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Faculty & Staff Focus, Research, Science & Technology

Hurricane Season: LSU Hurricane Experts Available

05/23/2012 03:09 PM

Members of the media may be interested in contacting LSU experts for comment or analysis throughout hurricane season.


LSU’s faculty study all aspects of risks associated with living in the coastal zone, and their areas of expertise include evacuation and emergency preparation; waves, wind and storm surge; water and environmental issues; and coastal land loss.


*This list is not meant to be comprehensive. For more information on LSU researchers, please visit or contact Ashley Berthelot at or 225-578-3870 or Zac Lemoine at or 225-578-1399.


Storms/Climatology/Coastal Modeling

  • Q. Jim Chen, Department of Civil & Environmental Engineering, College of Engineering
    Area of expertise: coastal engineering, prediction of storm surge and ocean waves, numerical modeling of costal processes, design of coastal structures


  • Haosheng Huang, Department of Oceanography and Coastal Sciences, School of the Coast & Environment
    225-578-5117 or
    Area of expertise: Huang studies physical oceanography, circulation in regional seas and continental shelves, coastal and estuarine circulation dynamics, unstructured grid numerical modeling and data assimilation, tide and storm surge simulation, bio-physical interaction and ecosystem modeling.


  • Patrick Hesp, Co-chair, Disaster Management Program, Department of Geography & Anthropology, College of Humanities & Social Sciences
    Area of Expertise: Coastal geomorphology, aeolian geomorphology, dune dynamics  and coastal management


  • Barry Keim, Department of Geography & Anthropology, State Climatologist
    Area of expertise: Keim serves as the State Climatologist and directs the Louisiana Office of State Climatology, housed in LSU’s Department of Geography and Anthropology. The Louisiana Office of State Climatology serves as the state's archive for weather and climate information. Keim is charged with fostering climatic research on Louisiana and the Southeast, educating the public on climate issues, providing data to the public, and monitoring the climate of the state. He has extensive experience in researching severe weather, including hurricanes and heavy rainfall events.


  • Chunyan Li , Director of WAVCIS, the Wave-Current-Surge Information System for Coastal Louisiana, Department  of Oceanography and Coastal Sciences, School of the Coast & Environment
    225-578-3619 or
    Area of expertise: Li can comment on physical oceanography, transport, coastal and estuarine circulations, innovative observations, modeling, extreme weather (such as hurricane) induced water level change including storm surges.


  • Kam-bui Liu, Department of Oceanography and Coastal Sciences, School of the Coast & Environment
    225-578-6136 or
    Area of expertise: Liu is widely recognized as a pioneer and leader in paleotempestology, an emerging field that studies past hurricane activity by means of geological proxy techniques and historical documentary evidence. Liu takes sediment cores from coastal lakes and marshes and uses the overwash sand layers contained in these cores to reconstruct the chronological and spatial patterns of catastrophic hurricane strikes along the U.S. Gulf Coast and Atlantic Coast during the last 5,000 years. He has extended his paleotempestology work to the Caribbean region, Central America, and the Pacific coast of Mexico, and has studied the connection between hurricane strikes and coastal wildfires. He is also a leader in the use of documentary evidence to reconstruct the history of typhoon landfalls in China during the last 1,000 years.  He teaches a course called “Hurricanes and Typhoons” covering all topics relating to tropical cyclones from their global distribution, climatology and ecology to their geological and societal impact.


  • Larry Rouse, Department of Oceanography and Coastal Sciences, School of the Coast & Environment
    Area of expertise: Rouse can speak to circulation processes /currents in the Gulf of Mexico and along the Louisiana coast; wind-driven coastal currents and the deep Gulf Loop Current and eddies.


  • Kevin Robbins, director, Southern Regional Climate Center
    225-578-6870, 225-578-1063,
    Area of expertise: Robbins’ research interests include agricultural climatology and network-integrated data management and delivery systems.


