Mississippi State University has merged its Remote Sensing Technologies Center (RSTC), Water Resources Research Institute (WRRI), Visualization, Analysis, and Imaging Laboratory (VAIL), and Computational Geospatial Technology Center (CGTC) to form the Geospatial and Natural Resources Institute (GNRI). This newly formed institute will carry on the projects of, and pursue the same goals as, the four former entities.

The RSTC, which celebrated its third anniversary in August, has achieved recognition in the geospatial technologies industry by partnering with private and public sector organizations in a number of high-profile projects aimed at making this technology more accessible. MSU established the RSTC to focus geospatial research in several areas, including agriculture, forestry, the environment, state and local government, and transportation. All areas have been underpinned by efforts in decision support systems, computational modeling, and workforce development. The overall goal of RSTC is to produce a research and educational process that delivers robust decision support systems that use geospatial technologies to solve problems encountered by its stakeholders. The RSTC also recently assumed management responsibility for the USDA-funded Advanced Spatial Technologies in Agriculture program at MSU.

The WRRI is part of a national network of water institutes, most of which are affiliated at land grant colleges and universities, authorized by the Water Resources Research Act and administered through the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS). The federal law charges all institutes to recruit and train new water scientists, explore new approaches to water problems or better understand water phenomena, and to disseminate theto results to water managers and the public. The WRRI’s most important mission is to provide agencies with tools for more efficient and effective water resources planning and management.

The CGTC works together with government, commercial, and public interests to research, develop, and validate computational geospatial information products for applications that involve terrestrial, hydrologic, oceanic, and atmospheric processes. This mission is fulfilled by its close collaboration with the RSTC. The CGTC’s computational engineering goals are designed to derive geoinformation from geospatial data, develop a fuller understanding of the information through mesoscale modeling and visualization, and provide information services to the geospatial science and user community through computational libraries.

The merger also includes the tremendous capabilities of the VAIL, whose goal is to advance the state of the art and practice in scientific visualization using high-performance computing to enable and enhance human comprehension of complex phenomena. Both CGTC and VAIL are centers within the former National Science Foundation Engineering Research Center.