Courtney Harris Home

Courtney K. Harris


Email: [[ckharris]]
Phone: (804) 684-7194
Interests: 3-D modeling to improve understanding of sediment transport in continental shelves and estuarine environments.
Office: Andrews Hall 230
Department: Physical Sciences
Website: {{, Sediment Transport Modeling}}

  • B.S., University of Virginia
  • M.S., University of California, Berkeley
  • M.S., Ph.D., University of Virginia
Research Interests

My research has been directed at improving our ability to quantify and predict sediment transport on continental shelves over a variety of temporal and spatial scales. I have been involved in interdisciplinary projects that considered interactions between shelf sediment transport and small scale stratigraphy, sediment budgets, geochemistry, coastal oceanography, and climatology. Involvement in large experiments has involved collaboration with field oceanographers and geologists that has benefited my research focus of numerically modeling suspended sediment transport on shelves.  Current research projects include (1) evaluating the role that cohesive sediment dynamics play in determining spatial and temporal patterns of turbidity within the York River Estuary; (2) developing and using numerical models for the northern Gulf of Mexico to quantify sediment processes and their interactions with biogeochemistry; and (3) identifying the oceanographic transport processes that impact sediment transport off shore of the Ayeyarwady Delta, Myanmar.   My collaborative experiences have convinced me that we can make the best strides by building models and tools that are available to the research community as a whole. I am therefore active in a group of oceanographers and geologists who are working to develop a community sediment transport model by developing and testing numerical models that account for sediment transport and oceanographic circulation.

Download full CV here (pdf file).

Current and Recent Projects
  • Fate of Ayeryawady and ThanLien River Sediment, Myanmar:  Relative Importance of Oceanographic and Tectonic Controls.  Funded by NSF.
  • CSOMIO: Consortium for the Simulation of Oil - Microbial Interactions in the Ocean.  Funded by GoMRI (Gulf of Mexico Research Initiative).
  • Shelf-slope sediment exchange in the northern Gulf of Mexico:  Application of numerical models for extreme events. Funded by BOEM.
  • Response of fine-grained sediment transport to biological and physical processes within the York River. Funded by NSF.
  • MARGINS Source-to-Sink transport: the Waipaoa River nearshore and shelf environment. Funded by NSF.
  • NGOMEX 2009 - 2014 Mechanisms Controlling Hypoxia: Process Studies. Funded by NOAA.
Current Students
Past Students
  • Julia Moriarty, Ph.D., 2017.  The role of seabed resuspension on oxygen and nutrient dynamics in coastal systems:  a numerical modeling study. 
  • Justin Birchler, M.S., 2014. Sediment deposition and reworking: A modeling study using isotopically tagged sediment classes. 
  • Julia Moriarty, M.S., 2012.  Transport and fate of sediment on the Waipaoa River continental shelf:  Implications for the formation and reworking of flood deposits.
  • Aaron Bever, Ph.D., 2010.  Integrating space- and time-scales of sediment transport for Poverty Bay, New Zealand.
  • Yanxia (Amy) Ma, Ph.D. 2009. (co-advised with L.D. Wright and Carl Friedrichs). Continental shelf sediment transport and depositional processes on an energetic, active margin: the Waiapu River shelf, New Zealand.
  • J.Paul Rinehimer.  M.S.  2008.  Sediment transport and erodibility in the York River estuary, a model study.
  • Tara Kniskern, Ph.D. 2007. (co-advised with Steve Kuehl).Shelf sediment dispersal mechanisms and deposition on the Waiapu River shelf, New Zealand.
  • Aaron Bever, M.S., 2006. Physical processes behind delta propagation and flood layer dynamics: Po River, Italy.
Courses Taught
  • MSCI 554:  Principles of Numerical Computing.
  • MSCI 553: Bottom Boundary Layers and Sediment Transport.
  • MSCI 698:  Numerical Transport Models.
Faculty/Student Awards
  • 2102 Plumeri Award for Faculty Excellence, College of William and Mary
  • 2007 – 2010  Alumni Memorial Term Distinguished Associate Professor, College of William and Mary
  • 1998 – 2001 U.S.G.S. Postdoctoral Fellowship
  • 1996 NASA Global Climate Change Fellow
  • 1995 Governor's Fellowship, University of Virginia
  • 1990 - 1992 Dupont Fellowship, University of Virginia
Professional Membership Committees
  • Associate Editor of Estuarine, Coastal, and Shelf Science
  • American Geophysical Union
  • Tau Beta Pi
  • Editorial Advisory Board, Continental Shelf Research
  • Member of Host Committee, InterCOH (International COHesive Sediment) Meeting, 2012 - 2013
  • Chair, Marine Working Group of the Community Surface Dynamics Modeling System (CSDMS)
Collaborative Interdisciplinary Efforts
  • Mechanisms Controlling Hypoxia (MCH).  Impact of sediment resuspension and sediment bed processes on formation of hypoxic areas in the Gulf of Mexico as part of NGOMEX. Collaborators include Rob Hetland (TAMU), Katja Fennel (Dalhousie), and Steve DiMarco (TAMU).
  • Working to upscale event-timescale sediment transport and depositional processes for incorporation into stratigraphic timescale models as part of Margins Source-to-Sink. Collaborators include Drs. Jesse McNinch (VIMS) and John Swenson (U. Minnesota, Duluth).
  • Incorporating biological processes into sediment resuspension calculations as part of MUDBED. Collaborators at VIMS include Drs. Carl Friedrichs, Steve Kuehl, Linda Schaffner, Bob Diaz, and Jesse McNinch. We are also working with Dr. Larry Sanford (UMCES).