PhD Civil Engineering (1989)

What brought you to Swansea University?

In 1986, while I was doing my master’s degree at Shanghai Jiao Tong University, I entered a national competition in China and was ranked number one in the field of Civil Engineering among thousands of competitors across the whole country. As a result, I was awarded a prestigious scholarship to do my PhD overseas. Being a national champion in the competition and with a full scholarship meant that I could literally choose any university in the world for my further study. However, it was an easy decision for me to select Swansea University simply because of its internationally renowned professors and outstanding achievements in research. Studying at Swansea University has brought enormous benefits to my professional career.  


What have you done for a career after Swansea?

After Swansea I migrated to Australia and joined the Department of Aeronautical Engineering at the University of Sydney where I did research on the evolutionary structural optimisation (ESO) method. I then moved to Victoria University as a lecturer and then on to RMIT University in 2002. I am a Professor and founding director of the Centre for Innovative Structures and Materials (CISM). I am an Australian Laureate Fellow and an RMIT Distinguished Professor. My team pioneered the evolutionary structural optimisation (ESO) and bi-directional evolutionary structural optimisation (BESO) methods, which have been used by thousands of engineers and architects around the world to design novel structures including several landmark buildings.

I am also a Fellow of the Australian Academy of Technology and Engineering. My research impact in the field of structural optimisation has been recognised by the 2017 AGM Michell Medal and the 2017 Clunies Ross Innovation Award.

In 2019 I was honoured to be recognised in the Queen’s Birthday Honours List and appointed a Member of the Order of Australia (AM), for “significant service to higher education, and to civil engineering”.

In 2020, I was awarded the Victoria Prize for Science and Innovation. I have published two research monographs and over 400 journal articles and conference papers and I am one of the most highly cited researchers in my field..


What were your favourite memories of your time in Swansea?

My favourite memories of my time in Swansea were discussions with eminent scholars such as Professor O.C. Zienkiewicz. Walking around the beautiful campus, and going to beaches in Mumbles and Rhossili.

student smiling standing next to lecturer

man smiling at camera.