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Student Profiles

Antonia Sebastian

Antonia Sebastian

ags3@rice.edu

 

Growing up in the heart of Flash Flood Alley, an area where the highest rainfall runoff rates in the country occur, greatly influenced my appreciation of the force of floodwater and the devastation it can easily cause. My childhood experiences close to floodwaters led me on a path to the hydrology group at Rice University. As an undergraduate, I received the Center for Civic Engagement Fellowship, which I used to study the combined effects of storm surge and inland flooding in Armand Bayou. This research became a piece of a larger SSPEED Center effort to evaluate flooding in the watersheds of the west coastline of Galveston Bay. As a graduate student, I am now examining the propagation of surge in Galveston Bay, in order to evaluate how wind speed, landfall location and levee systems affect the shape and timing of the surge wave at points in and around the bay. I am also building a VfloTM model for the Clear Creek watershed. In combination with work with Dr. Brody at Texas A&M Galveston and Dr. Dawson at the University of Texas, this model work lend itself to a larger study examining the interaction between surge, inland flooding and best management practices for development and flood mitigation in coastal watersheds.

 

 

 

 

 

Jacob Torres

Jacob Torres, P.E.

torres@rice.edu

 

 

I am currently investigating how hurricane rainfall influences the coastal hydrologic landscape in terms of flood risk. This entails a deep understanding on the combined interactions of hurricane rainfall, associated runoff, riverine hydraulics, and storm surge hydrodynamics. To help achieve these insights, I utilize advanced numerical and statistical methods for simulating extreme coastal flood events and predicting hydrologic responses at the land-sea interface. My research also involves the detailed evaluation of a proposed surge barrier system at the Houston Ship Channel, just downstream of Fred Hartman Bridge, commonly known as the Centennial Gate. I am analyzing the "Gate's" hydraulic performance under a broad range of hurricane conditions. Other aspects of my research include the study of statistical non-stationary processes in regional rainfall data for Harris County and how the quantification of statistical trends may lead to better estimates of annual exceedance probabilities for design storms.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Benjamin

Benjamin Bass

benb0228@gmail.com

 

I grew up in Houston, where high intensity rainfall events, tidal influences and more severe hurricane induced storm surge events plague the region as one of the most flood-prone areas in the United States. Shortly after receiving a bachelor's degree in hydrology at the University of Texas at Austin, I worked at the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality, where I helped determine industrial discharge limits for industries throughout Texas. I am now in my second year as a Ph.D. student at Rice University, where I have and continue to gain an extensive background in Civil and Environmental Engineering. For my Ph.D. research, I plan to develop a Coastal Flood Alert System that will provide flood predictions/alerts for both rainfall and hurricane induced storm surge events in Clear Creek Watershed, one of the most densely populated and flood vulnerable regions in the Houston-Galveston region.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Nick Irza

Nick Irza

 

Weather has fascinated me from an early age as one of my earliest memories is that of a severe thunderstorm. I decided to study hydrology and hydraulics at Rice University, combining my existing interest in meteorology with a newfound interest in understanding and mitigating the risk severe weather presents coastal regions. During my time at the SSPEED Center, I have been involved in the development of a storm surge damage model for Galveston County as well as the computational fluid modeling behind the SSPEED Center's HGAPS initiative. Because of the numerous opportunities afforded to me though my work with the SSPEED Center, after receiving my B.S. in 2014, I decided to return to Rice to pursue a Master's Degree under Dr. Bedient. Today, my current research interests revolve around using computer simulation and geospatial analysis techniques to better characterize regional vulnerability to economic and environmental damage from extreme weather and to evaluate and develop long-term, sustainable strategies to mitigate the threat.



 

 

 

Katherine A. Anarde

Katherine A. Anarde

 

As a native Coloradoan, I have always been enchanted by the power of water inshaping my surroundings. After attending the University of Colorado at Boulder where I obtained a B.S. in Geology with a specialization in Geophysics, I immediately moved to California where I spent several years working in the Environmental Consulting sector (and surfing the San Diego waves). Upon moving to Houston, I decided to return to school for a Ph.D. in my newfound interest, environmental engineering. I now am a second year Ph.D. student under Dr. Bedient studying surface water hydrology and hydraulics with specific interest in the coupled effect of storm surge and inland flooding from severe storms in the Houston-Galveston region. In my spare time I cycle, ski, and play Ultimate Frisbee for a traveling women's team.



 

 

 

 

Mikaela Mahoney

Mikaela Mahoney

 

I was born and raised in Albuquerque, New Mexico, where I learned the importance of water and managing water resources for the future. During the summers in New Mexico, the rains fall with very high intensity, sometimes

leaving a trail of destruction in the form of flash floods. These flash floods opened the door to my interest in water; how can something so crucial to human life be so devastating? I attended New Mexico State University where I played soccer and received a BS in Environmental Science. Throughout my undergraduate degree, groundwater became an increasingly important topic to me because agriculture pumps a majority of irrigation water from the ground, in an unstainable manner. Here at Rice University, I have been able to continue to explore flood issues and groundwater management practices in Texas. Currently, I am working on my Masters thesis on the accuracy of groundwater modeling in south-central Texas.

 

 

 

 

 

Andrew

Andrew Juan

 

 

More than a decade ago, the 2004 Christmas Tsunami in Aceh, Indonesia took 200,000 lives compared to Hurricane Ivan in Florida, which only took a few lives. The difference was the advance notice that the public received with Ivan. Ever since then I have been fascinated with flood warning systems, flood management practices, and the important role they play in saving lives. To learn more about hydrology and flood alert systems, I attended Rice University and joined the Civil & Environmental Engineering Department along with the SSPEED Center at Rice for ample opportunities for me to be involved in a variety of flood-related research. I hope to continue expanding my knowledge in hydrology and to be involved in future research at the CEVE Department and the SSPEED Center at

Rice.

 

 

 

 Russell Blessing

 Russell Blessing

 

My research is primarily concerned with understanding the impacts of varied urban development patterns on built and natural land cover types and understanding how these varied patterns effect ecosystem functioning and urban resilience. The use of Geographic Information Systems (GIS), the conceptual models of landscape ecology, and spatial statistics are critical tools I use to test hypotheses of urban development dynamics. I am currently working on two research projects with the SSPEED Center. The objective of the first is to better conceptualize, identify, and delineate the risk of flood impacts as part of collaborative effort between the Center for Texas Beaches and Shores (A&M Galveston) and Rice University's SSPEED Center. To do this our research will empirically address to what degree the 100-year floodplain boundary predicts flood damage and what proximity and built environment variables account for the risk and property damage. For the second project I am creating a land use/land cover change model to predict future development as part of a multidisciplinary effort to assess the sustainability of the upper Texas Gulf Coast. This model will be closely integrated with storm surge and sediment transport models to assess community resilience to floods over time. This research will provide valuable insight on how to develop more effective strategies for reducing the rising costs of floods.

 

 

 

 

 

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SSPEED Center at Rice University | Civil and Environmental Engineering Department
6100 Main MS-317, Houston, Texas 77005-1827
Mailing Address: P.O. Box 1892, Houston,Texas 77251-1892 
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