Biographies

Len Waterworth, COL (ret.) USA
Executive Professor, Maritime Administration
Texas A&M University at Galveston

Len Waterworth, COL (ret.) USA

Col. Len Waterworth joins Texas A&M University at Galveston as an executive professor in the Department of Maritime Administration starting in the summer of 2014.  Col. Waterworth will also be appointed as a senior research associate in the Center for Texas Beaches and Shores.  Col. Waterworth holds a masters of strategic studies from US Army War College and a master of engineering administration from George Washington University.

His duties will include working to coordinate Ike Dike hurricane surge protection research activities with Texas A&M Galveston faculty and research partners at Delft University of Technology, Delft, Netherlands, the largest and oldest Dutch public technical university; the Institute for Regional Forecasting at the University of Houston and the Homeland Center of Excellence at Jackson State University in Mississippi, as well as public outreach efforts with businesses, municipalities and non-governmental organizations in the Houston/Galveston region.

After a long and successful career in the Army, Col. Waterworth has had a similarly successful career in top administration in both governmental and private sectors with the Army Corps of Engineers, Dannenbaum Engineering Corporation and most recently as executive director at the Port of Houston Authority.



Robert W. (Bill) Gilmer

Director, Institute for Regional Forecasting
C.T. Bauer College of Business, University of Houston

Robert W. (Bill) Gilmer

Bill Gilmer is Director of the Institute for Regional Forecasting in the University of Houston’s Bauer College of Business. The Institute focuses on developments in the Houston business cycle, monitoring the effects on the Gulf Coast region of the national economy, energy and global expansion. It also conducts other economic studies of policy significance to the Houston area.

Before joining the Institute, Gilmer served for 23 years as a Senior Economist and Vice President of the Federal Reserve Bank of Dallas. He joined the Houston Branch of the Federal Reserve Bank of Dallas as a senior economist in 1989, focusing on energy markets. He co-managed the 11th District’s regional economic analysis, and was editor of two of the bank’s regional publications. He was the officer in charge of the bank’s El Paso office from 2003-2012.

Dr. Gilmer holds an M.A. and a Ph. D. in Economics from the University of Texas at Austin. He was born in Amarillo, Texas, and grew up in El Paso where he earned a B.A. in economics from the University of Texas at El Paso.

Prior to joining the Federal Reserve Bank of Dallas in 1989, Dr. Gilmer held the principal economic forecasting position on the staff of the Chief Economist at the Tennessee Valley Authority. He also worked as a research economist at the Institute for Energy Analysis in Oak Ridge, Tennessee and at the Institute for Defense Analysis in Arlington, Virginia.

Dr. Gilmer was as an intern in the Texas Governor's office while finishing graduate school, and spent 1987-88 as a Visiting Research Professor at Ball State University in Muncie Indiana.


Wesley Highfield
Assistant Professor
Texas A&M University at Galveston

Wesley Highfield

Education:

- Ph.D., Urban and Regional Science, Texas A&M University, College Station, TX, 2008

- MUP., Urban Planning, Texas A&M University, College Station, TX, 2004

- B.S., Renewable Natural Resources, Texas A&M University, College Station, TX, 2001

Research Interests:

- GIS

- Spatial Analysis/Statistics

- Natural Hazard Mitigation & Policy

- Environmental Planning & Policy

Projects:

- 2011 to 2013 Co-Principal Investigator, National Science Foundation, $312,801 “Examining the 100-year floodplain as a metric of risk, loss, and household adjustment”

- 2011 to 2014 Co-Principal Investigator, National Aeronautical and Space Administration, $399,857 “Examining the relationships between land use change, wetland alteration, and carbon sequestration in the Gulf of Mexico.”


Meri Davlasheridze
Assistant Professor
Texas A&M University at Galveston

Meri Davlasheridze

Meri Davlasheridze holds a B.S in economics from Tbilisi State University, the Republic of Georgia, a M.S. in agricultural economics from Texas A&M University and a PhD in Agricultural, Environmental and Regional Economics from the Pennsylvania State University. She is an assistant professor of Environmental and Resource Economics at Texas AM University at Galveston and a faculty research fellow at the center for Texas Beaches and Shores. She is involved in the interdisciplinary research program “Program of Integrated Assessment Model Development, Diagnostics and Inter-Model Comparisons (PIAMDDI)”, funded by the U.S. Department of Energy and led by the directors at Penn State and Stanford University. Her research interests include economic impacts of climatic induced natural disasters, public policy concerning disaster mitigation and recovery issues.


