Civil Engineering

Ryan Mulligan

Ryan Mulligan, Ph.D., P.Eng.

Assistant Professor

Office: Ellis-209

Queen's University
Kingston, ON K7L 3N6
Tel: (613) 533-6503
Fax: (613) 533-2128

Ryan Mulligan, Ph.D., P.Eng.


I am a coastal engineer and oceanographer, with interests in the physical forces that cause changes to coastal regions and the ways in which coastal systems respond.  Coastal processes act over a range in time scales from seconds (like surface waves) to hundreds of years (like sea level rise), but often it is timescales of days (like hurricanes and storm events) over which major changes such as erosion occurs that affect human populations.  Coastal processes can also act over a wide range of spatial scales from sub-millimetre scale (like fluid turbulence) to thousands of kilometres (like tsunamis) and it is important to understand the interaction of many different processes to simulate and predict future changes to the coastal environment.

I am particularly interested in surface waves, ocean currents, transport of water and sediments and contaminants, and changes in the geomorphology of the coastline and seabed. I use field observations and numerical models to study coastal systems, and develop further understanding of the processes that affect oceans, estuaries and rivers. I am particularly interested in coastal regions that are exposed to severe storms including hurricanes, with large waves and strong currents, and understanding coastal erosion and flooding.

I am also interested in marine renewable energy, and impacts on the marine environment. Specifically this relates to marine tidal current turbines (e.g., in the Bay of Fundy) and offshore wind turbines (e.g., in Lake Ontario).

My current research sites are:

  1. Coastal bays in Nova Scotia, Canada, including the Bay of Fundy and Lunenburg Bay.
  2. Beaches, barrier islands and estuaries in North Carolina, USA.
  3. Mackenzie River Delta in the Northwest Territories, Canada, on the Arctic Ocean
  4. Lake Ontario and the St. Lawrence River, Canada.
  5. Physical modelling of tsunamis, waves, dune erosion in the Coastal Lab at Queen's.


REFEREED PUBLICATIONS (supervised students in bold)


Gomes, E.R., Mulligan, R.P., Brodie, K.L., and McNinch, J.E., 2016. Bathymetric control on the spatial distribution of wave breaking in the surf zone of a natural beach, Coastal Engineering, 116, 180-194, doi: 10.1016/j.coastaleng.2016.06.012.

Mulligan, R.P., and J. L. Hanson, 2016. Alongshore momentum transfer to the nearshore zone from energetic ocean waves generated by passing hurricanes, Journal of Geophysical Research Oceans, 121, doi:10.1002/2016JC011706.

Zaremba, N., Mallinson, D., Leorri, E., Culver, S., Riggs, S., Mulligan, R.P., and Horsman, E., 2016. Controls on the stratigraphic record and paleoenvironmental change within a Holocene estuarine system: Pamlico Sound, North Carolina, USA. Marine Geology, 379, 109-123, doi: 10.1016/j.margeo.2016.04.012.

Ashall, L. M., Mulligan, R. P., van Proosdij, D., & Poirier, E. (2016). Application and validation of a three-dimensional hydrodynamic model of a macrotidal salt marsh. Coastal Engineering114, 35-46.

Miller, R.L., Brown, M.M., and Mulligan, R.P., Transport and transformation of dissolved organic matter in the Neuse River Estuarine System, NC USA following Hurricane Irene (2011), Journal of Marine and Freshwater Research, doi: 10.1071/MF15352.


Ashall, L.A., Mulligan, R.P., and Law, B.A., 2015. Variability in Suspended Sediment Concentration in the Minas Basin, Bay of Fundy, and Implications for Changes due to Tidal Power Extraction, Coastal Engineering, accepted.

Elko, N., Feddersen, F., Foster, D., Hapke, C., McNinch, J., Mulligan, R.P., Ӧzkan-Haller, T., Plant, N., Raubenheimer, B., (eds.) 2015. The future of nearshore processes research. J. American Shore and Beach Preservation Association, 83(1): 13-38.

