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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Click here for a PDF of the abstract


A new manuscript related to our BP-funded Rapid Gulf Research Initiative research has been published in the journal Continental Shelf Research.  A full citation is provided below. The published article can be found at the journal  web site located {here}.


  • Dzwonkowski, B., Park, K., Lee, J., Webb, B. M., Valle-Levinson, A. 2014. Spatial variability of flow over a river-influenced inner shelf in coastal Alabama during spring. Continental Shelf Research 74, 25-34.



One of our drifters (DISL023) released at the 20-meter isobath on April 26, 2012 woke up after an extended nap and started reporting again on October 16, 2012. In the days that followed, the drifter made it into the Loop Current, scooting quickly across the southern portion of the Gulf of Mexico headed toward Fort Jefferson in the Dry Tortugas at speeds approaching 2 knots. The drifter has now merged with the Florida Current. Click on the image at right for the interactive tracking page. Also, you’ll see a small embedded tracker as the second item in the left hand column of this page.


The figure below shows a comparison of the drifter trajectory and mean ocean surface currents for the period 10/15 – 10/25. The data were obtained from the NOAA OSCAR system, which provides satellite derived estimates of ocean surface currents*. The inset panel shows more detail around the drifter trajectory, along with drifter speeds (m/s) and position dates (10/16, 10/26). Note the excellent agreement between drifter speed and ocean current magnitude (using the color scale at right). Clicking on the image below will take you to an enlarged version for easier viewing.


OSCAR mean surface currents for the period Oct 15 – 25, 2012 overlaid with the trajectory of DISL023.



*Bonjean F. and G.S.E. Lagerloef, 2002: Diagnostic Model and Analysis of the Surface Currents in the Tropical Pacific Ocean, Journal of Physical Oceanography, Vol. 32, No. 10, pages 2938-2954.




A number of CE graduate students and faculty are presenting their research at the annual USA Spring Research Forum the week of March 26 – 30, 2012. Research posters are displayed in the lower and upper lobby of the Mitchell College of Business (MCOB). A formal research symposium will be held on Friday, 3/30. The CE posters are on the lower lobby level on boards 17 – 20. Students are encouraged to view the posters to gain an appreciation for the research that USA students, both undergraduate and graduate, and faculty are performing. Some reduced-scale versions of the posters can be found below the corresponding citations that follow. Please contact me if you’d like more information about these or other projects.


  • Allen, R.J., B.M. Webb 2012. Wave Attenuation Devices: a Comprehensive Evaluation of Wave Transmission through Physical Modeling. University of South Alabama Spring Research Forum, Poster 20. March 26 – 30, 2012. Mobile, AL.


  • Marr, C.D., B.M. Webb 2012. Spatial Variability of Residence Time in Mobile Bay, Alabama. University of South Alabama Spring Research Forum, Poster 19. March 26 – 30, 2012. Mobile, AL.


  • Miyuki, M.T., B.M. Webb 2012. Characterizing Wave-Induced Scour Processes in a Transition Zone: a Continuum Model for Equilibrium Scour Depth at Cylindrical Piles. University of South Alabama Spring Research Forum, Poster 18. March 26 – 30, 2012. Mobile, AL.


  • Webb, B.M., S.H. Russ, D.B. Martin. 2012. Development of an Enhanced Ocean Drifter. University of South Alabama Spring Research Forum, Poster 17. March 26 – 30, 2012. Mobile, AL.


Last month I was invited to give a presentation in the Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill Impacts session of the 55th Annual Transportation Conference. The conference was held in Montgomery, Alabama on February 23rd and 24th, 2012 at the Renaissance Montgomery Hotel & Spa (a very nice place, by the way).


Imagine my surprise when I was asked to speak at a transportation conference! In fact, my opening remarks to the standing-room only audience was that they were more than welcome to leave if they somehow thought I was there to talk about highways and byways. The title of the presentation was, “Application of Coastal Engineering Principles in Response to the Deepwater Horizon Disaster: Lessons Learned in Coastal Alabama.” A PDF of the presentation can be downloaded by clicking on the image above at right, or {here}. Please feel free to contact me for more information, or if you’d like to use any of these materials/info.

Check out the new issue of Shore & Beach (the Journal of the American Shore & Beach Preservation Association) for a very interesting article by Scott Douglass, myself, Caren Dixon, and Beau Buhring focused on proactive coastal engineering strategies for combatting oil spills on sandy beaches. Click on the image at right for a link to the abstract hosted by the ASBPA web site, or just click {here}. This volume of Shore & Beach has some other very good articles centered around the theme of “learning from disasters.” Here is an (almost) complete citation for our latest article:

  • Douglass, S. L.,Webb, B. M., Dixon, C. R., Buhring, T. 2011. Beach profile and island cross-section manipulations in response to an offshore oil spill. Journal of the American Shore & Beach Preservation Association, 79(4).