Alex Messina

Alex Messina

Geography Research Fellow

Department of Geography
San Diego State University
San Diego, CA 92182-4493

My PhD work focused on determining the source and fate of terrigenous sediment in a linked watershed-coral reef system in American Samoa. I currently work as a Senior Scientist for Wood Environment and Infrastructure Solutions, focused on environmental monitoring of surface and stormwater for local and federal government, private, and non-profit clients. My current work focuses on monitoring water quality and quantity in MS4 systems, natural creeks and rivers, and estuaries, as well as adapting and developing new technologies and methods to suit our clients’ unique needs. In collaboration with Trent Biggs in the Geography Department we continue to publish on data and methods developed in my PhD research and on current work with local municipal clients. This has provided opportunities for student research and exposure to the field of environmental consulting.

  • Ph.D., San Diego State University / University of California, Santa Barbara , 2016
  • M.S., San Diego State University, 2011
  • B.A., Geography; Film and Media Studies University of California, Santa Barbara, 2008


Storlazzi, C., Cheriton, O., Messina, A., Biggs, T. (2018). “Meteorologic, oceanographic, and geomorphic controls on circulation and residence time in a coral reef-lined embayment: Faga'alu Bay, American Samoa.” Coral Reefs

Biggs, T. W., Marshall, M., Messina, A. (2016). Mapping daily and seasonal evapotranspiration from irrigated crops using global climate grids and satellite imagery: Automation and methods comparison. Water Resources Research, 52(9), 7311-7326.

Messina, A., Biggs, T., (2016). “Contributions of human activities to suspended sediment yield during storm events from a small, steep, tropical watershed.” Journal of Hydrology, 538 (2016): 726-742.

Biggs, T. W., Lai, C.-T., Chandan, P., Lee, R. M., Messina, A., Lesher, R. S., & Khatoon, N. (2015). “Evaporative fractions and elevation effects on stable isotopes of high elevation lakes and streams in arid western Himalaya”. Journal of Hydrology, 522, 239–249.

Book Chapters

Biggs, T., Petropoulos, G., Velpuri, N., Marshall, M., Glenn, E., Nagler, P., Messina, A. (2016) Remote Sensing of Evapotranspiration from Cropland. In Remote Sensing of Water Resources, Disasters, and Urban Studies (1st ed., pp. 200-250). London: Taylor & Francis.

Published Reports

S. Holst Rice, A. Messina, T. Biggs, B. Vargas-Angel, and D. Whitall (2016). Baseline Assessment of Faga'alu Watershed: A Ridge to Reef Assessment in Support of Sediment Reduction Activities and Future Evaluation of their Success. Silver Spring, MD: NOAA Coral Reef Conservation Program. NOAA Technical Memorandum CRCP 23. 44 pp. DOI: 10.7289/V5BK19C3

Biggs, T., Messina, A., Waddell, J. (2016). Sediment accumulation and composition on coral reefs in Faga'alu Bay, American Samoa Final Report. NOAA Coral Reef Conservation Program Report.

Theses and Dissertations

Messina, A.T., 2016. Terrigenous Sediment Dynamics in a Small, Tropical Fringing-Reef Embayment, American Samoa. Dissertation for San Diego State University/UC Santa Barbara Joint-Doctoral Program, Department of Geography.

Messina, A.T., 2013. Mapping Drought in the Krishna Basin with Remote Sensing. Masters of Science Thesis for San Diego State University, Department of Geography.