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Technical Team

The Technical Team includes highly respected scientists, planners, engineers, and other technical experts. Members of the Technical Team serve as expert advisors and peer reviewers of work produced throughout Changing Course.

Members of the Technical Team will:

  • Reviewed and shaped the RFQ and RFP;
  • Provide expert advice on the state of technical knowledge and planning in the delta;
  • Act as advisors to the participating teams;
  • Establish consistent measures for evaluation of design proposals and review all submissions.

The Technical Team is:

Jaye Cable

Chair, Curriculum for Environment and Ecology and Professor, Department of Marine Science University of North Carolina Chapel Hill

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Dr. Cable’s research focuses on hydrologic processes at the land-sea boundary, with an emphasis on sources, sinks, and transformations of biogeochemical constituents to coastal water bodies. Current projects include:
• Hydrologic interactions between coastal aquifers and marine surface waters systems, specifically investigating the role paleochannels play in deltaic systems as a vast subterranean estuary network (Mississippi River Delta; EAR 1141685)
• Characterization of hydrologic and biogeochemical processes across the tidal creek-salt marsh interface and export to the ocean, specifically quantifying water and DOC export in a Florida salt marsh (Econfina-Aucilla Rivers, Florida; OCE 0928162)
• Radionuclide applications in marine and environmental processes (e.g., sediment accretion, resuspension, and water mass tracing)
This research is currently supported by grants from NSF.
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John Day

Distinguished Professor, Department of Oceanography and Coastal Sciences, Louisiana State University

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John W. Day, Jr. is Distinguished Professor Emeritus in the Department of Oceanography and Coastal Sciences, School of the Coast & Environment at Louisiana State University, where he has taught since 1971. He has published extensively on the ecology and management of coastal and wetland ecosystems and has over 200 peer-reviewed publications. He is co-author (with M. Kemp, C. Hall, and A. Yáñez-Arancibia) of Estuarine Ecology (and co-editor of the second edition which is due out late in 2012), coeditor (with C. Hall) of Ecological Modeling in Theory and Practice, coeditor (with W. Conner) of The Ecology of the Barataria Basin, An Estuarine Profile, and coeditor (with A. Yáñez-Arancibia) of the Ecology of Coastal Ecosystems in the Southern Mexico: The Terminos Lagoon Region. Professor Day received his PhD in marine sciences and environmental sciences from the University of North Carolina in 1971 working with Dr. H.T. Odum. Since then, he has conducted extensive research on the ecology and management of the Mississippi Delta region and for the last 30 years, he has studied coastal ecosystems in Mexico. He was a visiting professor in the Institute of Marine Sciences of the National University of Mexico in 1978-1979, at the University of Utrecht in the Netherlands during 1986, at the Laboratoire d’Ecologie, Unversité Claude Bernard in Arles France during 1992-93, and in the Department of Geography at Cambridge University in 2000-2001. He has also worked with the University of Campeche and the Institute of Ecology in Xalapa, Mexico. Since 1992, Professor Day has worked in the Mediterranean studying the impacts of climate change on wetlands in Venice Lagoon and in the Po, Rhone and Ebro deltas. He is presently working on using wetlands as a means of removing nitrogen from the Mississippi River. Dr. Day served as a member of the hypoxia reassessment taskforce and published with Dr. William Mitsch an article in BioScience on approaches to removing nitrogen from the Mississippi River. He served as chair of the National Technical Review Committee reviewing the restoration program for the Mississippi delta, and as Chair of the Science and Engineering Special Team (SEST), a group of scientists established by the environmental NGO community to identify current topics of interest on Mississippi delta restoration. He is currently active in delta restoration. He is the recipient of the Estuarine Research Federation Cronin Award for excellence in teaching in coastal sciences. He has served as major professor for 68 MS and PhD students.
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Kim de Mutsert

Assistant Professor, Department of Environmental Science & Policy, George Mason University

