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

None available at this time

Current Research Assistants

SE Students
Garland Pennison


MSCE Students
Patrick Hautau
Marshall Hayden
Kate Haynes
Justin Lowlavar
Vijaya Satya Lohitha Mukkamala
Jackie Wittmann


Undergraduate Students
Derek Kelly
Rh'Monte Wilson

Former Students

MSCE Students
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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storm surge

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, or a Doctor of Science in Systems Engineering, with concentrations in structural and/or coastal engineering. The initial appointment is for one year (1/2016 – 12/2016) and renewal will be contingent upon quarterly performance reviews (for up to three years ending 12/2018). The position will be competitively funded with a stipend and tuition. The qualified applicant should have an earned BS or MS degree in civil engineering by 12/31/2015, have an interest in coastal and/or structural engineering, and meet all admission standards of the Graduate School, and Department of Civil Engineering, at USA. Applicants should prepare the following materials and upload them to Academic Jobs using the link below: (1) brief statement of interest, (2) resume, (3) university transcripts, (4) a list of three references, (5) a technical writing sample, and (6) GRE and TOEFL/IELTS scores (if applicable).

Application Submission Link: (click on the “Apply” link)




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), or a Doctor of Science in Systems Engineering, in the specialty areas of coastal and/or structural 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 water resources, environmental, transportation, geotechnical and structural engineering as well as coastal engineering.




The research responsibilities of the student will be to assist in a five-year funded research project focused on improving the resiliency of the built environment to disasters and natural hazards. The project requires original research, laboratory work, numerical analysis, and interpretation of results. The student will perform physical modeling of wave-structure interactions in our new 25-meter wave channel. Additional project details will be made available at an appropriate time. The ideal candidate will:
1) Have demonstrated knowledge of common numerical analysis software (e.g., Matlab)
2) Have demonstrated experience working in a laboratory
3) Have experience or the ability to learn 3D rendering software (e.g., SolidWorks)
4) Be familiar with 3D printing (rapid prototyping) and conventional fabrication techniques
5) Be physically capable of performing their duties in the laboratory facility
6) Be able to travel to meetings and conferences
7) Be legally able to attend school in the United States without sponsorship or travel assistance



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Mobile, Alabama –  The ability of communities to recover from natural and manmade disasters is strongly linked to the resilience of their infrastructure. That is why the U.S. Department of Commerce’s National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) announced yesterday that it has awarded a $20 million, five-year agreement with Colorado State University and 10 other partners, including the University of South Alabama, to establish the Community Resilience Center of Excellence. Click on the logo (top right of post) to link to the Center web site.


The goal of the Center is to develop a risk-based approach to evaluate potential strategies that improve the resilience of the built environment to natural hazards and other significant manmade disruptions.


The resilience tools that the Center develops will address known and frequent hazards, and gauge the ability of communities and the built environment to adapt to changing conditions and recover quickly from large-scale disasters.


The University of South Alabama’s Department of Civil Engineering will provide their unique coastal engineering expertise related to hurricane storm surge and waves. Drs. Bret Webb and Scott Douglass will help develop risk-based tools that address vulnerability and resilience of the built environment to coastal hazards like storm surge, waves, erosion and even sea level rise. Webb and Douglass recently authored nationwide engineering guidance for assessing the exposure and vulnerability of coastal transportation infrastructure to extreme events.


“With well over 50% of the U.S. population living within 50 miles of a coastline,” says Dr. Webb, who is an Associate Professor of Civil Engineering, “much of our nation’s critical infrastructure is vulnerable to coastal hazards and the expected impacts of long-term sea level rise.”


“What’s more troubling,” Dr. Webb continues, “is that demand in these coastal areas is increasing, putting more stress on our built environment and underscoring the need for improving the resiliency of our coastal communities.”


Dr. Scott Douglass, Professor of Civil Engineering, added, “Based on both experience and study, we understand that the built environment along our nation’s shorelines is highly vulnerable today, and will face increased pressures due to the expected impacts of climate change in the future.”


“However, the good news,” Dr. Douglass continued, “is that making our coastal infrastructure more resilient to frequent storm events today will also reduce their vulnerability in the future.”


With authorization from NIST to begin their efforts immediately, the multi-disciplinary research team, which also includes experts from California Polytechnic University (Pomona), Rice University, Texas A&M University (TAMU), TAMU-Kingsville, and the University of Washington, is expected to hold their first organizational meeting soon.





The U.S. Department of Transportation’s Federal Highway Administration recently released a new Hydraulic Engineering Circular focused on assessing extreme events in coastal areas. More information can be found {here}.


This new document is a second, stand alone volume (Volume 2) for the very popular HEC 25 document, “Highways in the Coastal Environment.” The guidance document, authored by Scott Douglass, Bret Webb, and Roger Kilgore, provides an overview of the critical coastal processes that damage transportation infrastructure and how those processes might be modified under extreme events and climate change. In keeping with the tradition of other HEC guidance documents, the manual also provides a three-level assessment methodology for performing vulnerability assessments.


The document is written for a national audience but contains regionally specific information about coastal processes, possible impacts of climate variability on those processes, and methods for assessing vulnerability in coastal regions. The authors made a concerted effort to ensure that the document would be understood by engineers and non-engineers alike.






NCA 2014 home page link


Some of our (me and Dr. Scott Douglass, PhD, PE, DCE) work is featured in the 2014 National Climate Assessment, which was recently released through the US Global Change Research Program web site. Click on the image at right to be directed to the interactive report web site. Our contributions are incorporated into Sectors / Transportation.


Since 2010 we have been assisting the US Department of Transportation and ICF International in the Gulf Coast 2 Study focused on the Mobile (AL) area. Our portion of the project was to simulate the effects of climate change on storm surge and waves in Alabama’s coastal counties using advanced hydrodynamic models. These results were used to perform exposure and sensitivity assessments in order to evaluate the vulnerability of transportation systems to storm surge and waves on higher future sea levels. A small portion of this work was incorporated into Sectors / Transportation report of the 2014 NCA. The work has also been specifically referenced in cabinet-level and presidential addresses over the past two years, specifically in response to the damage that Hurricane Sandy caused in New York and New Jersey back in 2012.


In light of the significant advances made toward performing exposure and vulnerability assessments during the Gulf Coast 2 Study, FHWA has been supporting the development of a new Hydraulic Engineering Circular (HEC) focused on assessing extreme events. The new manual will serve as a second volume to HEC 25 – Highways in the Coastal Environment. More information can be found on the FHWA climate adaptation web site. I am a co-author of this new manual, along with Dr. Douglass and Mr. Roger Kilgore. The new HEC 25 Volume 2 should be released by FHWA some time in 2014.



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.