Dr Dominic Van der A
Dr Dominic Van der A

Dr Dominic Van der A

MSc, PhD



Fraser Noble Building (room 355)

School of Engineering

University of Aberdeen

Aberdeen, AB24 3UE, UK


My main study area is coastal engineering, with a particular focus on the hydrodynamics and sediment transport processes that occur near the seabed as a result of waves. In 2005 I obtained my MSc degree in Civil Engineering from the University of Twente in my home country The Netherlands. Then I moved to Scotland where in 2010 I completed my PhD here in the School of Engineering at the University of Aberdeen as part of the EPSRC funded SANTOSS project. I followed this up with Research Fellowship in Aberdeen as part of the EPSRC funded SINBAD project in which I was a co-investigor. Since 2015 I am a lecturer in the School of Engineering where I continue my research in coastal engineering, while further expanding my fluid mechanics research interests into areas such as stratified shear flows, wave-structure interactions and most recently into the interaction between hydrodynamics and coastal vegetation. I am an experimentalist at heart and do most of my research in our own Fluid Mechanics laboratory using state-of-the art optical and acoustic equipment to measure the fundamental physical processes. Science doesn’t have any borders, so I also regularly go abroad to do my research in large-scale research facilities in Spain, Germany and the Netherlands. The main aim of my research is to improve our understanding of fundamental processes in the coastal zone, and to develop new and more efficient tools that engineers can use, particularly when addressing the environmental challenges of climate change and sea level rise.

Memberships and Affiliations

Internal Memberships
  • School of Engineering outreach team member
  • Physical Sciences & Engineering ethics board member 
External Memberships
  • Reviewer for: Journal of Geophysical Research; Coastal Engineering; Journal of Fluid Mechanics; Geophysical Research Letters; Continental Shelf Research; Water Resources Research; Journal of Hydraulic Engineering; Journal of Hydraulic Research; Journal of Offshore Mechanics and Arctic Engineering; KSCE Journal of Civil Engineering; International Journal of Sediment Research; Ocean Dynamics; 37th IAHR World Conference
  • Organizer 9th UK Young Coastal Scientists and Engineers Conference (YCSEC), Aberdeen. In collaboration with Marine Scotland Science.
  • Member of International Association of Hydraulic Research
  • Member Scientific Committee of the Coastlab18 Conference, Santander, Spain
  • Steering Group Member MASTS Numerical and Experimental Hydrodynamic Modelling Forum
  • Member International Scientific Committee of The 9th International Symposium on Environmental Hydraulics

Research Overview

Oscillatory boundary layer flows, sediment transport processess, breaking wave hydrodynamics, beach morphodynamics, wave-structure interaction, stratified shear flows, wave-vegetation interactions

Measurement techniques I often use include optical techniques such as Particle Image Velocimetry, Laser Doppler Anemometry for detailed flow velocity and turbulence measurements and acoustic techniques (ACVP, ADV, ABS) to obtain velocities and sediment contrations in sediment-laden flows and Conductivity techniques to measure high sand concentrations within the sheet flow layer. 

Current Research

Dynamics and transport of sediment mixtures under waves. PhD student Davide Boscia [2017 - present, with Tom O'Donoghue]

Vibration based structural health monitoring and damage detection in subsea risers. PhD student Bugra Bayik [2017 - present, with Piotr Omenzetter (PI) and Ekaterina Pavlovskaia]

Oscillatory flow hydrodynamics over vegetated beds. PhD student Otto Neshamar [2017 - present, with Tom O'Donoghue]

Cross-shore wave hydrondynamics on a vegetated slope. PhD student Muhammad Yunan Fahmi [2017 - present, with Tom O'Donoghue (PI)]

Experimental and numerical study of turbulent oscillatory flow over rough beds. PhD student Danny Dunbar [2018 - present, with Tom O'Donoghue and Pietro Scandura (Catania)]

The disbelief of suspension: extracting the truth from acoustic backscatter. PhD student Andrew Smerdon [2019 - present, with Tom O'Donoghue]


Besides the above research projects in which most of the hard work is done by my PhD students, I am still completing work from the SINBAD and the HYBRID projects. HYBRID is a H2020 Hydralab+ funded Transnational Access project involving colleagues from the University of Liverpool, University of Twente (Netherlands), DTU (Denmark), University of Hull, Grenoble University (France), CNRS-LEGI (France), University of Catania (Italy), University of Messina (Italy) and Utrecht University (Netherands). The collaborative nature of this experiment is summarised in the picture below, which shows the "Transnational" measurement frame of this experiment!

Transnational measurement frame @UPC Barcelona Hydralab+

Funding and Grants

  • Royal Society Research Grant:  High-resolution force measurement for wave-vegetation interaction research. 2019-2020. PI. £19.9k
  • Carnegie Trust Research Incentive Grant: Sediment transport in vegetated canopies under full-scale wave conditions. 2018-2019. PI. £7.1k
  • HYBRID: Hydrodynamics under breaking waves over a fixed bed 2017. EU-H2020 Hydralab+. Funding for access to large-scale CIEM wave flume, Polytechnic University of Catalunya, Barcelona, Spain. Co-PI. 
  • SINBAD: Sand transport under irregular and breaking wave conditions. 2012-2016, EPSRC, £606k. Researcher Co-Investigator with Prof T. O'Donoghue (PI). Collaboration with the University of Liverpool, the University of Twente, The Netherlands and several UK and Dutch industrial partners. Dutch side funded by STW, The Netherlands.
  • GLOBEX: Gently sloping beach experiments 2012. EU-FP7 Hydralab IV. Funding for access to Scheldt flume, Deltares, The Netherlands. Co-I.
  • SandTPro: Measurements of Sand Transport and its underlying processes under large-scale breaking waves. EU-FP7 Hydralab IV. Funding for access to large-scale CIEM wave flume, Polytechnic University of Catalunya, Barcelona, Spain. Co-I.
  • British Council Treaty of Windsor Joint Research Programme 2010, £1000. Collaboration with T. Abreu, Polytechnic Institute of Viseu, Portugal.
  • Royal Academy of Engineering Travel Award 2010, £700
  • Royal Academy of Engineering Travel Award 2009, £600
  • TRANSKEW: Measurements of sand transport induced by skewed waves and currents. 2007. EU-FP6 Hydralab III. Funding for access to LOWT, Deltares, The Netherlands. Co-I.

Teaching Responsibilities

EG1010 CAD and Communication in Engineering practice

EG2501 Design and Computing in Engineering practice

EG501V Computational Fluid Dynamics

EG55F8/G8 Flow Assurance 

EG4013/14 MEng/BEng Thesis supervisor Civil/Mechanical Engineering

EG59F9/08 Thesis supervisor, MSc in Subsea Engineering, and MSc Oil & Gas Engineering 


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