Robert W. Whalin
Associate Dean and Professor of Civil Engineering College of Science,
Engineering, and Technology, Jackson State University

Robert W. Whalin

Robert W. Whalin, Ph.D., P.E. is Associate Dean and Professor of Civil Engineering College of Science, Engineering, and Technology, Jackson State University.  He is responsible for managing the School of Engineering and serves as Director of the Education Lead for the Coastal Hazards Center of Excellence, sponsored by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security.

Dr. Whalin completed 36 years of exemplary civilian service in the Department of Army including 20 years in the Senior Executive Service as Director, Army Research Laboratory (ARL); Director, United States Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) Waterways Experiment Station; and Technical Director, USACE Coastal Engineering Research Center. The ARL program exceeded 1.1 billion and had a 2,200-person workforce at six primary locations throughout the United States plus small groups in Japan and the United Kingdom. Dr. Whalin was the recipient of the Distinguished Presidential Rank Award, two Meritorious Presidential Rank Awards, Exceptional Civilian Service Award, three Meritorious Civilian Service Awards, two Department of Army Awards for Outstanding Achievement in Equal Employment Opportunity and the Silver Order of the DeFleury Medal.

A registered professional engineer, Dr. Whalin holds a B.S. degree in physics from the University of Kentucky, an M.S. degree in physics from the University of Illinois and a Ph.D. in oceanography from Texas A & M University. Prior to his service with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, he worked six years in southern California for Tetra Tech Inc., National Engineering Science Co., Interstate Electronics Corporation and Hughes Aircraft Co.

Dr. Whalin is a renowned Coastal Engineer, widely recognized for pioneering experimental research of wave transformations in convergent zones and for innovative coastal models of long waves and non-linear wave transformations in harbors, bays, lagoons and estuaries. He has authored/co-authored over a hundred journal, conference, or symposia publications and technical reports.


S.N. ( Bas) Jonkman
Professor Integral Hydraulic Engineering
Delft Technical University

S.N. ( Bas) Jonkman

As of Oct 1, 2012, Bas Jonkman has been appointed as a professor of Hydraulic Engineering at Delft University. He holds the chair of (integral) hydraulic engineering and is the head of this section of hydraulic structures and flood risk within the department of hydraulic engineering. The group focuses on research and education related to hydraulic engineering systems, such as flood defenses, storm surge barriers, tunnels and locks. The group also develops methods for probabilistic design and flood risk management and approaches to incorporate eco-design, asset management and life cycle aspects in hydraulic engineering.

Mr. Jonkman’s teaching and research interests include:

Hydraulic engineering systems in deltas: conceptual and innovative design approaches, incl. asset and risk management.

Flood defense and flood management systems: dikes / levees (including temporary defenses), storm surge barriers, but also approaches to mitigate flood losses such as emergency management and flood proofing.

Flood risk assessment: incl. analysis of damage and loss of life, structural building vulnerability in floods, risk evaluation and decision making approaches.

Probabilistic design and integrated risk management: including human and organization factors, risk assessment for interconnected infrastructures and approaches to incorporate uncertainties.

Dr. Jonkman holds an Msc and PhD degree in civil engineering from Delft University.


Jens Figlus
Assistant Professor
Maritime Systems Engineering (MASE)
Texas A&M University at Galveston
Associate Graduate Faculty Member
Ocean Engineering Program
Coastal and Ocean Engineering Division
Zachry Department of Civil Engineering
Texas A&M University College Station

Jens Figlus

Dr. Figlus is a coastal engineering expert with special interests in coastal sediment transport processes, beach and dune morphodynamics, and coastal protection.

His current research projects deal with

  • the recovery of beaches after severe storms including detailed hydrodynamics, sediment transport and morphodynamics of ridge-runnel systems
  • vegetated coastal dunes and their resilience against erosion, overtopping and overwash
  • hybrid coastal storm surge protection systems (i.e. core-enhanced coastal dunes)
  • innovative coastal protection schemes for eroding coastlines
  • wave – structure – sediment interaction
  • wave – vegetation – sediment interaction

The complex physical processes involved in the destruction, but also the potential recovery of beaches, dunes and coastal defenses are of particular interest.

Dr. Figlus utilizes laboratory experiments, field measurements and process based numerical modelling to gain a better understanding of the complicated sediment transport phenomena that govern dune destruction and beach recovery. He also uses the data to create applied engineering models that serve as tools for managing our shorelines.


