Posts

Field measurements at the Rachel Carson Reserve, NC

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In addition to the beautiful scenery and diverse wildlife, the Rachel Carson Reserve in North Carolina proved to be an excellent location for conducting coastal engineering field research. The reserve is managed by the NC Coastal Reserve and National Estuarine Research Reserve within the Division of Coastal Management for the NC Department of Environmental Quality (NC DEQ). From July 29 through July 31, 2019, a group of ten people participated in a field survey aimed at characterizing the in-situ sediment erodibility and local hydrodynamic conditions in the vicinity of natural oyster reefs. There was representation from the NC DEQ, Virginia Tech, North Carolina State University, Virginia Institute of Marine Science, and the Technical University of Darmstadt in Germany. Field measurements along with sampling included the use of a Jet Erosion Test device to determine the critical shear stress of the sediments, an acoustic Doppler current profiler to measure water column velocities, a ro…

NHERI RAPID Advanced User workshop

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Nina participated in the advanced user workshop of the NHERI RAPID facility (https://rapid.designsafe-ci.org/). The workshop provided a training opportunity for utilizing RAPID equipment such as the z-boat and lidar in extreme event reconnaissance.




TechGirls camp

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For the second year in a row, the Coastal & Marine Geotechnics Team at Virginia Tech hosted two sessions for the TechGirls camp at Virginia Tech. From their website, “TechGirls is an international summer exchange program designed to empower and inspire young women from the United States, Central Asia and the Middle East and North Africa to pursue careers in science and technology.” More information can be found at the following weblink: https://legacyintl.org/techgirls/. Reem, Dennis, Julie, Liz, and Sam presented about civil and geotechnical engineering to about 40 high school girls from the Middle East, North Africa, and the United States. The girls also had the chance to learn about geotechnical engineering with a hands-on activity by building structures using two types of soil: sand and clay. The structures ranged from a pyramid and a Mars-based retreat made from clay to a rocket ship and club house made from sand!



Outreach to Yakutat Middleschool

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Nick Brilli has been in Yakutat for almost 6 weeks now! In addition to doing lots of field work, he has been helping teach a summer outreach program for the local middle schoolers. He teaches them about measuring techniques on the beach (profiling, moisture contents, and sediment strength), how to build sand castles using their knowledge of water content, the reasons that tides occur and how drastically the can affect the coast, and the mechanisms behind earthquakes and how tectonics plates have formed the area they live in. It’s great to see the kids having fun with the activities: going to check the tides throughout the day, mixing water and sand to find the perfect ratio to make a sand castle, modelling the tectonic plates with graham crackers and icing, and shaking cups of wet sand to learn about liquefaction. Next week, in the final session, they will get to learn about geotechnical engineering, and build their own retaining wall! Finally, they have been collecting their own beac…

Nina appointed Associate Professor and the Anthony and Catherine Moraco Faculty Fellow

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Nina was appointed Associate Professor with tenure and the Anthony and Moraco Faculty Fellow starting in August 2019.

Big thanks to all my friends, colleagues, collaborators, mentors, students, and family who have supported me, worked with me, and accompanied me throughout the last years! This would not have been possible without you, and I am looking forward to more exciting joint endeavors in the future!




Nick Brilli for research and outreach for 11 weeks in Yakutat, AK

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This summer, one of our students, Nick Brilli, is living in the small town Yakutat, Alaska. He will spend 11 weeks conducting beach and boat-based fieldwork and participating in an outreach program with the local summer school. Research tasks on the beach will involve beach profiling, deployment of the blueDrop penetrometer, and measurements of moisture content with the goal of using the data to understand the relationship between moisture content and sediment strength. He is also deploying our Ruskin pressure sensors in several arrangements in different sites on the beach to measure the pressure response of the soil due to waves, data that will be used by another one of our students, Matthew Florence. Later in the summer, Nick will be mounting our ADCP and Scour Monitor to a boat to measure water depth and flow velocities offshore of the beach and in a nearby river inlet. The outreach program will involve weekly activities with the town’s children in summer school, teaching them abou…

Coastal Sediments 2019

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Nina traveled with graduate students Nick, Dennis, Julie, and Matthew to St. Petersburg, Florida to attend the conference Coastal Sediments 2019 (http://coastalsediments.cas.usf.edu/index.html). While there, they presented six papers. Dennis and Nina gave oral presentations, with Dennis presenting on the geotechnical site characterization of the Pamunkey River, VA using the bluedrop and Nina discussing ideas related to site characterization using remotely-sensed data. Nick’s poster talked about his work with the University of Queensland in Brisbane, Australia in 2018 and Matthew’s poster discussed his work with utilizing pressure sensors buried in sediment to look at pressure gradient. Julie’s poster was focused on moisture content assessment of sandy beach sediments, and Nina presented undergraduate Madeline’s paper about beach slopes and moisture content. Overall, the group had a great time learning about other research in coastal engineering and even managed to squeeze in some fun …