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Peter Ruggiero Oral History Interview, December 14, 2017

Oregon State University
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00:00:00 - Introduction

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Partial Transcript: Today is December 14th, 2017.

Segment Synopsis: Date and location of interview. Introduction of Dr. Peter Ruggiero, Professor in the College of Earth, Ocean, and Atmospheric Sciences. Introduction to focus of interview: research and global warming.

Keywords: College of Earth, Ocean, and Atmospheric Sciences; Oregon State University

Subjects: Global Warming; Oregon State University. College of Oceanography

00:00:21 - Growing Up in New England

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Partial Transcript: Where were you born?

Segment Synopsis: Ruggiero describes growing up in New England. He was born in New York City but spent his childhood in Connecticut and Massachusetts. He recalls spending a lot of time on the beach and sailing.

Keywords: East Coast Childhood; New England; Sailing

Subjects: New England; Sailing

00:01:14 - Undergraduate Studies at Lehigh University

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Partial Transcript: Were you initially interested in going into engineering and science as a child?

Segment Synopsis: Ruggiero describes how he was advised by guidance counselors in high school to consider an engineering degree after excelling in math and science in high school. Ruggiero attended Lehigh University in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania and chose to study civil engineering. He recalls how taking coastal engineering courses opened his mind up to new career possibilities. A positive experience in an undergraduate research project class influenced Ruggiero's interest in pursuing graduate school.

Keywords: Civil engineering; Coastal engineering; Lehigh University

Subjects: Civil engineering; Coastal engineering; Lehigh University

00:02:59 - Graduate Studies at Oregon State University

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Partial Transcript: Did you plan on pursuing a PhD initially?

Segment Synopsis: Ruggiero describes his initial plan to attend Oregon State University for a master's degree. His exposure to research projects in the Coastal Ocean Engineering program, and connection to the College of Oceanography, opened his mind up to staying at OSU for a PhD. He recalls how he ended up at OSU and his desire to be in the Pacific Northwest at that time.

Keywords: Graduate studies in coastal engineering; Oregon State University, Civil Engineering

Subjects: Coastal engineering--Research; Oregon State University. Department of Civil Engineering

00:04:38 - Civil Engineering and Coast Morphology

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Partial Transcript: What does your background in civil engineering contribute to your research in coastal morphology, compared to, say, an oceanographer's?

Segment Synopsis: Ruggiero discusses the relevance of coastal engineering, near-shore oceanography, and coast geography to near-shore coastal morphology research. He describes how his engineering background has given his research an application focus.

Keywords: Applied Science; Engineering and Coastal Morphology

Subjects: Coastal engineering; Technology

00:05:48 - Teaching in Graduate School

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Partial Transcript: Did you teach while you were a grad student at OSU?

Segment Synopsis: Ruggiero recalls assisting in teaching as a PhD candidate. He helped grade and run labs, but did not have a strong desire to stay in academia and teach at that time.

Keywords: Graduate teaching assistant

Subjects: Graduate teaching assistants

00:06:49 - Graduate Research

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Partial Transcript: And your grad research was on modeling coastal change, is that correct?

Segment Synopsis: Ruggiero describes his graduate research on developing approaches to understand when erosion and flooding hazards would occur. He was able to participate in early research on wave run-up on the Oregon coast. The data Ruggiero collected was used to create empirical models to predict how often coastal structures would be impacted by high water levels. Ruggiero also discusses how climate change was relevant to his graduate research in terms of sea level rise, but was not directly incorporated.

Keywords: Coastal Erosion and Flooding Hazards; Coastal Modeling; Ocean Research; Sea Level Rise

Subjects: Coast changes; Coastal engineering--Mathematical models; Ocean waves--Research; Sea level

00:09:13 - Washington State Department of Ecology

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Partial Transcript: So after school you went to work for the Washington Department of Ecology? What was that experience like, transitioning, as you say, into an applied science setting?

