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Dr Sergio Maldonado PhD, MRes, BSc

Lecturer in Hydraulics

Dr Sergio Maldonado's photo

Dr Sergio Maldonado-Villanueva is a Lecturer in Hydraulics in Engineering and Physical Sciences at the University of Southampton.

Dr Sergio Maldonado’s research interests include various aspects of Environmental Fluid Mechanics and Hydraulics; in particular, related to the mechanics of sediment transport in open channels and the morphodynamics of rivers and the coast. Dr Maldonado’s main focus is on the fundamental aspects of said topics, and how these can be used to improve the tools employed by the practitioner. Recently, he is also working on the use of Machine Learning in computational hydraulics, and the development of pioneering techniques in experimental fluid mechanics.

Dr Maldonado’s previous research includes: theoretical aspects of water-sediment mechanics and coastal morphodynamics, development of numerical models aimed at quantifying the protective service provided by coastal ecosystems, general computational hydraulics, the development of mathematical models (deterministic and stochastic) to study sediment transport and morphological evolution in open channels, and the modelling of nearshore hydrodynamics and water quality in coastal areas.


Bachelor, Mechanical Engineering, Tecnológico de Monterrey (ITESM, Mexico), 2004-2009

MRes, Hydraulic-Coastal Engineering, National Autonomous University of Mexico (UNAM, Mexico), 2009-2011

PhD, Environmental Fluid Mechanics, University of Edinburgh, 2011-2016

Previous Appointments:

Postdoctoral Fellow, Stanford University (Geophysics), 2016-2017

Research interests

Sergio Maldonado’s research interests include fundamental aspects of sediment transport and morphodynamics of rivers and coasts, coastal protection provided by vegetation, marine energy and development of measurement techniques applied to hydraulics. He is also interested in bridging fundamental scientific findings and final engineering applications in environmental fluid mechanics.

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Theoretical estimate of initiation of motion

Fundamental aspects of sediment transport

Understanding the dislodgement and transport of sediment in open channels is a long-standing scientific challenge of great importance in engineering due to its connection with e.g. dam siltation, river bank stability, beach erosion, etc. This research aims at achieving a better understanding of the fundamental aspects behind the motion of sediment particles caused by a water flow, which is a precondition to produce accurate engineering tools such as predictive numerical models and erosion/deposition-control strategies.



Coastal protection provided by marshes in Chesapeake Bay

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Coastal protection provided by marshes in Chesapeake Bay

Characterising the morphology of coastal vegetation and parameterising accurately its effect in hydrodynamic numerical models used by the practitioner community is a difficult challenge. Many simplifications are usually adopted; e.g. constant drag coefficient, uniform morphology of the meadow, high-resolution bathymetric features (e.g. channels) ignored, etc. This research tries to quantify the uncertainty associated to such simplifications by means of numerical modelling and extensive field campaigns in Chesapeake Bay, USA. The overarching goal is to identify the main parameters required for an accurate estimation of the protective service provided by a marsh. This project is part of collaboration with Stanford University and George Mason University.


Research image
Revisiting modelling of sediment transport and morphodynamics

Revisiting modelling of sediment transport and morphodynamics

Due to its complexity, modelling of sediment transport has historically been very dependent on empirical relations, which, given their abundance, usually translate into uncertainty in results from morphodynamic models. In the context of beach response to sea level rise and evolution of mega-nourishments, it becomes very important to revisit the conventional modelling of sediment transport in order to obtain more universal insights derived from the fundamental physics of the problem. This research aims at doing so by exploring alternative mathematical tools and basic, highly-controlled experiments.

Research group

Water and Environmental Engineering Group

Affiliate research groups

Simulation of Geophysical Multi-phase Flows (Stanford University), Flood Hazards Research Lab (George Mason University)

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  • Maldonado-Villanueva, S., Creed, M., & Borthwick, A. (2017). Bed-slope-related diffusion of an erodible hump. In S. Wieprecht, S. Haun, K. Weber, M. Noack, & K. Terheiden (Eds.), River Sedimentation: Proceedings of the 13th International Symposium on River Sedimentation (Stuttgart, Germany, 19-22 September, 2016) CRC Press.


CENV2008 - Hydraulics

CENV3066 - Environmental Hydraulics

CENV6174 - Flood Modelling and Mitigation

FEEG1003 - Thermofluids

Dr Sergio Maldonado
Engineering, University of Southampton, Southampton Boldrewood Innovation Campus, Burgess Road, Southampton, SO16 7QF

Room Number : 178/5009

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