Researchers and librarians at Texas A&M-Corpus Christi are leading an ambitious effort – with funding from the National Science Foundation (NSF) and technology support from the Texas Digital Library — to form an interdisciplinary network of researchers focused on sustainability and the environment in the South Texas Region.
The network is called RCN CE3SAR, or Research Coordination Network-Climate, Energy, Environment and Engagement in Semiarid Regions. It is funded by the National Science Foundations Research Coordination Network Program, which seeks to “create new directions in research or education by supporting groups of investigators to communicate and coordinate their research, training and educational activities across disciplinary, organizational, geographic and international boundaries.”
According to Hong Xu, Project Librarian for RCN CE3SAR at Texas A&M-Corpus Christi’s Mary & Jeff Bell Library, the group is working to establish and engage a growing number of researchers from multiple institutions within the South Texas Region with support from major research institutions outside of the area.
The network is led by Texas A&M University-Corpus Christi, with Dr. Luis Cifuentes (Vice President of Research, Commercialization and Outreach) serving as Principal Investigator, in partnership with numerous South Texas higher education institutions, including Texas A&M International, University of Texas-Brownsville, and Texas State University — each of them a TDL member. Partners from outside the South Texas region include TDL founding member Texas A&M University.
The project was awarded funding from the NSF in late 2011 and is currently in the second year of an initial five-year plan to establish the network. Among its activities for community building and collaboration, the group is holding periodic charrettes on varying topics, including sustainable growth in the Eagle Ford Shale, as well as providing a shared project management software, and an informational website and project wiki that disseminate funding opportunities, details on the activities of the network, and news relevant to sustainability in the region.
The RCN CE3SAR team is using a number of scholarly communication services provided by the Texas Digital Library to facilitate its activities, and the support available through Texas A&M Corpus Christi’s membership in the TDL played a part in the project’s grant proposal to the NSF. Among the services that the TDL has deployed in support of RCN CE3SAR are:
- A dedicated DSpace repository housing research of participants, conference materials, and future research products of the network
- A project wiki
- A WordPress website
- A conference management site for managing the group’s charrettes and other meetings
Project Librarian Hong Xu is providing library and information services support the group. She says the group’s greatest challenge in these early days is finding ways to engage its more than 150 participants to take advantages of the opportunities the network provides. The team is using multiple methods and communication channels – including its wiki, website, conferences, and the like – to reach as many of its constituents as possible.