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EPSRC Centre for Doctoral Training in Future Infrastructure and Built Environment


In January 2020, 3rd year PhD student Lucy Harris travelled  to Harbin, China for the 2020 SPHERIC (Smoothed Particle Hydrodynamics Engineering and Research International Community) Workshop. She gave a presentation there on the topic of “MPM simulation of wave interaction with a porous vertical wall”, based on the paper she had written with the support of her supervisor, Dr. Dongfang Liang, and with the help of another member of the Cambridge University MPM (Material Point Method) community, Dr. Xuanyu Zhao.

The paper explores how flood defences are becoming increasingly vital for protecting key infrastructures from inland and coastal flooding waves. Lucy states that waves are attenuated as they propagate through porous media, due to significant energy dissipation arising from turbulence generated by the fluid-structure interaction. She used MPM to examine the influence of two key design parameters for porous flood defences, the mean grain size of the particles forming the barrier, and the width of the barrier.

The workshop in Harbin gave me the opportunity to present my work to 140 international delegates who are experts in the field of smoothed particle hydrodynamics, and to hear their feedback on my results and suggestions for future work."

                                                                                       - Lucy Harris

Lucy attended almost 40 talks by other professionals in this field, learning huge amounts about the development and applications of the code, as well as the theory and mathematics behind other peoples’ results. It was also a fantastic opportunity to make contacts amongst the international community, with delegates attending from all across China, as well as from the UK, Spain and the United States.

Whilst in Harbin, Lucy had the opportunity to visit the famous Ice and Snow Festival – temperatures in Harbin in January are between -12°C and -30°C, so the beautiful ice sculptures that line the streets do not melt, and are lit up in all sorts of colours at night.