For more than 30 years, Spencer Rogers has focused on beach hazards in his role as an extension specialist for North Carolina Sea Grant. This included research into where, when and how rip currents for, as well as outreach to get safety information to lifeguards, coastal communities and the public. His early efforts for rip currents safety posters started in 1978 and have evolved into an array of products including metal signs, posters, refrigerator magnets and brochures.
He was a key member of an interagency effort from which the Break the Grip of the Rip program debuted in 2004 in North Carolina and now includes communities along all the United States’ shorelines, including the Atlantic and Pacific coasts, the Gulf of Mexico and the Great Lakes. The initial team included the National Weather Service and the Sea Grant network, both within the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, and the U.S. Lifesaving Association. The National Park Service is now a key partner. Rogers continues to work with partners, including the NWS office in Morehead City/Newport, one of several pilots around the country testing a beach hazards statement that include rip currents and other potentially dangerous conditions.
Rogers holds a master’s in coastal and oceanographic engineering from the University of Florida and a bachelor’s in engineering from the University of Virginia. He serves on the faculty at the University of North Carolina at Wilmington’s Center for Marine Science, and as adjunct faculty in engineering at North Carolina State University. Rogers co-authored The Dune Book, a guidebook on dune species, planning and best management practices along developed shorelines.
Prof. Andrew D. Short AM
Andrew Short is a marine scientist specializing in coastal processes and beach dynamics. He has degrees from the University of Sydney, University of Hawaii and Louisiana State University and has worked on the coasts of North and South America, including north Alaska and Hawaii, Europe, New Zealand and the entire Australian coast.
He is presently Honorary Professor in the School of Geosciences at the University of Sydney; Adjunct Professor in the Griffith (University) Centre for Coastal Management; Senior Coastal Scientist (part-time) with CoastalCOMS; on Surf Life Saving Australia’s Research Advisory Committee; Deputy Chair of National Surfing Reserves (Australia); and on the Executive Committee of World Surfing Reserves.
He also runs his own consultancy called Coastal Studies and serves on the NSW Coastal Panel and the Eurobodalla Coastal Management Advisory Committee. He has written 12 books and over 200 scientific publications. His extensive contribution to both coastal science and beach safety was recognised in 2010 with an Order of Australia Medal.
Founding Convener - Dr Stephen P. Leatherman
Dr. Stephen P. Leatherman is Professor and Director of the Laboratory for Coastal Research at Florida International University in Miami. He has published hundreds of journal articles and authored/edited 16 books on coastal science. In 2003 he authored a Yale University Press book on beach safety with emphasis on rip currents.
More recently, Dr. Leatherman was the principal editor of the CRC Press 2011 book “Rip Currents: Beach Safety, Physical Oceanography and Wave Modeling” and author of the National Geographic “Field Guide to the Water’s Edge,” which was published earlier this year.
Dr. Leatherman has given expert testimony to U. S. Congressional committees eleven times and has appeared five times in yearbooks of Who's Who in America and Who's Who in the World. He was the on-screen host and co-producer of the "Vanishing Lands" documentary that won three international awards.
In 2011, he produced a video “Beach Rips: Dangerous Currents” that is available at his web site www.ripcurrents.comand You tube. His preferred name by the media is "Dr. Beach" wherein he releases each year the highly-acclaimed list of America's Top 10 Beaches based on 50 criteria (www.DrBeach.org).
Founding Convener - Dr John R. Fletemeyer
Dr. Fletemeyer and his colleague, Dr. Stephen Leatherman are responsible for implementing and directing the International Rip Current Symposium Program that began in Miami in 2010.
Dr. John Fletemeyer has been in professional aquatics for nearly 40 years beginning as a lifeguard on Fort Lauderdale Beach. During his career, he has served in several elected leadership positions including chairman of the National Aquatics Coalition, vice chairman of the International Swimming Hall of Fame, and president of the SE Region of the USLA. Dr. Fletemeyer is the recipient on many awards including the Paragon Award, the Judge Martin Award, and the NAUI 25 Year Distinguished Service Award.
Dr. Fletemeyer has appeared as a drowning expert on the TV news program, 60 Minutes and has been contracted by over 50 government agencies and private organizations to conduct drowning prevention programs and resaerch. He recently concluded a study involving the drownings of over 500 illegal migrants in the All American Canal in California.
He was also contracted by the U.S. Government to implement a training program involving the U.S. and Mexican Border Patrols and the U.S. Marine Corps. Dr. Fletemeyer intiated the first water safety program in Haiti. Currently he is serving as the director of the American Aquatic Law Institute that provides focused training to practicing attorneys specializing in aquatic and maritime law.
Dr. Fletemyer is the author and editor of two books about drowning and rip currents. He has published over 50 articles and is currently conducting research focusing on warning sign effectiveness, rip current drownings, drowning behavior and victim profiling. Currently he is working on a documentary involving Cuban and Haitian rafters crossing the Florida Straits.