Joan Oltman-Shay
PhD President, Senior Scientist, Coastal Oceanographer

Joan Oltman-Shay received her B.S. degree in applied physics/electrical engineering from the University of California at San Diego and M.S. and Ph.D. degrees in applied ocean sciences and oceanography from Scripps Institution of Oceanography (SIO) in 1985.  She studied under William Hodgekiss (Marine Physical Laboratory, SIO) and Dr. Robert T. Guza (Center for Coastal Studies, SIO). She was a Post Doc and Research Professor at Oregon State University and has served as an Affiliate Associate Professor at the University of Washington.

Most of Dr. Oltman-Shay’s science career has been spent performing field studies of nearshore (shoreline to nominally 10m depth) wave and current dynamics and the concomitant interplay with nearshore morphology. Much of her work has centered on the analysis of data from arrays of pressure and current sensors placed in the surf zone. Significant results from these efforts are the recognition that surf zone infragravity waves are ubiquitous with kinematics that agree with theory and the discovery of shear instability waves of longshore-directed currents in the surf zone. Early in her career she designed the USACE 8m-depth wave-directional array and analysis software for the Army Corps Field Research Facility in Duck, NC which remains operational today. More recently, her research focus has been on process studies utilizing remote video data of the nearshore environment. She has published over sixty refereed articles, technical reports, and conference papers on these and related topics.

Dr. Oltman-Shay has been active in science leadership and management through most of her career. She became President of NorthWest Research Associates (NWRA, in 2002 when it was reformed as a company owned and operated by its Scientists. Additionally, she has served as a member of the National Academies’ Ocean Studies Board and the USACE’s Coastal Engineering Research Board. This latter board, created by Congress in 1963, is made up of the Army’s Chief of Civil Works, three additional General Officers, and three civilian members. As one of the civilian members, Dr. Oltman-Shay served with her fellow board members to advise the Army’s Chief of Engineers on matters pertaining to shore and flood protection, sediment management and navigation, and related issues in support of the army’s worldwide engineering mission.

Dr. Oltman-Shay was a member of the External Advisory Board for NSF’s Science and Technology Center for Coastal Margin Observations and Predictions and on the Governing Council for the Pacific Northwest Integrated Ocean Observing System, NANOOS. She has served as a member of the Elsevier Science Editorial Advisory Board, as an Associate Editor for JGR Oceans, and as the U.S. series Editor for the Elsevier journal, Nearshore and Coastal Oceanography, and has been a member of several National Research Council (NRC) committees.  Significant National Academy Press publications from those NRC efforts include: Enabling Ocean Research in the 21st Century: Implementation of a Network of Ocean Observatories (2003); Science for Decisionmaking: Coastal and Marine Geology at the U.S. Geological Survey (1999); Oceanography and Naval Special Warfare: Opportunities and Challenges (1997); Priorities for Coastal Ecosystem Science (1994).

Further information about Dr. Oltman-Shay, including a list of publications, is available in her detailed resume [PDF].

How to contact me:

NorthWest Research Associates,
1100 NE 45th St, Suite 500
Seattle, WA 98105
(206) 556-8151