Below the ocean’s surface with Professor Alexander Babanin

Graduating from the Lomonosov Moscow State University in Russia with a Bachelor of Physics in 1983, Professor Alexander Babanin went on to pursue a PhD in Physical Oceanography at the Marine Hydro-physical Institute in Sebastopol. Remaining at the Institute as a Research Scientist after graduation, Professor Babanin then moved to Australia and into academia in 1996. Following some time with the Australian Defence Force Academy, the University of Adelaide and Swinburne University of Technology, Professor Babanin moved to the Melbourne School of Engineering in April 2016.

Combining several traditional disciplines, ocean engineering sees the application of engineering principles to the body of water covering the majority of the surface of our planet – the ocean.  This diverse discipline has applications that range from building systems that monitor and control coastal environments, to designing offshore structures, pipelines and vessels that can weather the harsh ocean ecosystems from polar to tropical regions.

Professor Babanin’s research focuses on wind-generated waves, ocean engineering, air-sea interactions, ocean dynamics, climate and remote sensing. His illustrious research career to date has seen him produce over 200 publications and receive the coveted five star rating for Excellence in Research in Maritime Engineering in both 2012 and 2015.

Developing a keen interest in ocean engineering in his high school days, Professor Babanin’s passion has not wavered. “The ocean is one of the most fascinating natural environments,” he explains “I believe it will be the future of all human endeavours and I am excited about new developments that will assist with understanding the dynamics of extreme marine events and phenomena, as well as wave influences in the context of large-scale processes in the ocean, atmosphere and coasts, from coastal erosion and storm surges all the way to the climate trends”.

Professor Babanin is looking forward to developing a Master of Coastal and Maritime Engineering course, the first of its kind at the University of Melbourne and Australia and is proud that his research is leading to a new approach in measuring extreme weather conditions, advance wave forecast models and remote (satellite) sensing of the ocean.

Prior to joining the team, Professor Babanin worked in collaboration with the School on developing ocean simulator tunnels.  One of them can generate hurricane force winds and produce waves both mechanically and by blowing high speed air over a large water tank and another is a wave-ice flume in a temperature-controlled room. These facilities offers a better understanding of the relationships between wind, ocean, waves and ice and work to further enhance our research capability in the field of Ocean Engineering.