About River Science

Are you curious about how rivers work? Does your job involve stream restoration, bank stabilization or flood risk reduction? Tulane University and the US Army Corps of Engineers have teamed up to offer a group of courses which will introduce river science and engineering topics for university students and practicing water managers. Courses are offered in a hybrid distance learning format – self-directed modules are assigned, followed by a topical weekly webinar which can be attended in person, online, or by watching the recording. The webinar is used for class discussions, the review of case studies, laboratory demonstrations, student presentations, and even live-streamed demonstrations. The Introductory course (RCSE6800: Introduction to River Science) will be a prerequisite for more advanced courses in river mechanics, stream restoration, numerical modeling, and riverine field data collection that can lead to a Certificate** in River Science and Engineering from the new Tulane River-Coastal Science and Engineering Department.

** Students will receive a certificate of completion upon successful completion of the sequence. Official SACS accreditation approval of this Certificate is presently underway and is anticipated by Spring 2019 prior to any students completing the course sequence.

Corps of Engineers employees can get more information on this program through the ERDC Graduate Institute at (601) 634-3549 or Stanley.C.Woodson@usace.army.mil.  Registration for this class will be as a non-degree graduate student at Tulane University, and subject to normal training permissions.  All courses are at the graduate level  – those without an undergraduate degree in science or engineering need to seek permission to participate in the program from the Tulane Department Chairman (meadallison@tulane.edu).


Current Tulane students should enroll in RCSE6800 or the advanced courses through the Gibson Online system in Fall or Spring semesters, or by contacting Janet Morgan in the School of Science and Engineering.

To obtain instructor approval, please email meadallison@tulane.edu.

For general enrollment information for government or industry students, please contact
Janet Morgan at morgan@tulane.edu or (504) 314-2910.

If you are a government employee, please follow all applicable guidance from your supervisor and Training Coordinator prior to enrolling for classes. This may include obtaining an approved SF182 and an obligated training PRAC prior to registration.


Topics to be Covered in Tulane RCSE6800, Introduction to River Science

  • Module 1 – Introductory Concepts
  • Module 2 – Geological Processes in Rivers
  • Module 3 – Principles of Fluvial Geomorphology
  • Module 4 – Planform Morphology, Channel Classification and Evolution
  • Module 5 – Channel Stability Concepts
  • Module 6 – Sediment Transport and Management
  • Module 7 – Introduction to the Water Chemistry of Rivers
  • Module 8 – Physical/Chemical Attributes of Riparian Systems
  • Modules 9 & 10 – Aquatic Ecology of Riverine Systems
  • Module 11 – Intro to River and Stream Restoration
  • Module 12 & 13 – Modeling for River Studies
  • Module 14 – Rivers and a Changing Climate


Topics to be Covered in Tulane RCSE 6810, River and Stream Restoration

  • Module 1 – What is River and Stream Restoration?
  • Module 2 – The Planning Process in River Restoration
  • Module 3 – Restoration Techniques for Small Streams
  • Module 4 – Restoration Techniques for Large Rivers
  • Module 5 – Environmental Flows as a Restoration Measure
  • Modules 6 & 7 – Design Concepts in Restoration Projects
  • Module 8 – Uncertainty in River and Stream Restoration
  • Module 9 – Adaptive Management and Monitoring
  • Module 10 – Student Presentations – Critiques of Restoration Efforts


Topics to be Covered in Tulane RCSE 6820, River-Coastal H&H Modeling

  • Module 1 – Design of Model Domain and Grid Resolution
  • Module 2 – Model Setup: How to Define Initial and Boundary Conditions
  • Modules 3 & 4 – Model Calibration and Validation
  • Module 5 – Evaluation of Models and Model Output: QA/QC and Sensitivity Analysis
  • Module 6 – How to Link Model Output to Program/Study Objectives
  • Modules 7, 8 and 9 – HMS Overview and Training, Student Projects: HMS Watershed Model
  • Modules 10, 11 and 12 – RAS Overview and Training, Student Projects: RAS Model Development


Topics to be Covered in Tulane RCSE 6830, River Mechanics and Management

  • Module 1 – Review of Basic Channel Stability and Design Processes
  • Module 2 – Sediment Transport
  • Module 3 – Specific Gage Record Assessment
  • Module 4 – Channel Geometry Analysis
  • Module 5 – Planform Analysis
  • Module 6 – Bank Stabilization
  • Module 7 – Channel Realignments and Grade Control
  • Module 8 – Levees, Dams and Diversions, Riprap Sizing and Scour Depth Prediction
  • Modules 9 & 10 – Stable Channel Design
  • Module 11 – Natural Channel Design
  • Module 12 – Regional Sediment Management
  • Module 13 – Course Synthesis


Topics to be Covered in Tulane RCSE 6840, Methods in River Sampling

  • Module 1 – Introductory Concepts
  • Module 2 – Legacy Field Data Resources and Quality Assurance
  • Module 3 – Experimental Design and Statistical Methods
  • Modules 4 & 5 – Sampling Hydrological and Sediment Parameters
  • Modules 6 & 7 – Water Chemistry Sampling and Analysis
  • Module 8 – Ecological Sampling – Organisms
  • Module 9 – Ecological Sampling – Habitat Assessment
  • Module 10 – Measuring Morphological Evolution
  • Module 11 – Class Presentations – Evaluations of Data Collection Projects


RCSE 6900 Independent Study in River-Coastal Science and Engineering.

This course will allow students to pursue a topic of interest under the direction of an appropriate faculty member in the areas of river or coastal science and engineering.