Dr David Soper

Dr David Soper

Department of Civil Engineering
Lecturer in Vehicle Aerodynamics

Contact details

Department of Civil Engineering
School of Engineering
University of Birmingham
B15 2TT

Dr David Soper is a Lecturer in Vehicle Aerodynamics in the School of Engineering and Birmingham Centre for Railway Research and Education. His research interests lie in the field of applied fluid dynamics and engineering applications through vehicle aerodynamics.

He has particular expertise in experimental investigations both at model and full scale. He is the facility manager and operator of the University of Birmingham moving model TRansient Aerodynamic INvestigation (TRAIN) rig for vehicle aerodynamic research.

David completed his PhD in the field of freight train aerodynamics before becoming a Research Fellow at the University of Birmingham, carrying out a range of academic and consultancy projects at the TRAIN rig. He has been an investigator on projects for EPSRC, BBSRC and industry funded work for many organisations including Arup, Network Rail High Speed, Railway Accident Investigation Branch, Network Rail, Bombardier.

This work has include complex full and model scale measurement campaigns supporting high profile project, such as the Twyford aerodynamic incident involving a wheelchair, Crossrail and HS2. Further information can be found at TRAIN RIG LINK.  

The results of this work have been published in over 10 research papers in scientific journals and a similar number of conference presentations.


  • PhD in Civil Engineering 2014
  • MSc in Theoretical and Applied Fluid Dynamics 2010
  • BSc (Hons) Mathematics 2009


Dr Soper read Mathematics and Theoretical and Applied Fluid Dynamics at the University of Manchester before undertaking a PhD in Civil Engineering at the University of Birmingham. His novel PhD used the TRAIN rig to look at the aerodynamics of a container freight train, and for the first time was able to characterise key aerodynamic flow characteristics of freight trains.

After successfully completing this work he remained at the University of Birmingham as a Research Fellow for 3 years working on a wide range of multi-disciplinary projects funded by EPRSC and BBSRC, as well as industrial funded projects including the aerodynamic incident at Twyford Station in which a wheelchair was drawn into the side of a passing freight train.

Dr Soper took up his position as a lecturer in the School of Engineering in 2017. Since taking on this role he has been involved in a wide range of research and teaching activities. He has continued to work on a range of purely academic research in the field of wind engineering and vehicles aerodynamics, as well as industry funded projects.

Postgraduate supervision

Dr Soper is interested in supervising doctorial research students in the following areas:

  • Railway vehicle aerodynamics
  • Wind effects on vehicles
  • The interaction between moving vehicles and infrastructure
  • Wind effects on crops and trees
  • Novel experimental techniques to measure turbulent flows

 His current PhD students are:

  • Panos Illiadis
  • Anam Hashimi
  • Xiadong


Recent publications


Marshall, SD, Snape, K, Soper, D, Sterling, M & Gillmeier, S 2024, 'The aerodynamic performance of a platoon of lorries in close-proximity during an overtaking manoeuvre', Frontiers in Future Transportation, vol. 5, 1356539. https://doi.org/10.3389/ffutr.2024.1356539

Liu, Z, Soper, D, Hemida, H & Chen, B 2023, 'A study of the influence of separation bubbles around a generic freight train on pressure waves inside tunnels using 1D and 3D numerical methods', Journal of Wind Engineering and Industrial Aerodynamics, vol. 240, 105461. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jweia.2023.105461

Monka, A, Fraga, B, Soper, D & Hemida, H 2023, 'Influence of thermal stratification on the transport of polydispersed expiratory particles', Physics of Fluids, vol. 35, no. 10, 103304. https://doi.org/10.1063/5.0163971

Li, R, Soper, D, Xu, J, Jia, Y, Niu, J & Hemida, H 2022, 'A Separated-Flow Model for 2-D Viscous Flows around Bluff Bodies Using the Panel Method', Applied Sciences (Switzerland), vol. 12, no. 19, 9652. https://doi.org/10.3390/app12199652

Olaby, O, Hamadache, M, Soper, D, Winship, P & Dixon, R 2022, 'Development of a novel railway positioning system using RFID technology', Sensors, vol. 22, no. 6, 2401. https://doi.org/10.3390/s22062401

Liu, Z, Zhou, D, Soper, D, Chen, G, Hemida, H, Guo, Z & Li, X 2022, 'Numerical investigation of the slipstream characteristics of a maglev train in a tunnel', Proceedings of the Institution of Mechanical Engineers, Part F: Journal of Rail and Rapid Transit. https://doi.org/10.1177/09544097221100658

He, M, Huo, SS, Hemida, H, Soper, D, Baker, C & Sterling, M 2022, 'The Flow Around a Lorry Platoon Subject to a Crosswind—a Detached Eddy Simulation', Frontiers in Future Transportation, vol. 3, 901204. https://doi.org/10.3389/ffutr.2022.901204

Zhang, X, Robertson, F, Soper, D, Hemida, H & Huang, S-D 2021, 'Investigation of the aerodynamic phenomena associated with a long lorry platoon running through a tunnel', Journal of Wind Engineering and Industrial Aerodynamics, vol. 210, 104514. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jweia.2020.104514

Robertson, F, Soper, D & Baker, C 2021, 'Unsteady aerodynamic forces on long lorry platoons', Journal of Wind Engineering and Industrial Aerodynamics, vol. 209, 104481. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jweia.2020.104481

Joseph, G, Mohammadi, M, Sterling, M, Baker, C, Gillmeier, S, Soper, D, Jesson, M, Blackburn, A, Whyatt, JD, Gullick, D, Berry, P, Hatley, D, Finnan, J & Murray, J 2020, 'Determination of crop dynamic and aerodynamic parameters for lodging prediction', Journal of Wind Engineering and Industrial Aerodynamics, vol. 202, 104169. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jweia.2020.104169

Soper, D & Baker, C 2019, 'A full scale experimental investigation of passenger and freight train aerodynamics', Proceedings of the Institution of Mechanical Engineers, Part F: Journal of Rail and Rapid Transit. https://doi.org/10.1177/0954409719844431

Soper, D, Gillmeier, S, Baker, C, Morgan, T & Vojnovic, L 2019, 'Aerodynamic forces on railway acoustic barriers', Journal of Wind Engineering and Industrial Aerodynamics, vol. 191, pp. 266-278. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jweia.2019.06.009

Robertson, F, Bourriez, F, He, M, Soper, D, Baker, C, Hemida, H & Sterling, M 2019, 'An experimental investigation of the aerodynamic flows created by lorries travelling in a long platoon', Journal of Wind Engineering and Industrial Aerodynamics, vol. 193, 103966. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jweia.2019.103966

He, M, Huo, R, Hemida, H, Bourriez, F, Robertson, F, Soper, D, Sterling, M & Baker, C 2019, 'Detached eddy simulation of a closely running lorry platoon', Journal of Wind Engineering and Industrial Aerodynamics, vol. 193, 103956. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jweia.2019.103956

Iliadis, P, Soper, D, Baker, C & Hemida, H 2019, 'Experimental investigation of the aerodynamics of a freight train passing through a tunnel using a moving model', Proceedings of the Institution of Mechanical Engineers, Part F: Journal of Rail and Rapid Transit, vol. 233, no. 8, pp. 857-868. https://doi.org/10.1177/0954409718811736

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