The Research Team

The research team for the downburst simulation project includes wind engineering and CFD experts from the University of Strathclyde’s Department of Mechanical Engineering and the University of Birmingham’s School of Civil Engineering. These are supported by visiting researchers who are themselves experts in the field, bringing internationally recognised expertise in the collection and analysis of full-scale downburst data, and also in wind loading on structures.

The team consists of:

Professor Mark Sterling

(University of Birmingham)

Professor Sterling has research interests in Fluid Dynamics, Wind Engineering and Water Engineering. His research in Water Engineering is mainly directed towards understanding and evaluating the conveyance capacity of rivers, while within the field of Wind Engineering he has carved out two distinct areas of research, namely the effect of wind on plants and the effects of extreme wind events. He has been involved in a variety of research council and industrial funded projects, and has published over 90 journal/conference publications.

He teaches at both undergraduate and postgraduate level on a variety of subjects including Structural Engineering, Water Engineering and Environmental Fluid Mechanics.

Dr Ian Taylor

(University of Strathclyde)

Dr Taylor has significant experience in the computational modelling unsteady aerodynamic processes and their effect on the dynamics of engineering structures. He is interested in modelling the effect of atmospheric and self-induced fluid dynamic disturbances on the subsequent aero-elastic and flight dynamic response of aircraft and spacecraft. He is also using his expertise to tackle some particularly difficult fluid dynamic effects that arise within the advanced propulsion systems that will be used by future high-speed aircraft. Dr Taylor obtained his PhD from Department of Aerospace Engineering, University of Glasgow. He has also worked for Rolls-Royce plc as a Aero-thermal Technologist in the Turbine Engineering Research Group where he worked on developing new CFD methods for predicting heat transfer and turbine film cooling performance on stationary and rotating blades in large gas turbine engines.

Professor Chris Letchford

(Visiting Researcher, Rensselaer University)

Professor Letchford received a first class honours degree and University Medal in Civil Engineering from the University of Queensland in 1980. After working for nearly 4 years with Ove Arup & Partners in Australia and the UK, he moved to Oxford University to complete a doctorate in Wind Engineering. Returning to Australia, Letchford rose to the rank of Reader at the University of Queensland and had several Fellowships to study in the US and the UK during that period. In 1999 he moved to Texas Tech University as a research professor and eventually spent 8 years there, rising to the Senior Associate Dean position of the College of Engineering. Working with the Wind Science & Engineering Centre as Associate Director, Letchford helped managed an annual research budget of close to $1M. He was responsible for developing physical model simulations of thunderstorm downburst and tornados based on the unique full scale data collected at the Texas Tech field facilities. He received several awards at Texas Tech including Outstanding Researcher (2004) and President’s Award for teaching (2005). Letchford returned to Australia in 2007 to Head the School of Engineering at the University of Tasmania, where he affected a sea change in morale and outlook for that school. In 2011 he returned to the US to Head the School of Civil & Environmental Engineering at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute which recently celebrated 175 years of offering degrees in civil engineering.

Letchford has been active professionally, serving on the Standards Australia committee responsible for the ANZ wind load code from the late 1980’s through to the present day. He also represented ASCE on the International Standard committee responsible for ISO4354, the international wind load code. He served as Chairman of the Australian Wind Engineering Society (AWES) from 95-99 and 08-09, during which time he chaired the 4th Asia Pacific Symposium on Wind Engineering and several AWES Workshops. Letchford was also a member of the Executive of the American Association for Wind Engineering. He has been a regular attendee at International Conferences on Wind Engineering since 1991, keynoting at the 5th Asia-Pacific (2001) and the 5th European & African (2009) Wind Engineering Conferences. He also served as Technical and Scientific Chair for the 11th International Conference on Wind Engineering in 2003. In Tasmania, Letchford chaired the Centre for Engineering Leadership and Management which promoted leadership building activities for engineers entering management positions.

Letchford has published over 150 referred journal and conference papers, graduated over 50 Masters & Doctoral students and attracted nearly $4M in research funding.

Dr John Schroeder

(Visiting Researcher, Texas Tech University)

Dr Schroeder is a Professor of Atmospheric Science and the Director of the National Wind Institute at Texas Tech University. Schroeder has a multidisciplinary background with a mixture of science and engineering training. Schroeder’s research has focused on wind science, i.e., relating the mesoscale, microscale and turbulence scales of the lower atmosphere to the engineering community. Schroeder has built numerous atmospheric observational technologies, and conducted several significant field projects to collect valuable near-surface wind speed data useful to the engineering community. Through the use of mobile tower, mesonet and radar technologies Schroeder has collected valuable datasets from thunderstorms, low-level jets, hurricanes and other atmospheric phenomena for over a decade. He is well published in both the science and engineering peer-reviewed literature and has given numerous presentations around the world on related subjects. He has published 90 research papers of direct relevance to the key issues addressed in the current project and has a research portfolio of the order of £8m.

Dr Mike Jesson

(University of Birmingham)

Dr Jesson is a Research Fellow at the University of Birmingham. Mike obtained a first class honours degree in Mathematical Physics from the University of Nottingham, following this with 10 years in industry as a software engineer before taking an MSc in Water Resources Management and Technology at the University of Birmingham. Following his Master’s, Mike obtained his PhD investigating turbulence in heterogeneous open-channel flow and applying his findings to the Shiono-Knight Method of river flow modelling.

Matthew Haines

(University of Birmingham)

Matthew is a PhD student at the University of Birmingham, where he is measuring the interference effects between buildings subject to downburst winds.