Florida International University Team Receives EPA Grant for Coastal Biodiversity Enhancement


A significant collaboration among the Departments of Architecture, Landscape Architecture, Biological Sciences, and Institute of Environment at Florida International University (FIU) has led to securing a grant from the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). This grant will fund the “Biodiversity Improvement by Optimizing Coastal Adaptation and Performance (BIOCAP)” project, an initiative designed to enhance coastal ecosystem resilience through the synergistic integration of cutting-edge technologies and ecologically sound conservation approaches.

BIOCAP introduces a modular tile system designed for attachment to seawalls, aimed at enhancing marine biodiversity and mitigating water pollution in coastal areas. This system leverages environmental data, advanced analytics, artificial intelligence, and robotic fabrication techniques, including 3D printing concrete, to create intricately shaped blocks that provide tailored habitats for various marine species.

The project is led by Dr. Shahin Vassigh, a professor of architecture and director of FIU’s Robotics and Digital Fabrication (RDF) Lab. It builds on the work conducted by Dr. Sara Pezeshk, a postdoctoral researcher funded by the National Science Foundation (NSF). Other key team members include Dr. Mark Butler, the Director of the Coastal Conservation and Restoration Laboratory (CCRL), who will lead on-site testing and biodiversity evaluations. Dr. Biayna Bogosian, an assistant professor and Associate Director of the RDF lab, will lead environmental data collection and analysis. Additionally, Ebru Ozer, Chair of the Department of Landscape Architecture and Environmental and Urban Design, will direct the design of landscape components and community outreach efforts.

Through BIOCAP, FIU continues its commitment to pioneering and applied research that addresses pressing environmental challenges and promotes sustainable solutions for our coastal communities.

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