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Dr. Kim de Mutsert’s research interests include fish ecology in the marine, estuarine and freshwater environment. She is especially interested in the effects of environmental and anthropogenic stressors on nekton community structure and food web dynamics. In current projects she studies the response of living marine resources to hypoxia in the Gulf of Mexico, the effects of freshwater diversion on nekton communities in Louisiana estuaries, the impact of the Deepwater Horizon oil spill on Gulf shrimp in Louisiana estuaries, the spawning success of river herring in Potomac River tributaries, and the effects of nutrient reductions and inflow of treated wastewater on two tidal freshwater embayments of the Potomac River. She uses a combination of field research and ecosystem modeling in her projects. She teaches courses in freshwater ecology, estuarine ecology, fish ecology, and fisheries science. She is a faculty fellow at the Potomac Environmental Research and Education Center. Dr. de Mutsert earned her doctoral degree in Oceanography and Coastal Sciences from LSU, and her Master of Science degree in Biology from the University of Amsterdam.

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Bob Gramling

Emeritus Professor, Sociology, University of Louisiana, Lafayette

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Robert Gramling is an environmental sociologist and emeritus professor of sociology at the University of Louisiana at Lafayette. He is the author or co-author of four books and numerous journal articles. His research has focused on coastal communities and natural resource development; coastal restoration; and on natural and technological disasters and recovery. He has served on National Academy of Science committees and scientific committees for state and federal agencies, including National Marine Fisheries Service, Northwest Power Planning Commission, and the states of Alaska and Louisiana. His research has been funded by a number of agencies including the Environmental Protection Agency and the Department of Interior.
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Laurie Johnson

Principal, Laurie Johnson Consulting

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Dr. Laurie Johnson is an urban planner with over 25 years of professional experience, specializing in disaster recovery and consulting, and catastrophe risk management. She is the Principal and Founder of Laurie Johnson Consulting | Research and a Senior Science Advisor to AIG/Lexington Insurance. She has written extensively about land use and risk, disaster recovery and reconstruction, and the economics of catastrophes, and has studied most of the world’s major urban disasters, including the 2011 Tohoku Japan, 2010 and 2011 Christchurch NZ, and 2008 China earthquakes and 2005 Hurricane Katrina. In 2006, she was a lead author of the recovery plan for the City of New Orleans following Hurricane Katrina and coauthored the book, Clear as Mud: Planning for the Rebuilding of New Orleans. Her latest book on post-disaster recovery governance organizations and approaches from around the world will be publishd by the Lincoln Institute of Land Policy in 2014. She is advising Sea Bright, New Jersey in recovery following Hurricane Sandy and a lead author on the update of the American Planning Association’s post-disaster recovery planning guidebook. She completed her Doctor of Informatics degree at Kyoto University, Japan in 2009 and is a graduate of Texas A&M University, where she received both a Master of Urban Planning and a Bachelor of Science in Geophysics.
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Sandra K. Knight

President, WaterWonks LLC

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Sandra Knight PhD, PE, D.WRE, D.NE is founder and President of WaterWonks LLC in Washington, DC. Her company was formed to capitalize on her extensive experience as a national policy expert, international and nationally recognized engineering professional and research and innovation advisor to provide strategic direction to clients in the public and private sector in the areas of water resources, the environment, disaster resilience, and research to operations. Additionally, Dr. Knight was recently appointed to the position of Senior Research Engineer in the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering where she will work with her other colleagues in the development of water policy and flood risk management initiatives. She is a senior advisor to Dawson and Associates and a member of the Secure Sustainability Institute.

