PhD research

HKV employs 15 consultants with a PhD degree. That is almost a quarter of the employees who work at HKV as consultants. Some recent promotions are listed below.

Joost Pol defended his PhD thesis Cum Laude on the 6st of December 2022. Joost started his PhD in September 2017, studying how dike safety assessments can be improved by including flood duration and time-dependent failure processes such as piping erosion. He performed his research at TU Delft as part of the All Risk Research Program.

Guy Dupuits obtained his PhD at TU Delft on 20 December 2019. Guy researched the inclusion of breaches in a system of flood defences for the purpose of determining the economically acceptable flood risk. A breach in a flood defence will affect the flood risk for other flood defences in the same system. The economically optimal relationship between costs (flood defence reinforcements) and benefits (reduction of flood risk) changes with the inclusion of breaches.
Read more here.

Vincent Vuik successfully defended his PhD thesis at TU Delft in March 2019. He researched the reliability of Building with Nature flood protection measures. Vegetated foreshores, such as salt marshes and mangrove forests, received most attention in his research.
Read more here.

In addition, the following HKVs are engaged in research that should lead to a dissertation:

Lieke Lokin – University of Twente

Lieke Lokin started her PhD research on the topic of river dunes in January 2020. River dunes are dynamic bed forms moving over the riverbed. During high discharges, these dunes grow and during low discharges they decrease again. The growth and decrease lags the changes in discharge, this hysteresis results in dunes that are too small relative to the discharge the during the peak of a flood wave. After the peak has passed, the dunes are too large, but they also start adapting to the changing flow.
River dunes cause two problems: during high discharges they increase the bed roughness, which leads to higher water levels, during low discharges the crests of the dunes decrease the navigable depth creating ‘obstacles’ for shipping. In her research Lieke focusses on the dynamics of these river dunes, especially during (extreme) low discharges and the transition from high discharges towards the low discharges. Eventually she strives to develop a model to predict the dune size during high and low flows.

  • L. Lokin, MSc adviseur Rivieren, kusten en delta's Thema's Rivieren, Kusten en delta's
  • Bart Strijker – TU Delft

    After 3 years of (part-time) research into the desiccation of regional dikes, Bart started a PhD research at TU Delft in January 2022. Together with three water boards, Rijkswaterstaat and STOWA, he has set up a monitoring network where the geohydrology of regional dikes is measured. Geohydrology is the driving mechanism of instabilities and regional dike breaches. In order to correctly estimate risks associated with regional dikes, it is necessary to understand the geohydrological response; how do precipitation and evaporation translate into soil moisture and water pressures? Bart’s PhD work focuses on the geohydrological response, the translation into failure probabilities and dependencies with other precipitation-dominated flooding situations.

  • ir. B. Strijker Consultant Risk and disaster management Thema's Risk and disaster management
  • Ties van der Heijden – TU Delft

    Ties van der Heijden started his PhD research in October 2019. He researches the balancing capacity that the Dutch water system can deliver to the electricity grid. Renewable energy has a de-stabilizing effect on the grid. By adjusting the energy demand of pumping stations in a smart way, they can contribute to grid stability and reliability. Ties researches the available electricity market- and balancing-mechanisms, how they can evolve over the coming years, and how the water system (with all its uncertainties) can use them to facilitate the energy transition.

  • ir. T.J.T. van der Heijden Consultant Water and energy Thema's Water and climate
  • Hermjan Barneveld – Wageningen University

    Over the past century we have changed the Maas considerably by building dams, cutting bends, normalizing and extracting sand and gravel. After the floods of 1993 and 1995, dykes were constructed and the Meuse works were carried out, creating space and nature. As a result, the Meuse has become an even more complex river and we do not sufficiently understand how the system behaves. This also applies to morphology, i.e. the transport of gravel, sand and silt and the erosion and sedimentation processes. At the moment we do not know what the sediment balance for the Meuse looks like and what the consequences of an imbalance could be for nature, shipping and stability of infrastructure.
    Hermjan’s PhD research at Wageningen University & Research started on 1 February 2020. The first part concentrates on morphological modelling and how this can be accelerated for long term simulations. Next the sediment balance will be analyzed, followed by research into the most important morphological processes in this supply limited river with its many weirs. Finally techniques for long-term morphological impact assessment of measures and climate change will be studied and applied, taking into consideration the main uncertainties.

  • ir. H.J. Barneveld senior adviseur Rivieren, kusten en delta's Thema's Rivieren, kusten en delta's
  • Cees Oerlemans – TU Delft

    Flood risk in the Netherlands is an interplay of climate change, spatial planning and climate adaptation. Major investments will be made in the Netherlands in the coming decades, including housing and infrastructure development. There is insufficient insight into how these investment decisions are related to flood risks and adaptation strategies, especially in the long term. In his research at Delft University of Technology, which started on November 1, 2022, Cees investigates the relation between sea level rise, urban development and climate adaptation. In the first case study he focuses on unembanked areas in Rotterdam, where the flood risk between 1970 and 2150 is mapped out. This study explicitly considers the combination of sea level rise, urban development plans and the construction of the Maeslantkering. The second case study focuses on new methods for assessing and valuing physical climate risks, including climate labels for housing. Cees also examines which long-term adaptation strategies are possible for the Rhine-Meuse estuary considering sea level rise. The research is part of the multidisciplinary research program ‘Real Estate Development & Building in Low Urban Environments’ (RED&BLUE), with a consortium of governments, housing cooperatives and the financial sector.

  • drs. ir. C. Oerlemans Consultant Risk and disaster management Thema's Risk and disaster management
  • Paulina Kindermann – TU Delft

    Since Paulina started at HKV in May 2021, she has been working on a study into the hydraulic loads on the coast. Within this research, simulated time series of wind and sea water levels were used to gain a better understanding of the effect of North Sea storms on extreme water levels along the coast. This research was the motivation for Paulina to start a PhD program at TU Delft. That is why she started PhD research into the impact of climate change on extreme storms in the North Sea in November 2023, in collaboration with Rijkswaterstaat, HKV, TNO and Deltares. The aim is to better understand how extreme storms arise, how climate change can influence them and what this means for water safety on the Dutch coast in the future. This includes the design of dikes and dunes, but also the forecasting models used for the timely closing of the storm surge barriers.

  • ir. P.E. (Paulina) Kindermann Consultant Risk and Disaster Management Thema's Risk and disaster management
  • Niels van der Vegt – University of Twente

    In January 2024, Niels van der Vegt began his PhD research on wave overtopping at dikes. The required crest level of a dike is determined, among other factors, by the erosion resistance of its landward slope. Currently, when the crest level is calculated, only the strength of the top layer of grass covering is considered. The strength of the clay layer, often present beneath the grass top layer, is disregarded as it is unknown how much it contributes to the erosion resistance of the landward slope. During his research, Niels investigates through experiments and numerical modeling the strength of this underlying layer and how it can be quantified. The PhD research is conducted at the University of Twente in collaboration with Delft University of Technology and is part of the NWO research program ‘Future Flood Risk Management Technologies’ (Future FRM Tech).


  • ir. N. (Niels) van der Vegt Consultant Risk and Disaster Management Thema's Risk and disaster management