Professor Nigel Wright

Job: Pro Vice-Chancellor

Faculty: Technology

School/department: School of Engineering and Sustainable Development

Address: De Montfort University, The Gateway, Leicester, LE1 9BH

T: +44 (0)116 257 7457




Personal profile

Professor Nigel Wright was appointed at Pro Vice-Chancellor and Dean of Technology in September 2015.  He joined DMU from the University of Leeds where he was Head of the School of Civil Engineering. In February 2016 he was also appointed as Pro Vice-Chancellor for Research and Innovation, a role which he now undertakes exclusively.

Nigel studied Mathematics at the University of Bristol and completed a PhD in Mechanical Engineering at the University of Leeds. He joined the University of Nottingham as a Lecturer in 1993 and was ultimately promoted to a personal Chair in 2005. In 2006 he moved to the Netherlands to take up the Chair of Hydraulic Engineering and River Basin Development at UNESCO-IHE and TU Delft. He moved to Leeds in 2009.

From initial research on the use of computers to predict the movement of fluids in the natural and built environment, Nigel's research has expanded into the cross-disciplinary aspects of flood risk management and climate change adaptation. This has led to funding from the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council, the Natural Environment Research Council and the Economic and Social Research Council amongst others.

Nigel has published over 120 papers in peer-reviewed journals and conferences. Along with co-authors, in 2009 he was awarded the Harold Schoemaker Award of the IAHR for the best journal paper in the period 2007-9.

Nigel's work has had a strong international focus. In addition to time spent working in the US and the Netherlands, he has worked on collaborative projects in Ethiopia, Zimbabwe, Zambia, Mozambique, Argentina, China and India. He is currently a Visiting Professor of the Chinese Academy of Sciences.

You can also view Nigel's Executive Board profile. 