Samuel D. Brody
Professor and George P. Mitchell Chair in Sustainable Coasts
Marine Sciences
Director, Center for Texas Beaches and Shores
Texas A&M University at Galveston

Samuel D. Brody

Samuel D. Brody is a Professor and holder of the George P. Mitchell ’40 Chair in Sustainable Coasts in the Departments of Marine Sciences and Landscape Architecture and Urban Planning at Texas A&M University.  He is the Director of Center for Texas Beaches and Shores and the Co-Director of the Institute for Sustainable Coastal Communities. 

Dr. Brody’s research focuses on coastal environmental planning, spatial analysis, flood mitigation, climate change policy, and natural hazards mitigation.  He has published numerous scientific articles on flood risk and mitigation, and recently authored the book, Rising Waters: The causes and consequences of flooding in the United States published by Cambridge University Press.  Dr. Brody teaches graduate courses in environmental planning and sustainable/resilient coastal development.  He has also worked in both the public and private sectors to help local coastal communities to environmental and flood mitigation plans.  For more information, please visit www.tamug.edu/ctbs or www.tamug.edu/ISCC.


William Merrell
George P. Mitchell Chair, Marine Sciences
Texas A&M University at Galveston

William Merrell

William J. Merrell holds a B.S. in physics and a M.A. in mathematics from Sam Houston State University and a Ph.D. in oceanography from Texas A&M University.  He is the George P. Mitchell chair of marine sciences at Texas A&M University at Galveston and served as president of the university.  He has been chair of the H. John Heinz III Center for Science, Economics and the Environment, vice chancellor for Strategic Programs of The Texas A&M University System, vice president for Research Policy of Texas A&M University, chair of the Ocean Studies Board, served on the Space Studies Board and the Board on Sustainability of the National Research Council and has held presidential appointments with the National Science Foundation.  Among his awards are the Distinguished Achievement Medal from the Geosciences and Earth Resources Council and he is the only person to receive the Distinguished Service Award of the National Science Foundation twice.  Following the devastation of Hurricane Ike, Dr. Merrell began the Ike Dike project to provide hurricane surge protection for the Upper Texas Coast including all of Houston and Galveston.


Eric K. Bardenhagen
Assistant Professor
Department of Landscape Architecture & Urban Planning
Texas A&M University

Eric K. Bardenhagen

Eric K. Bardenhagen holds a B.A. in English, an Master of Landscape Architecture and a Ph.D. in Urban and Regional Science. He teaches core BLA / MLA curriculum courses including theory, design studio, construction and professional practice.  Teaching focuses on the transdisiplinary nature of landscape architecture and active collaboration with stakeholders and other professionals as vital to the success of any design or planning intervention.

His research is focused on planning and recovery processes to protect natural and cultural resources during and after hazard incidents. This work has been with the Department of the Interior (DOI) Office of Environmental Policy and Compliance, and the National Park Service and has been continuously funded since late 2007.

He also currently serves in the role of DOI All-Hazards Resource Advisor Curriculum Coordinator.

This program is in development to create a series of online courses to cross-train specialists across DOI bureaus to act as first responders during and after events that affect the natural and cultural resources within parks. This effort has drawn experience from numerous cultural and natural resource subject matter experts as well as coordination with online course delivery specialists. Most recently these efforts have supported responses to Hurricanes Irene (2011) and Sandy (2012).


Galen D. Newman
Assistant Professor
Department of Landscape Architecture & Urban Planning
Texas A&M University

Galen D. Newman

Galen D. Newman holds a B.S. in Environmental Design, a Master of Community Planning, a Master of Landscape Architecture and a Doctor of Philosophy in Planning, Design and the Built Environment.

Galen currently conducts research on theories, formation, measurements, and regeneration of vacant land and abandoned structures.  He teaches core Bachelor of Landscape Architecture courses on the history of landscape architecture, digital graphics and community scaled design studios.

He also teaches core Master of Landscape Architecture design studios as well as core courses in Urban and Regional Sciences on digital graphics and representation for graduate and undergraduate planners and landscape architects.


