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Higher Education
Rice University
News Release
Wednesday, April 13, 2016

April 26-27 conference: Avoiding disasters of the next big storm
Rice, TAMU-Galveston team draw experts to discuss structural, nonstructural plans  

HOUSTON – Rice University's Severe Storm Prediction, Education and Evacuation from Disasters Center (SSPEED) is joining forces with Texas A&M University's Center for Texas Beaches and Shores to bring a slate of leading experts in engineering, economics, law, environment and public policy to Houston April 26-27 to discuss how to protect Houston and Galveston from the devastating impacts of a powerful storm.

"Tremendous progress has been made since our last public conference," said Phil Bedient, director of the SSPEED Center and Rice's Herman Brown Professor of Engineering. "The state's leading academic researchers at Rice, Texas A&M University at Galveston, the University of Texas at Austin, the University of Houston and other institutions are using their collective understanding of the region's vulnerabilities to craft a comprehensive strategy that will move us closer to a more resilient coast."

The conference, titled "Avoiding Disasters: How To Reduce Impacts From the Next Big Storm," is intended for a broad audience of concerned citizens, business and industry leaders, emergency managers, government officials and academic researchers. Nearly 100 people have already registered for the event, which will be held at Rice's BioScience Research Collaborative.

The April 26 keynote speaker, Bas Jonkman, chair of the hydraulic structures and flood risk section of Delft Technical University's Department of Hydraulic Engineering in Delft, Netherlands, will discuss the latest flood-risk innovations from Holland. In Holland, 30 percent of land is below sea level and 60 percent of the country is at risk for coastal and river flooding. The April 27 keynote speaker, Tom Campbell, managing partner of the Houston office of Pillsbury Winthrop Shaw Pittman LLP and former general counsel of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, will discuss how to design a functional, voluntary exchange for carbon and ecosystem services. Other speakers will include Bill Merrell of TAMU-Galveston, Clint Dawson of UT-Austin, Lynn Scarlett of the Nature Conservancy and  John Hofmeister, founder of Citizens for Affordable Energy and former president of Shell Oil Co.

The conference will feature discussions on hurricane protection options for Houston, including structural alternatives like the mid-bay option and coastal spine discussed in the SSPEED Center's Houston-Galveston Area Protection System 2015 Report (available for download here), as well as nonstructural alternatives like the proposed ecosystem services exchange and the Lone Star Coastal National Recreation Area.

Media interested in attending should contact Jade Boyd, associate director of news and media relations, at 713-348-6778 or jadeboyd@rice.edu.

Pictured: SSPEED Center Director Phil Bedient (left) and Co-director Jim Blackburn (Photo by Jeff Fitlow/Rice University)




UTMB Research in 2016
Remembering Jim Guidry


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