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Courses

All courses presently being offered by the Department of River-Coastal Science and Engineering were developed for the Graduate Certificate in River Science and Engineering and are available to Tulane graduate students and advanced undergraduates (the latter with instructor approval). All these courses are taught online using the “hybrid model” of self-guided modules combined with weekly live class meetings taught through the Tulane Zoom platform

RCSE 6660 – Special Topics: Rivers and Estuaries Instructors: Berger, EEB Instructors, Bart, Clay, Farrer, and Van Beal, 3 credits

Estuaries, where rivers meet the ocean, are among the most productive and dynamic systems on Earth, and they are valued for recreation, habitat, and navigation. They are often located in areas with large populations, frequently resulting in intense competition for resources. This class will be taught to convey basic concepts that are important in estuary dynamics. It will include an introduction to estuarine ecology, descriptions of the generation of tides, tide wave propagation within the estuary, the role of salinity and density currents, estuarine sedimentation and an overview of navigation concerns. An emphasis will be placed on understanding the relationships between ecological and physical systems and the class will provide a basis for understanding ecosystem impacts as a result of physical changes in the estuary. Numerical models are the standard approach for investigating estuary behavior and will be used as a construct to understand estuaries. Important practices in numerical modeling will be taught to provide the students with the ability to understand and evaluate the reliability of estuarine modeling investigations. However, prior knowledge of numerical modeling is not required. (Spring)

RCSE 6800 – Introduction to River Science and Engineering Instructors: Kleiss, Allison, Biedenharn, Killgore, and Meselhe, 3 credits

Rivers drain the majority of non-ice covered land surfaces on Earth and are the primary conduit for freshwater, minerals, carbon, and dissolved ions to the global ocean. In the 21st century, rivers large and small are being increasingly managed for flood control, as a source and water (agricultural, industrial, potable) recreation and navigation, all of which have environmental consequences. Future basin and global-scale climate changes must also be considered in management decisions. This course is designed to be a graduate and advanced undergraduate interdisciplinary examination of river science and engineering practices that can serve as a spring board to more advanced coursework on the disciplinary aspects covered. It will cover a wide range of topics such as sediment continuity, nitrogen dynamics, aquatic habitat assessment, and numerical modeling and will benefit resource managers who require an interdisciplinary overview of river systems to more effectively perform their professional duties in installation management, planning, hydrology and hydraulics, or regulatory fields. (Fall and Spring semesters)

RCSE 6810 – River and Stream Restoration Instructors: Kleiss, Biedenharn, Killgore, and Murphy, 3 credits

Rivers and streams are complex ecosystems which have interconnected geological, chemical and biological underpinnings. As the demands of human populations have increased over the past several centuries, rivers and streams have often been pushed beyond their ability to maintain the dynamic equilibrium inherent to the system. In recent decades, in an attempt to restore some of the values and functions to these systems, river and stream restoration has emerged as a multi-billion-dollar industry. This course will cover the definitions of river and stream restoration, discuss the planning process associated with solid restoration efforts, present restoration techniques, discuss environmental flows as restoration measures, present commonly applied design concepts and consider how uncertainty, monitoring and adaptive management may be applied to restoration efforts. The course will conclude with an opportunity for students to apply restoration concepts by developing an in-depth class presentation critiquing an existing river or stream restoration effort. (Fall)

RCSE 6820 – River-Coastal Hydrologic and Hydraulic Modeling Instructor: Meselhe, 3 credits

Numerical models are effective and informative research, design and planning tools. The substantial advancement in computational power has allowed numerical models to be a viable and efficient tool to solve complex problems and improve our understanding of the fundamentals in the water resources field. This introductory modeling course provides a general overview of the basics of numerical modeling, model development and applications, numerical modeling techniques and the ability to recognize the strengths and limitations of these techniques. It will include hands-on training on model applications to watersheds, streams, and large rivers. The course will conclude with an opportunity for students to develop their own code (or build upon existing and publicly available codes) and apply these tools to a natural system to examine a research, design or planning problem and explore ways that the model can provide usable information to answer research/science questions. (Fall)

RCSE 6830 – River Mechanics and Management Instructor: Biedenharn, 3 credits

This course introduces students to a wide range of topics related to the engineering and management of river systems. This includes an advanced examination of fluvial processes, channel stability concepts, sediment transport, geomorphic assessment tools, and stable channel design. Design considerations for commonly used engineering features such as bank stabilization, grade control structures, diversion structures, and other commonly used restoration features will be explored. While this class will necessarily involve some of the mathematics and theoretical underpinnings of river mechanics, this will not be a primary emphasis of the class. Rather, this class will focus on the practical application of river mechanics concepts, based both both government and corporate practice, and is tailored to a wide range of students, including engineers, planners, biologists, geologists and others interested in developing a broader understanding of river management. (Spring)

RCSE 6840 – Methods in River Sampling Instructors: Kleiss, Allison, Killgore, and Murphy, 3 credits

Tools and procedures developed for sampling and monitoring riverine systems over the last century are distinct from those developed for other aqueous environments. In addition to the need for tools tailored for systems of a wide range of size, energy, and setting, effective river monitoring also needs to capture highly episodic hydrographs that encompass large overbank areas during floods. River monitoring has profound implications implications in managing rivers for human use and for channel and riparian ecosystem health. Rivers are also highly sensitive to climate, and historical records of their behavior are a key indicator or changing climate on a basin and global scale. This course is designed to examine river sampling as conducted by agencies and academic researchers, including the use of remote sensing, and the collection of ecological, water chemistry, hydrological, sediment and morphological data sets. Historical data will be examined to define best practices of data analysis and statistical analytical procedures, and to examine the impact of evolving technology on the interpretation of river and stream records. As effective monitoring programs are an essential element of adaptive management, this course also will assist in the development of quality adaptive management plans. (Spring)

DataCampThis class is supported by DataCamp, the most intuitive learning platform for science and analytics. Learn any time, anywhere and become an expert in R, Python, SQL, and more. DataCamp’s learn-by-doing methodology combines short expert videos and hands-on-the-keyboard exercises to help learners retain knowledge. DataCamp offers 350+ courses by expert instructors on topics such as importing data, data visualization, and machine learning. They’re constantly expanding their curriculum to keep up with the latest technology trends and to provide the best learning experience for all skill levels. Join over 6 million learners around the world and close your skills gap.

RCSE 6900 – Independent Study Instructors: All, 1-4 credits

Independent study which will support a student’s academic or professional needs may be organized with the appropriate faculty.