Director's Statement

Our Mission

CREST-RESSACA's mission is to serve as a center of excellence  for environmental research in semi-arid regions, while addressing the significant under-representation of minorities at the Ph.D. level in disciplines  pertaining to environmental engineering.

The Center for Research Excellence in Science and Technology - Research on Environmental Sustainability in Semi-Arid Coastal Areas (CREST-RESSACA) continued to make significant strides in advancing its mission of carrying out cutting-edge research to develop innovative environmental engineering solutions that foster sustainable development particularly along the US-Mexico border region.  CREST-RESSACA also seeks to increase the number of under-represented minorities with advanced degrees in STEM disciplines, particularly at the Ph.D. level.  During the current year of operation, the center graduated 3 Ph.D. students (1 Hispanic Female and 2 Hispanic Male) all of whom are gainfully employed in the environmental industry.   The center also graduated 4 MS students (1 Hispanic Male and 3 Hispanic Female) who also are working in the environmental fields.  The center supported 8 undergraduate students during the year and the B.S. in Environmental Engineering program initiated as part of the CREST-RESSACA produced its first graduate in May 2012.  The first graduate, Ms. Natalie Rocha, who was supported as an undergraduate research assistant through CREST has decided to continue on to her MS program at TAMUK.  During the last year, CREST RESSACA supported - 6 Ph.D. Students, 4 MS Students and 9 Undergraduate students and a post-doctoral research scientist.  The center also supported 6 teachers from under-represented communities and school districts as part of its Research Experience for Teachers (RET) outreach efforts.

As many research projects in the center are nearing completion, the faculty and staff are using insights generated from the CREST RESSACA support to develop ideas for new lines of research.  Several of the center's faculty established productive collaborations with the Center for Coastal Studies and the Harte Institute at the neighboring Texas A&M University-Corpus Christi.  These collaborations led to development of a large-scale center type proposal on Environmental Sensor technologies to NOAA and an IGERT submission.  In addition, the faculty also developed proposals on sustainable energy and environment to NSF REU and RET programs.  The center's co-PI Dr. Kim Jones secured 1.2 million dollar grant from the Texas Commission on Environmental (TCEQ) on stormwater treatment and leveraged some preliminary work carried out by Dr. Martin Alcala (a Ph.D. student funded through CREST).  In 2012 CREST-RESSACA researchers published 66 journal articles, peer-reviewed conference proceedings and book chapters.   The students and faculty made several presentations at local, state, national and international conferences.  CREST Students - Joseph Amaya, Yaneth Gamboa, Jessica Ruiz, Celina Camarena, Natalie Rocha, Jonathan Gorman, Daisy Cantu and Marcelo Arreola won awards for poster competitions at various conferences that they participated in.

In April 2012, CREST-RESSACA organized a conference on Energy and Environmental Sustainability in Houston, TX.  The conference was well attended and included several concurrent sessions that covered a wide range of topics ranging from teaching environmental sustainability in community colleges to innovative sensor development for coastal restoration and development of decision support tools.  The conference provided a great platform to showcase faculty, students, and research sponsored by the National Science Foundation CREST Grant.  The Student Poster Competition was very successful, a total of 40 posters from various Universities and Community Colleges competed in this year’s conference.  Dr. Kalliat T. Valsaraj, the Associate Vice Chancellor for Research at Louisiana State University was the Keynote Speaker for this year’s conference.  The conference provided a great venue for establishing new partnerships and collaborations as well as networking opportunities for center's students.

In closing, CREST RESSACA continues to make excellent progress towards achieving its intended goals of building capacity at Texas A&M University-Kingsville and enhance the diversity of nation's workforce by providing access and opportunities to under-represented minorities in STEM disciplines.

This material is based upon work supported by the National Science Foundation under Grant No. HRD-0734850

This page was last updated on: November 16, 2016