Research group affiliations

Institute of Engineering Sciences

Publications and outputs 

  • Numerical modelling of hydro-morphological processes dominated by fine suspended sediment in a stormwater pond
    Numerical modelling of hydro-morphological processes dominated by fine suspended sediment in a stormwater pond Guan, M.; Ahilan, S.; Yu, D.; Peng, Yomg; Wright, Nigel Fine sediment plays crucial and multiple roles in the hydrological, ecological and geomorphological functioning of river systems. This study employs a two-dimensional (2D) numerical model to track the hydro-morphological processes dominated by fine suspended sediment, including the prediction of sediment concentration in flow bodies, and erosion and deposition caused by sediment transport. The model is governed by 2D full shallow water equations with which an advection–diffusion equation for fine sediment is coupled. Bed erosion and sedimentation are updated by a bed deformation model based on local sediment entrainment and settling flux in flow bodies. The model is initially validated with the three laboratory-scale experimental events where suspended load plays a dominant role. Satisfactory simulation results confirm the model’s capability in capturing hydro-morphodynamic processes dominated by fine suspended sediment at laboratory-scale. Applications to sedimentation in a stormwater pond are conducted to develop the process-based understanding of fine sediment dynamics over a variety of flow conditions. Urban flows with 5-year, 30-year and 100-year return period and the extreme flood event in 2012 are simulated. The modelled results deliver a step change in understanding fine sediment dynamics in stormwater ponds. The model is capable of quantitatively simulating and qualitatively assessing the performance of a stormwater pond in managing urban water quantity and quality. open access article
  • Numerical modeling of converging compound channel flow
    Numerical modeling of converging compound channel flow Naik, B.; Khatua, K. K.; Wright, Nigel; Sleigh, A.; Singh, P. his paper presents numerical analysis for prediction of depth-averaged velocity distribution of compound channels with converging flood plains. Firstly, a 3D Computational Fluid Dynamics model is used to establish the basic database under various working conditions. Numerical simulation in two phases is performed using the ANSYS-Fluent software. k-ω turbulence model is executed to solve the basic governing equations. The results have been compared with high-quality flume measurements obtained from different converging compound channels in order to investigate the numerical accuracy. Then Artificial Neural Network are trained based on the Back Propagation Neural Network technique for depth-averaged velocity prediction in different converging sections and these test results are compared with each other and with actual data. The study has focused on the ability of the software to correctly predict the complex flow phenomena that occur in channel flows. 50 free eprints here:; The file attached to this record is the author's final peer reviewed version. The Publisher's final version can be found by following the DOI link.
  • A coupled SPH-DEM model for fluid-structure interaction problems with free-surface flow and structural failure
    A coupled SPH-DEM model for fluid-structure interaction problems with free-surface flow and structural failure Wu, Ke; Yang, Dongmin; Wright, Nigel An integrated particle model is developed to study fluid-structure interaction (FSI) problems with fracture in the structure induced by the free surface flow of the fluid. In this model, the Smoothed Particle Hydrodynamics (SPH) based on the kernel approximation and particle approximation is used to model the fluid domain in accordance with Navier-Stokes equations and the Discrete Element Method (DEM) with a parallel bond model is used to represent the real solid structure through a hexagonal packing of bonded particles. Validation tests have been carried out for the DEM model of the structure with deformation and fracture failure, the SPH model of the fluid and the coupled SPH-DEM model of FSI without fracture, all showing very good agreement with analytical solutions and/or published experimental and numerical results. The simulation results of FSI with fracture indicate that the SPH-DEM model developed is capable of capturing the entire FSI process from structural deformation to structural failure and eventually to post-failure deformable body movement. OA at:
  • Understanding the drivers of sanitation behaviour in riverine communities of Niger Delta, Nigeria: the case of Odi and Kaiama communities
    Understanding the drivers of sanitation behaviour in riverine communities of Niger Delta, Nigeria: the case of Odi and Kaiama communities Sample, E. D.; Evans, B. E.; Camargo-Valero, M. A.; Wright, Nigel; Leton, T. G.
  • The influence of floodplain restoration on flow and sediment dynamics in an urban river
    The influence of floodplain restoration on flow and sediment dynamics in an urban river Ahilan, S.; Guan, M.; Sleigh, A.; Wright, Nigel; Chang, H. A study of floodplain sedimentation on a recently restored floodplain is presented. This study uses a two-dimensional hydro-morphodynamic model for predicting flow and suspended-sediment dynamics in the downstream of Johnson Creek, the East Lents reach, where the bank of the river has been reconfigured to reconnect to a restored floodplain on a 0.26 km2 (26-ha) site. The simulation scenarios include 10-, 50-, 100- and 500-year event-based deposition modelling of flood events and long-term modelling using the 64 historical flood events between 1941 and 2014. Simulation results showed that the restored floodplain significantly attenuates the upstream flood peak by up to 25% at the downstream. Results also indicated that approximately 20%–30% of sediment from the upstream is deposited on the East Lents floodplain. Furthermore, deposited sediment over the simulated period (1941–2014) is approximately 0.1% of the basin's flood storage capacity; however, the reduction in the storage does not offset the overall flood resilience impact of the flood basin. The sediment conservation at the East Lents flood basin as predicted by the model reduces the annual sediment loading of the Johnson Creek by 1% at the confluence with Willamette River, providing both improved water quality and flood resilience further downstream. This article is freely available via Open Access. Follow the DOI to read the whole article on the publisher's website.
  • Quantifying the combined effects of multiple extreme floods on river channel geometry and on flood hazards
    Quantifying the combined effects of multiple extreme floods on river channel geometry and on flood hazards Guan, M.; Carrivick, Jonathan L.; Wright, Nigel; Sleigh, P. A.; Staines, Kate E. H. Effects of flood-induced bed elevation and channel geometry changes on flood hazards are largely unexplored, especially in the case of multiple floods from the same site. This study quantified the evolution of river channel and floodplain geometry during a repeated series of hypothetical extreme floods using a 2D full hydro-morphodynamic model (LHMM). These experiments were designed to examine the consequences of channel geometry changes on channel conveyance capacity and subsequent flood dynamics. Our results revealed that extreme floods play an important role in adjusting a river channel to become more efficient for subsequent propagation of floods, and that in-channel scour and sediment re-distribution can greatly improve the conveyance capacity of a channel for subsequent floods. In our hypothetical sequence of floods the response of bed elevation was of net degradation, and sediment transport successively weakened even with floods of the same magnitude. Changes in river channel geometry led to significant impact on flood hydraulics and thereby flood hazards. We found that flood-induced in-channel erosion can disconnect the channel from its floodplain resulting in a reduction of floodwater storage. Thus, the frequency and extent of subsequent overbank flows and floodplain inundation decreased, which reduced downstream flood attenuation and increased downstream flood hazard. In combination and in summary, these results suggest that changes in channel capacity due to extreme floods may drive changes in flood hazard. The assumption of unchanging of river morphology during inundation modelling should therefore be open to question for flood risk management. OA available here:
  • Regional prioritisation of flood risk in mountainous areas
    Regional prioritisation of flood risk in mountainous areas Rogelis, María Carolina; Werner, Micha; Wright, Nigel; Obregón, Nelson In this paper a method is proposed to identify mountainous watersheds with the highest flood risk at the regional level. Through this, the watersheds to be subjected to more detailed risk studies can be prioritised in order to establish appropriate flood risk management strategies. The prioritisation is carried out through an index composed of a qualitative indicator of vulnerability and a qualitative flash flood/debris flow susceptibility indicator. At the regional level, vulnerability was assessed on the basis of a principal component analysis carried out with variables recognised in literature to contribute to vulnerability, using watersheds as the unit of analysis. The area exposed was obtained from a simplified flood extent analysis at the regional level, which provided a mask where vulnerability variables were extracted. The vulnerability indicator obtained from the principal component analysis was combined with an existing susceptibility indicator, thus providing an index that allows the watersheds to be prioritised in support of flood risk management at regional level. Results show that the components of vulnerability can be expressed in terms of three constituent indicators: (i) socio-economic fragility, which is composed of demography and lack of well-being; (ii) lack of resilience and coping capacity, which is composed of lack of education, lack of preparedness and response capacity, lack of rescue capacity, cohesiveness of the community; and (iii) physical exposure, which is composed of exposed infrastructure and exposed population. A sensitivity analysis shows that the classification of vulnerability is robust for watersheds with low and high values of the vulnerability indicator, while some watersheds with intermediate values of the indicator are sensitive to shifting between medium and high vulnerability.

Research interests/expertise

Flood Risk Management, Computational Fluid Dynamics

Areas of teaching

Mathematics, Flood Risk, River Management, CFD.


BSc (Hons) Mathematics, PhD Mechanical Engineering

Membership of professional associations and societies

Fellow of the Institution of Civil Engineers, Fellow of the HEA

Professional licences and certificates

Chartered Engineer

ORCID number

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