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Wendy Stout Joins Virginia Tech and Virginia Sea Grant as a Coastal Resilience Extension Specialist

Wendy Stout in front of marine mural in the Virginia Tech Coastal Collaborator office
Coastal Resilience Extension Specialist Wendy Stout manages the Virginia Tech Coastal Collaborator office in downtown Hampton, Virginia. Photo by Keri Rouse for Virginia Tech.

Coastal Virginia experiences one of the highest rates of relative sea level rise on the East Coast, and these areas are also home to over half of Virginia's residents. Wendy Stout, who joined Virginia Tech and Virginia Sea Grant in a collaborative extension position in August, is among them.

As communities like hers face resilience challenges, sound science and collaborative efforts among environmental organizations, universities, communities, and municipal agencies are needed to address the challenges and opportunities arising on our coastlines.

Stout aims to help foster these connections through her new position, jointly funded between Virginia Tech and Virginia Sea Grant, as a coastal resilience extension specialist.

"As a Virginia Tech alumna, I am honored to have the opportunity to listen, learn, and create collaborative coastal resilience solutions through the new Virginia Tech Coastal Collaborator and the Virginia Seafood AREC here in Hampton," said Stout.

Stout will serve as a project manager and facilitator in collaboration with the Center for Coastal Studies, Virginia Seafood AREC, and Virginia Sea Grant with funding support through a GO Virginia award supporting the broader development of public-private R&D partnerships to build a coastal resilience and adaptation economy in Virginia.

"There are tremendous capacities at Virginia Tech that can benefit Virginia's coastal zones," said Michael Schwarz, director of the Virginia Seafood AREC in Hampton. "From the Virginia Tech side, Wendy will help connect campus researchers to opportunities for coastal resilience design, strategic planning, and building public-private partnerships with a focus on applied research." 

Based out of the Virginia Tech Coastal Collaborator in Hampton, Stout will link innovators from disciplines across Virginia Tech directly to the coast. The Coastal Collaborator, housed under the Virginia Tech Center for Coastal Studies and run through the Virginia Seafood AREC in Hampton, allows Virginia Tech researchers to expand programming in Virginia's coastal zone via access to office space, technical space, support, and logistics.

Having always called Southeastern Virginia home, Stout says she is excited to play an active role in building community around emerging resilience issues in coastal Virginia. She brings experience working with government, academia, and industry partners to her new post and has previously provided leadership for collaborative efforts to solve coastal resilience, climate, emergency management, and infrastructure challenges using her expertise in Geospatial Information Systems.

"I am especially looking forward to continuing Virginia Tech's productive collaboration with Virginia Sea Grant as I provide extension expertise for their Coastal Resilience and Adaptation Economy initiative to foster innovation and growth in Virginia's water economy," Stout said.

As the region adapts to coastal challenges locally, there is an opportunity to develop technologies, products, and services with global applications as the rest of the coast begins to experience additional sea level rise in the coming decades. Growing a water adaptation economy to address these issues is a priority for GO Virginia Region 6 and the Middle Peninsula, as well as GO Virginia Region 5 in Hampton Roads.

Through the joint Region 5-6 GO Virginia funded project, universities will provide collaborative R&D support to companies by assessing the impact of adaptation and resilience interventions on coastal properties, product performance validation, and product development to the Rural Coastal Community Resilience Challenge winners. These businesses offer services or products that address flood management, protection of buildings and property, and water quality management.

"Wendy will play a central role in nurturing the public-private partnerships and ­­developing applied resilience solutions through business accelerator services, collaborative R&D, and field testing along Virginia’s coast," said Troy Hartley, director of Virginia Sea Grant.

Before beginning her new role, Stout's professional career included federal and statewide program management and higher education leadership and instruction. She holds her Ph.D. in Instructional Design and Technology from Liberty University. She also previously earned a B.S. in Business Administration from Christopher Newport University and an M.S. in Career and Technical Education from Virginia Tech.