AWI Research Centers and Focus Areas

The Alabama Water Institute will work with researchers across campus who bring their expertise to bear on different sides of the challenges society faces.

The CENTER FOR FRESHWATER STUDIES combines the interests of UA faculty with expertise in different areas of freshwater studies and fosters interdisciplinary research and education. Currently 43 faculty from units within four colleges are involved with the center and contribute expertise in biogeochemistry, biodiversity, conservation, ecology, geochemistry, geography, geology, hydrology, water policy/law and water resources management. Research facilities related to the center include an aquatic chemistry laboratory, an optical analysis facility, an aquatic mesocosm facility, geographic information system and remote sensing facilities as well as a facility housing major research instrumentation.

The CENTER FOR ADVANCED PUBLIC SAFETY is an applied research center focused on the integration of technology into real-world problems that impact public safety and well-being. CAPS develops new technology for police officers, emergency management units and for government business units that support criminal justice, transportation, human services, vehicle tax registration, tax collection and a host of related services. With the provision of cutting edge technology that impacts lives in so many different ways, CAPS personnel engage in engineering and applied social/behavioral science research made possible by technology- produced substrate data. To support this applied research, researchers in the center also maintain a strong basic research stream in data analytics and the computing technology needed to support big data in society.

The ENVIRONMENTAL INSTITUTE serves as a national integrating resource for water and environmentally-focused transdisciplinary research and development activities. The EI pursues the innovative application of science and engineering principles to collect and transform environmental and water resource information into actionable knowledge that protects public health and promotes environmental stewardship and resilience. With a core capacity in environmental and hydrologic informatics, key research themes include climate and climate change impacts; environmental and water resource management decision support; fate and transport of contaminants in the environment; global water, sanitation and hygiene; hydrologic and frequency modeling; stormwater and emerging contaminants; and water and wastewater treatment.

The WATER POLICY AND LAW INSTITUTE provides local, national and international guidance in the development of public policy and functional legal regimes for water resources through education, research and policy analysis while balancing the needs of economic development and ecosystems management. The WPLI targets the capabilities and resources at UA, an institution uniquely qualified in the state to utilize the tripartite approach of science, policy and law to provide applied research and policy development that addresses all aspects of water resources. The WPLI provides forward- thinking institutions, organizations and governments with constructive resolution of emerging challenges at the intersection of water law and policy, emphasizing data-driven policy making, strategic counseling, water diplomacy, water conflict mediation, creative dispute resolution and enhanced relations with stakeholders and community groups.

The CENTER FOR BUSINESS AND ECONOMIC RESEARCH was created in 1930, and since has engaged in research programs to promote economic development in the state and provide economic and demographic forecasting, data and analysis. Center researchers respond to requests for information from state and local government agencies, chambers of commerce, public and private researchers, industrial organizations, news media along with private citizens. The center’s population and forecasting models can be applied to produce forecasts for specified geographic areas. Staff can customize econometric models to analyze the economic impact of an industry or major economic event on an area, and can also prepare area demographic profiles.

The CENTER FOR SEDIMENTARY BASIN STUDIES integrates the work of various scientific disciplines, including geologists, geophysicists, engineers, hydrologists, paleontologists, biologists, computer scientists and scientists and practitioners in other related fields, to examine all aspects of sedimentary basins from an interdisciplinary perspective. Key among its strengths is research on groundwater and surface-water hydrogeology. Faculty collaborate with government agencies, academic institutions and industry on projects that address societal needs in the areas of energy and water resources, environmental issues and geohazards.

The ALABAMA CENTER FOR INSURANCE INFORMATION AND RESEARCH provides highly credible information and research insight for the benefit of key stakeholders across the state of Alabama, including policymakers, the public, insurance companies, intermediaries, trade groups and other parties who need information concerning the management risk. ACIIR is dedicated to providing facts and truths to parties who directly contribute to the economic development of Alabama. Research areas include catastrophic risk, decision making under risk and uncertainty, insurance regulation, micro-insurance, predictive modeling, insurer capitalization and predictive analytics.