This event took place on Thursday 25 April 2019.

We are proud to present the Inaugural Professorial Lecture of Professor Alison Raby.

Historic lighthouses, seawalls and breakwaters are still standing after many years, having endured an incredible battering. There is no rest for them, as they are still required to warn mariners of hidden perils beneath the waves, or to protect critical infrastructure. However, even modern structures have famously failed in the face of tsunami waves of unimaginable size.

In the past, methods of designing structures in the coastal zone were empirical, with much of the understanding acquired by considering previous failures. More recently, our understanding of the nature of waves has encouraged a statistical approach, using long random wave realisations to identify worst responses. 

But could there be a better way, where design waves representative of extreme waves in particular locations could be used?

Alison Raby, who leads the COAST Engineering Research Group, will trace her coastal engineering research over a period of nearly 20 years in this insightful lecture. Beginning with the use of a design wave in the coastal zone, she will describe a series of experimental campaigns on model coastal structures and wave energy devices. The focus will then move from the lab to the field, with a presentation of structural responses to extreme wave loading, focusing particularly on rock lighthouses and tsunami defences.

You are welcome to join us for University of Plymouth's Inaugural Professorial Lecture series, which provide a milestone event in a professorial career. Through these we can promote and celebrate the academic reputation and achievements within their research.

This event is open to the public and free to attend. We recommend reserving your place using the above link to guarantee a seat.

Alison’s expertise places her at the forefront of work in coastal engineering, including considering the wave loading and structural response of iconic lighthouses. Her collaborations span the globe, with UK partnerships in London, Exeter and Oxford, to as far afield as Japan, Sri Lanka, Indonesia and Perth.

Her dedication has also resulted in leading the COAST Engineering Research Group, and to her appointment as Associate Head of the School of Engineering, with special responsibility for research.

Professor Kevin Jones
Executive Dean, Faculty of Science and Engineering

Professor Kevin Jones Dean of the Faculty of Science and Environment
Longships lighthouse in Cornwall

STORMLAMP – Structural behaviour Of Rock Mounted Lighthouses At the Mercy of imPulsive waves

STORMLAMP is characterising wave loading and structural performance of rock lighthouses, combining field measurements, laboratory studies and analytical and numerical investigations that will support management of lighthouses

Funder: EPSRC (2016–2020) | PI: Dr Alison Raby

Find out more about the STORMLAMP project

Speaking about the STORMLAMP project, Professor Alison Raby says:

“As coastal engineers we understand something about wave transformation on more typical structures like breakwaters. But on these cylindrical structures there is a real lack of information and knowledge. What we needed to understand was the wave transformation on the rocky reefs around the lighthouse and the response of the structure itself to that wave loading. That had not been done before.”

Extreme waves impacting on Chesil Beach in Dorset, UK, on February 05, 2014. Image credit: Richard Broome

ENFORCE: Extreme Responses using NewWave – Forces, Overtopping and Runup in Coastal Engineering

ENFORCE addresses the problem of the most extreme responses at the coast, whether this is wave run-up, overtopping volume or impulse on a section of sea defence works.

Funder: EPSRC (2013–2016) | PI: Dr Alison Raby

Find out more about the ENFORCE project

COAST Engineering Research Group

The COAST group is focused firmly on major problems facing society regarding rising sea levels, flood risk, and marine renewable energy which have been highlighted in recent government reviews. COAST contains internationally recognised specialists in: 

  • coastal engineering
  • renewable energy
  • flood risk and coastal protection
  • field experimentation
  • instrument design and laboratory modelling
  • numerical modelling 
  • theoretical analysis.

Ocean Wave Basin

Public Research Programme

The year-long programme of public events showcases our research across a spectrum of topics. It presents the Inaugural Professorial Lecture series which celebrates the achievements of our academics who have been awarded their professorship; providing a platform for which they can share insights into their esteemed research.
All are welcome to join us as our academics open the door to the intriguing world of research, inviting you to learn more about the fascinating work taking place across the University.
Roland Levinsky Building at night