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Dr. Emad Habib, Interim Director

Dr. Habib is an endowed Professor in the Civil Engineering Department at the University of Louisiana at Lafayette. He serves as the Director of the Center for Water Systems Research, and the Associate Director of the Institute for Coastal and Water Research.  He received the 2016 University Distinguished Professor Award and the 2011 College of Engineering Researcher of the Year.  His research expertise is in surface hydrology with focus on precipitation estimation and analysis; hydrologic modeling; flood prediction and water resource management; coastal restoration; uncertainty modeling of hydro-ecological models, and development of technology-based educational innovations.  He published more than 50 peer-reviewed journal articles, five book chapters and several conference papers.  He received several awards including the Best Journal Award and the Watershed Excellence Award from the American Society of Civil Engineers. During his 13 years at the University, he has generated  $4 million in external research funding, including $2 million from the National Science Foundation. He is an elected member on the UL Lafayette Graduate Council, serves on the College of Engineering Peer-Review Committee, and is the Chair of the Department of Civil Engineering Curriculum Committee. He served on the Precipitation Committee of the American Geophysical Union (AGU), the Education Committee of the Consortium of Universities for Advancement of Hydrologic Sciences Inc. (CUAHSI), and the Environmental Water Resources Institute (EWRI) Task Committee on the Use and Application of NWS WSR-88D Doppler Radar (NEXRAD). Dr. Habib is a Professional Engineer registered in the states of Louisiana and Texas.

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Dr. James Nelson, Interim Associate Director

Dr. Nelson is an interdisciplinary scientist that uses a combination of field surveys, experimental approaches, stable isotope analysis, and mathematical modeling to quantify the functional role of marine organisms in mediating energy flow, biogeochemical cycles, and community structure in coastal and estuarine ecosystems. Although higher trophic level organisms are acknowledged as important in structuring communities and moving energy in ecosystems, the mechanisms and magnitude of their impact is still poorly understood. Recent work suggests a need to more closely examine the ability of animals to significantly impact the flow of materials within and between communities and ecosystems. While nutrient limitation sets the maximum potential ecosystem productivity, the realized productivity is mediated by organisms responding to both biotic (e.g., species interactions) and abiotic (e.g., hydrologic regimes) forces. To address these questions, He studies the response of coastal marine organisms and food webs to changes in both biotic and abiotic processes that are either the direct result of human actions or consequences of climate change, with a particular interest in how the movement of fishes influences trophic connectivity at multiple spatial scales.

His background in both biology and biogeochemistry allows him to translate how community level interactions influence ecosystem structure and function. Because Carbon, Nitrogen, Sulfur, and Hydrogen are innate components of all biological material, their stable isotopes can be used as tracers and thermodynamic bookkeeping devices to answer important questions about processes at the organismal, community, and ecosystem scale. Dr. Nelson's current research is focused on three primary themes: (1) biotic interactions and their controls on trophic transfers, (2) biomass subsidies among coastal ecosystems, and (3) how humans cause change to the flows of materials in food webs.

Lab Website: 
Twitter: @jnelsonPhD

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Dr. Mohamed ElSaadani, Research Engineer

Dr. ElSaadani obtained his Ph.D. in Civil and Environmental Engineering (Hydrology and Water Resources) from the University of Iowa in 2017. His dissertation focused on hydrologic modeling and remote sensing applications in hydrology. During his Ph.D. studies, Dr. ElSaadani served as the lead scientist in multiple National Water Center (NWC) partners proposals that focused on exploring alternative routing methodologies for the National Water Model (NWM) as well as evaluating the model’s remotely sensed rainfall inputs. He also participated as a visiting scholar in the first National Flood Interoperability Experiment (NFIE) during summer 2015 where he worked extensively on evaluating and improving the performance of various hydrologic models over the Midwest. Dr. ElSaadani’s main research interests include hydrologic modeling, model evaluation using advanced statistical and mathematical methods, remote sensing applications in hydrology, and spatial statistical modeling of stream network variables.

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