Seth Westra

Associate Professor Seth Westra

Associate Professor

School of Civil, Environmental and Mining Engineering

Faculty of Engineering, Computer and Mathematical Sciences

Eligible to supervise Masters and PhD - email supervisor to discuss availability.


Seth Westra is Associate Dean of Research and Innovation in the Faculty of Engineering, Computer and Mathematical Sciences at the University of Adelaide. He is a chartered engineer with research and consulting experience across both academia and industry. Seth has contributed to the fields of hydrology, water resource assessments and climate risk, and has published over 80 journal and conference papers on these topics.

Research Aims

The overarching aim of my research is to develop scientifically defensible solutions to a range of practical water resources problems. My recent research has centered on solving the following three problems:

  • Quantifying the impacts of climate change and variability on Australian and international water resources, including on floods and drought;
  • Developing flood estimation methods to handle complex multi-causal floods in urban, estuarine and rural catchments; and
  • Improving hydrological (rainfall-runoff) models to better understand the role of data errors and non-stationarity, and quantifying prediction uncertainty

Consulting and Contract Research

During certain times of the year I am available to work on small or large consulting and contract research projects. Recently I have undertaken consultancies for the BMT WBM and the NSW Office of Environment and Heritage, and contract research projects for Geoscience Australia, the CSIRO and the West Australian Water Corporation.

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  • Appointments

    Date Position Institution name
    2016 Associate Professor University of Adelaide
    2011 - 2015 Senior Lecturer University of Adelaide
    2009 - 2011 Senior Research Associate University of New South Wales
    2007 - 2008 Water Resources Engineer Sinclair Knight Merz
    2002 - 2003 Graduate Engineer URS Australia
  • Awards and Achievements

    Date Type Title Institution Name Country Amount
    2018 Award SA Climate Leaders Awards – Winner Individual Category Premier’s Climate Change Council Australia
    2015 Award GN Alexander Medal Engineers Australia Australia
    2015 Award Minister’s Award for Excellence in Water Sustainability Water Industry Alliance
    2014 Award Research Spotlight Award from American Geophysical Union (top 5% of papers in AGU) for Westra et al (2014) American Geophysical Union United States
    2014 Award Editors Highlight Award Water Resources Research
    2013 Award Tall Poppy Award Australian Institute of Policy and Science Australia
  • Education

    Date Institution name Country Title
    2004 - 2007 University of New South Wales Australia PhD in Civil and Environmental Engineering
    2003 - 2004 University of New South Wales Australia Master of Engineering Science (Water Resources)
    1998 - 2002 University of New South Wales Australia Bachelor of Environmental Engineering (Hons Class 1)
  • Research Interests

Competitive National Research Grants

Date Project/No. Investigators Funding Body Amount
2015-2017 A unified approach for estimating coastal flood risk Westra, S. & Leonard, M. ARC Linkage AUD $156,905
2015-2017 A spatial extremes framework for predicting subdaily rainfall intensity Westra, S. & Johnson, F. ARC Discovery AUD $276,000
2012-2014 A new strategy for design flood estimation in a non-stationary climate Sharma, A. & Westra, S. ARC Discovery AUD $320,000
2012-2013 Investigation of the extreme impacts caused by multiple climate processes: understanding risk to inform adaptation Westra, S. CSIRO Adaptation Flagship Collaboration Fund AUD $78,607

Other Research Funding

Date Project/No. Investigators Funding Body
2013-2014 Australian Rainfall and Runoff Revision Project 1: Extreme rainfall under a future climate Westra, S. Engineers Australia
2009-2010 Australian Rainfall and Runoff Revision Project 4: Continuous rainfall simulation Sharma, A. & Westra, S. Engineers Australia
2009-2014 Australian Rainfall and Runoff Revision Project 18: Joint probability of extreme rainfall and storm surge in the estuarine catchments Westra, S. Engineers Australia

Consultancies

Since 2012 I have undertaken several consultancies, including for Water Corporation (Perth), BMT_WBM and the UNSW Water Research Laboratory on behalf of the NSW Office of Environment and Heritage. 

Undergraduate teaching activities

Dates Course Number Course Code
2014- Designing Water Resources Systems for Urban Environments (formerly known as Environmental Engineering IVB) C&ENVENG 4109/7109
2015- Advanced Topics in Flood Hydrology C&ENVENG 4115/7115
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  • Current Higher Degree by Research Supervision (University of Adelaide)

    Date Role Research Topic Program Degree Type Student Load Student Name
    2017 Principal Supervisor The Impact of Climate Change on Natural Hazards Doctor of Philosophy Doctorate Full Time Miss Nastaran Chitsaz
    2016 Co-Supervisor Low-Flow Modelling of Water Resources for Environmental Benefit Doctor of Philosophy Doctorate Full Time Alicja Natalia Makarewicz
    2016 Co-Supervisor Combining the Strengths of Engineering Experience and Formal Optimisation for Designing and Operating Water Systems Doctor of Philosophy Doctorate Full Time Mr Cameron McPhail
    2015 Principal Supervisor Identifying the Adaptive Capacity of Water Resource Systems Faced with a Changing Climate Doctor of Philosophy Doctorate Full Time Mr Sam Anthony Culley
    2015 Principal Supervisor Flood Risk Estimations in the Context of Climate Change Doctor of Philosophy Doctorate Full Time Mr Hong Do
  • Past Higher Degree by Research Supervision (University of Adelaide)

    Date Role Research Topic Program Degree Type Student Load Student Name
    2014 - 2016 Principal Supervisor Evaluation of Regional Climate Models for Simulating Sub-daily Rainfall Extremes Master of Philosophy Master Full Time Miss Virginia Edith Cortes Hernandez
    2014 - 2018 Principal Supervisor A new flood estimation paradigm for the design of civil infrastructure systems Doctor of Philosophy Doctorate Full Time Mr Phuong Dong Le
    2013 - 2017 Principal Supervisor Practical Implementation of the Scenario-Neutral Approach to Climate Impact Assessments for Hydrological Systems Doctor of Philosophy Doctorate Full Time Danlu Guo
    2013 - 2017 Co-Supervisor Influence Diagnostics in Hydrological Modeling Doctor of Philosophy Doctorate Full Time David Peter Wright
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  • Committee Memberships

    Date Role Committee Institution Country
    2014 - ongoing Chair Trends and Extremes Working Group Australian Energy and Water Exchanges (OzEWEX) Australia
  • Memberships

    Date Role Membership Country
    2015 - ongoing Member Hydrological Society of South Australia Australia
    2013 - ongoing Chartered member (CPEng) of Engineers Australia Civil Engineering and Environmental Engineering colleges Australia
    2013 - ongoing National Professional Engineers Register (NPER) Australia
    2006 - ongoing Member European Geosciences Union (EGU) Australia
    2005 - ongoing Member American Geophysical Union (AGU)
  • Position: Associate Professor
  • Phone: 83131538
  • Email: seth.westra@adelaide.edu.au
  • Fax: 8313 4359
  • Campus: North Terrace
  • Building: Engineering North, floor 1
  • Room: 1 07
  • Org Unit: School of Civil, Environmental and Mining Engineering

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