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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Check out this month’s edition of Civil Engineering magazine for an article authored by myself, Scott Douglass, Caren Dixon, and Beau Buhring. The article highlights some of the approaches used to combat the 2010 Gulf Oil Spill along Alabama’s coastline. Click on the image at right for a link to the article, or click {here}. Civil Engineering magazine is a monthly publication of the American Society of Civil Engineers.

The Jag Ski has recently been outfitted with an R.M. Young meteorological station to complement the YSI Portable SeaKeeper system. In addition to the near-surface water characteristics that the YSI PSK collects, the Jag Ski will now be measuring wind speed, wind direction, atmospheric pressure, air temperature, and humidity while on the water. These data will provide collocated, geo-referenced meteorological forcing and near-surface water quality parameters. Additionally, the met data will provide a unique opportunity to collaborate with atmospheric scientists at the University of South Alabama (and elsewhere), who lack information about the spatial distribution of meteorological parameters in Mobile Bay. Check back soon for more updates and sample data.

Preliminary testing of the Portable SeaKeeper on the Jag Ski went well this past Friday. A quick trip down Dog River demonstrated the ability of the PSK to continuously collect near-surface water quality data… even while “cruising” at 40 knots. It took less than 45 minutes to make it from Dog River Park, around the #7 marking the entrance to the Dog River channel in the bay, and back up the river to the boat ramp.

Even with the extra 90+ lbs on the stern, the Jag Ski handles well. It’s got plenty of low-end power to get up on plane. The steerage is a bit different thanks to the large intake scoop mounted to the stern, but it’s still safe and functional. Even though the sensors have not received their final calibrations, the data appear logical. Representative results can be found {here}.

If the weather holds until the end of the week, the plan is to try to map the entire bay… assuming I have time to calibrate the sensors by then.

Two papers were recently accepted for presentation and publication at the 2011 ASCE COPRI Conference on Coastal Engineering Practice.  One of the papers presents a critical analysis of strategies and efforts applied to combating the effects of the gulf oil spill in coastal Alabama.

The second paper presents findings related to the wave attenuation of bagged oyster shell when used as a breakwater material. Click on either one of the images at right to download a PDF of the extended abstract.  Check back in May for a copy of the full proceedings paper.



  • Webb, B. M., Douglass, S. L., Dixon, C. R. 2011. Application of coastal engineering principles in response to the Deepwater Horizon disaster: lessons learned in coastal Alabama. Proceedings of the Conference on Coastal Engineering Practice, ASCE, Reston, VA (accepted).
  • Allen, R., Webb, B. M. 2011. Determination of wave transmission coefficients for oyster shell bag breakwaters. Proceedings of the Conference on Coastal Engineering Practice, ASCE, Reston, VA (accepted).

This was a common statement heard around the office last week when our YSI Portable SeaKeeper arrived. And to be perfectly honest, I hope I never need to travel with this thing, because there is no way I can explain this away.  Our guys in the machine shop will start modifying the existing racks on the stern of the Jag Ski in early January in order to accept the new PSK.  Good news is that the unit does crank up, pumps water, computer turns on, software is running, and all of the gizmos appear to be up and running.  I suppose we will have to wait for the technician to arrive in January for calibration until we know for certain that everything is as it should be (I have no doubt that it is).

The wonderful people at YSI, Inc. have now convinced me that performing a synoptic survey of near-surface water characteristics in Mobile Bay while cruising at 40 knots is a good idea.  Obviously I won’t be able to collect ADCP data at this speed, but there is quite some novelty in mapping most of the entire surface of Mobile Bay’s waters in six to eight hours.  At the very least, this should make for an interesting application note!