Dr Deborah Villarroel-Lamb has just arrived in London on a mission – to model and predict coastal erosion, particularly for her home region in the Caribbean. A lecturer at the University of the West Indies in Trinidad, Deborah has won a prestigious Newton International Fellowship to enable her to work for two years with coastal erosion specialists at University College London.

The Newton Fellowships, administered by The Royal Academy of Engineering, the Royal Society and the British Academy, aim to bring the research stars of the future from around the world to work with top UK groups to build new global research collaborations.

Civil engineer Deborah developed a coastal erosion model during her PhD research that predicts the short-term response of the beach in both stormy waves and calmer seas, imitating natural conditions. In its fullest context, the aim of the model is to simulate the long-term behaviour of beaches and provide an effective tool for coastal zone management. Unlike other similar models, it can demonstrate the effect of storm or hurricane conditions and the effects of sea level rise.

Deborah is one of the first of the Newton Fellows to arrive in the UK and has already started work with Richard Simons, Professor of Fluid Mechanics and Coastal Engineering at UCL.

“Much of the research we are doing in the Coastal Group at UCL relates closely to Dr Villarroel-Lamb’s interests and her new ideas will stimulate our work,” says Professor Simons. “We are developing and applying novel computer models of coastal processes, which complements our established track record in detailed laboratory investigation of various flow phenomena.”

Deborah is keen to use parallel processing to help her model run faster using UCL’s high performance computing facilities. She also wants to verify its predictions, particularly long-term ones, using physical modelling and comparison with other models, for which her colleagues in London will be invaluable.

“Trinidad and Tobago’s economy is driven mainly by industrial exports of oil and natural gas,” says Deborah, “but there is now a real drive to promote tourism and we need to manage our coastal resources properly. Ready access to a state-of-the-art package applicable to the region will provide a rigorous technical basis for decision-making. This is even more important for other Caribbean islands that already rely heavily on their beaches for tourism.”

Notes for editors

  1. For more information and details of other Newton Fellows please see  www.newtonfellowships.org
  2. Founded in 1976, The Royal Academy of Engineering promotes the engineering and technological welfare of the country. Our fellowship – including the UK’s most eminent engineers – provides the leadership and expertise for our activities, which focus on the relationships between engineering, technology, and the quality of life. As a national academy, we provide independent and impartial advice to Government; work to secure the next generation of engineers; and provide a voice for Britain’s engineering community.
    For more information please contact: Jane Sutton at The Royal Academy of Engineering
    tel. 020 7766 0636
  3. The Royal Society is an independent academy promoting the natural and applied sciences. Founded in 1660, the Society has three roles, as the UK academy of science, as a learned Society, and as a funding agency. It responds to individual demand with selection by merit, not by field. As we prepare for our 350th anniversary in 2010, we are working to achieve five strategic priorities, to:
    Invest in future scientific leaders and in innovation
    Influence policymaking with the best scientific advice
    Invigorate science and mathematics education
    Increase access to the best science internationally
    Inspire an interest in the joy, wonder and excitement of scientific discovery
    For further information contact Nicola Kane on 020 7451 2508.
  4. The British Academy is the UK's national academy for the humanities and social sciences. Its purpose is to inspire, recognise and support excellence in these disciplines throughout the UK and internationally, and to champion their role and value.
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