Howard University Awarded National Fellowship to Study Gulf of Mexico Ecosystems

Dr. Delgado Vela

From the Howard Newsroom:

WASHINGTON – Howard University Civil and Environmental Engineering Assistant Professor Jeseth Delgado Vela, Ph.D., was recently named a 2021 Early Career Research Fellow of the Gulf Research Program of the National Academies of Science, Engineering and Medicine (NASEM). During the two-year fellowship, Delgado Vela will study the changing ecosystem of the Gulf of Mexico and its coastal zones.

“I’m very excited to be a part of such an interdisciplinary cohort and hope to gain some new perspectives on how we can address environmental challenges in coastal communities,” Delgado Vela said about the early career program. “Gulf ecosystems are essential as they provide food, clean air and water, and other raw materials for the region.”

Gulf ecosystems include beaches and dunes, mangroves, oyster reefs, estuaries, and offshore shoals and bank. Given environmental factors such as climate change and urbanization, as well as a continuous increase in the demand for natural resources, such as food, water and energy, the environment requires enhanced protection and the allocation of these resources in a safe and equitable manner.

Delgado Vela’s research program relates to the environmental sustainability in the Gulf Coast in several ways. Her lab is developing new biotechnologies to treat nitrogen, a legacy pollutant in the Gulf Coast. She also studies how environmental engineers can enhance wastewater treatment infrastructure resiliency to extreme weather events, a pressing issue in coastal communities given the increased frequency of hurricanes and extreme rain events. This fellowship will allow her to develop a line of research on managing biofilms that grow on offshore infrastructure in the Gulf of Mexico.

“I am delighted that Dr. Delgado Vela will apply her expertise in molecular biology to address climate-related uncertainties in coastal regions,” said Kimberly L. Jones, Ph.D., professor and chair of the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering. “Her research sits at the forefront of our efforts to understand how extreme weather events disrupt our ecosystem, and her work will help engineers and scientists to develop sustainable solutions for the Gulf Coast and other vulnerable regions.”


Research, Civil and Environmental Engineering and College of Engineering and Architecture