Heide Friedrich

My research focuses on processes taking place in water-worked environments, such as rivers: sediment movement/transport; physical modelling; flow structure and ecohydraulics; and hydraulic structures. Several of my current projects strive to apply innovative analysis methodologies developed for turbulence studies into sediment transport research. In addition to using those traditional research methods, my specific interest and contribution to the research community is the use of advanced visualisation techniques to study underwater topography. In addition to mobile and fixed boundary research, I am researching density flows.

Besides leading my research team, I’m the Head of the Water Engineering Laboratory at the University of Auckland, and the Deputy Head of Department (Research) in the Civil and Environmental Engineering Department. I am Co-President of the New Zealand Association of Scientists (NZAS). I have over 80 published research journals and conference papers and have successfully supervised 1 PostDocs, 4 PhD and 6 Masters students. My research team is currently home to 1 PostDoc, 6 PhD students and several undergraduate students, I co-supervise another 4 PhD students. I have collaborations in place within the University, as well as on a national and international level.


I obtained my Diplom Ing. in 2002 from the ‎Technische Universität Berlin, Germany. Before following the academic pathway, I worked in industry in the design office for two leading international providers of construction related services:

I spent considerable time studying outside Germany (‎University of Melbourne, Australia and Heriot-Watt University, Scotland), before coming to NZ in 2003 to undertake my PhD studies. Since 2006 I’m lecturing at the University of Auckland.

Until 2012, I was mainly involved in teaching an engineering-wide professional development course to all final year engineering students, with class sizes of over 600 students. In 2011, I was an integral member of the team that delivered the inaugural and highly successful Systems Week to 535 students. 88% of the students recommended to include a similar scenario-based systems approach for the following year. The success of the inaugural Systems Week provided the momentum for changes in the undergraduate engineering curriculum. Students strongly believed that the experiences taken away from the Systems Week will help them in their future professional career, with feedback such as “Best project at uni to date.”


The diverse experiences I gained (industry, professional development, systems thinking, academic research) uniquely position me to guide my students to become true 21st century engineers and future decision makers, not only excelling at the highest technical level, but also understanding the importance of and mastering non-technical challenges. For students interested to know more about PhD opportunities under my supervision, please continue reading here.

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