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Alan joined the University of Dundee as a Senior Lecturer in January 2018, having previously been an Assistant and Associate Professor in Civil Engineering at Heriot Watt University (2010-2017). Prior to this, he held a Postdoctoral Research Associate position at the University of Dundee (Civil Engineering) between 2001 and 2010 and was a graduate engineer in the Babtie Group (now Jacobs) between 1999 and 2001. He gained his BEng and PhD degrees in Civil Engineering at the University of Glasgow in 1995 and 2002, respectively.

His expertise includes the experimental and analytical modelling of environmental fluid mechanics problems, cohesive and non-cohesive sediment transport processes, and geophysical flows. His research interests fall into the following main areas:

  1. Flow-sediment interactions at multiple scales
  2. Stratified and buoyancy driven flows
  3. Environmental hydraulics associated with aquaculture
  4. Geophysical fluid dynamics and geohazards

This research has been supported by funding from the UK research councils, the European Union, The Royal Society, The Carnegie Trust and industry to a total value of £1M. In 2010, he was awarded the Karl Emil Hilgard Hydraulic Prize (American Society of Civil Engineers) for his paper “Deposition from particle-laden, plane, turbulent buoyant jets” [Journal of Hydraulic Engineering, 134(8), 1110-1122]. He has delivered invited seminars at international research institutes including Laboratoire des Écoulements Géophysiques et Industriels (LEGI, Grenoble); Stockholm University (Meteorological Institute); University of Bergen (Department of Mathematics) and Tallinn University of Technology (Institute of Mechanics) and has participated in international research projects in Trondheim, Grenoble and Hull under various EU Hydralab initiatives.

Academic background

  • 2002    PhD in Hydraulic Engineering – Sediment Transport Dynamics, University of Glasgow
  • Thesis title: An experimental study of the motion of fine sand particles in turbulent open channel shear flows over porous bed conditions
  • 1995    BEng(Hons) (First Class) in Civil Engineering, University of Glasgow 


  • 2018-present    Senior Lecturer in Environmental Fluid Mechanics, University of Dundee
  • 2014-2018    Associate Professor in Sediment Processes, Heriot Watt University
  • 2010-2014    Assistant Professor in Sediment Processes, Heriot Watt University
  • 2001-2010    Postdoctoral Research Associate (Civil Engineering), University of Dundee
  • 1999-2001    Consultant Engineer, Babtie Group (now Jacobs), Glasgow

Professional memberships

  • International Association for Hydro-Environment Engineering and Research (IAHR).
  • Fellow of the Higher Education Academy.

Professional roles

  • Elected member of Leadership Team of the International Association for Hydro-Environment Engineering and Research (IAHR) (Europe Regional Division).
  • Member of the Future Leaders Fellowship College (UKRI).
  • Associate member of the EPSRC Peer Review College.
  • Associate editor on Water Management (Proceeding of the Institution of Civil Engineers) (2013-2018).
  • Academic member on the Commonwealth Scholarship Commission panel of advisers.


Flow-sediment interactions

Alan’s research in this area dates back to his PhD on the settling and deposition of fine sediment particles in turbulent gravel bed rivers. His interests have subsequently expanded to include: (i) mixed (sand-mud) sediment dynamics and morphodynamics in estuaries and coastal waters; (ii) particle-laden jets and plumes; and (iii) graded sediment transport under unsteady hydrograph flows. This work has mainly been funded through UKRI (EPSRC) grants, industry supported projects, and PhD studentships.

Key projects:

  • Minimising the environmental impact of blasted rock disposal in a Norwegian fjord. Statens vegvesen (The Norwegian Public Roads Administration) funded project.
  • The influence of sand-mud interactions on mixed sediment dynamics. EPSRC Research Grant EP/K015117/1.
  • Sand-mud morphodynamics under combined tidal and wave actions. EPSRC Research Grant EP/D041821/1.

Stratified and buoyancy driven flows

Ongoing research interests in this area include: (i) hydrodynamics and mixing in stratified exchange flows in estuaries, fjords and sea straits; and (ii) turbulent buoyant jets and plumes associated with marine wastewater discharges. Alan’s work in these, and related, topics has been funded through various EU Hydralab initiatives (granting access to large scale research facilities in Europe) and funded PhD studentships.

Key projects:

  • The dynamics of bi-directional exchange flows: implication for morphodynamic change in estuaries and sea straits. EU Hydralab+ funded project at LEGI, Grenoble.
  • Internal mixing and near-bed dynamics induced by restricted, stratified, exchange flows. EU Hydralab IV funded project at LEGI, Grenoble.
  • Quantifying Uncertainties Associated with Source Influences on particle-laden buoyant PLUMES (QUASI-PLUMES). EPSRC DTA studentship.

Environmental hydraulics associated with aquaculture

Recent research in this area has focus on (i) the physical characterisation of organic particulate wastes derived from aquaculture fish pens; and (ii) the effects of fish cage panels on near-field flow turbulence and mass transport processes. These topics have been supported by industry-funding, in collaboration with the Scottish Association for Marine Science (SAMS), and by a bilateral international exchange with Beijing Normal University.

Key projects:

  • ExPAND in2 the future: realising the full potential of the Scottish Salmon Industry. Sustainable Aquaculture Innovation Centre/Salmon Scotland funded project.
  • Experimental and numerical study on the wake and near-field mixing characteristics of fish cages. Funded through The Royal Society International Exchanges Cost Share (China) scheme.

Geophysical fluid dynamics and geohazards

Alan’s research in this area is focused on (i) the effects of channel topography and the Earth’s rotation on deepwater oceanic gravity currents and overflows; and (ii) the structure of submarine turbidity currents and their deposits. These areas have been supported by project funding from EU Hydralab initiatives and funded PhD studentships.

Key projects:

  • New insight into the internal structure of turbidites from physical modelling of relevant erosion and deposition processes during their formation. Ongoing PhD project funded through NERC CDT in Oil and Gas.
  • Behaviour of dense gravity currents in a rotating channel. EU Hydralab III initiative funded project at NTNU, Trondheim.
View full research profile and publications

PhD Projects

Principal supervisor

Second supervisor