Mulligan, R.P., Walsh, J.P., and Wadman, H., 2015. Storm Surge and Surface Waves in a Shallow Lagoonal Estuary during the Crossing of a Hurricane, J. Waterway, Port, Coastal, Ocean Eng., A5014001, doi:10.1061/(ASCE) WW.1943-5460.0000260.

Moran, K.L., Mallinson, D.J., Culver, S.J., Leorri, E., and Mulligan, R.P., 2015. Late Holocene evolution of Currituck Sound, North Carolina, USA: environmental change driven by sea-level rise, storms and barrier island morphology.  J. Coastal Research, 31(4) 827-841.

Tao, J., Hill, P.S., Mulligan, R.P., and Smith, P.C., 2014. Seasonal variability of total suspended matter in Minas Basin, Bay of Fundy. Estuarine, Coastal and Shelf Science, 151, 169-180, doi: 10.1016/j.ecss.2014.10.005.

McCombs, M.P., Mulligan, R.P., and Boegman, L., (2014)Offshore Wind Farm Impacts on Surface Waves and Circulation in Eastern Lake Ontario, Coastal Engineering, 93, 32-39, doi: 10.1016/j.coastaleng.2014.08.001.

McCombs, M.P., Mulligan, R.P., Boegman, L., and Rao, Y.R., (2014) Modeling surface waves and wind-driven circulation in eastern Lake Ontario during winter storms. J. Great Lakes Research, 13 pp, doi: 10.1016/j.jglr.2014.02.009.

Brown, M.M., Mulligan, R.P., and Miller, R.L., (2014) Modeling the transport of freshwater and dissolved organic carbon in the Neuse River Estuary, NC, USA following Hurricane Irene (2011), Estuarine, Coastal and Shelf Sci., 139 (2014) 148-158, doi: 10.1016/j.ecss.2014.01.005.


McNinch, J.E., Brodie, K.L., Wadman, H.M., Hathaway, K.K., Slocum, R.K., Mulligan, R.P., Hanson, J.L., and Birkemeier, W.A., (2012). Observations of wave run-up, shoreline hot-spot erosion, and sound-side seiching during Hurricane Irene at the Field Research Facility, Journal of the American Shore and Beach Preservation Association, 80(2): 19-37.


Leorri, E., Mulligan, R.P., Mallinson, D., and Cearreta, A., (2011). Sea-level rise and local tidal range changes in coastal embayments: An added complexity in developing reliable sea-level index points, Journal of Integrated Coastal Zone Management, 11(3): 307-314.

Mulligan, R.P., Perrie, W., Toulany, B., Smith, P. Hay, A.E., and Bowen, A.J. (2011).  Performance of nowcast and forecast wave models for Lunenburg Bay, NS.  Atmosphere-Ocean, 49(1), doi:10.1080/07055900.2011.558468


Mulligan, R. P., Hay, A. E., and Bowen, A. J. (2010). A wave-driven jet over a rocky shoal.  Journal of Geophysical Research, 115, C10038, doi:10.1029/2009JC006027.

Mulligan, R.P., Perrie, W., and Solomon, S. (2010). Dynamics of the Mackenzie River plume on the inner Beaufort Shelf during an open water period in summer.  Estuarine, Coastal and Shelf Science (89), 214-220.


Mulligan, R.P., Hay, A.E., and Bowen, A.J. (2008).  Wave-driven circulation in a coastal bay during the landfall of a hurricane.Journal of Geophysical Research, 113, C05026, doi:10.1029/2007JC004500.

Mulligan, R.P., Bowen, A. J., Hay, A.E., van der Westhuysen, A. J., and Battjes, J.A. (2008).  Whitecapping and wave field evolution in a coastal bay. Journal of Geophysical Research, 113, C03008, doi:10.1029/2007JC004382.