Segment Synopsis: Ruggiero describes how he acquired a unique research position with the Washington Department of Ecology following his PhD. This position enabled him to develop a beach monitoring program and investigate coastal geomorphology around the mouth of the Columbia River. He recalls how the research focus of the newly created Coastal Mapping and Analysis Program was unusual for the management-oriented department he was under. Ruggiero reflects back on the success of the beach monitoring program, still in place today.

Keywords: Beach monitoring; Coastal Mapping and Analysis; Columbia River Sediment Transport; Washington Department of Ecology; Washington State Coastal Geomorphology

Subjects: Beach erosion--Monitoring; Coastal mapping; Sediment transport; United States--Columbia River; Washington (State)--Pacific Coast; Washington (State). Shorelands & Coastal Zone Management Program

00:13:53 - U.S. Geological Survey

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Partial Transcript: And you mentioned USGS. I saw that you were a USGS Mendenhall Research Fellow. Was that a part of- did that help fund part of this research or was that a separate project?

Segment Synopsis: Ruggiero describes transitioning from the Washington Department of Ecology to post-doc research with USGS. He moved to San Francisco for the Mendehall Fellowship post-doc position and after two years, became a USGS research geologist. Ruggiero recalls how academia was still far from his mind as his career with USGS progressed.

Keywords: Mendenhall Fellowship; Post-doctoral research; U.S. Geological Survey

Subjects: Coastal and Marine Geology Program (Geological Survey); Geological Survey (U.S.); Science--Scholarships, fellowships, etc.

00:16:44 - Research in Sumatra Following the 2004 Earthquake

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Partial Transcript: Can you talk a little more about that experience- going to Sumatra?

Segment Synopsis: Ruggiero describes going with USGS colleagues to Sumatra following the 2004 tsunami. He explains how modern day tsunami sediment research can be used to better understand historical tsunami records. While Ruggiero does not focus on tsunamis in his research, he was able to lend his near-shore bathymetry expertise to his colleagues' research efforts in Sumatra. He describes the process of mapping tsunami sediment deposits, as well as the risks in a politically unstable environment.

Keywords: Bathymetry; Sumatra Tsunami; Sumatra, Indonesia; Tsunami Research

Subjects: Bathymetric maps; Indonesia--Sumatra; Sumatra Earthquake (2004); Tsunamis--Research

00:23:59 - Returning to Academia and Oregon State University

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Partial Transcript: So you're in California working for USGS- what inspires you to return to academia?

Segment Synopsis: Ruggiero discusses returning to academia. While he was happy to return to Oregon State University, he describes the difficulties of leaving a permanent agency position for a research faculty position. His initial position was in the Department of Geosciences, before it merged with the College of Oceanic and Atmospheric Sciences. Ruggiero acknowledges people like Rob Holman, Tuba Ozkan-Haller, Merrick Haller, and Dan Cox, who were important to his transition to OSU. Ruggiero describes the interdisciplinary aspect of his work at OSU, particularly with the College of Engineering.

Keywords: College of Earth, Ocean, and Atmospheric Sciences; Department of Geosciences; Faculty Researcher; Oregon State University

Subjects: Oregon State University. College of Oceanic and Atmospheric Sciences; Universities and colleges--Faculty--Research

00:27:56 - Teaching at OSU

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Partial Transcript: Did you teach when you first arrived?

Segment Synopsis: Ruggiero describes his initial teaching assignments at OSU and classes that he has since designed. He discusses how his attitude towards teaching has dramatically changed since arriving at OSU. While he expresses love for the teaching aspect of his job, Ruggiero acknowledges the difficulties in balancing teaching and researching demands.

Keywords: Teaching at Oregon State University

Subjects: College teaching

00:30:18 - Data Collection and Technology

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Partial Transcript: You kind of touched on the data gathering process, but I was wondering if you could maybe elaborate a little more on how you gather data for your models and maybe how that technology has changed through your career, in terms of modeling beach morphology.

