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James Hench

Associate Professor of Oceanography
Marine Science and Conservation
135 Duke Marine Lab Rd, Beaufort, NC 28516


Research in my lab focuses on fluid dynamics in the coastal ocean and its effects on transport processes. We use field measurements, computational models, and theoretical analyses to understand fundamental physical processes in these systems. We also work extensively on interdisciplinary problems that have a significant physical component to better understand the effects of water motion on the geochemistry, biology, and ecology of shallow marine systems. 

Much of our research is on coral reef hydrodynamics and our lab leads the Physical Oceanographic component of the Moorea Coral Reef LTER project 

Current projects include: 1) wave-driven circulation and exchange in coral reef, lagoon, and pass systems; 2) extreme events and their effects on coral reef systems; 3) understanding the effects of rough bottoms such as corals on circulation and scalar mixing; 4) the impact of stratification on vertical mixing in a highly stratified wind-driven estuary; 5) larval transport around a coral reef island; 6) sponge excurrents; and 7) the effects of wave forcing on corallivory.

Current Appointments & Affiliations

Associate Professor of Oceanography · 2016 - Present Marine Science and Conservation, Nicholas School of the Environment

Education, Training & Certifications

University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill · 2002 Ph.D.
Stanford University · 1992 M.S.
North Carolina State University · 1991 B.S.