Miller, R.L., López, R., Mulligan, R.P., Reed, R.E., Liu, C.-C., Buonassissi, C.J., and Brown, M.M., (2014)Examining material transport in dynamic coastal environments: an integrated approach using field data, remote sensing and numerical modeling.  In C.W. Finkl and C. Makowski (eds.), Remote Sensing and Modeling: Advances in Coastal and Marine Resources, Coastal Research Library 9, DOI 10.1007/978-3-319-06326-3_14, Springer International Publishing, Switzerland.

Leys, V. and Mulligan, R.P., (2011). Modelling coastal sediment transport for harbour planning: selected case studies, In Sediment Transport, S.S.Ginsberg (Ed.), ISBN: 978-953-307-189-3, InTech.


Take, W.A., Mulligan, R.P., Stevenson, E.P., and Miller, G.A. 2016. Physical modelling of landslides into reservoirs: effect of capillarity on rheology of granular landslide at impact. Proceedings of the 12th International Symposium on Landslides, Napoli, Italy.

Mulligan R.P., Take, W.A., and Miller, G., 2106. Propagation and runup of tsunamis generated by gravitationally accelerated granular landslides. Proceedings of the 6th International Conference on the Application of Physical Modelling in Coastal and Port Engineering and Science (Coastlab16), Ottawa, Canada.

Marmoush, R.Y., and Mulligan, R.P., 2016. Physical modelling and non-hydrostatic numerical modelling of wave propagation in a wave basin. Proceedings of the 6th International Conference on the Application of Physical Modelling in Coastal and Port Engineering and Science (Coastlab16), Ottawa, Canada.

Wang, E., Christison, K., and Mulligan, R.P., 2016. Numerical Modelling of Effluent Dilution and Dispersion in the Lower Fraser River. Proceedings of the International Symposium on Outfall Systems, Ottawa, Canada.

Mulligan, R.P., Mallinson, D., Clunies, G., Zaremba, N., Leorri, E., Culver, S., Mitra, S., and Riggs, S., (2015). Sediment dynamics and morphological evolution of a large back-barrier estuary. Proceeding of Coastal Sediments 2015, World Scientific, doi: 10.1142/9789814689977_0205.

Mulligan, R.P., Ashall, L., van Proosdij, D., and Poirier, E. (2015). Hydrodynamics and sediment dynamics in macrotidal drainage channels and salt marshes. Proceeding of  the 36th IAHR World Congress, The Hague, the Netherlands, ISBN: 978-90-824846-0-1.

Beylard, B., da Silva, A.M., and Mulligan, R.P. (2015). A laboratory investigation of wave-driven dune and beach morphology change under high storm surges. Proceeding of  the 36th IAHR World Congress, The Hague, the Netherlands, ISBN: 978-90-824846-0-1.

Miller. G., Take, A., and Mulligan, R.P., (2014). Parametric study of landslide generated impulse wave physical modeling, Proceedings of the 6th Canadian GeoHazards Conference, Kingston, ON, 7 pp.

Mathura, N., Cree, D., and Mulligan, R.P., (2013). Characterization and utilization of coconut fibers of the Caribbean, Proc. XXII International Materials Research Congress, Materials Research Society, Cancun, Mexico.

Berard, N.A., Mulligan, R.P., and da Silva, A.M.F., (2013). A physical and numerical model of waves and near bed velocities under bi-chromatic conditions over a steeply sloping beach face. Proc. Canadian Society for Civil Engineering Annual Conference, Montreal, QC.

McCombs, M.P., Mulligan, R.P., Boegman, L., Rao, Y.R., (2013). Wave propagation and growth in the Kingston Basin of Eastern Lake Ontario. Proc. Canadian Society for Civil Engineering Annual Conference, Montreal, QC.

Mulligan, R.P., Smith. P.C., Hill, P.S., Tao, J., and van Proosdij, D., (2013). Effects of tidal power generation on hydrodynamics and sediment processes in the upper Bay of Fundy. Proc. Canadian Society for Civil Engineering Annual Conference, Montreal, QC.

