Courtney Harris homepage

Courtney K. Harris

Professor; Chair, Coastal & Ocean Processes

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 227
Section: Coastal & Ocean Processes
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) developing and using numerical models for the northern Gulf of Mexico to quantify sediment processes and their interactions with biogeochemistry; (2) identifying oceanographic transport processes that impact sedimentation offshore of the Ayeyarwady Delta, Myanmar; and (3) exploring the use of coupled numerical models to address societally relevant issues within environments of the Gulf of Mexico and mid-Atlantic bight. 

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).

Courtney Harris on Google Scholar

Current and Recent Projects
  • Deciphering the physical controls on the fate of terrestrially-derived organic carbon in a high-yield tectonically-active margin. Funded by NSF.
  • Numerical modeling study of impact of sand mining to Puldeung Sand Shoal, Republic of Korea; with Inha University.
  • Coupled Ocean Modeling Testbed (COMT) Platform for Physics and Contaminant Exchange through the River - Estuary - Ocean Continuum; collaboration with Lousiana State University, Texas A&M University, and GCOOS (Gulf of Mexico Coastal Ocean Observing System). Funded by NOAA.
  • Focused CoPe: Supporting Environmental Justice in Connected Coastal Communities through a Regional Approach to Collaborative Community Science; collaboration led by East Carolina University. Funded by NSF.
  • Fate of Ayeyarwady and ThanLien River Sediment, Myanmar:  Relative Importance of Oceanographic and Tectonic Controls.  Funded by NSF.
Current Students
  • Dongyoung Back (PhD student, co-advised with BK Song).
  • Latoya Cherry (MS student, co-advised with Marjy Friedrichs)
  • Zhiyun Du (PhD student)
Past Students
  • Elisa Aitoro (2019 – 2021)
  • Matthew Fair, M.S., 2021. Sediment transport and trapping on the Ayeyarwady-Martaban continental shelf.
  • Jacob Wacht, B.S., 2021. Characterization of water column structure in the northern Andaman Sea, Myanmar based on field data collected in December 2017.
  • Danielle Tarpley, Ph.D., 2020 (Co-advised with Carl Friedrichs) Temporal variability in cohesive sediment dynamics in a partially mixed estuary, the York River estuary, Virginia, USA: A numerical study developed from observations.
  • 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.
Past Visiting Students
  • Dr. Chenghao Wang, Visiting Student from Ocean University of China (2019 – 2020).
  • Jongwi Chang, Visiting Student from Inha University (2017).
  • Dr. Salik Rosing, Visiting Student from University of Copenhagen (2015).
Courses Taught
  • MSCI 554:  Principles of Numerical Computing.
  • MSCI 553: Bottom Boundary Layers and Sediment Transport.
  • MSCI 698:  Numerical Transport Models.
Faculty/Student Awards
  • 2023 CSDMS (Community Surface Dynamics Modeling System) Lifetime Achievement Award
  • 2012 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
  • Coastal and Estuarine Research Federation (CERF)
  • AGU Ocean Sciences Executive Committee
  • American Geophysical Union
  • Tau Beta Pi
  • Editorial Advisory Board, Continental Shelf Research