Department of
Civil Engineering

Image of Valentin Heller

Valentin Heller

Associate Professor in Hydraulics, Faculty of Engineering



Dr Valentin Heller is currently an Associate Professor in Hydraulics in the Department of Civil Engineering at the University of Nottingham and a member of the Environmental Fluid Mechanics and Geoprocesses research group. Before moving to the University of Nottingham in 2014, he held one of the prestigious Imperial College London Research Fellowships working on various experimental and numerical research projects (2011-2014). He worked further as a Research Fellow at the University of Southampton (2008-2011) conducting research into wave energy conversion funded by EPSRC and the EC. His first postdoctoral research took place at ETH Zurich in 2008. ETH Zurich was also the place where he received his PhD for the research project "Landslide generated impulse waves - Prediction of near field characteristics".

Dr Heller is a graduated Civil Engineering (MSc) addressing in his final year project "Ski jump hydraulics", which was awarded the Maggia Price 2004. He further received the Harold Jan Schoemaker Award in 2013 from IAHR for the most outstanding paper published in the Journal of Hydraulic Research in 2011-2012 (Scale effects in physical hydraulic engineering models) and is a member of the Leadership Team of the Committee on Hydraulic Structures of IAHR. Dr Heller is the PI of a project funded by The Leverhulme Trust, the supervisor of the Marie Sklodowska-Curie Actions Individual Fellowship project of Dr Begam and was the project leader of a EU funded HYDRALAB+ project. He was further the PI of a NERC funded project, is an Editor of Landslides (Springer, Impact Factor 4.7), run three Special Issues in the fields of hydraulics and tsunamis and has been a technical reviewer for over 40 academic journals. Dr Heller further gave invited guest lectures/seminars and run or contributed to workshops in China, Germany, Switzerland, the UK, Portugal and Romania and his next invited talk will be a keynote lecture at the 9th International Symposium on Scale Modeling in Napoli ( in March 2022.

Teaching Summary

Dr Heller is a Fellow of the Higher Education Academy (FHEA) and he is/was involved in the following modules:

Current modules:

Hydraulic Design and Experiments (CIVE3063) - Convenor (SS 2018, SS 2019, SS 2020, SS 2021)

Technical Writing (2nd year Workshop F1) - Convenor (AS 2018, AS/SS 2018/19, AS/SS 2019/20, AS/SS 2020/21)

MEng Investigative Project (H24A04) - Contributor (AS/SS 2015/16, AS/SS 2016/17, AS/SS 2017/18, SS 2019, SS 2020, SS 2021)

MEng Group Design Project (GDP) (H24A03) - Contributor (AS 2015, AS 2016, AS 2017, SS 2019, SS 2020, SS 2021)

BEng Individual Investigative Project (H23A13) - Contributor (AS/SS 2015/16, AS/SS 2016/17, AS 2017, AS 2018, AS 2019, AS 2020)

MSc Civil Engineering Research Project Organisation and Planning (H24POP) - Contributor (SS 2016, SS 2017, SS 2018, SS 2019, SS 2020, SS 2021)

Engineering for People Design Challenge - Convenor (50%, SS 2017, SS 2018, SS 2019, SS 2020)

Past modules:

Hydraulics (2nd year Workshop H1) - Convenor (AS 2017, AS 2018, SS 2020)

Air Quality and Noise (H22EAQ) - Convenor (SS 2015, SS 2016, SS 2017)

Steel Design Project (Technical writing part) (H22A12) - Convenor (AS/SS 2016/17)

Hydraulics Lab Module (H22HLM) - Convenor (SS 2016)

Experiments in Fluids (H23EXF) - Contributor (SS 2015)

Fluid Mechanics I (Open Channel Flows) (SS 2014 at Imperial College London)

Weekly surgery hour:

The Civil Department operates an open door policy, which includes when I am working from home. I will be available from home at the following times, and can be contacted via either email or Microsoft Teams: Monday to Friday 8:00am-18:00pm

Research Summary

Dr Heller is mainly active in Experimental and Computational Fluid Dynamics with applications into a wide range of fluid-structure interactions from small to very large scale. The fluid is typically… read more

Selected Publications

Dr Heller is the principal supervisor of 2 research fellows, 3 PhD students, the co-supervisor of 3 more PhD students and the supervisor of several undergraduate student projects. He also assessed PhD students in Italy (Marche Polytechnic University), New Zealand (The University of Auckland), Norway (University of Oslo) and Switzerland (ETH Zurich, EPFL). Four of his own PhD students already graduated.

