Berger grant

Researchers to develop geotechnical database of Boston

A project to develop a digital online database of geotechnical data in the Boston area for use in research and education at Tufts has been awarded the sixth annual grant from the Tufts University Berger Family Technology Transfer Endowment.

The project, "Digital Boston Geotechnical Database for Research, Teaching and Technology Transfer in Education," was submitted by Laurie Baise and Lewis Edgers from the civil and environmental engineering department, Anne Gardulski from the geology department, Wayne Powell of Tisch Library, Gregory Colati, university archivist, and Denise Castronovo of the Geographical Information System (GIS) Center.

The researchers will create a digital library resource as a part of the Tufts Digital Library that can be navigated using innovative technology for two-dimensional and three-dimensional visualization. They will develop a geographical information system (GIS) and web interface for accessing geotechnical data and geologic and historic maps. To accomplish the educational objective of the project, the GIS will be developed in parallel with a set of teaching modules for undergraduate and graduate courses at Tufts. The project will build on previous Tufts initiatives—the Digital Library Collections' Boston Streets Project; the compilation of geotechnical data, led by Edgers and published in the Journal of the Boston Society of Civil Engineers; an ongoing research project that is developing a database of geotechnical data for Boston to assess seismic hazard and ongoing research mapping stratigraphy and sea level history in marsh deposits around Boston.

A set of teaching modules designed for students and researchers to highlight the advantage of digital data and visualization through GIS in engineering education and research will be developed. The teaching modules will direct the student to use the GIS tool to answer specific questions about the subsurface conditions in Boston and how those conditions affected the development and resulting infrastructure of Boston. The GIS for geotechnical data will provide a powerful educational tool for teaching important engineering skills to students within the context of geology and Boston history. In collaboration with Powell, a member of the Tisch Library staff, instructional modules will be developed on accessing and using the digital data for the Tufts community and for the Boston area.

The Berger family has been a generous donor to Tufts. Over the years, they have contributed to the renovation of Tisch Library and established an endowed professorship in the School of Engineering.

A copy of "Digital Boston Geotechnical Database for Research, Teaching and Technology Transfer in Education" can be found at