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Photo of Prof Guangtao Fu

Prof Guangtao Fu

Professor of Water Intelligence


Telephone: 01392 723692

Extension: (Streatham) 3692

I am a professor of water intelligence at the Centre for Water Systems, University of Exeter and a Turing fellow at the Alan Turing Institute, the UK's national institute for data science and artificial intelligence. I am currently a fellow of the International Water Association (IWA) and was a Royal Society Industry Fellow working with Northumbrian Water Limited (2017-2022). I have a Bachelor's degree and a Masters in Hydraulic Engineering both from Shandong University, and a PhD in Water Resources Engineering from Dalian University of Technology, China. I worked as a researcher at the University of Bristol and Imperial College London before joining the University of Exeter. I am currently serving as an associate editor for the ASCE Journal of Water Resources Planning and Management and H2Open Journal, and an editorial board member for Hydrology Research and Proceedings of the Royal Society A: Mathematical, Physical and Engineering Sciences. 

Research Interests

My research focuses on developing and applying new computer models, data analytics and artificial intelligence tools to tackle water challenges in reservoir operation, water supply resilience, network leakage, flood risk and resilience, sewer blockage, urban stormwater  and wastewater management.

To tackle uncertainty, I worked on developing a new theoretical uncertainty analysis framework of imprecise probabilities, which enables an accurate representation of uncertainty of various types and thus quantify their impacts on water systems. The new framework has been applied to climate modelling, flood analysis, and water system design. To tackle system complexity, I explored three different levels from model development, algorithm design to analytics tools for interactive and transparent decision making. Highlights in this area include the work on many-objective visual analytics for water infrastructure systems (water supply, urban drainage and urban wastewater systems), yielding an award of the Quentin Martin Best Practice Paper by ASCE Journal of Water Resources Planning & Management.

I have worked extensively on modelling and control of integrated urban wastewater systems including urban drainage/sewer systems and wastewater treatment plants. The work has been particularly fruitful in modelling of greenhouse gas emissions from wastewater treatment, highlighted by a number of Water Research papers and the prestigious UK ‘Scopus Young Researcher Prize’ awarded to doctoral student Chris Sweetapple.

Current research areas include:

  • Deep learning for water system management
  • Deep reinforcement learning for water system operation and planning
  • Digital twins for resilient and sustainable water management 
  • Smart water and wastewater infrastructure systems
  • Integrated modelling and real time control of urban wastewater systems
  • Water distribution system design and management
  • Urban green infrastructure and sponge cities
  • Flood risk and resilience analysis
  • Drought assessment and management 
  • Reservoir operation
  • Water resources analysis
  • Climate change impacts and adaptation

PhD Students

Highly motivated students are welcome to apply for PhD study in the above research areas. In particular, I am offering to supervise self-funded PhD students in the following areas: 

  • Urban flood modelling and resilience analysis using hydrodynamic models and machine learning models
  • Real-time control of water distribution systems or urban wastewater systems using deep reinforcement learning
  • Leakage or blockage detection, optimal sensor placement  
  • Real-time reservoir/hydropower system operation

中国学生请点击Exeter大学官方微信介绍. Chinese students can now apply for the 50 full-time PhD Scholarships jointly funded by the China Scholarship Council and University of Exeter. Applicants are most welcome to contact me to discuss the research topic before the application deadline, which is normally in early Janurary. 

Selected Awards and Honours

  • 2018 EWRI 'Best Research-Oriented Paper' award from the ASCE Journal of Water Resources Planning & Management.
  • Doctoral student Dr Chris Sweetapple won the prestigious Scopus Young Researcher UK Award in the category of Environmental Science 2015.
  • 2014 EWRI 'Quentin Martin Best Practice-Oriented Paper' award from the ASCE Journal of Water Resources Planning & Management.
  • Leading member of the team which won the Battle of Water Networks II competition, organised by the 14th Water Distribution Systems Analysis conference, 24-27 September 2012, Adelaide, Australia
  • The Best Paper Prize of the 14th Water Distribution Systems Analysis conference, 24-27 September 2012, Adelaide, Australia

Selected Research Grants

  • Royal Society Industry Fellowship: Real-time Decision Analytics for Smart Water Infrastructure (April 2017 - Mar 2021).
  • EPSRC, BRIM: Building Resilience Into Risk Management (1st March 2016 – 28th Feb 2019), PI. The project, which involves two partner universities Cranfield and Loughborough, will develop a shared, multi-disciplinary vision of how to build resilience into networked risk management for highly complex engineered systems. It is part of £21 million ‘Engineering Grand Challenges’, announced by Science Minister Jo Johnson on 16th Oct 2015.
  • British Council, Global Innovation Initiative – Flood impact assessment in mega cities under urban sprawl and climate change, 31 Mar 2015 – 30 Mar 2017, Co-I.
  • British Council and UKIERI, Water Security and Infrastructure Resilience under Climate Change (15th Mar 2014-31th May 2016), PI
  • EPSRC, Safe & SuRe: a new paradigm for water management (1st March 2013 – 28th Feb 2018), Co-I
  • EPSRC, Clean Water for All: Safe & SuRe, Co-I
  • British Council and CSC, Development and Application of Hydroinformatics Tools for Urban Stormwater Management (1st Dec 2012- 31st Dec 2014) – Co-I
  • Royal Academy of Engineering, Integrated water quality management in a mixed rural and urban catchment (1st May – 31st Dec 2013), Co-I
  • Royal Society & NSFC, Optimizing Strategies and Technologies for Nonpoint Source Pollution Control (1st April 2013 – 31st March 2015), PI
  • EU FP7 - Marie Curie Initial Training Networks: Sustainable and Integrated Urban Water System Management - SANITAS (1st Nov 2011- 31st Oct 2015) – Co-I
  • Royal Academy of Engineering, Integrated water energy management of complex water systems under uncertainty, 1st July 2012- 31st August 2013, - PI.

Selected Publications