University of South Carolina

2013 USC hurricane faculty experts list

The University of South Carolina’s Office of News and Internal Communications has compiled a list of faculty experts, many of whom have conducted storm-related research along the Southeast, Gulf coasts and Mid-Atlantic for reporters who are covering hurricane, environmental and weather-related stories. To arrange interviews, call the news contact listed with the entry. After-hours contact information, if available, is listed with each expert.

Impact of intense precipitation

In addition to high winds, the water that accompanies hurricanes can overwhelm a region. Geology professor Venkat Lakshmi, a hydrometeorology expert, can discuss the impact of intense precipitation. After Hurricane Katrina, Lakshmi conducted a study on flooding along the Gulf Coast and its impact. He can discuss flash floods and the seriousness of flash-flood advisories, coastal erosion when sediment is washed away, and how the horizontal movement of wind and water changes the landscape. Lakshmi contact information: 803-361-0415 (mobile). (News contact: Jeff Stensland, 803-777-3686,

Assessing storm surge and damage

Jerry Mitchell, director of the S.C. Geographic Alliance, can discuss the nature and dynamics of storm surge and how the vulnerability of communities is determined. Most recently, Mitchell, along with other university geography researchers, mapped storm-surge inundation from Hurricane Katrina along the Gulf Coast and assessed where residents were the most vulnerable. Mitchell contact information:, 803-777-2986 (office), 803-252-2702 (home). (News contact: Jeff Stensland, 803-777-3686,

Recreating U.S. hurricane history

Cary Mock, professor of geography and climatologist, has reconstructed a hurricane history for South Carolina and other areas of the Atlantic and Gulf coasts, as well as for typhoons in the Pacific Ocean. From studying old diaries, 18th- and 19th-century plantation records, newspapers, ship logbooks and early meteorological records, he has created a perspective on hurricanes during the last several hundred years, which, in turn, is leading to a better understanding of hurricane patterns and the relationships between hurricanes and global climate change. Mock, who teaches meteorology courses, also can discuss the meteorological characteristics, climate, tracks and forecasting aspects of hurricanes. His research is funded by the National Science Foundation and NOAA. Mock contact information:, 803-787-6109 (home), 803-777-1211 (office; frequently there on weekends). (News contact: Jeff Stensland, 803-777-3686,

Bridge and building safety after storms

How do storms impact bridges and buildings? Paul Ziehl, associate professor in the department of civil and environmental engineering, has significant experience with the design, post-event evaluation and remediation of reinforced concrete, steel, timber and fiber-reinforced polymer structures and systems, including bridges and buildings. He has additional experience and expertise in structural health monitoring of buildings and transportation systems. Ziehl contact information: 803-467-4030 (cell). (News contact: Jeff Stensland, 803-777-3686,

Levee breaches and closure procedures

Hanif Chaudhry, associate dean in the College of Engineering and Computing, has studied the levee breaches in New Orleans, the worst of which occurred at the 17th Street Canal. Chaudhry is director of a $3 million grant from the National Science Foundation that leads an international research effort on modeling of flood hazards due to levee breach and dam failure. Chaudhry contact information: 803-413-0044 (cell). (News contact: Jeff Stensland, 803-777-3686,

Hurricane impact on the oceans

Subra Bulusu is an associate professor in the marine science program and the department of earth and ocean sciences. He can discuss a hurricane’s impact on the oceans using remote-sensing techniques, satellite oceanography and ocean modeling. Bulusu contact information:, 803-777-2572 (office). (News contact: Jeff Stensland, 803-777-3686,

Coastal storm impacts on fish, shellfish and marsh animals

Dennis Allen is a research professor and resident director of the USC Baruch Marine Field Laboratory on the coast in Georgetown, S.C. With more than 30 years of experience on the S.C. coast, and professional interests in the ecology of fishes, shrimps, crabs, and less familiar animals of salt marshes, estuaries and the coastal ocean, he is available to discuss issues including threats and impacts of coastal storms. Allen contact information: or 843-904-9025 (office). (News contact: Jeff Stensland, 803-777-3686,

Preparedness and policy

Susan Cutter, Carolina Distinguished Professor of Geography, is considered one of the leading authorities in the world on emergency preparedness, response and recovery, and social vulnerability to manmade and natural disasters. She is frequently consulted by government agencies for her expertise in the roles of public agencies, such as FEMA and state emergency-preparedness offices, in handling disasters. As director of the university’s Hazards and Vulnerability Research Institute, one of the country’s top facilities for integrating hazards research with geospatial information, Cutter has done extensive grant-funded research on hurricane evacuations and how people decide whether to evacuate. Immediately after Katrina, she led a team of researchers who mapped storm-surge inundation along the Gulf Coast and assessed where residents were the most vulnerable. Most recently, with funding from a National Science Foundation grant, she has teamed up with several colleagues to study social vulnerability and rebuilding along the Gulf Coast after Katrina. She completed a 2011 survey of South Carolina hurricane evacuation behavior for the Army Corps of Engineers and South Carolina Emergency Management Division (SCEMD). Cutter contact information: (News contact: Jeff Stensland, 803-777-3686,

