Researcher

Associate Professor Robert Niven

Biography

Research 

  • Internationally recognised research leader in (a) theory and applications of probabilistic inference, including maximum entropy analysis and Bayesian inference; and (b) environmental systems, contaminants and impacts. This includes:
    • Maximum entropy analysis, Bayesian inference and machine learning applied to networked flow systems, including water distribution, energy distribution and transport networks;
    • Maximum entropy analysis and...view more

Research 

  • Internationally recognised research leader in (a) theory and applications of probabilistic inference, including maximum entropy analysis and Bayesian inference; and (b) environmental systems, contaminants and impacts. This includes:
    • Maximum entropy analysis, Bayesian inference and machine learning applied to networked flow systems, including water distribution, energy distribution and transport networks;
    • Maximum entropy analysis and Bayesian inference of fluid flow systems, dissipative systems and fluid turbulence (including extrema associated with maximum and minimum entropy production);
    • The combinatorial basis of entropy, and its application to alternative probabilistic systems;
    • Non-aqueous phase liquids (NAPLs) in porous media, including surface/interfacial tension phenomena, nucleation phenomena and multiphase systems;
    • Surface-active contaminants, for example aqueous film-forming foams (AFFFs) such as PFOS and PFOA;
    • Heavy metal and inorganic contaminants in surface waters, groundwater and soil;
    • Environmental impact and sustainability of alternative fuels (e.g. ethanol in petrol); 
    • Environmental management and sustainability.
  • Success in research funding, with a career total of A$1.89 million in grants and fellowships from Australian, European, French, German, Japanese, UK and U.S. sources. This includes Go8/DAAD grants for 2013-14, and ARC Discovery Project grants for 2010-12 and 2014-16.
  • Success in competitive research fellowships, including Churchill (1998), Fulbright (2003), JSPS (2006), Marie Curie Incoming International Fellowship, Denmark (14 months, 2007-2008), Endeavour (2010), Isaac Newton Institute (2010) and Institute PPrime CNRS / Region Poitou-Charentes, France (11 months, 2014).

Teaching 

  • Course coordinator and lecturer for undergraduate courses in fluid mechanics, hydraulic engineering, environmental engineering, geology, soil mechanics, hydrology and contaminant hydrogeology, across BE Aeronautical, Civil and Mechanical programs and BTech degrees in Aeronautics and Aviation.
  • Implementation of flipped mode teaching in environmental engineering, since 2015. 
  • Postgraduate teaching in Maximum Entropy Analysis, including teaching of a Masters / PhD course at the University of Copenhagen, Denmark, 2007, and numerous short courses and summer school courses for research audiences.
  • Past and present supervisor of a number of BE thesis, Masters and PhD students.

Engagement and Leadership:

  • Undergraduate Aeronautical Coordinator, SEIT, UNSW Canberra, from 2016.
  • Research Development and Mentoring Coordinator, SEIT, UNSW Canberra, from 2016.
  • Founder and President (since 2013) of The MaxEnt and Bayesian Association of Australia, Inc., a scientific association and registered charity to support research and teaching in probabilistic inference.
  • Editorial Board Member of the journal Entropy, since 2007.
  • Host of international conferences: BayesianControl 2015, Poitiers, France, 2015; MaxEnt 2013, Canberra, 2013 (the first time held in Australia); MaxEP Workshop, ANU, Canberra, Australia, 2011; and Facets of Entropy, Copenhagen, Denmark, 2007. 
  • Host of numerous visiting scholars and PhD students to SEIT, UNSW Canberra.
  • Past or present research grant assessor for funding agencies in Australia, Romania, Chile and USA.

My Expertise

  1. Theory and applications of probabilistic inference, including maximum entropy analysis and Bayesian inference, applied to complex systems (including fluid flow systems and flow networks), and the theoretical formulation of methods of inference (thermodynamics and statistical mechanics) in non-equilibrium systems.
  2. Environmental contaminants and impacts, especially non-aqueous phase liquids (NAPLs) and heavy metal contaminants in subsurface soils, groundwater and surface waters, and environmental management and sustainability.
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Location

Building 20 Room 129
School of Engineering and Information Technology,
The University of New South Wales at Canberra,
PO Box 7916,
Canberra BC ACT 2610,
AUSTRALIA

Contact

+61 2 626 88330