Published: Sept. 22, 2005


Engineering of Levees

Stein Sture, associate dean for research in the College of Engineering and Applied Science, conducts research in geomechanics, geotechnical engineering and structural mechanics. He can talk about the failure of engineering structures, including levees, and how the rainfall from Hurricane Rita may affect the levees and the current efforts to pump water out of New Orleans following Hurricane Katrina. Contact him at (303) 492-7651.

Dobroslav Znidarcic, associate professor of civil, environmental and architectural engineering, is a civil engineer specializing in geotechnical engineering, and conducts research related to the design and construction of earthen structures. He can discuss general levee design, construction, maintenance and failure issues and how the latest rainfall from Hurricane Rita may affect the levees in New Orleans. Contact him at (303) 492-7577.

Ross Corotis, professor of civil, environmental and architectural engineering, has a background in structural mechanics and serves on the steering committee of the National Research Council's Natural Disasters Roundtable. He can address societal trade-offs associated with the design of public facilities like bridges, dams and other public works that could affect life and property. He can speak about risk assessment, structural engineering standards and the advisory role that engineers should play regarding public structures and facilities. Corotis authored an opinion article in the Sept. 11 Denver Post addressing the engineering challenges of rebuilding New Orleans at: Contact him at (303) 735-0539.

Oil and Gas

Paul Weimer, professor of geology and director of the CU-Boulder Energy and Minerals Applied Research Center, is an internationally known expert on deep-water petroleum systems and has extensive knowledge of Gulf of Mexico oil exploration. Weimer is available intermittently, by phone only. Contact him at (303) 492-3809.

Jack Edwards, adjunct professor of geological sciences and a former chief geologist for Shell Oil Co., spent 37 years in the oil industry before joining the CU-Boulder faculty in 1992. He can comment on the future oil supply, oil and gas prices, and alternative fuel supplies as a result of the hurricane activity. Contact him at (303) 440-7708.

Charting Rita's Path

Robert Leben, associate research professor at the Colorado Center for Astrodynamics Research in the aerospace engineering department, is posting twice- daily color graphics at 10 a.m. and 4 p.m. of the sea-surface heights in the Gulf of Mexico overlaid by Hurricane Rita's projected path and wind speeds. Sea-surface heights directly correlate with Gulf water temperatures, and warmer waters provide more energy to hurricanes, increasing their intensity, he said. Leben's 10 a.m. Sept. 23 posting is at: Archived graphics of Hurricane Rita since Sept. 21 are at: Contact him at (303) 492-4113.

Economic Impacts

Jeff Romine, research economist for the Business Research Division in the Leeds School of Business, studies economic issues including the impacts of energy costs on the transportation and shipping industries. He believes Rita has the potential to have a greater impact than Katrina on Colorado and the nation's long-term economic growth. He says Colorado's shipping routes are more closely tied to Houston than New Orleans so Colorado could feel any disruptions to shipping along the Texas coast. Yet Colorado could benefit from the impacts of Katrina and Rita since it would be a logical destination if oil services and production companies move offices and personnel away from the Gulf Coast. Rita also has the potential to have a greater impact on national economic growth than Katrina because it will hit a more populous area. He can be reached at (303) 492-5056.

Byron Koste, director of the University of Colorado Real Estate Center, can talk about redevelopment challenges the Gulf Coast might face. He joined the Leeds School of Business from Westinghouse Communities Inc., where he was chiefly responsible for the development of the company's real estate operations on Florida's west coast. Contact him at (303) 492-4664.

Natural Hazards

Dennis Mileti, senior research scientist at the Natural Hazards Center and professor emeritus of sociology at CU-Boulder, coordinated a national effort to evaluate everything that is known about natural hazards and to develop ways of reducing their social and economic costs. The result of that study, "Disasters by Design: A Reassessment of Natural Hazards in the United States," was published in 1999 and is intended to guide research and policy in the field of natural hazards over the next 20 years. Mileti is the former director of the Natural Hazards Center and former chair of the CU-Boulder sociology department. Contact him on his cell phone at (303) 520-3400.

Disasters and Pets

Leslie Irvine, associate professor of sociology, has studied how pets and farm animals are protected during natural disasters and other emergencies. Irvine went to Louisiana to work with the American Humane Association following Hurricane Katrina. She also visited some of the hardest hit areas in Florida following Hurricane Charley in 2004 to study how animal shelters planned for and handled the disaster. The No. 1 reason people give for not evacuating their homes during an emergency is the desire not to abandon their pets, Irvine said. Contact her at (303) 492-7039.