Jennifer Irish honored for work in coastal engineering

It was a busy summer for Dr. Jennifer L. Irish, Professor of coastal engineering at Virginia Tech. Irish, who is an expert in storm surge dynamics, coastal hazard assessment, and nature-based infrastructure for coastal hazard mitigation, has been at Virginia Tech since 2011. She has published 50 journal articles and her work has been cited more than 2000 times.

Irish was named an American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE) Fellow. ASCE members that are elected to Fellow status have made contributions and developed creative solutions that have enhanced lives. Only three percent of ASCE members hold this honor. In addition to her contributions to coastal hazard mitigation, physics of storm surge and related probabilistic surge hazard assessment, and impacts of sea-level rise at the coast, she has also held leadership roles in ASCE since 2005. Currently, she is Chair of ASCE’s Committee on Technical Advancement, a member of the Coastal Engineering Research Council, and associate editor of ASCE’s Journal of Waterway, Port, Coastal, and Ocean Engineering. For the full article on her honor as ASCE fellow, click here.

She was also appointed to the National Academy’s newest committee “Long-term Coastal Zone Dynamics: Interactions and Feedbacks between Natural and Human Processes and their Implications for the U.S. Coastline.” This committee will conduct a study to determine research needed to improve understanding of the interactions and feedbacks between long-term natural coastal dynamics and development, including energy-related infrastructure, along the U.S. Gulf of Mexico coastline. The study will identify gaps in scientific and technical understanding of interactions and feedbacks between physical processes and coastal development, and identify barriers to and opportunities for more effective communication among scientists and coastal stakeholders about improved monitoring, forecasting, mapping, and other data collection regarding long-term changes in U.S. coastlines. They also hope to define essential components of a research and development program based on the gaps found and set priorities for critical areas of research to increase understanding of long-term natural coast dynamics.

Irish was also part of a team that received a $2.9 million National Science Foundation (NSF) Research Traineeship Grant. The Research Traineeship Program (NRT) is an NSF-wide effort to build new models for graduate education, while preparing the next generation of STEM graduate students to pursue a range of careers. The title of the project is “Disaster Resilience and Risk Management (DRRM) – Creating quantitative decision making frameworks for multi-dimensional and multi-scale analysis of hazard impact. The project is open to masters and doctoral-level students from all departments and will offer graduate students training in risk management and disaster resilience. Specifically, it will address the complexity of decision-making related to natural disasters such as hurricanes, tsunamis, and sea level rise, but also includes population growth, environmental change, and terrorism. For the full project abstract, click here.