BATON ROUGE – Patrick Hesp, R.J. Russell Professor in Geography and Anthropology in the College of Humanities & Social Sciences, has been awarded a prestigious Fulbright Fellowship for the fall of 2011.
"I am both surprised and very happy to have been offered the award," said Hesp. "I'd like to thank Dean of Humanities & Social Sciences Gaines Foster for his support."
The award will provide funding for Hesp to spend three months in southern Brazil conducting a detailed drilling and dating program on two coastal barriers – one at Pinheira in Santa Catarina State, and the other at Paranagua in Parana State. These locations are important because they contain suites of two completely different dune types that regularly alternate across the coastal barriers. At Pinheira, for example, there exists suites of foredunes, which are dunes formed by sand deposition by wind in plants on the back of the beach that generally indicate stable, or non-erosive, conditions. These alternate with groups of parabolic and blowout dunes, which generally indicate erosional conditions.
The alternation of one type to the other indicates a regularly repeating and strong change in climate or coastal storms, and therefore dating these episodes may provide a detailed record of climate and coastal change over the past 7,000 years. There are important connections with Louisiana and the United States because these climatic changes operate over very significant distances across the globe, and therefore an understanding of their timing will assist in understanding how the Louisiana coast has changed over time and what the climatic drivers are for coastal change.
Hesp is an expert in coastal beach and dune systems, dynamics and geomorphology, and has spent the past 30 years conducting research in southern Brazil, as well as in Canada, the United States, Mexico, Australia, southeast Asia and China. He is also co-chair of LSU's disaster management program and involved with the newly-developed National Science Foundation-funded Northern Gulf Coastal Hazards Collaboratory, or NG-CHC, lead by Q. Jim Chen, associate professor of civil & environmental engineering at LSU, and Robert Twilley, vice president for research at the University of Louisiana-Lafayette. The NG-CHC was formed to advance economic opportunities for citizens by reducing risks to coastal vulnerabilities; catalyze collaborative research via enhanced cyberinfrastructure that will potentially address problems such as engineering design, coastal system response and risk management of coastal hazards; and enhance the research competitiveness of the Gulf region.
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