Research fellow:

  • Dr Ben Constance
  • Dr Sazeda Begam

Current PhD students:

  • Daniele Catucci (2nd supervisor)
  • Tommaso Attili
  • Jizhixian Liu (visiting PhD student from the China University of Geosciences)
  • Muhammad Awais Zaman (MPhil student)
  • David Gwillym Jenkins (external supervisor)
  • Zhiwen Chen

Graduated PhD students:

  • Dr Fan Chen (postdoc at Shanghai Jiao Tong University)
  • Dr Gioele Ruffini (postdoc at Sapienza University of Rome)
  • Dr Matthew Kesseler (working at PremTech)
  • Dr Hai Tan (visiting PhD student from Wuhan University)

Funding opportunities for exceptional home and international PhD candidates and postdoctoral researchers are available on a competitive basis. In general, he is interested in postdoctoral researchers and PhD students in the following areas:

  • Landslide-tsunamis
  • Wave and tidal energy conversion
  • Fluid-structure interaction
  • Scale effects in fluids and granular flows

Talented, enthusiastic and motivated students with good marks are more than welcome to apply. Sometimes fully-funded studentships are available which would be advertised on Dr Heller's personal research webpage.

Current Research

Dr Heller is mainly active in Experimental and Computational Fluid Dynamics with applications into a wide range of fluid-structure interactions from small to very large scale. The fluid is typically water and the structure a hydraulic structure such as a dam, or a (granular) landslide or iceberg. His research team applies a wide range of measurement systems (Particle Image Velocimetry, laser distance sensors, load cells) and open source codes such as DualSPHysics, OpenFOAM, SWASH and LIGGGHTS-DEM. His current research includes the following key areas:

  • Landslide-tsunamis (impulse waves)
  • Scale effects in fluids and granular flows
  • Fluid-structure interaction
  • Machine learning (ANN) in hydraulics

Dr Heller is the PI of the project "Paradigm shift of landslide-tsunami characterisation and prediction" funded by The Leverhulme Trust (RPG-2021-001) and the supervisor of the Marie Sklodowska-Curie Actions Individual Fellowship project "ENSURE: Experimental and Numerical insight into Scale effects in granUlaR slides in the mountainous Environment" (101029080) from Dr Begam. He was the project leader of the EU funded HYDRALAB+ project "Tsunamis due to ice masses: Different calving mechanisms and linkage to landslide-tsunamis" resulting in a publication in Scientific Reports, he was the PI of the NERC funded project "A hybrid investigation of geometrical effects on landslide-tsunamis: Generic hazard assessment and numerical benchmark test cases" (NE/K000578/1) and he was the lead author of the now widely applied landslide-tsunami hazard assessment method "Landslide generated impulse waves - Basics and computation" (recently published in its 2nd edition Evers et al. 2019). He is further an Editor of the Landslide Journal (Springer, Impact Factor 4.7), he run the special issues Tsunami Science and Engineering I and Tsunami Science and Engineering II in the Journal of Marine Science and Engineering (MDPI, Impact Factor 1.7) and the special issue Innovative Model Strategies in Hydraulics in the Journal Water (MDPI, Impact Factor 2.5). He has been a technical reviewer for over 40 academic journals and for four research councils thus far and his article on scale effects received the 17th Harold Jan Schoemaker Award from IAHR in 2013.

Further details about Dr Heller's research are available on his personal research webpage:

Past Research

  • Marine renewable energy
  • Ski jump hydraulics

Department of Civil Engineering

The University of Nottingham
University Park
Nottingham, NG7 2RD

telephone: +44 (0) 115 95 14081