Beaches and math

Lecturer Dr Kristen Splinter studies how our coastline erodes and recovers from changes in the size of waves, sediment supply, and water levels.

Dr Kristen Splinter at Belongil BeachRecently Kristen has been involved with research examining the hydrodynamics (waves and water levels) over reefs during cyclone conditions. This work is particularly important to the Pacific Islands, where rising sea levels and climate change may make the islands more vulnerable to extreme events due to reef submergence and degradation. 

Why did you get into engineering?

“I wasn’t too sure what I wanted to do at the end of high school. Both my parents had engineering backgrounds and then pursued other careers. They encouraged me to consider this route as it provides a solid education. I like to solve problems and generally ask 'why does that happen?' I think engineers are critical thinkers and innovators.”

What are your research goals?

“I like to see my work being used by the public to better inform their decision process. I want my work to make a difference and better society.”

What do people not understand about you do?

“When I tell people I study beaches they think it’s really cool. What they don’t understand is that, as an engineer, I focus on understanding the ‘why’ so there’s a lot of math behind what I do.”

Advice for prospective Civil and Environmental Engineers

“Engineers make the world a better place. Find something you’re passionate about and turn that into your career. I did. Anything is possible in engineering.”


Kristen is currently looking for students for coastal engineering projects related to: Nearshore processes, sediment dynamics, coastal impacts in a changing climate, dune erosion, numerical modelling of coastal processes and reef-top hydrodynamics.

If you are interested in pursuing Honours thesis or graduate study with Kristen, please fill out the following survey form and the HDR self-assessment (graduate students only).