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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. And since water quality is one of the central themes connecting our research, we have designed and developed three monitoring buoys to collect data in both freshwater and saltwater environments of 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.


  • Francisco Fernandez-Lima (Lead)
  • William Anderson  
  • Yong Cai
  • Jose Eirin-Lopez
  • Quentin Felty
  • Piero Gardinali
  • David Kadko
  • René Price 
  • Leonard 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.


  • John Kominoski (Lead)
  • Shekhar Bhansali
  • Ligia Collado-Vides
  • Henry Briceño
  • James Fourqurean
  • Evelyn Gaiser
  • David Kadko
  • Arturo Leon
  • Assefa Melesse 
  • René Price 
  • Leonard Scinto
  • Jennifer Rehage
  • Michael Ross
  • Joel Trexler
  • Tiffany Troxler

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.


  • Shahin Vassigh (Lead)
  • Jose Eirin-Lopez (Lead)
  • Leonardo Bobadilla
  • Kevin Boswell
  • Shu-Ching Chen
  • Marcus Cooke 
  • Jone Corrales 
  • Quentin Felty
  • Mark Finlayson
  • Michael Heithaus
  • Assefa Melesse 

Key Ecosystems


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


In this Research Supplement focusing on Mangrove Ecology, we seek to enhance and expand our expertise to include an exploration of mangrove ecosystems, which serve as the filter and connection between the freshwater and marine ecosystems. Among the many questions we strive to answer: will mangrove forests along the coast be able to keep up with the accelerating pace of rising sea levels?

Near Shore Systems

This Research Supplement further enhances our collaboration with the University of Puerto Rico and expands our research into estuaries and coral reefs, by examining the role of contaminants and pollutants on these vulnerable ecosystems. Using metagenomic methods, our team is working to identify early indicators of ecosystem impacts caused by anthropogenic stressors.