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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Dauphin Island

Click on the poster image to download the full size PDF

If you clicked on the “Get the Poster” QR code during the AGU Ocean Sciences Meeting then you likely landed here. You can download or link to any of the three resources mentioned on my AGU OSM 2020 poster. Just follow the links below. Thank you for your interest in our work related to overwashing of Dauphin Island during Hurricane Nate.


If you did not jump here from the poster then you might be wondering what this is all about. Please read the “plain language abstract” text below for a non-technical (as non-technical as I can get) description of this work.

We put sensors on a barrier island before a hurricane in October 2017. Those sensors measured water levels and waves as the storm surge rose and washed over the low-lying barrier island. We also measured barrier island elevations before and after the storm event. The waves eroded sand from the beach face. Some of that sand was carried by the currents and deposited over large portions of the barrier island in features commonly called overwash fans. These measurements are unique. They allow us to describe the change in storm tide elevations and wave heights across the barrier island continuously throughout the storm event. This poster describes only basic characteristics of water levels, waves, and erosion across the island. Time-series analyses are ongoing.


Get the Poster: click here for the poster


Get the Paper: click here for the paper


Get the Data: click here to request the data



conference_logo_mashupIt’s been a busy couple of months around here. Our research group hit the conference trail in late October and didn’t stop until a couple of weeks ago. The tour started in late October with a trip to Tampa, Florida for the 2012 Restore America’s Estuaries conference. The RAE 2012 proceedings can be found here. We gave two poster presentations on our Mississippi-Alabama Sea Grant Consortium (MASGC) living shorelines research project: one on our living shorelines database effort with ASCE-COPRI [2], and another on the development of our decision support toolkit for the optimization of breakwaters [5].


Less than 24 hours later, my wheels touched down in Miami, Florida for the ATC-SEI Advances in Hurricane Engineering conference. This event brought together engineers from many fields for a two-day meeting on issues ranging from flood damage to wind failure. Here, we presented the results from our deployment of storm surge and wave gages on Dauphin Island, Alabama, during Hurricane Isaac [7]. The deployment is part of a long-term monitoring program funded by MASGC.


The late fall months of even-numbered years on the Gulf Coast brings with it not only empty, beautiful beaches but also the Bays & Bayous Symposium. This bi-state conference is a collaboration between the MASGC and Mobile Bay National Estuary Program, with each program taking turns hosting the event in their home state every four years. Our research group provided three presentations at this event: one poster presentation on laboratory experiments conducted to measure the wave attenuating capability of various living shoreline breakwater technologies [1]; an oral presentation on our MASGC-funded living shorelines project [4]; and another oral presentation on our MASGC-funded surge and wave monitoring program for Dauphin Island, Alabama [6].


Our (mostly) annual pilgrimage to the American Geophysical Union Fall Meeting in San Francisco, California concluded the fall conference tour in early December. I gave a poster presentation, and co-authored another, in the Nearshore Processes section of Ocean Sciences on some work that I did with my colleague and good friend Dr. Rob Weaver of the Florida Institute of Technology. You may recall a series of blog posts from the field in late July describing a three-day field experiment conducted in the Indian River Lagoon estuary of Florida using the South Alabama Jag Ski. Our complementary poster presentations [3,8] provided an overview of the experiment, as well as preliminary results. We hope that these posters rapidly evolved into manuscripts in the coming months, and we thank all of the constructive criticism we received during the meeting.


Normally I might try to link up all of our posters and presentations… but there are just too many to do that in one post. So, if you have a specific interest in something mentioned here, please just shoot me a message or leave a comment and I will send you the stuff. In order to make this process a bit easier please just refer to one of the specific citations listed below… these cover everything mentioned in this post. I will eventually link up everything in some revamped research pages coming in early 2013. Also of note… we will be moving to a new domain in the coming days. The new site address will be Hopefully you will receive an automatic redirect when accessing the site using the current domain name. More details to follow in a subsequent post.


