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Posted 8/25/2014

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By By Megan Holland, ERDC Public Affairs

VICKSBURG, Miss. – Gary Brown, a research hydraulic engineer in the U.S. Army Engineer Research and Development Center (ERDC) Coastal and Hydraulics Laboratory (CHL), was recently honored for his work on the Mississippi River Hydrodynamic and Delta Management Study (MRHDM). Brown, who was singled out for going above and beyond the call of duty, was presented with a framed print and coin accompanied by a hand-written citation by U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Mississippi Valley Division (MVD) Commander Brig. Gen. Duke DeLuca.

“Thank you for your exceptional dedication to service and to science, your clear and demonstrated scientific and technical expertise, and your enthusiasm in helping us all understand better the Mississippi River and the role of diversions on the river and in estuaries,” said DeLuca, reading from the citation during the presentation.  “You have advanced diversion science and are enabling us all to make better decisions for the people of Louisiana and the Nation.”

MRHDM is sponsored by MVD, as well as the Vicksburg District, and is billed as “the first large-scale, long-term restoration assessment investigated under the Louisiana Coastal Area Program.” The study, which covers the lower Mississippi River and surrounding areas, seeks to identify and evaluate large-scale management and restoration features to address the long-term sustainability of the lower Mississippi River Deltaic Plain, as well as balance the interests of ecosystem restoration, flood risk reduction and navigation. Brown is supporting the study through the development and continued use of an ADaptive Hydraulics Modeling (ADH)-based depiction of a large section of the Mississippi River, including adjacent estuaries.

According to MVD’s Dr. Barbara Kleiss, who nominated Brown for the honor, he has utilized the model to develop new analytical techniques that generate valuable information pertaining to the study. That work was used to guide the Delta Management screening process and will continue to be an asset going forward.

“He is providing us with our first reliable estimates of changes in salinity due to diversions, surface water elevation changes due to diversion, and land building estimates from diversions,” said Kleiss. “He is also augmenting our understanding of the shoaling in the river due to diversions. During the past several months, this work has required Gary to work many long hours on top of additional commitments. Throughout all of this, he has gained respect from the folks at the Water Institute of the Gulf and the Coastal Protection and Restoration Authority as a knowledgeable and unbiased scientist.”

Brown stated the award was a tremendous honor to him.

"In my 20-year career here at ERDC, I've never been encouraged to do anything other than the best science, regardless of the implications of the results,” said Brown. “I am very grateful for this type of support.  I think this focus on the science is very helpful in resolving disputes associated with Corps projects.  This is because I've found that most stakeholders will eventually accept any conclusions, even controversial ones, if they are persuaded that the underlying science is sound.  I regard this award as an affirmation of the commitment of the Mississippi River Commission to encouraging open and honest scientific inquiry, and for that, as well as for the award itself, I thank them. I also wish to thank Barb Kleiss for all her support and Ty Wamsley and Rob McAdory for supporting and mentoring me throughout my career at ERDC."