Mason researchers studying methods to boost coastal resiliency

Burak F. Tanyu, an assistant professor of civil, environmental and infrastructure engineering in Mason's Volgenau School of Engineering, received $100,000 from Jeffress Memorial Trust. He is working on a project titled: "Evaluating the Potential of Bio-Inspired Soils to Enhance Coastal Resiliency by Combining Experimental and Computational Methods."

Tanyu will work with fellow assistant professor of civil, environmental and infrastructure engineering Celso Ferreira and a third, as yet unnamed, researcher. Six undergraduate students will assist with the project.

The researchers will be divided into three groups: one focused on wetland vegetation, one focused on hydraulic conductivity and another focused on numerical modeling.

For their work, the researchers will collect samples from existing wetlands and map out the fungi present. They will then bring the samples into the laboratory and test the erosion potential using two methods—one technique that will examine the ability of water to percolate through a vertical column and a second that will look at erosion from wave action.

The team hopes to find out whether having a certain percentage of fungi protects a wetland from erosion.

The researchers began their work in July 2017 and complete the project in June 2018.

"What we're hoping to get is maybe not necessarily the answers to everything, but at least develop methodologies and potentially even raise more questions, so that as a group, we can go after a larger grant through NSF," Tanyu said.