Current Projects


Integrated Coastal Modeling (ICoM)

Coastal regions across the country and around the world are exposed to a wide range of natural hazards, many of which are increasing in frequency and intensity. ICoM tackles key uncertainties associated with the evolution of coastal systems by developing and applying computational models that can simulate the complex multiscale processes and interactions, with an initial focus on the Mid-Atlantic coast and the Chesapeake and Delaware Bay watersheds.

role: Senior Personnel and Sub-Award Co-PI

support: Earth and Environmental System Modeling (EESM) program, Office of Science, US Department of Energy (DOE)


Penn State Initiative for Resilient Communities (PSIRC)

Building partnerships with local stakeholders and state agencies, PSIRC brings together a diverse transdisciplinary team to understand and address the complex challenges associated with flood resilience in Pennsylvania’s riverine communities.

role: Leadership Team and Co-PI

support: Office of the Provost, Penn State University


Chesapeake Bay Coastal Climate Extension Program

Working in partnership with the Center for Coastal Resources Management (CCRM) at the Virginia Institute of Marine Sciences, the Coastal Climate Extension Program will substantially enhance MARISA’s capacity to engage with stakeholders in the Chesapeake Bay region and provide timely access to relevant data products, tools, and place-based decision support resources.

role: Director and Principal Investigator

support: Climate Programs Office (CPO), National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA)


Visualizing Forest Futures (ViFF)

Sustainable forest management under climate change requires a new approach that links human values, projections, and visualization to decision-making under uncertainty. ViFF links traditional knowledge (TK) with cutting-edge modeling and visualization techniques — including immersive virtual reality (iVR) experiences — to better understand forest landscapes and the human values associated with them, exploring robust strategies for forest management under deep uncertainty.

role: Senior Personnel, lead for development of localized climate projections

support: Coupled Natural and Human Systems (CNH) Program, National Science Foundation (NSF)


Program on Coupled Earth and Human Systems (PCHES)

Energy, water, and land systems interact in complex and, as yet, poorly-understood ways — all with enormous implications for international trade, food security, reliability of electric power supply, demographic patterns, and the resilience of communities and critical infrastructure to natural hazards. PCHES seeks to create a new, state-of-the-art, integrated modeling framework to drive advances in the quantitative understanding of these coupled systems.

role: Managing Director, co-lead for Program Element II (Development of advanced climate data products, emulators, analysis methods, and coupling and translational tools)

support: Multi-Sector Dynamics (MSD) program, Office of Science, US Department of Energy (DOE)


Mid-Atlantic Regional Integrated Sciences and Assessments (MARISA)

MARISA helps Mid-Atlantic communities become more resilient to a changing climate through improved data, place-based decision support, and public engagement. Established in September 2016, MARISA supports integrated, flexible processes for building adaptive capacity to climate variability and change in diverse settings in the Mid- Atlantic region, with an initial focus on the Chesapeake Bay Watershed.

role: Senior Personnel, lead for MARISA Climate Information Office

support: Regional Integrated Sciences and Assessments (RISA) program, Climate Programs Office (CPO), National and Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA)


Past Projects


Network for Sustainable Climate Risk Management (SCRiM)

Centered at Penn State, SCRiM links a transdisciplinary team of scholars at 19 universities and 5 research institutions across 6 nations to answer the question, “What are sustainable, scientifically sound, technologically feasible, economically efficient, and ethically defensible climate risk management strategies?”

role: Managing Director, lead for Project 4 (Developing decision-relevant climate information that accounts for bias and uncertainty in climate projections)

support: Sustainability Research Networks (SRN) Program, National Science Foundation (NSF)

Rob Nicholas :: Projects - Robert E. Nicholas