Jeffrey A. Melby
Coastal and Hydraulics Laboratory
U.S. Army Research and Development Center

Dr. Jeffrey Melby is the Coastal Structures Group Leader at the U.S. Army Engineer Research and Development Center (ERDC), Coastal and Hydraulics Laboratory (CHL). Dr. Melby began his career with CHL in 1987 after receiving BS and MS degrees in Civil Engineering from Oregon State University. He received his PhD from the University of Delaware in Civil Engineering in 1999. He has over 100 publications and is presently leading USACE research in coastal life-cycle risk analysis, coastal flood risk, the Coastal Hazard System (a national coastal storm data resource), surrogate modeling of hurricane response and coastal structure engineering. Dr. Melby is the senior technical lead on the North Atlantic Comprehensive Coastal Study Virginia to Maine coastal modeling study as well as ERDC support for the Sabine to Galveston Texas regional flood risk study. Dr. Melby recently led the technical portion of a study to develop new flood mapping technologies based on high-fidelity modeling in support of the FEMA Region V portion of the National Flood Insurance Program. In addition, Dr. Melby is leading several site-specific studies for USACE coastal risk studies and components of international coastal structure engineering projects. He is leading cooperative R&D with U.S., Korean and UK researchers on coastal flood risk.

Dr. Melby has been a leader in the American Society of Civil Engineers including present member of the Coastal Engineering Research Council and former Chair of the ASCE Coastal Structures Committee, and a he is a former member of the Association of Coastal Engineers Board of Directors. Dr. Melby routinely teaches short courses on coastal flood risk and coastal structure engineering at international and Corps conferences and workshops.

Dr. Melby has been awarded over 40 patents as co-inventor of the Core-Loc®, Samoa Stone®, and C-ROCTM concrete armor units. Dr. Melby has received 20 Army and professional awards including the Vogel outstanding ERDC engineer for 2003, US Army Research and Development Achievement Award, and the Most Impressive R&D Achievement award 7 times.


Phil Bedient
Herman Brown Professor of Engineering
Civil and Environmental Engineering
Rice University

Phil Bedient

Dr. Bedient teaches and performs research in surface water hydrology and flood prediction systems, and radar based flood alert. He has directed 60 research projects over the past 35 years, has written over 180 articles in journals and conference proceedings. He has worked on hydrologic problems including major floodplain studies, water quality assessments, and hydrologic modeling for a number of watersheds in Texas, Florida, and Louisiana. He has been actively involved in the area of hydrologic analysis for flood prediction and warning, and has developed a real-time flood alert system for the Texas Medical Center, based on the use of NEXRAD radar data. Dr. Bedient directs the SSPEED Center at Rice for Severe Storm Prediction, consisting of several universities in the Gulf Coast area, which has funding to address the impacts of Hurricane Ike in the Houston area. Both storm surge prediction, inland flooding, and long-term mitigation strategies are being studied with funding from the Houston Endowment. Dr. Bedient also is evaluating low impact development schemes with funding from the City of Houston.


Ruisi Guo
Master of Landscape Architecture (3rd year student)
Department of Landscape Architecture and Urban Planning
College of Architecture
Texas A&M University at College Station

Ruisi Guo

Ruisi Guo is a student in the Department of Landscape Architecture and Urban Planning, College of Architecture, Texas A&M University at College Station.  She enrolls in the Master of Landscape Architecture program

Ruisi Guo focuses on sustainable planning and design, especially low impact development design.  She has taken some graduate courses in healthcare design, low impact development design, sustainable planning, site engineering, landscape history, and land development. She has worked as an internship in the Department of Tourism and Scenic Area Planning, in Tsinghua Urban Planning and Design Institute, Beijing, China.


Yixun Zhang
Third-year master student majoring in landscape architecture
Department of Landscape Architecture & Urban Planning,
Texas A&M University

Yixun Zhang

Yixun Zhang was trained in the urban planning program for bachelor degree in Tianjin Institute of Urban Construction. She has gained the knowledge about  large-scale planning strategies in terms of buildings layout, circulation, open space, and ecosystem.

Now Yixun Zhang is a third-year Master of Landscape Architecture student in Texas A&M University. She has participated in nine different projects spanning diverse scales in the school, from a less than one acre backyard design, healing garden design, hand-on LID education infrastructure design to a 420-acre community planning and design. From those important projects, she has built up a solid foundation of background analysis, programming, making evidence-based design solutions, graphic communication, etc. She is interested in researches about hazard mitigation and sustainable coastal development. She recently participated in the Ike Dike Project in Galveston, TX, which is her final study project.


Thomas Richardson

Thomas Richardson

Thomas Richardson is the Deputy Director for the Education Lead of Coastal Hazards Center of Excellence. Richardson has been a coastal engineer with more than 35 years of experience. He specializes in coastal infrastructure, navigation, and research and development management.


