Faculty of
Engineering, Architecture and Information Technology

27 July 2018

Sophia Leng collects her doctorate

Collecting her doctorate this month, PhD graduate Sophia Leng is now another step closer to a successful career as an academic.

Ms Leng gained her Bachelor of Civil Engineering from The University of Queensland in 2013 and has since spent the past three and a half years researching a river phenomenon known as tidal bores.

“Tidal bores are a tidal effect, where rising water from the ocean creates tidal waves, which wash inland and up rivers,” she said.

“I have always found that waves are just wonderful to look at. I live in a coastal city so I just love the sea and water.”

She was extremely committed during her PhD and her research picked up prizes and awards across the globe. 

She published more than 10 journal papers and contributing to more than 30 articles, including peer review reports and conference papers.

Her paper "Hydraulic jumps and breaking bores: modelling and analysis" received the 2017 Baker Medal from the Institution of Civil Engineers, UK.

Ms Leng gained her Bachelor of Civil Engineering from The University of Queensland in 2013 and has since spent the past three and a half years researching a river phenomenon known as tidal bores.

“Tidal bores are a tidal effect, where rising water from the ocean creates tidal waves, which wash inland and up rivers,” she said.

“I have always found that waves are just wonderful to look at. I live in a coastal city so I just love the sea and water.”

She was extremely committed during her PhD and her research picked up prizes and awards across the globe. 

She published more than 10 journal papers and contributing to more than 30 articles, including peer review reports and conference papers.

Her paper "Hydraulic jumps and breaking bores: modelling and analysis" received the 2017 Baker Medal from the Institution of Civil Engineers, UK.

Ms Leng’s supervisor Professor Hubert Chanson from the School of Civil Engineering said she was one of the best students he had supervised in more than 30 years in academia.

“Sophia was a brilliant undergraduate student who became an outstanding young researcher, I have no doubt she has built the foundations for a spectacular career,” he said.

Originally from China, Ms Leng moved to Brisbane during her teenage years and studied at Kenmore State High School.

She said her interest in Civil Engineering and tidal bores started to grow in the early years of her Bachelor Degree.

“I wanted to find a major that would more likely give me a job after I graduate, that's why I chose Civil Engineering,” she said.

“It was around my 3rd or 4th year I started thinking about doing a PhD.”

She is now encouraging other women to consider.

“There is sometimes a misconception that Engineering is too heavy for girls, but here at UQ, at our labs, you are able to do what you need to do for your research with the help and support of the staff,” she said.

Ms Leng is hoping to continue to grow her career here in Australia.

“I really love it here and I would really love to have a lecturer position at an Australian University,” she said.

“I really want to have a career as an academic. I’d like to obtain a postgraduate project somewhere in UQ and maybe in Europe.”