Dr. Knight gained her experience serving at the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), the National Oceanic Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), and the US Army Corps of Engineers (USACE), in various leadership positions and roles. At FEMA, she was the Deputy Associate Administrator for Mitigation responsible floodplain mapping, floodplain management and mitigation grants supporting the National Flood Insurance Program. She was also responsible for environmental and historic preservation compliance, oversight of the National Dam Safety Program and emergency management for mitigation. At NOAA, Sandra was the Director of the Office of Policy, Planning and Evaluation where she was responsible for the development of corporate policies and planning strategies, to ensure scientific excellence, transparent operations, and improved performance of NOAA’s research portfolio. As Technical Director for navigation research at the USACE Engineer Research and Development Center in Vicksburg, MS, she supported the sustainable development and management of the nation’s waterways infrastructure through innovative research and technology. On special assignment to USACE HQ, she led the development of an asset management strategy for the USACE, establishing accountability and life-cycle guidance for over $200 billion of the nation’s real property assets.

She received her doctorate in Civil Engineering from the University of Memphis in 1996. She is a registered professional engineer in the state of Tennessee and has been certified as a Diplomate, Water Resource Engineer (D.WRE) and as a Diplomate, Navigation Engineering (D.NE). She is a member of the American Society of Civil Engineers, the Society of Women Engineers, Sigma Xi and a Fellow for PIANC.
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Ehab Meselhe

Director of Natural Systems Modeling & Monitoring, The Water Institute of the Gulf

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Ehab Meselhe, Ph.D., P.E., has more than 20 years of experience researching coastal wetland hydrology, sediment transport, and computer modeling of coastal wetland, estuarine, and riverine systems. He has been heavily involved in large-scale coastal ecosystem restoration programs in south Louisiana and the Florida Everglades.

Dr. Meselhe serves as Louisiana’s technical lead for the Mississippi River Hydrodynamic and Delta Management Study. He is Associate Editor of the Journal of Hydrology and participates in steering and organizing committees for national and international conferences.

Prior to joining The Water Institute of the Gulf, Dr. Meselhe directed the Institute of Coastal Ecology and Engineering at the University of Louisiana-Lafayette, where he also served as professor for the Department of Civil Engineering.

He earned a master’s and doctoral degrees from the Iowa Institute of Hydraulic Research at the University of Iowa.
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James Morris

Director, Belle W. Baruch Institute for Marine and Coastal Sciences, University of South Carolina

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Dr. James Morris is the Director of the Belle Baruch Institute for Marine and Coastal Sciences, Professor of Biological Sciences, Class of ’32 Distinguished Professor of Marine Studies at the University of South Carolina, and a Fellow of the Society of Wetland Scientists and the American Association for the Advancement of Science. He received the University of South Carolina Research Foundation Award (2011), the Mortar Board Excellence in Teaching Award (2001), and the Society of Wetlands Science Merit Award (2012). He served as a Program Officer at the National Science Foundation from 2003-2005 and was a visiting professor at Aarhus University, Denmark in 1990. His academic background includes degrees in environmental sciences, (BA, Univ. Virginia), biology (MA, Yale) and forestry and environmental studies (PhD, Yale). He held a postdoctoral fellowship at the Marine Biological Laboratory, Woods Hole before taking a faculty position at the University of South Carolina in 1981. Morris has authored 90 peer-reviewed publications, and has done pioneering work on the responses of coastal wetlands to changing sea levels, including development of the Marsh Equilibrium Model (MEM). He has served on panels for numerous agencies, including the US National Science Foundation, the Irish National Science Foundation, and the National Research Council.
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Elizabeth Mossop

Principal, Spackman Mossop Michaels and Professor of Landscape Architecture, Robert Reich School of Landscape Architecture at Louisiana State University

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Elizabeth Mossop is a landscape architect with wide-ranging experience in both landscape design and urban planning. She is Professor of Landscape Architecture at the Robert Reich School of Landscape Architecture at LSU and Principal of Spackman Mossop Michaels landscape architects. Her practice concentrates on urban infrastructure and open space projects like Cook and Phillip Park in Sydney and Viet Village in New Orleans. She has recently been involved in many aspects of the post-hurricane reconstruction of New Orleans and the Gulf Coast. Elizabeth was Director of the Landscape Architecture Program at the University of New South Wales before taking a position at the Harvard Design School as the Director of Landscape Architecture Programs and Associate Professor in Landscape Architecture. Currently, Elizabeth is the former Director and Professor of Landscape Architecture at Louisiana State University. Her research and teaching focus on landscape and urbanism, through investigation of contemporary landscape design both at the urban scale and at the site scale. Recent publications include Contemporary Landscape Design in Australia (2003), Hong Kong: Defining the Edge (2001) and City Spaces: Art and Design (2001).
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William Nuttle

