Dr Colin Nicholas Whittaker


Colin Whittaker received his Bachelor in Engineering (Civil Engineering) from the University of Canterbury in 2010. He stayed at the University of Canterbury for his PhD on the topic 'Modelling of tsunami generated by the motion of a rigid block along a horizontal boundary', under the supervision of Roger Nokes, Mark Davidson and Pedro Lee.

After completing his PhD in early 2014, he completed a two-year postdoctoral research position within the ENFORCE (Extreme responses using NewWave: Forces, Overtopping and Runup in Coastal Engineering) project at Plymouth University in the UK. This project, a collaboration with the University of Oxford, involved conducting experiments to investigate the applicability of the NewWave profile (used as a design wave in offshore engineering) for a variety of coastal engineering problems.

During his time at Plymouth University, Colin was also involved in research relating to experimental wave generation, particle trajectories beneath focused wave groups and species recruitment onto healthy and degraded reefs.

Colin began a position at the University of Auckland in January 2016, and is a lecturer in Civil Engineering Hydraulics.

Research | Current

  • Environmental fluid mechanics
  • Tsunami generation, propagation and inundation
  • Mechanics of destructive waves
  • Wave runup, overtopping and impacts
  • Innovative laboratory measurement techniques

Teaching | Current

  • CIVIL 230 - Fluid Mechanics 1
  • CIVIL 734 - River Engineering (not offered in 2018)
  • CIVIL 782 - Water Resources Engineering
  • CIVIL 331 - Hydraulic Engineering


  • 2012: IMBROS Best Student Paper Presentation Award, Physical Oceanography Workshop, NIWA, Wellington, New Zealand
  • 2010: PhD Scholarship, Department of Civil and Natural Resources Engineering, University of Canterbury
  • 2009: Third Professional Scholarship, Department of Civil and Natural Resources Engineering, University of Canterbury

Committees/Professional groups/Services

  • Member, IAHR

Selected publications and creative works (Research Outputs)

As of 29 October 2020 there will be no automatic updating of 'selected publications and creative works' from Research Outputs. Please continue to keep your Research Outputs profile up to date.
  • Wang, L., Melville, B. W., Whittaker, C. N., & Guan, D. (2020). Temporal Evolution of Clear-Water Scour Depth at Submerged Weirs. JOURNAL OF HYDRAULIC ENGINEERING, 146 (3)10.1061/(ASCE)HY.1943-7900.0001712
    URL: http://hdl.handle.net/2292/50210
    Other University of Auckland co-authors: Bruce Melville
  • Wang, L., Melville, B. W., Whittaker, C. N., & Guan, D. (2019). Scour Estimation Downstream of Submerged Weirs. JOURNAL OF HYDRAULIC ENGINEERING, 145 (12)10.1061/(ASCE)HY.1943-7900.0001654
    Other University of Auckland co-authors: Bruce Melville
  • Van Den Bremer, T. S., Whittaker, C., Calvert, R., Raby, A., & Taylor, P. H. (2019). Experimental study of particle trajectories below deep-water surface gravity wave groups. Journal of Fluid Mechanics, 879, 168-186. 10.1017/jfm.2019.584
  • Calvert, R., Whittaker, C. N., Raby, A., Taylor, P. H., Borthwick, A. G. L., & van den Bremer, T. S. (2019). Laboratory study of the wave-induced mean flow and set-down in unidirectional surface gravity wave packets on finite water depth. Physical Review Fluids, 4 (114801).10.1103/PhysRevFluids.4.114801
  • Knapp, M., Montgomery, J., Whittaker, C., Franklin, P., Baker, C., & Friedrich, H. (2019). Fish passage hydrodynamics: insights into overcoming migration challenges for small-bodied fish. Journal of Ecohydraulics10.1080/24705357.2019.1604091
    Other University of Auckland co-authors: John Montgomery, Heide Friedrich
  • Greenslade, D., Hermer, M., Babanin, A., Lowe, R., Turner, I., Power, H., ... Williams, G. (2019). 15 priorities for wind-waves research: An Australian perspective. Bulletin of the American Meteorological Society, online first10.1175/BAMS-D-18-0262.1
  • Prieto, N. P. D. P., Raby, A., Whittaker, C., & Boulton, S. J. (2019). Parametric Study of Tsunamis Generated by Earthquakes and Landslides. Journal of Marine Science and Engineering, 7 (5).10.3390/jmse7050154
  • Whittaker, C. N., Fitzgerald, C. J., Raby, A. C., Taylor, P. H., & Borthwick, A. G. L. (2018). Extreme coastal responses using focused wave groups: Overtopping and horizontal forces exerted on an inclined seawall. Coastal Engineering, 140, 292-305. 10.1016/j.coastaleng.2018.08.004


Contact details

Primary office location

Level 10, Room 1009
New Zealand

Web links