Professor Timu Gallien has had a fascination with the ocean from the time of her birth in American Samoa. As a young girl, she was captivated when rainstorms filled the drainage ditch near her Indiana home with supercritical flows of surging water. Over a lifetime, she has developed those early interests into a deep understanding of urban flood risk in vulnerable coastal communities, which is of particular importance as sea levels rise because of climate change.

Gallien, who recently joined UCLA as an assistant professor of civil and environmental engineering, earned her Ph.D. from UC Irvine and went on to UC San Diego to do postdoctoral research at Scripps Institution of Oceanography. Her research focused on the complex set of processes in coastal zones where land meets water; where the swirling amalgam of forces from ocean waves, tides, storm surges, and sea level elevations from climactic conditions like El Niño crash into hydrologic forces from land, such as overland flows and sewer system runoff after heavy rainfalls that empty into coastal estuaries, or products of human activity, such as seawalls.

Read the rest of the article published in UCLA’s Engineer magazine, Issue No. 35 here (Pupols, 2016).