Principal, Eco-hydrology.com

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William K. Nuttle is an independent consultant based in Ottawa, Ontario, Canada, who works with water managers, engineers, Earth scientists and ecologists to plan eco-hydrology research and to apply the results of this research to ecosystem restoration and management of natural resources. He currently also serves as a Science Integrator for the University of Maryland’s Integration and Application Network in support of the America’s Watershed Initiative. Dr. Nuttle has 20 years of experience in ecosystem research and resource management in South Florida and Louisiana.  He was director of Everglades Department for the South Florida Water Management District in 2000-2001, and prior to that he served as Executive Officer for the Florida Bay Science Program.  Dr. Nuttle received his M.S. and Ph.D. (1986) degrees in civil engineering from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and his BSCE from the University of Maryland.
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Natalie Peyronnin

Director of Science Policy, Mississippi River Delta Restoration, Environmental Defense Fund

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Natalie Peyronnin is the Director of Science Policy at Environmental Defense Fund. As part of the Mississippi River Delta Restoration Campaign, Natalie works to ensure sound science is being utilized to plan, design, implement and adaptively manage projects and policies, with a focus on system dynamics. Prior to joining EDF, Natalie was a Senior Scientist for Louisiana’s Coastal Protection and Restoration Authority, where she served as the project manager for the 2017 Coastal Master Plan, the technical lead and science communicator for the 2012 Coastal Master Plan, diversion coordinator, and liaison with The Water Institute of the Gulf and academic institutions.

Natalie also worked as Science Director for the Coalition to Restore Coastal Louisiana, where her responsibilities included science advocacy, regulatory oversight, on-the-ground restoration, staff and volunteer management, partnership development, grant management and outreach. She holds a B.S. in Wildlife and Fisheries Management, with minors in Forestry and Zoology & Physiology from Louisiana State University and a M.S. in Oceanography and Coastal Sciences from Louisiana State University.
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Gary Shaffer

Professor of Biological Sciences, Southeastern Louisiana State University

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Gary Shaffer is a native of California and obtained his B.S. and M.S. at the University of California at Santa Barbara in aquatic and population biology. He obtained his Ph.D. in mathematical ecology at Louisiana State University and subsequently served as Assistant Professor in the Department of Experimental Statistics for four years at LSU. Dr. Shaffer is currently serving as a Professor in the Department of Biological Sciences at Southeastern Louisiana University where he studies wetlands science, restoration ecology, and statistical ecology. Dr. Shaffer has published several dozen papers in refereed journals and, in the last decade, received over seventy research grants totaling over $6 million. He has received numerous awards for his research, including the Faculty Research Award of the Association of Southeastern Biologists (twice), SLU’s career award for Excellence in Research, the Distinguished Paper Award from the World Organization of Systems and Cybernetics, and was named “Lead Ecologist” in the state of Louisiana by the Ecological Society of America (7,000 members) for their science education program. Dr. Shaffer has given invited presentations at universities and workshops across the nation, and at conferences of the Ecological Society of America, the Operations Research Society of America, the Estuarine Research Federation, the International Institute for System Studies, the World Organization of Systems and Cybernetics, and the Society of Wetland Scientists. Dr. Shaffer enjoys teaching several of the following courses each semester: applied biostatistics, botany, ecology, ecological methods, estuarine ecology, experimental design, plant ecology, multivariate statistics, simulation modeling, and wetlands ecology. He is an avid surfer, water skiier, fisherman, backpacker, and gardener.
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Rudy Simoneaux

