Badreyah Al-Marshed stands in front of a wave simulation tank used to conduct simulations for her project. | Image: Texas A&M Engineering

Seawalls, dikes and sand dunes are single defense alternatives protecting the world’s beaches and coastlines. With nearly 40 percent of the population living along the coastline, it is now more important than ever to better protect our coastal communities. 

Badreyah Al-Marshed, a doctoral candidate in the Department of Ocean Engineering at Texas A&M University, is working to develop a functional design for a hybrid coastal structure based on the wave-structure interaction during storm events.

Al-Marshed’s research is centered on building a defense structure for coastlines. By combining a rubble mound dike and a sand dune into one structure, it can widen beaches and provide many benefits including but not limited to flood protection, enhance tourism and also create new habitats for a variety of species.

The structure’s hybrid nature allows for the simultaneous protection and restoration of coastal ecosystems. This design also offers the desired level of infrastructure protection against flooding and storm surge and can be utilized in locations with limited space.

I have learned that if you believe in yourself and pursue your passion, you can achieve anything you set your mind to.

Badreyah Al-Marshed

Hybrid structures similar to the ones Al-Marshed is working on will be adopted in the future coastal protection plan for the greater Houston and Galveston, Texas areas to reduce risks associated with hurricane-induced flooding.

“Thus, the development of design criteria of such hybrid structures will be essential for the protection of our coastal community,” Al-Marshed said. “Although hybrid coastal structures have become more common recently, there are still many knowledge gaps regarding their performance. My goal is to generate a design formula for those hybrid structures based on wave overtopping volumes, while also investigating the benefits of such a structure in reducing risk associated in storm events.” 

Al-Marshed received her Bachelor and Master of Science degrees in coastal engineering from Kuwait University. She chose to attend Texas A&M due to the opportunities for students to conduct their own research. She will graduate in May 2019 and return to Kuwait University as a faculty member in the civil engineering department and continue her research and teaching efforts.

“Being a female coastal engineer in a male-dominated field is the greatest challenge I have faced so far,” Al-Marshed said. “However, I have learned that if you believe in yourself and pursue your passion, you can achieve anything you set your mind to.”

She encourages women pursuing a similar career to identify a goal and work hard to achieve it.

“Remember that with determination and hard work, you will achieve your goal no matter how unattainable others think it is,” Al-Marshed said.