  • Nan Walker, director, Earth Scan Laboratory, School of the Coast & Environment
    The Earth Scan Laboratory, or ESL, is a real-time satellite data receiving station with capabilities for the reception, processing and visualization of imagery from geostationary and polar-orbiting satellites. The ESL’s satellite measurements are valuable in supporting emergency-response activities such as tracking hurricanes and tropical storms, oil spills and the Loop Current. ESL also provides unique training of students and enhances research of LSU and non-LSU faculty. Director, Nan Walker has developed unique capabilities for detecting and tracking the Loop Current and eddies in the Gulf of Mexico in real-time and performs research on the impacts these currents have on hurricane intensity changes and air-sea interactions. She also studies the impacts of storms on coastal, circulation, coastal land change, flooding, sediment transport and hypoxia.


  • John White, Department of Oceanography and Coastal Sciences, School of the Coast & Environment
    Area of expertise: storm surge, barrier island overwash, short-term salinity changes in wetland environments.


  • John Pardue, director, Louisiana Water Resources Research Institute
    Area of expertise: Pardue’s research interests include the fate and transport of chemical contaminants during hurricanes; passively treating groundwater contaminated with chlorinated solvents in treatment wetlands; environmental impacts; and investigating the uptake of desorption-resistant organic contaminants by wetland plants.


Structural Engineering

  • Michele Barbato, assistant professor, Department of Civil & Environmental Engineering
    Area of expertise: structural engineering and dynamics


  • Steve Cai, assistant professor, civil & environmental engineering
    Area of expertise: bridge engineering, wind engineering, structural dynamics, structural performance evaluation and rehabilitation


  • Dimitris Nikitopoulos, professor, Department of Mechanical Engineering
    Area of expertise: Nikitopoulos studies fluid-structure interaction and wind-tunnel measurement and testing techniques.


  • Ayman Okeil, associate professor, Department of Civil & Environmental Engineering, College of Engineering
    Area of expertise: bridge engineering, structural reliability, behavior of concrete structures.


Resilient Building/Landscape Architecture/Hazards Mitigation

  • Dennis Abbey, Robert Reich School of Landscape Architecture, College of Art & Design
    Area of expertise: Abbey researches the design, and planning for hurricane resistant communities, public landscapes and private gardens in regard to the use of vegetation and trees. His interests lie within the realm of public policy concerning trees and urban forests in respect to coastal storms.


  • Jeff Carney,  Director, Coastal Sustainability Studio, Robert Reich School of Landscape Architecture, College of Art & Design
    Areas of expertise: Resiliency in community design and planning


  • Bruce Sharky, Robert Reich School of Landscape Architecture, College of Art & Design
    Area of expertise: Sharky studies designs for hazard-resistant communities in Louisiana, Mexico and Central America.


  • Jim Wilkins, director, Louisiana Sea Grant Law & Policy Program, 225-578-5936,
    Areas of expertise: coastal hazard mitigation, helping communities reduce risk while maintaining community charm and amenities, how to protect homesteads from coastal hazards.


  • Melissa Daigle, research associate and resiliency specialist, Louisiana Sea Grant Law & Policy Program, 225-578-9968,
    Areas of expertise: coastal hazard mitigation, helping communities reduce risk while maintaining community charm and amenities, how to protect homesteads from coastal hazards.


Disaster Preparation/Management

  • Rachel Dowty Beech, Co-chair, Disaster Management Program, College of Humanities & Social Sciences
    Areas of Expertise: disasters, social anthropology, bio- and phyto-remediation of oil spills in Louisiana fresh marshes


  • Joseph Booth, Director, Stephenson Disaster Management Institute, E. J. Ourso College of Business
    Areas of expertise: a variety of activities designed to increase collaboration between the private and public sector entities, provide greater resiliency for our business community, restore the business community to normal operations post disaster, reduced reliance on FEMA resources and assess the economic impact of disaster.


  • Carol Friedland, Assistant Professor, Department of Construction Management & Industrial Engineering, College of Engineering
    Areas of expertise: Hurricane wind and storm surge damage assessment, vulnerability assessments, damage modeling, applications of remote sensing for hurricane damage detection, structural engineering


  • Melanie Gall, Department of Geography & Anthropology, Louisiana Sea Grant
    Area of expertise: benefits and/or drawbacks of flood insurance, and flood mapping, local government adoption of flood insurance rate maps and factors that come into play in easy or not so easy adoption of the FIRMs.


