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Professor John Macdonald


I graduated from Cambridge University in Engineering Science with first class honours and was awarded the Institution of Civil Engineers’ student prize for Cambridge. After 4 years in industry with Scott Wilson (now part of AECOM), principally working in structural design, I came to the University of Bristol as a Research Assistant in structural dynamics.

My PhD was based on full-scale dynamic measurements of the Second Severn Crossing cable-stayed bridge. Part of this work directly contributed to a vibration mitigation solution for the bridge, which had experienced large amplitude vortex-induced vibrations when first constructed. A journal paper describing this work was awarded the Coopers Hill War Memorial Prize from the Institution of Civil Engineers.

I am still at Bristol, and still enjoying it, now as Professor of Structural Dynamics. My research has focussed on the dynamic behaviour of slender structures such as long-span bridges and cables, including wind- and human-induced vibrations. Much of his work has addressed dynamic interactions, such as between different structural components, fluid-structure interactions and human-structure interactions.

I was awarded an Advanced Research Fellowship (2006-11) on ‘Aeroelastic and non-linear structural dynamic interactions of slender structures’ from the UK Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC).

I have acted as a consultant on vibration issues on several long-span bridges and other structures, and have advised on research for the bridge option for the proposed 19km Fehmarnbelt Fixed Link between Denmark and Germany and for the US Federal Highways Administration.

More recently I have worked on earhquake risk in East Africa, including quantifying the seismic vulnerability of typical buildings in Malawi through surveys, lab and field testing, and numerical analysis.

My overall approach is to combine analytical and numerical analysis with full-scale testing and laboratory experiments, with the aim of increasing fundamental understanding of structural dynamics and practically applying it to real structures.

Professional Activities