Photo Credit: Jessie Wingar

Photo Credit: Jessie Wingar

David Fertitta


My upbringing on the Mississippi Gulf Coast instilled a special relationship with the open water and coastal environments, and I have had a close connection with marine environments ever since. The region relies culturally, socially, and economically upon its coast. Thus, I have always had a special interest in coastal regions. My appreciation for coastal environments has continuously strengthened throughout my life and became a deep passion while witnessing the impacts of disasters such as Hurricane Katrina in 2005 and the Deepwater Horizon Spill in 2010. It was through these experiences growing up on the Mississippi Gulf Coast that I realized my passion for coastal research and began studying Coastal Environmental Science at LSU as undergrad before eventually enrolling in a PhD program in Civil and Environmental Engineering at the University of Washington.

Before graduate school, I began to pursue my interests in oceanography research by participating in undergraduate research. As such, I worked closely with Dr. Dubravko Justić for my undergraduate thesis for the LSU Ogden Honors College. We researched the effects of nutrient reduction scenarios on the extent and severity of hypoxia in the northern Gulf of Mexico, which were run with different probable climate scenarios through a computer model developed by Dr. Justić and Lixia Wang at LSU. I was also a 2015 Summer Student Fellow at the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution in Woods Hole, Massachusetts working in the Physical Oceanography Department under the direction of Irina Rypina and Alison Macdonald. There, we used over forty years of drifter observations to better understand and predict the spread of surface contamination using a hypothetical accident centered at the Pilgrim Nuclear Power Plant in Pilgrim, Massachusetts. Working at the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution greatly strengthened my research interests in utilizing scientific computing in physical oceanography, which I hope to continue through the use of numerical modeling in graduate school at the University of Washington.