Research at the Abess Center

Current Faculty Research

  • Dr. Kenny Broad has participated in and led scientific and film expeditions on several continents, including the exploration of one of the world’s deepest caves in Mexico’s Huautla Plateau. Most recently, he led a multidisciplinary team on a National Geographic Society expedition to explore the underwater caves of the Bahamas, which resulted in a PBS NOVA special, "Extreme Cave Diving." Dr. Broad led the interdisciplinary team of climatologists, paleontologists and anthropologists, including Dr. Peter Swart from the Rosenstiel School, in investigating the hidden history of Earth’s climate.

    Learn more about this documentary.

    blue hole

  • One of Dr. Will Drennan’s recent projects involved work in the high Arctic, as part of the 2007-2008 International Polar Year. The Arctic is currently undergoing a dramatic warming, putting stress on Arctic societies as well as Arctic ecosystems. Dr. Drennan and two UM students spent almost four months on the CCGS Amundsen in the Arctic Ocean, measuring carbon exchange between the atmosphere ocean and ice.


  • Dr. Brian. Haus is the Principal Investigator (PI) of laboratory-based studies sponsored by the National Science Foundation (NSF) and the Office of Naval Research (ONR) on wind-wave coupling and hurricane dynamics and their effects on coastal structures. He is also leading efforts to understand wave-current interactions through innovative coastal radar systems that are operated as a part of the Integrated Ocean Observing System. In an interesting application of this type of experimental capability Dr. Haus is working with researchers of the UM Center for Oceans and Human Health to understand bacterial transport on recreational beaches. This research will be greatly enhanced by the new Marine Technology and Life Sciences Seawater building being constructed on the RSMAS campus for which Dr. Haus spearheaded a successful $15 M grant to the National Institute of Standards and Technology.


  • Dr. John Beier is currently co-PI on "Dengue in the America’s," a UM-sponsored Interdisciplinary Research Development Initiative (IRDI) project, whose goal is to further build and sustain collaborative international research programs on dengue in Costa Rica, Trinidad, and the Dominican Republic through external grant support. Dr. Beier is also a PI on “Environmental Changes and Mosquito-Borne Diseases in Arid Environments,” a project that investigates how land use and the large-scale transformation of desert environments for irrigated agriculture in Upper Egypt affects the risk and transmission dynamics of important mosquito-borne diseases including West Nile virus, Rift Valley fever virus, and malaria.
  • Supported by the National Science Foundation, Drs. Kam Manahan and Traci Ardren will lead an international team of specialists and students in the archaeological investigation of how household economic strategies adapted to increasing regional political pressures during the Late Classic (A.D. 600 – 900) to Terminal Classic (A.D. 900 – 1000) transition.

    Learn more about this research program

  • Dr. Kathleen Sealey will lead a research team in the Bahamas to gain a better understanding of the coastal processes in the tropical carbonate islands of the Bahamian archipelago. Learn more about this research program
  • The following research study, conducted by Dr. Kathleen Sealey (in collaboration with local partnerships), will focus on the population dynamics and ecology of the Indio-Pacific lionfish to gain further insight into this species utilization of its environment.

    Learn more about this research program


  • Dr. Chris Cosner’s current research focuses primarily on the applications of mathematics, especially partial differential equations, to problems involving spatial effects in theoretical ecology and related areas. Some specific topics Dr. Cosner has studied include the effects of environmental heterogeneity and habitat edges on population dynamics, models for competition between species, and the evolution of dispersal.
  • Dr. Doug Fuller’s recent research projects include satellite-based mapping of desertification trends in West Africa, analysis of fires and deforestation in Indonesia, and ecology of vector-borne diseases in urban areas. His research has been published in remote sensing, geography, and ecology journals, including International Journal of Remote Sensing, Landscape Ecology, Global Ecology and Biogeography, Climatic Change, and Conservation Biology.

tracks on dunes

Research Proposals

The Abess Center's research agenda will constantly evolve to accommodate new faculty thinking and initiatives. The Center encourages and supports projects that adopt an ecosystem-wide focus, and are developed by faculty teams across disciplinary lines. Research proposals for which funding is being sought include:

  • National parks and preserves in tropical countries (e.g., forest, savanna, and marine habitats)
  • Invasive and exotic species
  • Effects of rapid growth on air quality, respiratory health, and the environment
  • Saving reefs across international barriers Interaction of the urban boundary and the Everglades natural system
  • “Green cities”
Abess Center