Media Advisory

UF experts available for 2017 hurricane season

The following University of Florida sources are available to speak to news media about a range of storm- and hurricane-related topics:


Frequency and intensity of hurricanes: Corene Matyas, associate professor of geography, investigates the frequency and intensity of hurricanes, tendencies for certain landfall locations, rainfall patterns, and the characteristics that affect hurricanes’ formation and life cycle. Research includes defining tropical cyclone rain events along the U.S. coast and tropical cyclone rainfall over Puerto Rico. 352-294-7508;

Predicting storm surgeDon Slinn, an associate professor of civil and coastal engineering, researches the coastal impact of waves and flooding from hurricanes. He has helped develop computer models that predict storm surge for Atlantic storms and studies the effects of waves and flooding on beaches and buildings. He also works with rip currents and breaking wave dynamics. 352-294-7808;


Hurricane wind damage, wind speed, force and impact on buildings: Kurtis Gurley, professor of civil and coastal engineering, has conducted research on the measurement of ground level hurricane wind fields and wind loads, vulnerability of residential structures in hurricane winds, and wind engineering and structural reliability. He has investigated the effects of wind-borne debris in the Florida Panhandle and has applied probability logic to insurable loss due to hurricane winds. 352-294-7795;

Preventing wind damage to homes and buildingsDavid O. Prevatt, associate professor of civil and coastal engineering, can discuss current and past construction techniques in homes and buildings in the U.S. and the Caribbean, and what protections they offer against hurricanes. His experience investigating violent tornadoes allows him to discuss first-hand how better building codes can help reduce building damage and human injury. He also can explain how code changes can affect future structural designs and ways to retrofit light-framed wood structures to make them more hurricane-resistant. Prevatt’s most recent work is devoted to understanding the requirements of tornado-resilient communities and reducing annual losses from extreme wind events. 352-294-7798;

Hurricane damage, hazardous effect of wind-borne debris: Ajay Shanker, associate professor in the school of building and construction, is an expert on wind-resistant design and can talk about the state of Florida’s hurricane-related building codes. 352-273-1162,

Evaluating sea level rise and storm surge impact risks for 16 human settlement typologies and six prototypical infrastructural assets in Florida. Martha Kohen, Professor and Director of CHU, Center for Hydro-generated Urbanism, College of Design Construction and Planning, has developed an Atlas of similar conditions throughout the State, from the current situations towards the future conditions, and the possible adaptive responses to implement. 352-294-1475,

Miami and Intracoastal Waterway Resiliency. Nancy Clark, Associate  Professor and Director of the Center for Hydro-generated Urbanism at the College of Design Construction and Planning, has worked since 2014 with stakeholders , national and international partners towards visualizing infrastructural civic resiliency proposals for human settlements of the Miami-Dade area. 352-294-1472,

Damage to water and wastewater systems: Carol Hinton, director of the UF Center for Training, Research and Education for Environmental Occupation, also is administrator for a statewide system that helps public water and wastewater utilities assist one another during emergencies. The system, called FlaWARN, consists of a secure Web-based data bank of available resources and works by matching personnel with the necessary tools to assess and assist damaged water and wastewater systems as quickly as possible following a hurricane or other emergency. 352-392-9570, ext. 4-3875, or cell: 352-219-2635

Public utility preparedness: Ted Kury, director of energy studies at the University of Florida’s Public Utility Research Center, helps utility providers and policymakers decide how to best prepare for severe storms. Kury can comment on how well utility companies have prepared, what homeowners can do to keep their power on and their homes safe, and why we don’t just put all of our power lines underground. A Q&A with Kury approved for media use is available at 352-392-7842,


Rebuilding/maintaining sand dunes: Deborah Miller, a professor of wildlife ecology and conservation based at UF’s West Florida Research and Education Center in Milton, has studied the best ways to rebuild sand dunes destroyed by hurricanes. 850-983-7128, ext. 104;

Tree protection: Ed Gilman, a professor with the environmental horticulture department, is an expert in tree health and storm damage to trees. He can address topics such as mitigation efforts, restoring trees following storms, tree replacement, pruning methods to reduce damage potential, preventive pruning to protect homes and other personal property, and evaluation of tree health after hurricanes. 352-262-9165;

Sea level change, coastal erosion: John Jaeger, associate professor of geology in UF’s department of geological sciences, has researched the ways in which hurricanes have impacted Florida’s coastline. Since 2009, he has observed and documented from Kennedy Space Center the causes for shoreline retreat near critical infrastructure, noting that an increase in the frequency of major storms heightens the threat of saltwater intrusion to the launch pads. 352-846-1381; 

Hurricane effects on Florida agriculture: Jonathan Crane, a professor and tropical-fruit crop specialist at UF’s Tropical Research & Education Center in Homestead, has studied how hurricanes affect Florida agriculture. His research covers damage to fruit crops and to grove infrastructure such as irrigation systems due to high winds and flooding. 305-246-7001, ext. 290;

Prediction of hurricane-induced storm surge, coastal erosion and beach renourishment, coastal hazard and resiliency: Y. Peter Sheng, a professor of civil and coastal engineering, is an expert in coastal hazard and coastal ecosystem restoration. He has produced a methodology for developing a more accurate Flood Insurance Rate Map for U.S. coastal counties and has run a forecasting system for storm surge, wave and inundation over several hurricane seasons. 352-294-7764;


Emergency services and hurricanes: Jeffrey Lindsey, coordinator/lecturer for fire and emergency services programs in UF’s Rinker School of Construction Management, is a retired fire chief who has been an emergency responder and incident commander for a number of hurricanes. He can comment on storm preparation, response and mitigation.

Hurricanes and pets/farm animals: John Haven directs the UF College of Veterinary Medicine’s All Animals, All Hazards Disaster Response Team and has participated in animal care operations related to hurricanes, fires and disease outbreaks. After leading the college’s responses to Hurricanes Charlie, Frances and Jeanne, he organized this formal veterinary emergency response team consisting of faculty, staff and students. He is a member of the State Agriculture Response Team, coordinator for the State Veterinary Reserve Corps disaster response team, and an Incident Command System Instructor. 352-294-4254, ext. 3154;

How hurricanes affect communities: Anthony Oliver-Smith, a retired professor of anthropology, has spent four decades studying the social impacts of disasters, including vulnerability analysis and post-impact recovery and reconstruction. His most recent research deals with the resettlement of island and coastal communities related to climate change and sea level rise in the Caribbean, which could increase the likelihood of bigger hurricanes and result in storm surges that reach farther inland. 352-377-8359;

Hurricane and other natural disaster preparation: Mike Spranger, a professor in family, youth and community sciences, can give tips on how to prepare for any kind of natural disaster. He adapted a Gulfwide version of the Homeowners Handbook to Prepare for Natural Hazards for Florida residents. The book has basic background on tornados, tropical storms, hurricanes, floods and wildfires, and covers everything from hurricane clips to what to keep in your pantry and what to take with you during an evacuation. 352-273-3557;