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Emily A Himmelstoss

Emily Himmelstoss is a Geologist at the Woods Hole Coastal and Marine Science Center, within the Coastal and Marine Hazards and Resources Program of the Natural Hazards Mission Area. Her work has focused on utilizing historical shoreline change analysis as a means of evaluating the influence of both geological processes and human activities on the morphology and historical evolution of beaches.

Career History

For more than fifteen years Emily has led the development of the Digital Shoreline Analysis System (DSAS) software. The current version released in December 2018 has been downloaded more than forty-eight thousand times and is used globally in support of critical coastal decision-making. 

In her leadership role, she spearheads a project that offers practical technical expertise, methodologies, and data visualization support to ensure the sustainability of coastal change hazards assessment products at regional to national scales. Additionally, she actively supports initiatives that promote data sharing among research projects, and she has successfully coordinated a cross-center technical cooperative that serves as a valuable resource for various projects across the program. 

Emily actively serves on the steering committee of a project that is dedicated to implementing an iterative user engagement strategy. This strategy aims to inform the communication of CMHRP science products by engaging in a collaborative codesign process with stakeholders. The primary objective of this endeavor is to make discovery and communication of CCH scientific data more effective, efficient, and meaningful for coastal hazards planning and preparedness. 

One of her notable contributions was serving in a year-long detail as the acting Associate Program Coordinator for Science for CMHRP. Emily’s deep understanding of the Program provided strategic scientific perspective to balance the advancement of immediate scientific needs with long-term strategic plans. 

She recently worked with a diverse team of research scientists, data experts, and science communicators to establish a collaborative framework for advancing coastal change hazards science. This framework aims to seamlessly integrate fundamental and applied coastal science research, as well as science-based data products, across the three science centers funded by the Coastal and Marine Hazards and Resources Program. By promoting the exchange of innovative ideas, fostering collaborative project development, and aligning coastal research and products with programmatic requirements and stakeholder needs, the framework facilitates a more cohesive and effective approach to coastal science. 

Emily’s previous work included participation in a national-scale project assessing Coastal Change Hazards, specifically working to compile a comprehensive database of historical shoreline positions that were used along with the DSAS software to compute shoreline change rates for the open coastal waters of the United States. These data and the new understanding of coastal change patterns they describe have been widely used to further scientific research and coastal management objectives.  Since 2012 she has been part of a team developing and maintaining the USGS Coastal Change Hazards (CCH) portal, a web visualization platform. This website was the first attempt within the program to provide a thematic web-based mapping interface for federal and state agencies, NGOs, municipalities, and private citizens to visualize and access coastal change hazards assessments of extreme storm, coastal erosion, and sea-level change impact data. 

Through her various roles and contributions, Emily continues to drive the advancement of coastal science, data dissemination, and stakeholder engagement. Her work exemplifies a commitment to bridging the gap between scientific research and practical applications, ultimately promoting effective coastal management, and enhancing resilience in the face of changing coastal hazards.