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AEOLIAN PROCESSES ON EARTH AND MARS

 
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MY FOCUS

I specialize in aeolian, coastal and marine processes on Earth and aeolian sediment transport on Mars. My application-driven research is largely centered on developing cutting-edge technologies to more accurately measure the process of windblown sand in coastal environments on Earth and, for Mars, conduct experiments in low-pressure wind tunnels capable of simulating Martian atmospheric conditions.

 

PROFESSIONAL EXPERIENCE

August 2016 - Present

PRINCIPAL INVESTIGATOR 

U.S. NAVAL RESEARCH LABORATORY

My main research focus at NRL has been measuring aeolian processes in coastal environments to better predict dune response and recovery to storm events, changes in beach slopes, trafficability for the warfighter, and exposure or burial of mines. Recently, I was funded $1.45M to develop the first field-based Particle Tracking Velocimetry system to unobtrusively measure the velocity fields of turbulent structures operating in the internal boundary layer.

November 2014 - August 2016

POSTDOCTORAL FELLOW 

TEXAS A&M UNIVERSITY

My dissertation research became the catalyst for my postdoctoral research funded by NASA’s Mars Fundamental Research Program. Wind-blown sand occurs on Mars despite wind speeds rarely exceeding predicted thresholds for motion. I conducted a series of low-pressure wind tunnel experiments under simulated Martian conditions and found that wind speeds necessary to initiate sand transport on Mars are slower than previously thought by a factor of 1.6 to 2.5. My paper outlining these experiments was recently published in Geophysical Research Letters and won the 2020 G.K. Gilbert Award.

May 2013 - May 2014

PATHWAYS INTERN 

USACE-FRF

COASTAL HYDRAULICS LABORATORY

My work at CHL was to develop a method for automating the extraction of aeolian processes from LiDAR measurements. The goal of the work was to provide a better measure of the 'State of Coastal Foredunes' and how to measure processes acting to increase or decrease the resilience of coastal foredunes to storm events.

 
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EDUCATION

DOCTORATE 
TEXAS A&M UNIVERSITY

August 2009 - December 2014

For my dissertation I studied the fluid threshold of motion for windblown sand. The fluid threshold represents the shear velocity required to initiate surface creep (rolling particles) by the force of the wind alone. This threshold is often incorporated as an exponential function in transport rate models; consequently, small errors in the threshold result in large errors in transport rate model predictions. I designed a novel sand trap capable of separating creep from saltation transport and collected field observations in Jericoacoara, Brazil to estimate the fluid threshold for windblown sand.

MASTERS
EAST CAROLINA UNIVERSITY

August 2007 - July 2009

My Masters research was centered on the measuring the magnitude and frequency of wind events. Using a peaks-over-threshold analysis, I created a Wind Power Index (WPI) that combines the duration and magnitude of sustained wind speed over the threshold of motion to predict transport potential. I collected field observations at Jockey's Ridge on the Outer Banks of North Carolina to validate the WPI's prediction of wind events and the amount of transport possibly moved during individual wind events.

BACHELORS
EAST CAROLINA UNIVERSITY

August 2002 - July 2007

My first exposure to fieldwork was on the Outer Banks of North Carolina and it ignited my curiosity for aeolian processes. After seeing raw data collected via instrumentation, I made the critical connection between data collection and theory development. Thereafter, I participated in every field experiment offered to undergraduates at East Carolina University. I mapped beaches and deployed instrumentation up and down the North Carolina coast. This period of my life was the fundamental building blocks of my academic career.

 

Windblown Sand -Tropical Storm Marco

 

PROFICIENCIES

Click on 'more info' in each subsection for more details

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FUNDING

PUBLICATIONS

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RESEARCH PROJECTS

TEACHING EXPERIENCE

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POSTDOCS, INTERNS, & DISSERTATION COMMITTEES

 
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Coastal and Arid Landscapes

 

STEM OUTREACH

The video was created for a virtual after school program for historically-marginalized students between 11 and 13 years old.

 
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Field Observations,

Applied Science &

Student-Centered Field Courses

 

Windblown sand during Tropical Storm Nestor

 

RESEARCH LOCATIONS

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