Fellow in Civil Engineering
My research covers offshore and coastal engineering. I'm studying the nonlinear physical processes that occur in extreme waves on the open sea via a combination of numerical simulations and analytical modelling. I'm also interested in the long-term statistics of storms: how bad is the 1 in 100-year storm, or the 1 in 10,000-year storm (which might arrive tomorrow!). Once the storm and extreme wave field are defined, the interaction of steep waves with structures is still an important design issue and is also an active area of our research. Offshore engineering draws together elements of meteorology, oceanography and mathematical physics as well as the areas of fluid and structural mechanics and reliability theory more familiar to most engineers.
I'm also interested in the history of structural engineering, which I work on while supervising a series of final year undergraduate projects. So far we have modelled the Wallis roof - a 17th century interlocking beam design, the dome of Florence cathedral and several bridge projects: Stephenson's Britannia railway bridge over the Menai Straits as an early example of a box girder structure, and also the early 20th century transporter bridges at Newport and Middlesborough. We have also examined the structural performance of the Mulberry harbours in summer storms in the Channel. These were deployed to support the D-Day landings in 1944. One was wrecked by a severe storm, the other less badly damaged and rapidly repaired. We think we have identified why the two harbours behaved differently. Modern engineers can learn a great deal from analysing the great structures created by earlier generations of engineers.