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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Little Lagoon



Have you ever wondered what it’s like to perform a hydrographic survey on the South Alabama Jag Ski? If so, watch the short video below that captures an overview of a recent hydrographic survey of a small flood tidal shoal. While I use some different windows and information during navigation, the windows shown in this video provide a reply of representative data.




Little Lagoon Pass


A recent expedition to Little Lagoon Pass to perform an updated bathymetric and water quality survey was thwarted by an unusually intense solar flare emission(s) (Tuesday, June 10). What, you don’t believe me? Well check {this} out.


The solar event wreaked havoc on the land-based GNSS system, limiting us to collecting less than 100 elevation points on the flood shoal. We were able to survey the flood shoal and channel using the Jag Ski system, as well as perform a water quality assessment of the lagoon.


We will return to the site in the next two weeks to conduct a complete field survey of the ebb shoal and beach profiles, as well as touch up what we missed on our earlier visit. At the end of the day, the sun left us with little more than minor burns and an ill-functioning GNSS system.



McCoy UCUR 2013 Poster post image


Congratulations to Clay McCoy on his successful presentation of research results at the University of South Alabama Undergraduate Research Symposium. Clay participated in the UCUR research program during Summer 2013. For his research topic Clay chose to develop a conceptual sediment budget for Little Lagoon Pass in Gulf Shores, Alabama. Using annual monitoring data provided by the City of Gulf Shores, Clay was able to estimate volume changes in the beach profiles east and west of the pass.


Clay’s work will be extended in the future to develop a more comprehensive sediment budget for the pass. The final sediment budget will account for not only volume changes in the beach profiles, but also changes in shoreline position, engineering activities (e.g., dredge and fill), wave-driven longshore and cross-shore sand transport, as well as sea level rise. Click on the image at right for a reduced-scale version of Clay’s research poster.



Jag Ski at Little Lagoon 2Our two-year monitoring project with ALDOT got off to a great start on April 12/13 at Little Lagoon in Gulf Shores, AL. The purpose of the project is to monitor and evaluate impacts of proposed modifications to Lagoon Pass on the adjacent beaches. The HWY 182 bridge is being replaced, the channel widened, and the north/south pass jetties extended into the Gulf. Monitoring includes hydrographic surveys of cross-shore beach profiles (i.e. transects), the flood and ebb tidal shoal volumes, and channel depths. Traditional land-based surveys of the dry beach, as well as some areas of the flood shoal too shallow to survey by boat, are also performed along the same transects as those performed by the South Alabama Jag Ski (photo at right) on the water.


Despite some technical difficulties with our GPS equipment, likely due to the passage of a severe storm days before, we were able to complete most of our survey plan. Our survey team, consisting of Drs. Scott Douglass and Bret Webb, Richard Allen, Drew Harrison, Kari Servold, and Tim Wicker, collected over 24,000 elevation measurements while spending over 20 hours in the field over the two-day period in early April. A failed calibration of some instrumentation prevented a water quality survey of the lagoon during our trip, but the Jag Ski will be headed back to the lagoon to complete that mission in the coming weeks. A special thanks to Clay McCoy for helping us in the field on Saturday morning.



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.