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East Austin mural. Credit: Jim Nix.

The Environmental Science Institute has been awarded a five-year grant from the National Science Foundation to partner geoscience researchers and Austin community members to address issues of community resilience. The grant is a collaboration involving faculty from the University of Arizona, as well as faculty and researchers from the Jackson School of Geosciences, the Moody College of Communication, the College of Liberal Arts, Dell Medical School, the LBJ School of Public Affairs and local community organizations and other stakeholders, including People Organized in Defense of Earth and Her Resources (PODER).

Project CRESSLE, Community Resilience integrated into an Earth System Science Learning Ecosystem, will partner UT researchers with underserved communities from east Austin neighborhoods to assess community needs, and create a community of practice that will design and implement community-driven research projects addressing community resilience and sustainability challenges. Projects will address resilience via three research themes: Water Resources, Climate Resilience, Communities & Landscapes, and Air Quality.

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CRESSLE Community of Practice.

For additional information about CRESSLE, please contact ESI Director, Dr. Jay Banner at

For information for prospective graduate students, please select the “Prospective Graduate Students” tab.

A multidisciplinary team of university faculty, researchers and community partners are involved in CRESSLE.


Jay Banner
Principal Investigator
Jackson School of Geosciences


Susana Almanza
Co-Principal Investigator
Executive Director
People Organized in Defense of Earth and her Resources (PODER)

Cressle David Bahamon Pinzon

David Bahamon-Pinzon
Postdoctoral Fellow
Jackson School of Geosciences

Cressle Helen Siegel

Helen Siegel
Postdoctoral Fellow
Jackson School of Geosciences


Lucy Atkinson
Co-Principal Investigator
Associate Professor
Moody College of


Monica Ramirez-Andreotta
Co-Principal Investigator
Associate Professor
College of Agriculture and Life Sciences
University of Arizona


Patrick Bixler
Assistant Professor
LBJ School of Public Affairs
School of Architecture


Bayani Cardenas
Jackson School of Geosciences

Cressle Sergio Castellanos

Sergio Castellanos
Assistant Professor
Cockrell School of Engineering


Dev Niyogi
Jackson School of Geosciences
Cockrell School of Engineering


Tim Goudge
Assistant Professor
Jackson School of Geosciences

Cressle Kelly Haragan

Kelly Haragan
Clinical Professor
School of Law


Bob Duke
Butler School of Music
Dell Medical School


Adam Papendieck
Learning Scientist
Jackson School of Geosciences

Angela Smith Cressle

Angela Smith
Assistant Professor
School of Information


Carmen Valdez
Associate Professor
Dell Medical School
School of Social Work

Cressle Didey Montoya

Didey Montoya
Community Engagement
Program Manager
Environmental Science Institute


Shirley Vincent
External Evaluator
Vincent Evaluation Consulting

Project CRESSLE will tackle community-based problems affecting underserved neighborhoods in east Austin. Project selection and co-design of research will be based on input from cohorts (UT geoscience researchers, east Austin community members and community organizations) and an analysis of issues of greatest community need. Participatory Research Projects will be developed across three research themes – Water Resources, Climate Resilience and Communities & Landscapes.

Water Resources

Water Resilience

Projects in this cohort will address three main water-quality resilience challenges that may disproportionately affect underserved communities in east Austin. These are impacts on 1) water quality of the Colorado River by activities of upstream and local users, 2) water quality of local watersheds that drain to the Colorado River, from rapid urbanization, and aging municipal infrastructure.

Faculty: M. Bayani Cardenas, Jay Banner
Postdoctoral Fellows: David Bahamon-Pinzon

Climate Resilience

Climate Resilience

Projects will focus on two key climate challenges faced by urban communities: extreme heat and extreme precipitation/flooding. Key elements include: 1) assessing the exposure of climate impacts, such as heating or rainfall across a city, as a function of atmospheric forcing, geography and landcover; 2) assessing social vulnerability of communities to understand how the same forcing can have disproportionate impacts across urban areas; and 3) investigating strategic solutions by aligning downscale geophysical data and social indicators of community resilience.

Faculty: Dev Niyogi, Patrick Bixler

Communities & Landscapes

Communities Landscapes

Projects will address resilience challenges associated with land-use change, with implications for the value of civic green spaces, and food and water resource resilience. The geoscience approaches will involve geospatial and remote sensing analysis, and geochemical analyses of water and soil. These data will be used to study landscape changes, water quality and quantity, and soil quality.

Faculty: Tim Goudge

Postdoctoral Fellows will be recruited nationally to work with faculty, graduate students, community members, and community organizations to co-develop and conduct participatory research projects around the three research areas (Water Resources, Climate Resilience, and Communities & Landscapes).

Community Organizations

  • PODER, led by Susana Almanza, is a people of color grassroots social justice organization formed in 1991. PODER aims to increase the participation of residents of East Austin in decisions related to the economic development and environmental protection of their communities.
  • E4 Youth is a program connecting high school youth to discover educational and career opportunities.
  • Austin Youth River Watch is an organization providing peer mentoring, environmental education, and nature-based, experiential learning to youth and young adults.

City and State Agencies

  • Austin Water – Center for Environmental Research
  • City of Austin Public Library
  • City of Austin Civilian Conservation Corps
  • City of Austin Department of Watershed Protection
  • City of Austin Office of Sustainability
  • U.S. Geological Survey


  • Dell Technologies

Project CRESSLE Opportunities for Graduate Students

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Prospective graduate students interested in applying geoscience to community resilience research can join Project CRESSLE. Graduate students will work with faculty via three research themes: Water Resources, Climate Resilience, or Communities & Landscapes.

Graduate students participating in Project CRESSLE will:

  • Develop science communication skills
  • Work in resilience and sustainability research
  • Develop community-engaged participatory research projects

Visit the Research Themes page to connect with faculty involved with Project CRESSLE or fill out this short interest form here to receive updates. 

Interested students should apply to the graduate program at the Jackson School of Geosciences. 

Jackson School of Geosciences

Cressle Grad School 1

The graduate program at the Jackson School is top-ranked program geoscience program in the United States. Our program offers unmatched breadth and depth in education and research opportunities. Find out more details about the graduate program here.

Graduate Portfolios

Cressle Certificate

Graduate portfolio programs provide opportunities for enrolled graduate students to obtain transcriptable credentials in cross-disciplinary academic areas of inquiry while they are completing the requirements for a master’s or doctoral degree in a particular discipline. Portfolio programs promote cross-disciplinary scholarship and study by bringing together faculty and students from a variety of disciplines whose interests transcend boundaries of traditional academic disciplines. Find out more about UT’s Portfolio programs here.

Career Resources

Career Resources

Career and academic research resources:

Press Releases

Press release, “UT and East Austin Residents Collaborating on Climate Change Resilience,” November 2022.

News Article, “Keeping Austin Green: UT researchers, local organizations battle environmental issues in East Austin,” January 2023.

Papers and Conference Presentations

Adam Papendieck, Jay Banner, Didey Montoya, Lucy Atkinson, Patrick Bixler, Robert Duke, Angela D. R. Smith, and Shirley Vincent, Designing for bidirectional community-university learning: The Community Resilience integrated into an Earth System Science Learning Ecosystem (CRESSLE) project. Poster, Earth Educators’ Rendezvous 2023, July 10-July 14, 2023, in Pasadena, CA.