Strategic Areas of Focus

Sustainability, Environmental, and Oceanographic Sciences

The issues of sustainable development, particularly in the context of climate change, arguably represent the greatest societal challenges of our time. As the global population grows, so does pressure on our environment and the goods and services it provides. Threats to the built environment are pervasive — everything from critical infrastructures to food and water security to air quality to transportation and mobility. The need to understand and mitigate the potentially catastrophic economic losses from projected sea level rise and the effects on
the estuarine, coastal and marine ecosystems that constitute a cornerstone of Florida’s economy has never been greater.

To ensure protection of our environment and conservation of our natural resources that, in turn, fuel a vibrant state and global economy, the Sustainability, Environmental, and Oceanographic Sciences initiative focuses research excellence in these domains on addressing critical state issues and challenges deriving from urbanization. USF’s location in the major metropolitan area of Tampa Bay along the Gulf Coast of Florida positions us to deliver cutting-edge, evidence-based solutions to address the increasing number of social, environmental and public policy challenges facing contemporary society, including mitigation and adaptation to climate change.

Many new state and federal coastal construction projects require designs for coastal areas to be resilient to these threats over their typical life expectancy. By actively engaging with the Florida Institute of Oceanography (FIO,) of which USF serves as the host institution and other nearby consortia such as the St. Petersburg Ocean Team, as well as proximate state and federal agencies (e.g., Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission, National Oceanic and
Atmospheric Administration, United States Geological Survey), the university’s scientists and engineers will establish and maintain leadership in discovery, technological innovation and science application in support of global sustainability.

Coupling existing campus resources such as the Patel College of Global Sustainability, College of Marine Science, the School of Geosciences, Center for Integrated Modeling and Analysis of Gulf Ecosystems, which continues to deliver unprecedented insights into the impacts of the Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill, with new initiatives such as the Florida Flood Hub for Applied Research and Innovation and the FIO research vessels the Weatherbird and Hogarth, provides
the university with a unique opportunity to exercise its competitive advantage for research and education in an applied setting. Moreover, partnerships with interdisciplinary research centers such as the FIO Keys Marine Lab, the Center for Ocean Technology, Clean Energy Research Center, Center for Urban Transportation Research, Center for Ocean Mapping and Innovative Technologies, and Sustainability Innovation Center provide for further opportunities for achieving national prominence.