The library is pleased to feature the influential and cutting-edge work of our AUS faculty researchers. In a newly launched library series, faculty from across the schools discuss their work and areas of research focus.
AUS Featured Researcher: Dr. Serter Atabay, Associate Professor – Civil Engineering, CEN
Research is integral to the advancement and scientific rigor of my discipline. Research can forge connections between disciplines. It also enriches the educational experience of students who will one day become the next generation of researchers themselves. This is something that, through my own experience as a consultant working for over seven years for the UK’s leading specialists in flood risk and environmental management, and as faculty at AUS since 2008, drives my teaching practice.
I view teaching as a process of encouraging students to make connections between real world problems and the subjects that they study. I highlight the limitations of theory in real life applications, which provides students with different sets of challenges that can help reshape their way of thinking and enrich their undergraduate educational experience. I always encourage my students to question and justify their findings to improve their engineering judgement. This is crucial first step in life-long learning, but also a necessary skill in today’s work environment that students will very soon be entering following graduation.
It is important to me that I contribute to the advancement of my discipline by tackling interesting questions with innovative methods. My post-doctoral research, was an experimental study that formed part of a research and development project, titled “Scoping Study into Hydraulic Performance of Bridges and other Structures, Including Effects of Blockages at High Flows”. I collected data using different types of bridge models and roughness values in compound channel sections. This is a better representation of the natural environment and there appears to be no other data for similar shaped compound channels in the literature. My contribution within this area of specialization proved invaluable, not only for engineers, but also for software developers. The data, I collected, were used to develop the Afflux Estimation System, which was incorporated in “Infoworks RS” – one of the most commonly used river modeling software programs now used in the United Kingdom.
Having experience as a consultant has definitely enhanced my ability to perform research. My research focuses on real world problems, but also the needs of our region and this has helped shape the direction of supervision I provide for capstone projects and Master’s theses. Supervising students, my research interests have expanded into other areas including the modelling of infiltration rates and water quality modelling in coastal lagoons. In 2016, a conference paper with one of my students was awarded “Best Paper” by the Program Committee of the 18th International Conference on Agricultural, Environmental, Ecological and Ecosystems Sciences, in Rome. September 15~16, 2016.
Most recently, I was awarded the “Best Technical Note of 2018” by the American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE) for a paper published in the Journal of Hydrologic Engineering, one of the most prestigious publications in Civil Engineering. Written in collaboration with Dr. Ali Osman Akan, former Head of the AUS Department of Civil Engineering, this paper extends a previously reported hydrologic study of vegetative filter strips to calculate sediment trap efficiencies. It presents a set of charts developed using predetermined numerical solutions to the governing equations for overland flow, infiltration, and mass balance of suspended sediments in overland flow. It aims to serve those working in the field including practicing engineers, local authorities, transportation departments, and urban planners. I am honored to have received such accolade and will accept the award in June during the Hydraulics and Waterways Council Luncheon and Awards to be held at the World Environmental and Water Resources Congress 2018 in Minneapolis, United States.