William Mobley
URSC PhD Student
Research Assistant, Center for Texas Beaches and Shores
Texas A&M University College Station

William Mobley

William Mobley is a PhD student in the Urban and Regional Science program at Texas A&M University.  He is a Research Assistant at the Center for Texas beaches and Shores. His research interests focus on the interactions of development with coastal and inland hazards. Recently William has been working on the Texas Coastal Atlas, ensuring data and research is easily accessible. He has a Masters in Urban Planning from University Wisconsin-Milwaukee, and a BS in Geography from University Wisconsin-La Crosse.


Helen M. Walters
Graduate Research Assistant
Marine Sciences
2-Year Competitive Merit Fellow
Texas A&M University at Galveston

Helen M. Walters

Helen M. Walters is a graduate research assistant and recipient of the 2-Year Competitive Merit Fellowship in Marine Sciences at Texas A&M University Galveston. She is a master’s student in the Marine Resource Management thesis option program studying under Dr. Samuel Brody in the Center for Texas Beaches and Shores.

Walters received Bachelors of Science in BioResource Research and Sustainability along with an Undergraduate GIS Certificate in 2014 from Oregon State University. Her Master’s thesis topic is  “Discovering the spatial relationship between development and aquatic nutrient loading in the Houston/Galveston area.” Her research interests are focused around environmental policy, spatial analysis, and GIS.


Benjamin J. Bass
Ph.D. Candidate
Civil and Environmental Engineering
Rice University

Benjamin J. Bass

Benjamin J. Bass is a second year Ph.D. student at Rice University in the Civil and Environmental Engineering Department. He is a part of Dr. Philip B. Bedient’s Hydrologic and Water Resource Engineering research team. He is also a researcher at the Severe Storm Prediction, Education, and Evacuation from Disasters (SSPEED) Center.

For Ben’s Ph.D. research he plans to develop a Coastal Flood Alert System that will provide flood predictions for both rainfall events and hurricane induced storm surge events in Clear Creek Watershed, one of the most densely populated and flood vulnerable areas in the Houston-Galveston Region. Additionally, as a researcher within the SSPEED Center, Ben is currently aiding in the modelling of hydrodynamic storm surge events in order to determine an optimal suite of storm surge protection alternatives for Galveston Bay.


Yoonjeong Lee
Doctoral Candidate, Urban and Regional Science,
TAMU at College Station
Graduate Research Assistant, Center for Texas Beaches and Shores,
TAMU at Galveston

Yoonjeong Lee

Yoonjeong Lee is a Doctoral Candidate in Urban and Regional Science program studying under Dr. Samuel Brody in the Department of Landscape Architecture and Urban Planning at Texas A&M University.  She is a Graduate Research Assistant in the Center for Texas Beaches and Shores located on the Galveston campus.

Lee’s research focuses on environmental policy, urban resilience, urban flooding, and flood mitigation. She has an academic background in city management and holds a Master’s degree of Public Administration.  She is a recipient of the Korean government scholarship.  Her dissertation topic is “Examining the impact of built environment on flood losses in Seoul, Korea”. 


Russell B. Blessing
PhD Student in Urban and Regional Science
Landscape Architecture and Urban Planning Department
Texas A&M University

Russell B. Blessing

Russell B. Blessing is a PhD student in Urban and Regional Science in the Department of Landscape Architecture and Urban Planning at Texas A&M University.  He has been a research assistant and associate with the Center for Texas Beaches (CTBS) and Shores and the Institute for Sustainable Coastal Communities for the past 4 years.   

As a researcher within the field of Land Use and Environmental Planning, Russell seeks to understand how coastal cities can become more resilient to manmade and natural hazards.  To do so, he firmly believes that cities must develop in congruence with larger ecological processes so as to preserve vital ecosystem services.  His current research under Dr. Samuel Brody at the Center for Texas Beaches and Shores focuses on the conservation and protection of Texas' coastline through innovative research in cooperation with government and private sector agencies.


Kayode Atoba
Graduate Research Assistant
Urban and Regional Science PhD Student
Landscape and Urban Planning Department,
Texas A&M University, College Station, TX

Kayode Atoba

Kayode O. Atoba is a Research Assistant with the Center for Texas Beaches and Shores, and a Doctoral student in the Urban and Regional Science program at Texas A&M University, College Station. He holds a B.S in Urban and Regional Planning form Obafemi Awolowo University, Nigeria and a M.S in Geographic Information Systems from Sam Houston State University, Huntsville, TX.

His PhD research under Dr. Sam Brody is on fostering regional resilience through evaluation of current hazard mitigation techniques. He proposes that hazard mitigation should be implemented in ways that will reduce residual effect on the vulnerable, and promote large-scaled inter-jurisdictional collaboration among communities.