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 and/or doctoral level. 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. Contact me for more details.

Current Research Assistants

SE Students
Garland Pennison


MSCE Students
Kelsey Carpenter
Sean McQuagge
Elizabeth Winter
Jackie Wittmann


Undergraduate Students
Evan Mazur
Ian Cox
Morgan Lassitter

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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INTECH book cover


The book chapter that I wrote with Dr. Sam Russ (USA Dept. Electrical & Computer Engineering) has been downloaded more than 2000 times since it was published in 2011! Click on the book cover for a link to the chapter web site, and to find more information about the book.

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.





The Environmental Monitor, an online newsletter hosted by Fondriest Environmental, put together a short news brief about the South Alabama Jag Ski back in August 2012 (and I’m just now getting around to writing about it). The writer, Austen Verrilli, did a nice job highlighting the capabilities of the Jag Ski, particularly those related to environmental monitoring. You can access the article by clicking on the image at right, or by {clicking here}.


If you haven’t checked out the product line and service capabilities of Fondriest Environmental, or followed their online news feed, I encourage you to do so. We purchase some of our calibration standards from Fondriest Environmental and have had nothing but good service from them.

Click here for the South Alabama UCUR siteCongratulations to USA Civil Engineering undergraduate student Falon Nettles! Falon’s research paper, “Spatial Variability of Water Quality in Big Creek Lake,” was selected as the best paper from the 2012 South Alabama University Committee on Undergraduate Research (UCUR) summer program. Her research project utilized the South Alabama Jag Ski to map the spatial distribution of surface water quality. The data were then statistically segregated to show the influence of tributaries on surface water characteristics. Also, Falon collected water samples that were later analyzed for total organic carbon (TOC) concentration for the development of a calibration curve relating it to UV fluorescence measurements of colored dissolved organic matter (CDOM).


Over 50 South Alabama undergraduate students from various academic programs participated in this research and professional development program from May to August 2012. Falon will represent the University of South Alabama at the 27th National Conference on Undergraduate Research in April 2013 at the University of Wisconsin – La Crosse. Way to go Falon!



Research Position AnnouncementGraduate Study in Coastal Engineering – University of South Alabama

The Department of Civil Engineering at the University of South Alabama is seeking to fill a funded Graduate Research Assistantship for a student interested in pursuing a Master of Science in Civil Engineering degree with a concentration in coastal engineering. Coastal engineering is the practice of civil engineering in the wave, tide, and sand transport environment near the coast. The initial appointment is for one year (1/2013 – 12/2013), and renewal will be contingent upon the availability of funds and demonstrated performance. The position stipend will be competitively funded with a stipend and tuition. The qualified applicant should have an earned B.S. degree in civil engineering (or related field) by 12/31/2012, have an interest in coastal hydrodynamics, and meet the admission standards of the Graduate School at USA. Applicants should send a brief statement of interest, resume, and a list of three references to Drs. Bret Webb and Scott Douglass via email: .



The successful candidate will be appointed to a Graduate Research Assistant position at the University of South Alabama (USA) in the Department of Civil Engineering and will be expected to pursue a Master of Science in Civil Engineering (MSCE) in the specialty area of coastal engineering. The University of South Alabama is a public university in Mobile, Alabama and the campus is located 30 miles from the white-sand beaches of the Gulf of Mexico. The MSCE program at USA focuses on civil engineering in the coastal environment and department faculty research expertise includes the traditional areas of environmental, transportation, geotechnical and structural engineering as well as coastal engineering.



The research responsibilities of the student will be to assist in a two-year funded research project focused on characterizing littoral processes near a small tidal inlet in Gulf Shores, Alabama. The project requires multi-day travel to the field to perform surveys of beach profiles, ebb and flood tidal shoals, hydrography, and water quality. Additional project details will be made available at an appropriate time. The successful student candidate will:
1) Prepare for and assist with field experiments on the beach, in the surf, and in the nearshore and inshore tidal waters
2) Analyze bathymetric and hydrographic data
3) Prepare and perform simulations of inlet processes using coupled numerical models
4) Prepare data sets for distribution and archival
5) Perform research, using collected data, that supports project objectives
6) Travel to and present at an appropriate conference (domestic travel only)


Candidates with swimming, surfing, small-boat operation and/or scuba diving abilities will be preferred because of the nature of the fieldwork.


Interested applicants can learn more about our University and Department using the following links:


One of our Civil Engineering faculty members, Dr. Andy Whelton, has prepared a very nice overview answering the common questions of “how” and “why” to apply to graduate school at USA. Please click here to view the post.