Rick Luettich, Principal Investigator of the DHS Coastal Resilience Center of Excellence, received his undergraduate and master’s degrees in civil engineering from Georgia Tech and his Sc.D. in civil engineering from MIT. He is a Professor of Marine Sciences and Environmental Sciences and Engineering at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. He also serves as the Director of UNC’s Institute of Marine Science, a facility comprised of approximately 75 residential faculty, staff and students located on the coast in Morehead City, North Carolina. He co-founded the Center for the Study of Natural Hazards and Disasters (UNC Hazards Center) to help enhance multi-hazard research programs at UNC. The Coastal Hazards Center Research Lead is deployed through the UNC Hazards Center in Chapel Hill. His research encompasses modeling and observational studies of physical processes in coastal systems. His modeling emphasizes geometrically complex systems such as sounds, estuaries, tidal inlets and coastal areas.
Luettich is one of the two original developers of the ADCIRC coastal circulation and storm surge model and has overseen applications that have ranged from retrospective studies and forecasts of storm surge/inundation and tidal circulation along the U.S. coasts to interdisciplinary studies such as physically mediated organismal migration and larval dispersal. ADCIRC is approved for storm surge studies by FEMA and has been a cornerstone of recent U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and FEMA efforts that include forensic studies in the aftermath of Hurricanes Katrina and Rita, planning new hurricane protection systems for the Northern Gulf coast and updating FEMA Flood Insurance Rate Maps along the U.S. coast. Luettich is serving on two National Academy/ National Research Council review committees – one reviewing the IPET study by the Army Corps into the factors that led to the catastrophic damage to New Orleans by Hurricanes Katrina and Rita and the second reviewing the Army Corps’ LACPR program which is evaluating options for a new hurricane protection system for Southern Louisiana.
Luettich’s observational studies have included moored and shipboard sampling to characterize physical processes in coastal systems and have often been oriented toward understanding the role of physical processes in areas of water quality (e.g., phytoplankton blooms, dissolved oxygen depletion) and fisheries recruitment. He has actively contributed to the national Integrated Coastal Ocean Observing Systems (IOOS) programs and is presently collaborating on several real time observing systems in coastal North Carolina.
Telephone: (252) 726-6841 ext. 137