Hurricane Experts

How can vulnerable areas prepare for the next hurricane? How well can we estimate where flooding will occur the next time around? And why can't we make better predictions about where hurricanes will hit? Experts in Duke University’s Civil and Environmental Engineering department answer some of these critical questions here:

Children Coping
Katie Rosanbalm (919-668-3294;
A senior research scientist at Duke’s Center for Child and Family Policy, Rosanbalm can discuss dealing with child trauma in the wake of a disaster, for instance how to help affected individuals cope.

Coastal Development
Orrin H. Pilkey (contact Tim Lucas: 919-613-8084;
Pilkey, professor emeritus of geology, specializes in beach nourishment and erosion, impact of hurricanes on coastal ecosystems and communities, sea-level rise and sustainable coastal development.

Coastal Impact
Emily S. Bernhardt (919-660-7318;
Bernhardt, an ecosystem ecologist and biogeochemist, studies how aquatic ecosystems are being altered by land-use change (urbanization, agriculture, mining) global change (rising CO2, rising sea levels) and chemical pollution. Her research includes the effects of saltwater intrusion on North Carolina’s coastal ecosystems and communities.

Environmental Law/Hog Farms
Ryke, (919-613-7207)
Longest is a clinical professor at Duke Law and the Nicholas School of the Environment and director of the Duke Environmental Law and Policy Clinic. He previously worked at the North Carolina Department of Justice, where he helped negotiate and lead the state’s implementation of two multimillion-dollar settlement agreements aimed at reducing the adverse impacts from swine farming in North Carolina. He also advised environmental agencies regarding regulation of swine farms and litigated enforcement actions against more than a dozen animal waste facilities.  

Michelle Nowlin (919-613-8502;
Nowlin is a clinical professor of law at Duke Law and the Nicholas School of the Environment and supervising attorney for the Duke Environmental Law and Policy Clinic. Prior to joining Duke’s faculty, Nowlin was a senior attorney at the Southern Environmental Law Center, where she led the Hog Industry Project to develop a comprehensive regulatory program for concentrated animal feeding operations. After Hurricane Floyd, Nowlin successfully sued the state over mismanagement of hog operations.

Ana Barros (919-660-5539;
An expert on hydrometeorology, climate predictability, extreme events and risk assessment of natural hazards, Barros has conducted research on how hurricanes are essential for vegetation growth in the American South, and can also speak on flooding issues and storm surge impacts. She is a professor of civil and environmental engineering.

Lee Ferguson (919-660-5460;
One of the lead scientists investigating the Cape Fear GenX contamination issue and the subsequent program to search for other potential pollutants, Ferguson can talk about the effects of flooding and the dangers lurking for contamination from sources such as chemical plants, hog farms and sewer treatment systems.

Mark Wiesner (919-660-5292;
A professor of civil and environmental engineering, Wiesner can talk about the effects of flooding and the dangers lurking for contamination from sources such as chemical plants, hog farms, and sewer treatment systems.

Health Hazards
Dr. John Jacob Freiberger (919-668-0032;
Dr. Freiberger, an associate professor of anesthesiology and a hyperbaric medicine specialist at Duke University School of Medicine, can talk about precautions and dangers related to carbon monoxide poisoning from gas-powered generators.

Dr. Julia Kravchenko (contact Sarah Avery: 919-660-1306;
An assistant professor in the Department of Surgery at Duke University School of Medicine, Dr. Kravchenko’s area of research interests includes analysis of health impacts of environmental exposures on disease risk and patients’ survival, including the studies on the effects of water quality, air pollution and weather/extreme temperatures on human health.

Dr. H. Kim Lyerly (contact Sarah Avery: 919-660-1306;
Lyerly, a professor of cancer research at the Duke University School of Medicine and professor in the departments of surgery, immunology and pathology, can talk about exposure to animals/insects and heat or cold. He is director of the Environmental Health Scholar Program and is co-editor of the North Carolina Medical Journal issue on health and environment in the state.

Hurricane Recovery
Andrew Read (252- 504-7590;
Read, a professor of marine biology, directs the Duke Marine Lab in Beaufort, N.C., which suffered damage from Hurricane Florence last September. He can discuss the process of hurricane recovery.

Henri Gavin (919-660-5201;
Gavin has expertise in structural dynamics and structural loads from environmental factors such as earthquakes and winds. He is a professor in the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering.

Henry Petroski (919-660-5203;
A professor of civil and environmental engineering and an expert on the evolution of engineering design, Petroski can discuss the nation’s aging critical infrastructure. He has written more than 15 books on engineering and technology, most of which deal with engineering’s close reliance on failure to perfect designs and the evolution of common items such as the pencil and bridges.

Elizabeth Albright (252-655-1366 (cell);
Albright studies how policy decisions are made in response to storms and other extreme weather events. She is an assistant professor of the practice of environmental science and policy methods at Duke’s Nicholas School of the Environment.

Mark Borsuk (919-660-1767;
Borsuk is an expert on risk assessment, including areas ranging from designing large structures that can withstand natural disasters to setting policy in regards to protecting environmental resources.

Martin Doyle (
Doyle studies river management and restoration, including aging river infrastructure and flooding. He can discuss how river management affects the risk of flooding during heavy rainfall. He is a professor of river science and policy at Duke’s Nicholas School of the Environment and directs the water policy program at the Nicholas Institute for Environmental Policy Solutions. Doyle is also a former fellow with the Department of the Interior.

Predicting Hurricanes
Andrew Bragg (919-660-5511;
Bragg, an assistant professor of civil and environmental engineering, can discuss why predicting hurricanes is inherently difficult due to the chaotic nature of the environment. Bragg can also discuss the physical processes that give rise to hurricanes, and how computer models are used to help predict the behavior of these chaotic systems. Audio interview on why hurricanes are so unpredictable.

Water Quality
Avner Vengosh (919) 681-8050;
Vengosh is professor of geochemistry and water quality. He has documented environmental issues related to coal ash, which carries arsenic, mercury, lead and selenium and spilled into North Carolina’s Cape Fear River from a power plant during Hurricane Florence. Vengosh has also presented scientific testimony on coal ash disposal to Congress and his lab has published 13 peer-reviewed studies on it.