Human Impact

  • Troy C. Blanchard, Department of Sociology, College of Humanities & Social Sciences
    Areas of Expertise: Population (especially migration/population growth), religion, food deserts and community


  • Jim Catano, Department of English, Film & Media Arts, College of Humanities & Social Sciences
    Areas of Expertise: Catano has worked closely with Croatian oystermen, fishermen, and their families since Hurricane Katrina last 5 years, both on their boats and in their homes. He is available to discuss the impact hurricanes have had on the fishermen, their industry and their traditional ways of life.


  • Craig E. Colten, Department of Geography & Anthropology, College of Humanities & Social Sciences
    Areas of Expertise: Colten, Carl O. Sauer Distinguished Professor of Geography, studies the historical aspects of hazards, including hurricanes, historical aspects of hurricanes, the hurricane protection system, and the human dimension of hurricanes; and is an expert on levee and flood history, the environmental history of New Orleans, and environmental justice. He has investigated the threat of hurricanes to historic districts and environmental justice issues related to coastal hazards. He has an interest in the long-term human dimension of preparation for and response to hurricanes.


  • Michael Pasquier, Department of Religious Studies, College of Humanities & Social Sciences
    Areas of Expertise: Pasquier is cultural historian of coastal Louisiana who specializes in the religious and moral implications of natural and manmade disasters.


  • Tim Slack, Department of Sociology, College of Humanities & Social Sciences
    Areas of Expertise: Community vulnerability and resiliency; disparities in impacts across social groups; social stratification and social demography.  Slack can speak to the role that social context plays in shaping differentials in susceptibility to disaster impacts, how people come to conceptualize losses and other impacts incurred from catastrophic events, differential social responses depending on whether a disaster process is viewed as ‘natural’ or ‘manmade’ (e.g., technological).


Journalism & Public Relations Response

  • Andrea Miller, Associate Dean, Manship School of Mass Communication
    Area of Expertise: How viewers process live, breaking and emotional television; TV coverage in first hours of tragedy; Coverage of environmental disasters


  • Judith Sylvester, Associate Professor, Manship School of Mass Communication
    Area of Expertise: Journalists’ role in coverage disasters


  • Chris Weber, Assistant Professor, Manship School of Mass Communication/Department of Political Science
    Area of Expertise: emotional and political responses to disasters


  • Lisa Lundy, Associate Professor, Manship School of Mass Communication
    Area of Expertise: Crisis responses of public relations practitioners; public understanding of agricultural and environmental science  


Impact on Animals/Seafood

  • Kenneth Brown, Department of Biological Sciences, LSU College of Science, 225-578-1740,
    Areas of expertise: Oyster growth and development, freshwater and marine food webs at both the population and community level, predator-prey interactions between oysters and the southern oyster drill (a snail), the stone crab and the black drum


  • Fernando Galvez, Department of Biological Sciences, LSU College of Science
    Area of Expertise: Fish physiology, physiological responses of fish to environmental toxicants, including the effects of salinity and hypoxia stress, metals, and crude oil. Host-parasite interactions.


  • John Hawke, Professor of Microbiology & Parasitology, Department of Pathobiological Sciences, Louisiana Aquatic Diagnostic Laboratory, LSU School of Veterinary Medicine
    Areas of expertise: Crawfish, emerging infectious diseases of cultured marine and freshwater fish and crustaceans


  • Rebecca McConnico, associate professor of veterinary medicine, School of Veterinary Medicine
    Area of expertise: evacuation of animals before a hurricane, and help with rescue and sheltering of animals following disasters.


  • John Supan, Associate Professor, Louisiana Sea Grant College Program and LSU AgCenter
    Areas of expertise: Oyster culture and economics, polyploidy and selective breeding, clam culture, hydroacoustic evaluation of oyster grounds & management of Grand Isle Bivalve Hatchery



  • Brian Wolshon, director, LSU Transportation Lab, Department of Civil & Environmental Engineering, LSU College of Engineering
    Area of expertise: Wolshon studies issues relating to hurricane evacuations and major-event traffic scenarios. His recent projects have included the testing and evaluation of intelligent transportation systems and traffic-flow analysis, with particular emphasis in application for hurricane evacuation.


Archival Information

  • Stephanie Braunstein, head of Government Documents/Microforms, LSU Libraries, 225-578-7021,   
    Area of expertise: information about related government print and electronic resources.