  1. Allen, R. J., Webb, B. M. 2012. Engineered reefs: a comprehensive evaluation of wave transmission through physical modeling. Mississippi-Alabama Bays and Bayous Symposium, Poster No. 21. Biloxi, MS, Nov 14-15.
  2. Buhring, T., Webb, B. M., Douglass, S. L., Powers, S., Scyphers, S., Allen, R. J. 2012. A database on living shorelines with breakwaters: did we miss your project? Restore America’s Estuaries Conference, Poster No. PP-1. Tampa, FL, Oct 21-23.
  3. Weaver, R. J., Webb, B. M. 2012. Surface water quality survey of northern Indian River Lagoon from Sebastian Inlet to Mosquito Lagoon. Eos. Trans. AGU XX (XX), Fall Meet. Suppl., Abstract OS21B-1750.
  4. Webb, B. M., Douglass, S. L., Allen, R. J., Buhring, T. 2012. Maximizing the ecological and engineering benefits of living shorelines through the effective design of breakwaters. Mississippi-Alabama Bays and Bayous Symposium. Biloxi, MS, Nov 14-15.
  5. Webb, B. M., Douglass, S. L., Powers, S., Scyphers, S., Allen, R. J., Buhring, T. 2012. Decision support tools for the design of structures in living shorelines. Restore America’s Estuaries Conference, Poster No. STP-14. Tampa, FL, Oct 21-23.
  6. Webb, B. M., Rogers, S., Kennedy, A., Gravois, U., Omar, H. 2012. Measurements of storm surge and waves on Dauphin Island during Hurricane Isaac. Mississippi-Alabama Bays and Bayous Symposium. Biloxi, MS, Nov 14-15.
  7. Webb, B. M., Kennedy, A., Rogers, S., Gravois, U., Omar, H. 2012. A wave, water level, and structural monitoring plan for Dauphin Island, Alabama. In: Proceedings of the ATC-SEI Advances in Hurricane Engineering Conference, ASCE, Reston, VA.
  8. Webb, B. M., Weaver, R. J. 2012. A tale of two inlets: tidal currents at two adjacent inlets in the Indian River Lagoon estuary, Florida. Eos. Trans. AGU XX (XX), Fall Meet. Suppl., Abstract OS21B-1751.





These photos demonstrate the amount of sand erosion from the beach face of Dauphin Island during Hurricane Isaac.

Here’s a quick update for those of you following our research on storm surge and waves at Dauphin Island, Alabama. Four of the five gauges successfully recorded data. Fortunately, the one gauge that did not record was the one on the north side of the island, which likely did not see any water. Our gauge deployed on the beach definitely recorded waves, but I haven’t had a chance to perform any type of analysis yet. The photos at right show the same gauge location before and after the storm. Note the amount of erosion that occurred under this house. Check back often for more updates… or just subscribe to the RSS feed to get the updates automatically!



Wave gauge installed on a house at Dauphin Island, AL.

As part of an ongoing storm surge and wave monitoring project for Dauphin Island, Alabama, we recently deployed 5 surge/wave gauges and an atmospheric pressure gauge to record the effects of Hurricane Isaac as it passes south of our study area. The gauges were deployed early Monday morning (8/27/2012) with the help of USA CE graduate students Richard Allen and Chris Marr. A special thanks to LaDon Swann, Director of the Mississippi-Alabama Sea Grant Consortium, who is responsible for funding this ongoing project, for his help in the field installing the gauge shown at right. It’s not every day that your funding sponsor shows up in the field, before sunrise, to help you conduct your research!


Additional surge gauges are being deployed in the area by the USGS. When combined, all of the gauges should provide a very detailed record of water levels across the north-central gulf coast during Hurricane Isaac. If there is enough surge over Dauphin Island during the storm, we should also be able to generate a good record of wave characteristics across the island. Check back often for updates using the tag “Dauphin Island”… we should be retrieving the gauges later this week.