Risk management and insurance

Greg Niehaus and Ernie Csiszar are faculty members with the Darla Moore School of Business. Niehaus is a professor of finance and insurance whose research on risk management and insurance is published in top journals. Csiszar is former CEO of Seibels Bruce Insurance and Property Casualty Insurers Association of America (PCI). Both Niehaus and Csiszar can discuss risk assessment and insurance planning for coastal residents and businesses and can address residential property insurance, the impact of hurricane loss on insurance pricing and the damage estimation process after a hurricane. Csiszar has more than 30 years of business experience in merchant banking and insurance. Niehaus contact information:, 803-777-7254 (office) Csiszar contact information:, 803-777-5984 (office). (News contact: Peggy Binette, 803-777-7704,

The economic impact of hurricanes

Douglas Woodward, director of the division of research and professor of economics at the Darla Moore School of Business, can discuss the economic impact of a hurricane on South Carolina’s economy. Woodward is well known for his economic impact analysis and studies and is frequently called upon by national media for his insights to economic development, industry location and direct-foreign investment, particularly as they relate to South Carolina and the Southeast. Woodward contact information: , 803-777- 4424 (office). (News contact: Peggy Binette, 803-777-7704,

Retail and hospitality hurricane preparedness

Christian Stegmaier is an expert in hotel and restaurant law in the School of Hotel, Restaurant and Tourism Management. He can discuss disaster planning preparedness, proper response following an emergency, and matters relating to the interruption of business/continuation of business. He can also talk about advising restaurants, hotels and convenience stores about the legal consequences resulting from price gouging following natural disasters. Stegmaier contact information:, 803-255-0454 (office). (News contact: Frenche Brewer, 803-777-3691,

Impact on tourism market

Sheryl Kline is an associate professor in the School of Hotel, Restaurant and Tourism Management. She can discuss the impact of hurricanes on travel planning and on the hotel industry. Kline contact information:, 803-777-3249 (office). (News contact: Frenche Brewer, 803-777-3691,

Impact of storm surge, flooding

George Voulgaris, a coastal oceanographer, studies coastal erosion and wind- and tide-driven currents as well as wave activity and patterns along the South Carolina coast. He can discuss the effect of hurricanes on coastal erosion and how a hurricane’s storm surge affects land. Since Hurricane Katrina, Voulgaris has studied the resilience of barrier islands along the Gulf Coast. In 2004, Voulgaris and his team of researchers launched technology off the South Carolina coast that provided real-time waves, currents and water level information. More recently radar technology has been installed along the coast that enables marine scientists and state agencies to determine the severity of a hurricane’s impact as the storm occurs through real time observations of waves and currents over large areas of the coastal ocean extending to the Gulf Stream. He also can talk about the dangers of flooding during and after a hurricane. Voulgaris contact information: (News contact: Jeff Stensland, 803-777-3686,

Impact of storms on coastal ecology, salt marshes

Jim Morris is a coastal marine scientist and director of the Belle W. Baruch Institute for Marine and Coastal Sciences near Georgetown, S.C. He can address questions relating to the effect of sea-level rise and storms on our coast and its ecology, especially its salt marshes. Morris contact information:, 803-777-5288 (office). (News contact: Jeff Stensland, 803-777-3686,

Storm impacts on water quality

Dianne Greenfield is a coastal marine scientist and an assistant professor with the Belle W. Baruch Institute for Marine and Coastal Sciences, and she holds a joint appointment with the Marine Resources Research Institute in Charleston. She can address questions relating to the effect of storms on our coast and its ecology, especially water quality, algal blooms and nutrients. Greenfield contact information:, 843-725-4823 (office). (News contact: Jeff Stensland, 803-777-3686,

Using GIS and other technology to assess coastal changes

Storm surges and hurricane winds can alter the coast line dramatically, far beyond what can be seen during a walk along the beach. Dwayne E. Porter, chair of the department of environmental health sciences at the Arnold School of Public Health and research associate at the university’s Baruch Institute for Marine and Coastal Sciences, can discuss how GIS and other technology are used to assess coastal changes that occur after a hurricane and the importance of such assessments for the environment and coastal planners. Porter contact information:, 803-528-9825 (cell). (News contact: Jeff Stensland, 803-777-3686,

How a storm changes marine organism health; pollution impacts of hurricanes

Pamela Morris is a marine microbial ecologist and research professor of the Belle W. Baruch Institute for Marine and Coastal Sciences near Georgetown, S.C. She can address questions relating to the impact of coastal storms on microbial community shifts related to changes in marine organism health status, the identification of human and marine pathogen reservoirs and pollution impacts. Morris contact information:, 843-904-9039 (office), 843-991-8355 (cell). (News contact: Jeff Stensland, 803-777-3686,

News and Internal Communications

Posted: 06/06/13 @ 9:00 AM | Updated: 06/06/13 @ 5:15 PM | Permalink