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 fourth and final drifter deployment took place yesterday in the Gulf of Mexico south of Dauphin Island, Alabama. Drifter deployments started in July 2011 as part of a year-long group of coordinated research projects focused on identifying the physical transport mechanisms of buoyant suspended matter in Alabama’s coastal waters. More information about the drifter deployments can be found {here}.


As it so happens, Alabama’s inner shelf is dominated by two seasons… kind of like Mobile, which has two seasons: hot and hotter. Drifter deployments in July and August 2011, both west of Mobile Bay and in depths of 20 meters or less, described an eastward surface current thought to be associated with predominant southerly winds and downwelling favorable conditions. All drifters deployed in late October, however, moved to the west and south. A likely cause of this dramatic change of inner shelf conditions is the dominance of northerly winds in late fall, the resulting Ekman divergence, and the facilitation of upwelling favorable conditions on the shelf. The batch of drifters deployed yesterday are again moving eastward similar to those deployed in July and August 2011.


We started yesterday’s deployment (Figure 1) by placing nine drifters near the ship channel at Main Pass, the primary connection between the gulf and Mobile Bay (Figure 2). Six of the drifters were deployed on the east side of the channel while the remaining three were set adrift to the west of the channel. From there, we made our way offshore and released nine drifters at the 30-meter isobath. We then deployed our final seven drifters near the DISL FOCAL station in a little less than 20 meters of water. Winds were strong and out of the SSW for much of the day, which made for a lumpy day on the water.


Figure 1. A general location overview of the April 26, 2012 drifter deployment. Each circle represents a cluster of 7 – 9 drifters that were set adrift.

Figure 2. A more detailed view of the drifter deployment at Main Pass shows the location of each drifter “triad” that was released near the ship channel. Each triad contains three drifters and the triads form the vertices of a larger triangle having sides of approximately 1000 meters.


More information regarding yesterday’s deployment will be made available in the coming weeks as a dedicated page under the “Drifters” tab above. There, you will be able to see details about the drifter deployment patterns and links to tracking pages. For now, you’ll have to settle for the following tracking interfaces…




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