Coburn joins Duke shoreline program in move to WCU

Andrew Coburn, who has served since 2001 as associate director of the Program for the Study of Developed Shorelines, is joining the internationally known coastal research initiative as it moves from Duke University to Western Carolina University.
Coburn, who has more than 15 years of experience in interdisciplinary coastal environmental management, joined the Western faculty on Nov. 1. He holds a faculty research position and remains as associate director of the PSDS, which is relocating from Duke to WCU beginning this fall.

Andrew Coburn

Andrew Coburn

The PSDS was founded in 1986 by Orrin H. Pilkey, the James B. Duke Professor Emeritus of the Earth Sciences at Duke. The recently retired Pilkey, a pioneer in the study of American shoreline development policy, is passing the program to his former student Rob Young. Now an associate professor of geosciences at WCU, Young has become one of the nation’s leading experts on the science of hurricane impacts and coastal management.

From its new home base in the mountains of Western North Carolina, the PSDS will continue its emphasis on research focusing on beach replenishment and other forms of shoreline stabilization, hazard risk mapping on barrier islands, sedimentary processes on shorefaces, and mitigation of hurricane property damage on barrier islands.

During his career, Coburn has provided policy, planning and technical support to hundreds of federal, state and local agencies, including testimony before members of Congress. He has completed more than 20 aerial and on-the-ground post-storm coastal impact assessments, and was one of the first researchers to evaluate and document the impacts of Hurricane Katrina on the Gulf Coast of Mississippi and Alabama.

“Andy Coburn is a nationally recognized expert in a variety of important coastal management issues, including policy development, land use planning, storm impacts and hazard mitigation,” said Young. “In his time with PSDS, he has played a vital role in convincing policymakers to begin thinking about new and better ways to manage our nation’s shorelines. I look forward to working with him as PSDS makes the transition from Duke to Western and as we continue the program’s work to translate good science into good public policies.”

Coburn earned his bachelor’s degree at The Pennsylvania State University and his master’s degree from Duke. As associate director of PSDS, he will advocate for federal and state resource management policies that balance economic and environmental interests, encourage the implementation of public policies based on sound science, and maintain a highly visible media presence.

“Coastal environmental management problems are multifaceted and complex. Solutions require insights that draw on numerous disciplines and that link intellectual depth to real-world relevance,” Coburn said. “While PSDS has been an effective advocate for the responsible management of America’s shorelines for 20 years, the move to WCU only serves to strengthen our ability to make a significant positive difference in the responsible management of our nation’s fragile and threatened natural coastal resources.”

For more information about the Program for the Study of Developed Shorelines, call (828) 227-3822.