Water and Environment

The FIU Institute of Environment brings together university-wide centers, research programs, scientists and engineers to address regional, national, and global water and environmental issues, through innovative interdisciplinary research and cutting edge technology.

The Institute is comprised of the following centers and programs:

[Water] may be the most important issue we face as a nation for the next generation. Therefore, we must make the investment in our fresh water infrastructure to ensure access to affordable fresh water solutions for everyone

President Donald J. Trump

Sea Level Rise Research

The Sea Level Solutions Center (SLSC) at FIU is a cross-disciplinary initiative that is working with regional partners to design and implement adaptation strategies for a prosperous South Florida, while advancing the understanding of sea level rise and its impacts.

Southeastern Florida is ground-zero. Lessons from our home can benefit society on a global scale.

How Will Rising Seas Affect You?

One such application for greater awareness of the threats of Sea Level Rise has been the Eyes on the Rise App and Web-Series, developed by journalism and mass communications students from FIU.

Everglades and Coastal Ecosystem Research

FIU’s School of Environment, Arts and Society (SEAS) is South Florida’s leader in research and engagement focused on our dynamic coastal ecosystems. From the Everglades to the seagrass beds and coral reefs in the Florida Keys and beyond, our federal partnerships have allowed the region to advance its understanding of human threats to these ecosystems, and develop solutions for maintaining and restoring habitats and species that are crucial to South Florida.

A growing strength in fisheries and fisheries management positions FIU for advancing research with national economic impact. Additionally, Aquarius Reef Base, the world’s only underwater laboratory, has provided scientists with a much more advanced platform to study the health of the South Florida reef ecosystem and its relation to the environmental and economic health of the Southeast.

Water Security and Infrastructure Research

Water quality is not only the most critical driver in ecosystem sustainability, but also a major limiting factor for human development due to its effects on water scarcity. The CREST Center for Aquatic Chemistry and Environment at FIU has taken on the challenge of improving water quality by using multiple approaches in creating new technologies, developing analytical methods, and implementing extensive environmental assessments.

On the global front, FIU's West Africa Water Supply, Sanitation Hygiene Program (WA-WASH) program is working to increase access to potable water and sanitation, and improve hygiene through the introduction of innovative and low-cost water and sanitation technologies. The Program has also developed practical models of sustainable WASH service delivery and increased the capacity of national and regional institutions to replicate these approaches and models throughout the region.

Priorities/Recommendations for Congress

  • Encourage the Environmental Protection Agency, in coordination with several federal agencies to implement a research program and appoint an interagency lead to address the challenges facing the country's most vulnerable regions affected by water scarcity and the need to sustain both current populations and economic growth while preserving the environment.
  • Direct the Department of Defense and U.S. African Command to develop a West African water security program that integrates the capabilities and resources of the unified combatant command with academic institutions, particularly those with existing engagements and strengths in the region.

Research Leads

Michael R. Heithaus, Ph.D.
Dean, College of Arts, Sciences & Education

As a leading scholar in marine ecology, specializing in the behavior and ecological roles of large predators—including sharks, Dr. Heithaus has spent 11 years at FIU. Dean of FIU’s College of Arts, Sciences & Education, Dr. Heithaus leads the largest and most diverse college at FIU.

Evelyn Gaiser, Ph.D.
Executive Director, School of Environment, Arts and Society

Dr. Evelyn Gaiser is well known nationally and internationally through her research in wetland and aquatic ecology, particularly her work on algal communities as indicators of environmental change. An author of over 70 publications and a recipient of millions of dollars in grant awards, Dr. Gaiser has actively built and led interdisciplinary research groups that integrate the natural and social sciences, and develop effective communications strategies, to ensure that solutions to environmental challenges are implemented.

Todd Crowl, Ph.D.
Director, Southeast Environmental Research Center

Dr. Todd Crowl is a professor in the Department of Biological Sciences at FIU, and a nationally renowned researcher in the fields of food web ecology, urban stream ecology and predator-prey interactions. As director of the Southeast Environmental Research Center, Dr. Crowl plans to expand the center’s research, education, and community engagement initiatives with sea-level rise at the top of its priority list.