Mark Cooker


  • 1.03 Sciences

Personal profile


At high school I was lucky to benefit from the hard work of very fine teachers. They encouraged my interests in maths, physics and history from a young age. Later, I spent four years at Oxford University studying Mathematics: three years for my BA; one year for my MSc in Mathematical Modelling and Numerical Analysis. Afterwards I was employed in industry, devising predictive methods and computer programs for a diesel manufacturer. I moved on to Bristol University, to be employed as a research associate. There I worked for my PhD in breaking waves, and in postdoctoral research, all supervised by the late Professor Howell Peregrine. In 1992 I left Bristol to become a lecturer, then senior lecturer at UEA. Since retiring in September 2021, I'm a Visitor and Honorary Associate Professor in MTH. 


Key Research Interests

Applied Mathematics

Fluid Mechanics

Free surface flows and water waves.

My research is in the fluid mechanics of unsteady water waves, breaking waves and free surfaces. I have an ongoing interest in violent flows, such as splashes and liquid jets. One reason for trying to solve free boundary problems of this type is to account for the extremely high pressures and forces on structures struck by water waves, such as ships and harbour walls. The next time you are at the beach watching waves, notice the  arch of water made by an overturning wave. It contains water whose acceleration can exceed 4g. When waves impact cliffs and seawalls the water undergoes even higher acceleration. Such impacts are an especially vigorous class of violent flow. Examples include (i) a sea wave breaking onto a vertical harbour wall, and (ii) a ship plunging into an oncoming series of waves (a `head-sea'). PhD students with my supervision have worked in these areas, e.g. modelling displacements of shingle and boulders on beaches struck by waves; another project was on the most highly accelerated liquid jets. I also have an interest in the safe landing of aircraft onto water (safe ditching) in recent PhD and postdoc projects. Since retiring, my mathematical interests have widened. I have also submitted new fluid mechanical research on the dam-break problem on a sloping hillside.

Areas of Expertise

Sea waves; wave damage; mathematics of liquid motion; history of mathematics.

Teaching Interests

For undergraduates my lecturing and project supervision experience embraced fluid mechanics (years 2,3,4).  Also the history of mathematics (year 3), particularly tracing ideas in the differential and integral calculus since the ancient Greeks. My lectures included a stream in `Maths for Scientists' for years 1-2. This includes complex numbers and differential eqs, integration, series and elementary fluid mechanics -- all elements in modelling natural processes. I also lectured complex analyis to year-2 students. I have lectured at all academic levels from Basic Maths I and II (for Foundation-Years) all the way up to advanced topics for postgraduates, such as Research Skills and Nonlinear Waves. Final-year MMath + BSc projects include oscillating lighted candles; how a person stays warm (or keeps cool); the Spiral of Archimedes; wind gusts on trees; dynosaur flight; how a thrown stone can bounce on a water surface. 

Education/Academic qualification

Doctor of Philosophy, University of Bristol

30 Sep 19861 Mar 1990

Award Date: 1 Jan 1990

Master of Science, University of Oxford

10 Jan 19841 Sep 1985

Award Date: 30 Sep 1985

Bachelor of Arts, University of Oxford

1 Oct 19811 Jun 1984

Award Date: 1 Jul 1984

Collaborations and top research areas from the last five years

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