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USGS Mendenhall Postdoctoral Research Fellowship Program

17-12. Assessment of natural and human-induced coastal sediment availability and flux to support predictions of long-term coastal vulnerability and resilience

Sediment availability (including sources and mobility) in a coastal system determines whether barrier islands form (McBride et al., 2013), the rate of shoreline erosion or accretion (Honeycutt & Krantz, 2003; Miselis & McNinch, 2006), and the morphologic characteristics of features across the inner shelf (Schwab et al., 2014), shoreface (Browder & McNinch, 2006), beach, and dunes (Lentz and Hapke, 2011). Furthermore, the Nation’s coastal systems, and the communities and habitats therein, are regularly impacted by natural (e.g., storms, sea-level rise) and human (e.g., restoration, sediment management) alterations to sediment availability. And yet, despite being essential for both coastal hazard and resource management, relationships between sediment availability and short-term coastal changes, such as storm response, subsequent recovery, and decadal-scale coastal fluctuations have yet to be widely established and impacts to future coastal system behavior are rarely assessed.

In order to improve predictions of coastal vulnerability and resilience and meet management needs, coastal evolution assessments and predictions that identify where and how quickly sediment moves throughout a coastal system and its role in driving geologic (e.g., permanent deposition or erosion of sediment) and morphologic changes are needed. A key requirement of such assessments is to move beyond static measures of sediment availability and explore spatial and temporal changes in coastal sediment fluxes (e.g., Miselis & Lorenzo-Trueba, 2017).

Substantial data resources from the Gulf of Mexico and along the Atlantic coast of the U.S. from projects that are being conducted in partnership with U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS), National Park Service (NPS), the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation (NFWF), and regional stakeholders are available. The postdoctoral fellow will have access to the data resources as well as opportunities for interaction with coastal managers. We encourage research proposals that use measurements of coastal geologic and morphologic variability to: 1) estimate and predict coastal sediment budgets, 2) quantify sediment fluxes, and/or 3) validate predictive models to support improvement of alongshore-resolved estimates of the probability of future coastal stability.
Although the research could be focused on any of the preceding topics, integration of any of the components is encouraged. Engagement with Research Advisors will ensure access to expertise with a breadth of modeling resources and predictive applications.

Interested applicants are strongly encouraged to contact the Research Advisors, below, early in the application process to discuss project ideas


Browder, A.G., McNinch, J.E., 2006. Linking framework geology and nearshore morphology:  Correlation of paleo-channels with shore-oblique sandbars and gravel outcrops. Marine Geology 231, 141–162.

Honeycutt, M.R., Krantz, D.E., 2003. Influence of geologic framework on spatial variability in long-term shoreline change, Cape Henlopen to Rehoboth Beach, Delaware. Journal of Coastal Research SI 38, 147–167.

Lentz, E.E., Hapke, C.J., 2011. Geologic framework influences on the geomorphology of an anthropogenically modified barrier island: Assessment of dune/beach changes at Fire Island, New York. Geomorphology 126, 82–96.

McBride, R.A., Anderson, J.B., Buynevich, I.V., Cleary, W., Fenster, M.S., Fitzgerald, D.M., Harris, M.S., Hein, C.J., Klein, A.H.F., Liu, B., de Menezes, J.T., Pejrup, M., Riggs, S.R., Short, A.D., Stone, G.W., Wallace, D.J., Wang, P., 2013. Morphodynamics of barrier systems: A synthesis, in: Shroder, J.F., Sherman, D.J. (Eds.), Treatise on Geomorphology, volume 10, Coastal and Submarine Geomorphology: San Diego, California, USA, Academic Press, pp. 166–244.

Miselis, J.L. and Lorenzo-Trueba, J., 2017. Natural and human-induced variability in barrier-island response to sea-level rise, Geophysical Research Letters, doi: 10.1002/2017GL074811.

Miselis, J.L. and McNinch, J.E., 2006. Calculating shoreline erosion potential using nearshore stratigraphy and sediment volume: Outer Banks, North Carolina. Journal of Geophysical Research 111, F02019.

Schwab, W.C., Baldwin, W.E., Denny, J.F., Hapke, C.J., Gayes, P.T., List, J.H., Warner, J.C., 2014. Modification of the Quaternary stratigraphic framework of the inner-continental shelf by Holocene marine transgression: An example offshore of Fire Island, New York. Marine Geology 355, 346–360.

Proposed Duty Station: St. Petersburg, FL

Areas of Ph.D.: Geology, geophysics, marine science, coastal engineering, geological oceanography, or related fields (candidates holding a Ph.D. in other disciplines, but with extensive relevant knowledge and skills may be considered).

Qualifications: Research Geologist, Research Oceanographer (This type of research is performed by those who have backgrounds for the occupations stated above.  However, other titles may be applicable depending on the applicant's background, education, and research proposal. The final classification of the position will be made by the Human Resources specialist).

Research Advisor(s): Jennifer Miselis, (727) 502-8088,; Erika Lentz, (508) 457-2238,; Nathaniel Plant, (727) 502-8072,; P. Soupy Dalyander, (727) 502-8124,; Neil Ganju, (508) 457-2252,

Human Resources Office Contact: Nina Ngo,, 703-648-7431

Go back to Summary of Opportunities

U.S. Department of the Interior, U.S. Geological Survey
URL: Miselis.htm
Direct inquiries to Cara A. Campbell at
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Last modified: 11:07:38 Fri 08 Feb 2019
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