I am Adam Clinch, a recent Masters graduate student in Civil Engineering, specializing in Coastal Engineering, from North Carolina State University. Growing up on the Gulf Coast in Venice, Florida, gave me a natural curiosity for coastal processes. Hobbies such as fishing, surfing, scuba diving and boating forced me to have daily interaction with the coast. The damage that our communities faced from coastal hazards gave me a respect for these storm systems and a desire to build hazard-resilient communities in the future.
After achieving a Bachelor of Science in Civil Engineering and a Bachelor of Arts in Spanish from the University of Florida, North Carolina State University offered me the opportunity to pursue my interest in Coastal Engineering, through the support provided by the Department of Homeland Security’s Coastal Hazards Center of Excellence (CHC). Under the direction of Dr. Margery Overton, our team pursued several modeling-based approaches to coastal research along the North Carolina Outer Banks. One of our exciting tasks involved using post-storm remote sensing to better understand the impact of Hurricane Irene, which caused a breach on the Outer Banks in 2011.
My thesis focused on evaluating a dune erosion methodology which has been used as the basis for FEMA coastal flood mapping guidelines since 1988. This procedure requires a simple geometric alteration of a beach and dune profile prior modeling the landward extent of wave activity. This directly effects the delineation of hazard zones for coastal communities. My research used storm-induced dune erosion as estimated from pre-storm and post-storm topographic data on the Outer Banks to compare this original methodology to a new numerical model, Cross-Shore Numerical Model (CSHORE). CSHORE simulates the morphology of a shore-normal beach profile due to storm effects and could eventually be used to update FEMA’s dune erosion, wave transformation, wave setup, and wave runup guidelines so that communities will have more accurate hazard zone delineations.
After the completion of my thesis, I was offered the opportunity to work as a Coastal Engineer for Stantec, a firm contracted as part of the Strategic Alliance for Risk Reduction (STARR) to update FEMA flood maps for several regions of the nation. Through my work at Stantec, I have been involved in flood mapping applications for communities in Maine, Massachusetts, Rhode Island, Washington, Alaska, and several communities bordering the Great Lakes. Because FEMA is planning to incorporate the use of CSHORE in flood mapping work for the Great Lakes coast, much of my CHC research has been responsible for my recruitment by Stantec and will be used to contribute to the success of future STARR projects.
My name is Yulian Kebede, and I am originally from Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. My master’s degree research at North Carolina State University is focused in geotechnical engineering which is an area of civil engineering that studies the engineering behaviors and properties of soil.
Being from a country where farming is the main or the only source of income for most families, I have always had a curiosity about soil. I have always wondered how soil is formed and what makes one type of soil different from the other. Through my high school years, I also developed a passion for math; thus, I picked a career path that involves the study of soil with the help of math. Civil engineering was the best field that coupled these two subjects. The geotechnical aspect of engineering attracted my attention in my undergraduate years; therefore, attending graduate school and studying more about the mechanics and physical properties of soil was the obvious choice for me. Even though geotechnical engineering does not have much in common with farming and agriculture, I found it fascinating to study and discover a whole new field of soil study.
My current research deals with the prediction of erosion that occurs under a bridge pier; this phenomenon is one of the main causes of bridge failure in the United States. Our research team has developed a new tool that has the potential for predicting erosion more effectively than those that are currently available. We are in the process of testing this newly developed tool in different soil types and different environmental conditions in order to understand the limitations of this tool and generate concrete results of its effectiveness. The research team is led by Professor Mo Gabr and is funded by Department of Homeland security through the Coastal Hazards Center (CHC). I was introduced to my research team during a CHC summer internship when I was an undergraduate at Jackson State University in Jackson, Mississippi. After the completion of the internship period, CHC presented me the wonderful opportunity to continue my research as a master’s student by offering me financial assistance; without this assistance, I would not have been able to continue my research.
After finishing my graduate studies, I plan to work in the industry for some time in order to help transition my theoretical knowledge learned in the classrooms into practical knowledge applied in real life scenarios. Since I have two siblings that are civil engineers, I plan to coordinate with them and start a multidisciplinary engineering firm in the future.
I am Meghan Aminto, a second-year graduate student in the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill’s Department of City and Regional Planning, concentrating in land use and environmental planning. My research focuses on helping local communities build resiliency to natural hazards through planning.
I studied the environmental implications of urban development at Georgetown University. As a student in Washington DC, I interned for multiple local organizations, since I was particularly interested in how communities plan for and conserve their limited natural resources. Following graduation, I worked for over six years at ICF International and supported international programs to reduce building energy consumption, limit greenhouse gas emissions, and promote green building strategies in some of the world’s most rapidly developing cities. I enrolled in UNC’s planning program to broaden my expertise in sustainability to the city and regional scale.
At UNC, I have worked as a graduate research assistant at the Institute for the Environment and the Coastal Hazards Center, supporting a variety of projects related to how cities plan for and respond to natural disasters. In my first year, I studied the implementation of hazard mitigation strategies at the local level and helped to develop a web-based Hazard Mitigation Best Practices Guidebook to share recommended practices in hazard mitigation plan development.
I have worked on several research projects focusing on post-disaster recovery at the local level. I analyzed nearly 90 local plans to determine the extent to which post-disaster recovery is being addressed through local policy and planning. Currently, I am helping to develop a set of recovery indicators for the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA). This work involves searching over 100 peer-reviewed recovery studies and identifying indicators from these studies that can be used by practitioners to measure progress towards post-disaster recovery.
This research has allowed me to pursue my interests in environmental conservation and sustainable development while supporting local communities. When I graduate in May, I hope to enter the field of hazards management as a practitioner in the public or private sector. I look forward to helping communities build resiliency through sound policy and sustainable environmental planning.
I am M. Onur Kurum, a recently graduated Ph.D. student from the Civil, Construction and Environmental Engineering Department at North Carolina State University. I completed my undergraduate and master studies in Turkey at Middle East Technical University in the Civil Engineering Department with an emphasis on coastal engineering during my master studies. My interest in coastal engineering was initially motivated by my desire to work on a more dynamic environment compared to the environment where traditional civil engineering practices take place. Later, this simple motivation turned out to be an important factor shaping my life and career decisions.
The coastal region is an ever-evolving environment between the land and the sea, driven by wind, waves, tides, currents, storm surge, sea level rise and flooding. This evolving landscape provides protection to the less dynamic inland landforms by providing a buffer to these forces. This critical interface and interaction between the built and natural environment as it relates to the resilience of landforms was the overall topic of my research. The Department of Homeland Security’s Coastal Hazards Center of Excellence (CHC) gave me the opportunity to continue my graduate studies on this topic and conduct research examining landform dynamics that are critical to where, how and when we build in coastal environments. It does so by developing high-resolution multi-temporal geospatial analysis and modeling of geomorphic evolution.
Geospatial and numerical modeling tools together provide results that can be used to improve the communication of hazard and risk and to incorporate hazard and risk into land use planning and other decision making processes. The main part of my work contributes to improving our numerical simulation capabilities to predict landform behavior to extreme events such as hurricanes. With a high capacity in simulation of real events and their effects on the coast, it is possible to generate and investigate scenarios beforehand and develop strategies to prevent or mitigate the devastating effects of a possible extreme event. The importance of this objective is, I believe, obvious: protecting human life and critical infrastructure that we depend on. The modeling framework I worked on was created using past events that affected the North Carolina coast; however, it is applicable to the nation’s coasts. It is my opinion that it is up to the policy and decision makers to utilize academic research findings and create relevant policies that will help preserve the natural coastal environment while increasing its resilience to extreme events.