Texas State researchers awarded $1 million to document migrant mortality at southern border

todayAugust 27, 2022 70

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Preethi Mangadu

Chief Editor of News 


Recently, the National Science Foundation (NSF) awarded Texas State University to research, record, and share data on migrant mortality under the project Migrant Mortality Mapping Portal Project (M3P2). 

While many government agencies and NGOs report migrant deaths, there is no centralized database for documenting them. This project aims to standardize migrant mortality data collection across border jurisdictions, update the Open Geographic Information System (OGIS) mapping that exists today, launch a regional database and create M3P2 as a website to calculate, report, and map migrant deaths across the US-Mexico border. 

There will be two main parts to this three-year NSF project beginning on September 1, 2022. The first part focuses on organizing and collecting a large amount of data on migrant deaths from many different types of sources. The second part will consist of the website will being created and allowing for the data to be downloaded and explored.

The impact that the project will have is to help develop better policies and public health, produce research on topics related to many fields, make the search and recovery process easier, and help many families get closure. 

M3P2 is co-led by Dr. Alberto Giordano, the principal investigator, and Dr. Nick Herrmann. Dr. Alberto Giordano is a professor in the Department of Geography and Environmental Studies. Dr. Giordano’s research portfolio includes research on historical geographic information systems; the holocaust and genocide geography, and the application of analytical tools to forensic anthropology. Dr. Nick Herrmann is a professor in the Department of Anthropology at Texas State who has prior research in Forensic anthropology, geospatial and geophysical applications, and eastern Mediterranean bioarchaeology.

This project is also an outgrowth of Operation Identification (OpID) which was founded by Dr. Kate Spradley in 2013. OpID’s main goal is to identify and return unidentified human remains at the South Texas border. Dr. Spradley will serve as senior personnel on this grant. 

“Students contribute to all aspects of OpID and are key to its success. They will also be key to the M3P2 project,” said Herrmann. “At present, we will support students in anthropology to help with the data collection and data management. This includes undergraduate and graduate students.”

As the project is at its start, opportunities for undergraduate students’ involvement have not been specified, but graduate students currently have an opportunity to help out. 

“As for the involvement of students, yes, the grant provides funding for students at the Master’s and Ph.D. levels, and for one post-doctoral researcher,” said Giordano. “We do not have specific activities scheduled for undergraduate students, although I would be open to collaborations (perhaps an honors thesis) should I find interested students.”

For more information, visit the National Science Foundation website. 


Written by: Jordan Young

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