Bret M. Webb, Ph.D., P.E., D.CE
University of South Alabama
150 Jaguar Drive, SH3142
Mobile, AL 36688 USA
Phone: (251) 460-6174
Fax: (251) 461-1400

Research Positions

Currently seeking multiple graduate students to fill positions at the MS, PhD, and Postdoc levels. Research topics include: living shorelines, beach and tidal inlet dynamics, barrier island response to extreme events, groundwater impacts to coastal lagoons, and infrastructure resilience. Research assistantships are available. Click here for more information.

Current Research Assistants

PhD Students
Garland Pennison


MS Students
Kelsey Carpenter
Sean McQuagge
Elizabeth Winter
Jackie Wittmann


Undergraduate Students
Ian Cox

Former Students

MSCE Students
Patrick Hautau (2018)
Marshall Hayden (2018)
Kate Haynes (2018)
Justin Lowlavar (2017)
Bryan Groza (2016)
Kari Servold (2015)
Chris Marr (2013)
Richard Allen (2013)
Miyuki Matthews (2012)


Post Docs
Jon Risinger
Jungwoo Lee

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Our new wave-current channel is finally operational! We completed training and final commissioning of the facility early last week with a representative of HR Wallingford. Now we are just waiting for the surrounding renovations to be completed. Most mechanical work was completed last week and now they are fitting insulation and hanging drywall. The “flume room” and surrounding space should be finished out by the end of April. Until then, we are living in a construction area.


The channel’s capabilities are quite impressive. While it will likely take months to learn the nuances of our system, it is clearly capable of producing very clean waves.  The paddle’s active absorption system is really amazing and helps damp the reflected wave.


I have been somewhat hesitant to test the limits of the paddle, but that will surely change in the near future. The advisable limit for paddle acceleration is about 0.5G’s (4.9 m/s/s) and I think I have only tested up to about one-half of that suggested value.


So far I have experimented with the spectral, regular, and solitary-type waves. I was even able to generate a fairly steep wave that broke (spilling) off the paddle. The video below shows a low-amplitude (<10 cm), 2-s-period wave. Click on the triangle to play the video.


More updates coming soon, as well as an exciting announcement that may give  you the opportunity to come visit ‘South and see  our new facility first-hand!





Our installer from Armfield has made great progress in only nine days since unpacking on the 20th. Paul had a special helper this week, the flume’s designer Chris. These two gentlemen worked diligently and were able to complete assembly of the flume and glass, installation of the recirculation system and wavemaker, and preparation of the electrical control pedestals. After some additional plumbing we should be ready to put water in it next week.


Check back soon for additional updates. The area looks very much like a construction site right now, but I hope to have better pictures when everything gets cleaned up and organized in the coming weeks.





Our visitor from Armfield’s UK office has been making fantastic progress on the construction of our new wave-current flume. Preferring to work in solitude, Paul has developed an outstanding method for lifting and positioning these very heavy flume sections using two hydraulic pallet jacks and timber cribbing.


The photo in this post (click to enlarge) actually shows progress as of Wednesday evening. You are looking at two fully assembled bed sections married to the discharge tank at the end of the flume assembly. Paul is working his way upstream, so to speak, one bed section and floor frame at a time. Assuming his progress continues at this brisk pace, we should have glass going in next week.


Stay tuned for more details…



Our new wave-current flume was unloaded (in many, many well-packed pieces) from its two 40-ft freight containers today. The amazing USA staff and moving subcontractors, orchestrated by Mr. Paul Read from Armfield, managed to completely unpack both containers and get everything into our new lab space. You cannot fathom the enormity of those tasks and to see it all happen as smoothly as it did was unexpected. The day concluded with about 15 very strong guys manhandling one ton of tank and steel frame… a very tricky task indeed.


The enclosed photograph shows the floor frames laid out and aligned to accept the floor panels and section frames. You can see the 1700-lb discharge tank at the end of the room… in the inverted position by which it was brought into the room (the only way it would fit). This is the tank that was completely rolled over and set on its steel floor frame.  Many of the floor panels can be seen stacked to the right side of the floor frames.


I will be posting updates and photos each day until it is complete. Stay tuned!

The Second Annual South Alabama Conference on Teaching and Learning (CoTL) was held May 14-15 on the campus of The University of South Alabama. This two-day conference provided a great opportunity to discuss, in greater detail, how we teach college students.


Dr. Andy Whelton (my good friend and colleague) and I provided a presentation in Session IV: Leadership & Mentoring about our experience co-teaching the inaugural Field Analysis and Sampling Techniques in Civil Engineering (FAST CE) in Fall 2011. Click on the image at right for a PDF copy of the presentation slides (less my witty commentary), and don’t hesitate to contact me if you have questions or comments about our course, the outcomes, or our lessons learned.