Kelly Burks-Copes, PhD
Chief, Program Support Branch, Mega Project Division
U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Galveston District
Dr. Kelly Burks-Copes currently serves as the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) Galveston District’s interim Program Manager for the recently-authorized Coastal Texas Protection and Restoration Project – a $34-billion megaproject which will provide coastal risk reduction and ecosystem restoration along a significant portion of the Texas coast. The megaproject represents the largest- ever undertaken Civil Works project by USACE in its nearly 250- year history.
Additionally, Dr. Burks-Copes serves as the Chief of the Programs Support Branch, in the District’s Mega Projects Division. In this capacity, she manages the schedule, budget and public outreach for the Sabine Pass to Galveston Bay Program (S2G), a $4.4B Civil Works program focused on increasing the storm resiliency of the upper Texas coast.
With nearly 30 years of experience in Civil Works and military construction projects, Dr. Burks-Copes specializes in hybridizing engineering and environmental strategies to tackle tough coastal storm risk management, flood damage reduction, navigation, and ecosystem restoration problems.
Early in her career, she worked for the USACE’s Engineer Research and Development Center (ERDC), where she developed practical ways to transfer research and technology to the field. Most notably, she provided R&D support for post-Superstorm Sandy recovery initiatives for the North Atlantic Coastal Comprehensive Study (NACCS) and served as the Project Manager for a Strategic Environmental R&D Program project quantifying coastal storm and sea level rise risks to Naval Station Norfolk.
Dr. Burks-Copes’ awards include two Army Civilian Service Awards, an Army Superior Civilian Service Award, five individual Commander’s awards, five R&D Achievement awards, and the Outstanding Planning Achievement Award for the NACCS study in 2014. She is also a graduate of the Eckerd College Leadership Development Program.
She holds both a Bachelor and Master of Science in Biology and earned her Doctorate in 2015 by double-majoring in Interdisciplinary Ecology and Urban/Rural planning from the University of Florida.
Dr. Burks-Copes was also an instructor for the Association of Climate Change Officers, teaching courses on sea level rise, coastal infrastructure, and climate hazards. She has written more than 20 peer- reviewed reports and papers on ecosystem restoration, engineering with nature, and climate change topics.