Aspiring youth gain insight from Corps researchers at coastal conference

ERDC Contract Writer
Published Nov. 12, 2018

MERIDA, Mexico (November 11, 2018)--This year’s Young Coastal Scientists and Engineers Conference of the Americas was held in Merida Yucatan, Mexico. Scientists there know first-hand the ravages of hurricanes and the devastation wrought on the nearby coastline. Since 1924, 44 hurricanes have pummeled the Yucatan Peninsula.

The constant onslaught by nature has eroded the beaches, but not the resolve of the scientists who work to ensure their survival. The problems are multi-dimensional, and as such, YCSECA invited participants from academia, industry and government to search for the best solution from every facet.

The U.S. Army Engineer Research and Development Center’s Coastal Hydraulics Laboratory was made for this. Established after the devastating flood in 1927, the Corps sought to formulate a flood control plan, mitigate damage and reduce the impact of future disasters. CHL is now recognized as a global leader with a multi-disciplined approach to problem solving. 

Speakers were invited from various agencies and geographical locations. Dr. Brutsché, coastal geologist and deputy program manager, National Regional Sediment Management program, was one of CHL’s representatives.  RSM’s goal is to achieve short and long-term sustainable environmental, social and economic benefits both locally and regionally: increasing benefits while maintaining or reducing costs.

RSM collaborates with varied agencies and uses a four-phase process to evaluate and take action. RSM has also been instrumental in creating pilot programs and strategies to understand regional issues and formulate tailored plans.

Dr. Brutsché, as a keynote speaker at the YCSECA, provided a detailed history and covered the benefits of RSM. She also exhorted the young scientists in attendance to use their talents to meet the challenge with the vigor and enthusiasm of youth, and to consider ERDC as the premier facility to continue their research.

Dr. Brandon Boyd was the second speaker to represent ERDC. Dr. Boyd is an oceanographer who is actively researching wetlands and designing marsh restorations with an eye on resilience, working with the Engineering With Nature® initiative.

Using a HPGe planar detector, Dr. Boyd analyzes soil samples to determine sediment type, source and age. His presentation to YCSECA was about how he used these techniques to determine the gain or loss of sediments in the San Francisco Bay area. “To improve resiliency of marsh restoration projects by helping USACE is the goal,” he said.

By sharing ERDC and CHL’s vison for the protection of coasts and wetlands, Brutsché and Boyd are showing young scientists that they too can “Discover, Develop and Deliver new ways to make the world safer and better.”