Manager of the Coastal Protection and Restoration Authority (CPRA) Engineering Division

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With more than 10 years of experience in coastal and ecosystem restoration, Rudy Simoneaux currently holds the position of Manager of the Coastal Protection and Restoration Authority (CPRA) Engineering Division where he has worked since 2004. Throughout his time at CPRA (formally Louisiana Department of Naturally Resources) Mr. Simoneaux has become one of Louisiana’s most experienced technical resources in the area of coastal marsh and beach restoration design. Most recently, he served as the Lead Designer and Engineer of Record for the Lake Hermitage Marsh Creation Project, and the Lead Project Engineer for the Cameron Parish Shoreline Restoration Project.

Mr. Simoneaux has also dedicated a large portion of his career to studying, planning and designing Mississippi River Diversions, including the Maurepas Swamp Freshwater Diversion, Violet Freshwater Diversion, Lower Breton Sediment Diversion, and Lower Barataria Sediment Diversion. Since 2009 he has served as the Project Manager and Technical Lead of the Expanded Small Scale Physical Model and River Modeling Facility.

Mr. Simoneaux has been affiliated with governing bodies of the American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE) since 2005. He was the 2012-2013 ASCE Baton Rouge Branch President and currently serves as the Baton Rouge Director of the ASCE Louisiana Section Board. He is also a founding member and current Chairman of the Louisiana Chapter of ASCE’s Coasts, Oceans, Ports, and Rivers Institute (COPRI).

Mr. Simoneaux received a B.S. in Civil Engineering from Louisiana State University in 2004 and is a Registered Professional Engineer in State of Louisiana.
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Clinton Willson

(Chair of Technical Team) Professor, Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering, Louisiana State University and Director of the Engineering Design and Innovation Program, The Water Institute of the Gulf

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With more than 15 years’ experience in applied research in water resources and environmental engineering, Clinton Willson, Ph.D., P.E., is an expert in numerical and physical modeling systems that test river management proposals. For the past two years, Clint was the Director of Engineering Design and Innovation for The Water Institute of the Gulf. In addition, Dr. Willson is a professor at Louisiana State University’s Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering and serves on the university’s Coastal Sustainability Studio executive board. At LSU, he oversees construction of a new, large-scale physical model of the lower Mississippi River that will be used to test the effectiveness of various river management strategies.

Dr. Willson is also chairman of the technical team for Changing Course and has served as a reviewer for several federal agencies. In 1997, he was a visiting professor at the Laboratory for Soil and Environmental Physics at Ecole Polytechnique Federale de Lausanne in Lausanne, Switzerland.

Dr. Willson earned a bachelor’s degree in aerospace engineering from Pennsylvania State University. He earned a master’s in environmental health engineering and a doctorate in civil engineering from the University of Texas. He spent seven years as an officer in the U.S. Marine Corps.
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Mark Wingate

Chief for Projects and Restoration Branch with the United States Army Corps of Engineers (USACE), New Orleans District

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Mark Wingate, P.E., has more than 21 years of experience with United States Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) Project Management, Planning, Designing, Budgeting, Construction and Delivering Civil Works Projects. He is responsible for delivering USACE Civil Works projects throughout the New Orleans District.

Mr. Wingate serves as the Chief for Projects and Restoration Branch with the United States Army Corps of Engineers (USACE), New Orleans District. He joined USACE in 1993 and is responsible for the management and execution of Civil Works programs, projects and studies in the areas of Flood Risk Management, Navigation and Ecosystem Restoration.

Prior to joining USACE, Mr. Wingate served as a Civil/Hydraulic Engineer in the consulting arena with a focus on Hydrologic and Hydraulic modeling including the development of 1D and 2D modeling for Lower Mississippi River diversions.

He graduated from the University of New Orleans in 1989 with a Bachelor of Science in Civil Engineering and is a licensed Professional Engineer in the State of Louisiana. He is married to Lori Wingate and has 2 children, Kyle 21 and Lindsey 13.
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