Segment Synopsis: Ruggiero reflects on how tools and data gathering techniques have changed over his career. As a graduate student, Global Positioning System (GPS) devices were becoming more accurate and were used in Ruggiero's research lab to collect data. He describes developing the beach monitoring program in Washington and integrating available technology. While many data collecting techniques remain the same today, Ruggiero discusses how the technology and device integration has improved. He describes the pros and cons of new technology available to his research lab.

Keywords: Drones; Global Positioning System (GPS); Lidar; Remote Sensing Technology; Research technology and techniques

Subjects: Drone aircraft; Global Positioning System--Research; Optical radar; Remote sensing

00:37:14 - Research on the Outer Banks / Sand Dunes

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Partial Transcript: Can you talk about your research on the Outer Banks?

Segment Synopsis: Ruggiero discusses his collaborative research on sand dunes of the Outer Banks in North Carolina with Sally Hacker of the Department of Integrative Biology at OSU and Laura Moore of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. He describes how their project focuses on the dynamics between dune grasses and dune formation. Ruggiero discusses ecosystem services that the grasses and dunes provide to humans living on coasts. He addresses the complications of non-native grass species and trade-offs associated with sand dune management.

Keywords: Ecosystem Services; Outer Banks, North Carolina; Sand Dune Ecology; Sand Dune Research

Subjects: Ecosystem services; North Carolina--Outer Banks; Sand dune plants--Ecology; Sand dunes

00:44:38 - Envision Tillamook Coastal Futures Project

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Partial Transcript: Can you talk about the Envision Project in Tillamook?

Segment Synopsis: Ruggiero describes the Tillamook Coastal Futures Project and unique opportunity to work directly with stakeholders. The stakeholders in this project were local government officials and citizens in Tillamook County concerned about future coastal hazards and subsequent impacts. He explains how the collaborative process was a co-production of knowledge, as researchers and stakeholders developed adaptation strategies. Envision refers to the GIS-based modeling tool developed by John Bolte's research group and used to evaluate coastal scenarios for this project. He compares the Tillamook project to a similar project in Gray's Harbor, Washington. Ruggiero assesses his success and experience in communicating research to a non-scientific audience. He also reflects on how Envision offers insight into long-term outcomes for different stakeholder scenarios.

Keywords: Envision Gray's Harbor County Coastal Futures; Envision Integrated Modeling Platform; Envision Tillamook Coastal Futures

Subjects: Coast changes--Mathematical models; Oregon--Tillamook County; Washington (State)--Grays Harbor County

00:59:52 - Broader Climate Change Discussion / Conclusion

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Partial Transcript: So I think now I'll move to the final set of broader climate change questions. What were your earliest conversations on climate change like and how have they shifted over time?

Segment Synopsis: Ruggiero discusses broader aspects of climate change with respect to communication, collaboration, policy, and education. He describes his earliest conversations on sea level rise in graduate school, and how he did not anticipate its importance to his career until his position with the Washington Department of Ecology. In reflecting on the community of climate change researchers at OSU, Ruggiero discusses his research perspective and connection to the Climate Impacts Research Consortium. He considers the uncertainty of climate change research funding in the current political climate and how his research will continue to be relevant to coastal communities grappling with climate change. In terms of coastal policy, Ruggiero points out how concerns vary for coastal communities depending on local coastal geomorphology. He discusses how West Coast states will need to specifically address laws around defense of coastal property rights. Ruggiero reflects on the dynamic nature of the stakeholder decision making process during the Envision projects and how it is reflective of human adaptation and problem solving in the face of climate change. He talks about how this empowered attitude could be brought into education and broader discussions around climate change. Ruggiero conveys a mixed sense of hope in the face of climate change. Despite negative policy changes in the past year, he feels hopeful about human ingenuity.

Keywords: Climate Change Research; Climate Change and Coastal Communities; Coastal Property Rights; Global Warming

Subjects: Climatic changes--Research; Global warming; Right of property; Shore protection