Dr. Rick Luettich is Principal Investigator for the DHS Coastal Resilience Center of Excellence at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. He is also Director of UNC’s Institute of Marine Science in Morehead City, N.C. He is a Professor of Marine Sciences and Environmental Sciences and Engineering at UNC and co-founded the Center for the Study of Natural Hazards Resilience Disasters (UNC Resilience Center) to help enhance multi-hazard research programs at UNC.
Luettich’s research encompasses modeling and observational studies of physical processes in coastal systems. His modeling emphasizes geometrically complex systems such as sounds, estuaries, tidal inlets and coastal areas. Luettich is the co-developer of the ADCIRC coastal circulation and storm surge model and has overseen applications that have ranged from retrospective studies and forecasts of storm surge/inundation and tidal circulation along the U.S. coasts to interdisciplinary studies such as physically mediated organismal migration and larval dispersal. ADCIRC is approved for storm surge studies by FEMA and has been a cornerstone of U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and FEMA efforts that include forensic studies in the aftermath of Hurricanes Katrina and Rita, planning new hurricane protection systems for the Northern Gulf coast and updating FEMA Flood Insurance Rate Maps along the U.S. coast.
Luettich has served on three recent National Academy/National Research Council committees – one reviewing the factors that led to the catastrophic damage to New Orleans by Hurricane Katrina, the second reviewing the options for a new hurricane protection system for Southern Louisiana and chairing a third committee on Reducing Coastal Risk.
He received his undergraduate and master’s degrees in civil engineering from Georgia Tech and his Sc.D. in civil engineering from MIT.