actual urbanized shores in the United States and elsewhere.

The research is part of the NSF’s Convergence Accelerator Program, 2021 cohort Track E: The Network Blue Economy, which supports and builds upon basic research and discovery that involves multidisciplinary work worldwide to accelerate solutions and convergence across the ocean sector; creating a smart integrated, connected, and open ecosystem for ocean innovation, exploration, and sustainable utilization.

This is one example of the types of models that could be explored for the reconfiguring urban shorelines project. The visual is an exterior building membrane (inersabrane) complex surface model, which includes multiple scales to increase potential for habitat and sedimentation, as well as the potential to mitigate waves. Credit: KOLMAC Architecture

Professor Padilla, lead investigator for the project, titled “Reconfiguring urban shorelines for resilience: convergence research meshing ecology, engineering and architecture,” will work with researchers in multiple disciplines from several institutions. To create and test the prototype, she will collaborate with scientists at Stony Brook, Rutgers University, the Stockholm Resilience Center in Sweden, engineers from Arup US, and architects from KolMac Architecture + Design LLC and Philip Parker Architect.

She explains that there is a need for innovating a new generation of replacements for existing hardened shorelines that will protect the urban edge, while supporting biodiversity and expanding human experience at the coastal interface.

The research team will work on designs that increase urban shoreline protection, benefit social communities, and help to maximize the development of shoreline biological communities and the services they provide, including traditional marine industries such as fisheries, mining and trade, but also emerging industries such as offshore renewable energy.

For more information about the project and the NSF grant details, see this link.

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