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University of Cambridge

University of Cambridge
Department of Engineering

Geotechnical and Environmental Research Group  

The Department of Engineering is the largest department in the University of Cambridge and one of the leading centres of engineering in the world. Renowned for both its teaching and research, the Department's aim is to address the world's most pressing challenges with science and technology. To achieve this aim the Department collaborates with other disciplines, institutions, companies and entrepreneurs. Cross-linking themes are fostering new connections. A major development programme within the Department's strategy will create new academic posts, studentships and a complete regeneration of the central site. This last project will bring the site to a standard commensurate with the Department's international standing, make its teaching and research transparent to all, and embody its latest ideas in design, materials and sustainability. The Department's teaching, research and infrastructure will together demonstrate the value of engineering excellence by translating intellectual achievement into practical progressive action of benefit to all.

The Department of Engineering seeks to benefit society by creating world-leading engineering knowledge that fosters sustainability, prosperity and resilience. It shares this knowledge and transfer it to industry through publication, teaching, collaboration, licensing and entrepreneurship. By integrating engineering disciplines in one department, it can address major challenges and develop complete solutions, serving as an international hub for engineering excellence.

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Dr. Dongfang Liang


Dongfang Liang graduated in hydraulic engineering from Tsinghua University in China (BEng in 1998 and PhD in 2003). His PhD project involved the measurement of shallow water flows using the large-scale PIV (Particle Image Velocimetry) and PLIF (Planar Laser Induced Fluorescence) techniques. When working in the University of Western Australia and Cardiff University as research associates, he widened his research by concentrating on numerical modelling of the scouring phenomena around offshore foundations and the flash flooding disaster in urban environments. He is now a University Senior Lecturer in Civil Engineering Fluid Mechanics, and is also a Fellow and Director of Studies of Churchill College.

Dr Liang's current research topics include flood risk management, water/soil/structure interaction and hydro-environment. He has worked on shallow water flows, rainfall-runoff processes, ocean wave propagation and runup, scour and liquefaction around offshore structures, seepage and overtopping induced embankment failure, flow-like landslides, turbulent mixing and water pollution.

Xuanyu Zhao

PhD student

Xuanyu is a PhD student at the Engineering Department at the University of Cambridge and a member of Darwin College. Upon completion of his BEng in Hydraulic Engineering in China, Xuanyu was awarded the Marie-Curie fellowship from the European Commission to conduct his doctoral research at the Geotechnical Research Group in Cambridge. His research involves developing an advanced numerical software for modelling soil-water interactions, of which the understanding is crucial within the field of hydraulic engineering.

During his time in Cambridge, Xuanyu also received a secondment to Deltares, a major Dutch research institute that enjoys high international prestige for eighteen months. Xuanyu is supervised by Dr. Dongfang Liang.

Lucy Harris

PhD student

Lucy Harris is a PhD student supervised by Dr. Dongfang Liang, from the University of Cambridge. She attained her MEng degree at the University of Oxford in 2015, working on an experimental master’s project on fluid flow through porous media with Dr. Chris Macminn. She obtained an MRes degree from the University of Cambridge in 2017 with the Future Infrastructure and the Built Environment EPSRC funded CDT program, working on a project investigating the dynamics and mixing of density currents, also with Dr. Dongfang Liang from the Engineering Department, and with input from Dr. John Taylor from the Department of Applied Maths and Theoretical Physics. She is currently using the Anura3D MPM code to explore the effect of changing grain size on wave run up height in the case of solitary wave impact on porous seawalls.