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Research & Training

CREST CAChE is pioneering research and developing cutting-edge technologies that address the complex issues of environmental contamination and pollution. The Center identifies and detects pollutants as they change and travel throughout South Florida, as well as develops tools to analyze and communicate data that will inform decision makers. This process is divided into four “Research Focus Areas” (RFAs): 1) Detection and Identification, 2) Fate and Transport, 3) Impacts and Visualization, and 4) Education Research. While each RFA focuses on a specific part of the process, they all work collaboratively within CREST CAChE to understand and improve global water quality.

Research Experience for Undergraduates

Undergraduate students are welcome to apply and join us in our work, studying how pollutants are transformed and transferred across the natural, agricultural and urban systems in South Florida.

Research Focus Areas

Teams of faculty, students and partners are addressing the sources, transport and transformation of environmental contaminants. Together, we are understanding ecosystem responses to help better inform policy and decision-making.


Detection & Identification

The goal of RFA 1 is to advance existing analytical tools for traditional pollutants, while also developing methods to identify, characterize and quantify previously-unknown contaminants of concern, so that we may assess environmental stressors to aquatic organisms and systems.


  • Yong Cai (Co-Lead)
  • Piero Gardinali (Co-Lead)
  • Bill Anderson 
  • Marcus Cooke 
  • Jose Eirin-Lopez
  • Quentin Felty
  • Francisco Fernandez-Lima
  • Rene Price 
  • Len Scinto 

Fate & Transport

Research conducted in RFA 2 will determine the water-based transport, fate, and environmental impact of contaminants across three major land-use boundaries in South Florida (agricultural, urban and natural) under current and potentially changing environmental conditions.


  • Rudolf Jaffé (Co-Lead)
  • Rene Price (Co-Lead)
  • Henry Briceño
  • Jim Fourqurean
  • Evelyn Gaiser
  • John Kominoski 
  • Assefa Melesse 
  • Len Scinto 
  • Joel Trexler

Impacts & Visualization

RFA 3 supports data-intensive research on aquatic environments by developing transformative and scalable methods for data mining and management, as well as advanced modeling and visualization, in order to guide and inform policy and decision-making.


  • Shu-Ching Chen (Co-Lead)
  • Marcus Cooke (Co-Lead)
  • Jose Eirin-Lopez 
  • Quentin Felty
  • Mark Finlayson
  • Mike Heithaus
  • Rudolf Jaffé
  • Tao Li
  • Assefa Melesse 
  • Gary Rand 
  • Shahin Vassigh 

Key Ecosystems


The Greater Everglades provides an essential ecological and economic service to all of South Florida’s inhabitants, who also depend on this system as their main source of freshwater. CREST CAChE’s work begins with the distinct advantage of immediately drawing upon a wealth of expertise in our faculty, who have long been conducting research in this complex ecosystem.

Mangrove Ecology

In this Research Supplement focusing on Mangrove Ecology, we seek to enhance the Center by expanding the expertise on our research team to add an exploration of mangrove ecosystems, which serve as the filter and connection between the freshwater and marine ecosystems.

Training and Professional Development

Our faculty are dedicated to advancing research and educational change that uses the latest evidence-based instructional practices to better prepare our students to begin their careers. 

Hands-On Learning

We are increasing opportunities for graduate and undergraduate students to conduct their own authentic research while advancing ongoing aquatic and environmental projects, using data analytics tools, methodologies, and ecological risk assessments. With our diverse student population, we have a unique opportunity to encourage and engage students who are traditionally underrepresented in science and engineering fields.

Multidisciplinary Guidance

In collaboration with the STEM Transformation Institute, STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Mathematics) experts across FIU will mentor and train students to be future researchers and environmental professionals.