Dr. Becker is Assistant Professor of Coastal Planning, Policy, and Design at the University of Rhode Island (URI). He is an interdisciplinary social scientist working across the fields of planning, policy, engineering, and climate-change science. His research contributes to untangling complex problems involving uncertainty, consequences of large-scale shifts in climate over long time horizons, and the resulting challenges in policy and planning. He teaches courses in coastal climate adaptation, maritime transportation systems and ports, and GIS. He is particularly interested in the use of GIS-based risk and vulnerability assessments and decision-support tools for local stakeholders in both the US and developing nations facing rising seas and stronger storms.
Austin’s work is recognized globally and he is a regularly invited speaker at expert meetings of the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD), the United Nations Economic Commission for Europe (UNECE), and the Joint Research Center of the European Commission, as well as numerous conferences in the United States. He also served as a contributing author to the National Climate Assessment and to the American Society of Civil Engineers manual on sea level rise considerations for marine civil works.
Austin earned his PhD in Environment and Resources at Stanford University. He earned his Master of Marine Affairs and Master of Environmental Science and Management degrees at URI and he holds a B.A. from Hampshire College. His previous career was as a captain of educational sailing ships, including Rhode Island’s Continental Sloop Providence. He maintains a 500-Ton U.S. Coast Guard captain’s license for ocean-going vessels, sailing when he can in the role of mate or relief captain.