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The fluid mechanics of nature-based solutions for coastal protection

Project Description

A fully-funded PhD scholarship is available in the Oceans Graduate School at the University of Western Australia within the Faculty of Engineering & Mathematical Sciences.

Research project

A common feature of many coastal systems is the presence of large and complex ecosystems on the seafloor formed by a wide range of different marine communities, including seagrasses, corals, kelps and mangroves.

This project will develop a new framework to accurately predict how coastal ecosystems contribute to mitigating against coastal flooding. Using a combination of laboratory experiments in a state-of-the-art large-scale (54 m) wave flume and numerical modelling, the project will develop novel theory and models to describe the wave-ecosystem interaction and its role in attenuating extreme water levels at coastlines. This will significantly improve predictions of how coastal ecosystems support the resilience of coastal communities and allow new design guidelines for nature-based coastal defence projects.

We are seeking a PhD student to work on this project funded by the Australian Research Council (starting in the first half of 2020) under the supervision of Ryan Lowe and Marco Ghisalberti, in collaboration with researchers at MIT and Deltares.


This position includes an annual tax-free stipend of $30,000.

Research Environment

UWA is ranked 7th in the world (1st in Australia) for Marine & Ocean Engineering (ARWU 2019). It is also home to the UWA Oceans Institute, a world-recognised hub for cutting-edge marine research. UWA will provide an environment of collaboration and multidisciplinary excellence to optimize the outcomes of this project.


Applications are invited from both Australian and international students. Applicants should possess an Honours or Masters degree (or equivalent) in environmental fluid mechanics, coastal engineering or related fields (including marine/environmental science, environmental/civil/mechanical/ocean engineering and physics).

Please send a 1-page cover letter describing your research interests and experience, a CV and the names of two referees before Friday, January 31, 2020 to both:

Prof. Ryan Lowe email:
Dr. Marco Ghisalberti email:

Funding Notes

This scholarships form part of a $550,000 Australian Research Council Discovery project (2020-2022).

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