Mulligan, R.P., Hanson, J.L., and Hathaway, K.K. (2011). Observations of wave breaking and surf zone width from a real-time cross-shore array of wave and current sensors at Duck, NC. Proc. IEEE/OES Current, Waves and Turbulence Measurement Workshop, Monterey, CA, doi: 10.1109/CWTM.2011.5759540, p. 130-137.

Mulligan, R.P., Stronach, J., Isfeld, O., and Woo, K. (2003). Comox Lake and Puntledge River temperature modelling study.  Proceedings of the Canadian Water Resources National Conference, Vancouver, BC, 264-270.

Stronach, J., Gardiner, S.R., Mulligan, R.P., and Draho, R. (2001).  Limnology of Okanagan Lake.  Proceedings of the Canadian Society of Civil Engineering Annual Conference, Victoria, BC, H51-H58.


Coastal Hydrodynamics and Natural Geologic Evolution

US National Science Foundation, Division of Ocean Sciences

Tidal hydrodynamics and impacts of tidal energy extraction
Offshore Energy Research Association of Nova Scotia

Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada

Canadian Foundation for Innovation

Coastal Engineering Lab




Esther Gomes

Esther Gomes, MASc program, 2013-present. 
Esther is completing field validation of wave model SWASH to investigate wave and current propagation over shore-oblique sand bars in North Carolina.

Ramy Marmoush

Ramy Marmoush, PhD program, 2014-present. 
Ramy is running 2D basin experiments to evaluate wave breaking and induced currents by
breaking using new techniques like dyes and tracers, and acoustic sensors for measuring velocities
and water surface elevation. 

Vanessa Bennett

Vanessa Bennett, MASc program, 2014-present.
Vanessa is running a computer wave model to determine the morphological impacts of Hurricane
Sandy on Fire Island, New York. In particular, she is studying the opening and recovery of the 
new inlets. 

Garrett Miller, MASc program, 2013-present.

Garrett is simulating granular landslide tsunamis using a physical model.

Co-supervisor: Dr. Andy Take (Queen's University)


Logan Ashall, MASc, 2012-2014.

Thesis title: Intertidal hydrodynamics and basin-scale sediment dynamics in the Minas Basin, Bay of Fundy, and implications for change due to tidal power extraction

Gregory Clunies, MASc, 2012-2014.

Thesis title:Hydrodynamics of a large and shallow back-barrier estuarine system and responses to long-term changes in geomorphology

Neville Berard, MASc, 2011-2014.

Thesis title: Dune erosion and beach profile evolution in response to bichromatic wave groups

Co-supervisor: Dr. Ana da Silva (Queen's University)

Matthew McCombs, MASc, 2011-2013.

Thesis title: Modelling waves and currents in northeastern Lake Ontario to assess the impacts of a proposed offshore wind farm

Co-supervisor: Dr. Leon Boegman (Queen's University)


Benjamin Beylard, University of Bordeaux, 2014,  Dr. Ana da Silva (Queen's University)

Jing Tao, Dalhousie University, 2010-2013,  Dr. Paul Hill

Matthew Brown, East Carolina University, 2010-2013, Dr. Rick Miller

Nadira Mathura, University of the West Indies, 2013-present

Devon Eulie, East Carolina University, 2009-2014, Dr. JP Walsh and Dr. D. Reide Corbett

Kelli Moran, East Carolina University, 2010-2012, Dr. David Mallinson 


Gemma Bullard, 2014-15

Amelia Cooper, 2014-15

Colleen Wilson, 2013-14

Adam Silvester, 2012-13

Esther Gomes, 2012-13



  • CIVL 853: Water Waves
  • CIVL 855: Hydrodynamics of Coasts and Estuaries
  • CIVL 895: Special Topics in Civil Engineering


  • CIVL 451: Lake, Reservoir and Coastal Engineering
  • CIVL 360: Civil Engineering Design and Practice III
  • CIVL 350: Hydraulics II
  • CIVL 500: Civil Engineering Thesis

Ryan Mulligan