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Thomas Wahl, associate professor of civil engineering and a member of the UCF Coastal Systems Faculty Cluster, has received the Walter L. Huber Civil Engineering Research Prize from the American Society of Civil Engineering (ASCE) and the Early Career Science Medal from the International Association for the Physical Sciences of Oceans (IAPSO).

The dual accolades recognize Wahl for contributions in his major two research areas: Compound flooding and sea level rise.

“Needless to say, it is pretty amazing to be recognized by two of the largest societies in my field, each of them citing one of the two main research topics I am working on,” Wahl says.

Wahl is the first from UCF to receive the ASCE award. He was honored by the organization in May for his pioneering work in coastal compound flooding and for developing innovative multivariate design concepts at the 2023 World Environmental and Water Resources Congress in Henderson, Nevada.

IAPSO also recognized Wahl for his longtime studies in sea level rise. The honor, given every two years, was awarded to Wahl in 2021, but the pandemic delayed the official presentation of the award. IAPSO presented the award to Wahl at its general assembly in Berlin, Germany.

Wahl says he is honored to receive such prestigious awards from ASCE and IAPSO, and that the distinctions are a testimony to the great work by members of his research group in the Coastal Risks and Engineering (CoRE) Lab at UCF.

Throughout his career, Wahl has focused his research on studying how climate change affects different types of natural hazards and how they impact coastal communities, including sea level rise, storm surges, waves, tides and extreme rainfall and streamflow events. These events in combination can cause dangerous flooding events both now and in the future under global warming, he says.

“With more and more people moving toward the coast, continued sea level rise and extreme weather events progressively getting worse in a changing climate, it is urgent to assess the current and future flood risk to explore the most effective and economically viable adaptation options to make sure that coastal communities are safe and continue to thrive,” Wahl says.

The ultimate goal of the research, he adds, is to develop actionable science to help stakeholders make better informed decisions in managing coastlines, responding to emergencies and minimizing disaster risk. Members of the CoRE Lab study everything from extreme sea levels to compound extremes, which occur when multiple hazards occur simultaneously.

Wahl received his Ph.D. in civil engineering from the University of Siegen, Germany. Before joining UCF in 2017, he was a postdoctoral scholar at the University of South Florida and a Marie Sklodowska-Curie Fellow at the University of Southampton. He is a National Science Foundation CAREER award winner and received the Early Career Investigator Award from NASA.