Rice U. experts available during 2015 hurricane season

David Ruth

Media Advisory: Rice U. experts available during 2015 hurricane season

HOUSTON – (June 15, 2015) – With the 2015 Atlantic hurricane season here, Rice University has various experts available to talk about storms that enter the Gulf of Mexico and also storms from past years.

Rice’s 2015 hurricane experts include:

Phil Bedient, professor of civil engineering and director of the SSPEED Center designer of the Flood Alert System 3, can discuss flooding issues that arise from tropical depressions or hurricanes. In his 2012 book, “Lessons from Hurricane Ike,” Bedient and more than 20 other researchers gave a 194-page account of what they learned from studying the 2008 storm that caused nearly $25 billion in damages and killed dozens.

Created in 1997, the Flood Alert System 3 is an integrated system utilizing radar, rain gauge information, bayou stage data and hydrologic modeling for the purpose of issuing flood warnings and forecasts for its users. This Third-Generation Rice University/Texas Medical Center Flood Alert System (FAS3) uses the latest hydrologic technology to more accurately predict the overall threat of out-of-bank flooding of Brays Bayou near the Texas Medical Center and uses Google Maps.

The FAS3 is interactive and provides real-time updates every 5 minutes through state-of-the-art servers, allows extreme traffic visits and has a back-up monitoring system in Oklahoma. Accessible from any computer with Internet access, automatic emergency alerts are distributed to notify and initiate flood protection measures. FAS3 has a track record of success with over 50-plus major events, including Tropical Storm Allison (2001) and Hurricane Ike (2008).

John Anderson, the W. Maurice Ewing Chair in Oceanography and professor of Earth science, academic director of Rice’s Shell Center for Sustainability and author of the book “The Formation and Future of the Upper Texas Coast,” can explain how hurricanes have impacted and helped draw the modern coastlines of Texas, Louisiana, Florida and other Gulf Coast states.

Leonardo Dueñas-Osorio, associate professor of civil and environmental engineering, can comment on the way that power grids, communications networks, utilities and other “lifeline systems” respond to natural disasters. He can also speak about the city of Houston’s Storm Risk Calculator, which he helped develop at Rice.

Bob Stein, professor of political science, can talk about government reaction to a storm and the politics that are in play. He also can speak about the city of Houston’s Storm Risk Calculator, which he helped develop at Rice.

Mark Jones, professor and chair of political science and fellow in political science at Rice University’s Baker Institute for Public Policy, can discuss government reaction to a storm and the politics that are in play.

Ken Medlock, director of Rice University’s Baker Institute Center for Energy Studies, can address what can happen to gasoline prices around the country when refining and pipeline infrastructure is negatively affected for an extended time.

Satish Nagarajaiah, professor of civil and environmental engineering, can speak about the threats hurricanes pose to offshore drilling platforms. His group conducts research in deepwater fixed and floating platforms, drilling and riser technology; the group has performed Department of Energy and industry-funded research. His group’s research focuses specifically on development of new monitoring and damage identification algorithms and techniques for deepwater platforms and risers, for structural integrity assessment, fatigue damage estimation and maintenance before costly, dangerous failures can occur. Nagarajaiah was closely involved in the investigations into the 2010 deepwater Horizon disaster (Macando).

Terry Hemeyer, adjunct professor in Rice University’s Jones Graduate School of Business and a crisis communications expert, can discuss the ongoing communications challenges and public relations strategies that government agencies and corporations face in times of disaster.

Pedro Alvarez, professor and chair of civil and environmental engineering, can discuss the environmental impact and the cleanup efforts communities could face when large hurricanes strike.

National Hurricane Center storm names for the 2015 Atlantic storms:



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About David Ruth

David Ruth is director of national media relations in Rice University's Office of Public Affairs.