Fiona Johnson

Senior Lecturer
Sch-Civil & Environmental Eng
Contact details:
(+61 2) 9385 9769
(+61 2) 9385 6139

Civil Engineering Building (H20)
Level 3, Room CE309
Kensington Campus

Senior Lecturer, School of Civil and Environmental Engineering

Research interests

Level 1: I investigate how rainfall might change in the future

Level 2: I use statistical hydrology to analyse historical rainfall and future climate projections

Level 3: I develop methods to evaluate and correct simulations from General Circulation Models

Interest in engineering

Why did you get into engineering?

I studied engineering so that I could solve practical problems and make positive changes to the world around me

What are your research goals?

My research goals are to better understand what will happen to rainfall into the future and how these changes will impact society, particularly with respect to flooding and droughts.

What do people not understand about what you do?

We have relatively short historical records of rainfall and streamflow that make it difficult to separate the impact of natural cycles of variability, such as El Nino, from the impacts of anthropogenic climate change.

Advice for prospective civil engineers

Civil engineering is a great career that can allow you to travel the world, improving the infrastructure that people use every day. Pay attention to the infrastructure that is around you and maintain your curiosity about the way that the world works. Engineers are creative problem solvers.

Lectures/Courses taught

ENGG1000 Introduction to Engineering Design and Innovation

CVEN3501 Water Resources Engineering

CVEN9611 Urban Hydrology

CVEN9625 Fundamentals of Water Engineering


Joint supervisor for 5 PhD students

Student Projects:

Investigating bias non stationarity in climate models

Improved radar rainfall calibration methods

Satellite remote sensing of soil moisture for flood forecasting

Understanding uncertainty in climate model simulations

Flood modelling in sparsely gauged catchments

Looking for students for projects related to:

Extreme rainfalls – spatial models, future changes, multi duration relationships

Climate model evaluation and applications for water resources projects

Improved flood forecasting methods

Humanitarian engineering

Professional Organisations and Consulting positions

Member, Engineers without Borders

Member, Engineers Australia

Member, Australian Meteorological and Oceanographic Society

NSW Committee member, Australian Meteorological and Oceanographic Society

Member, Asia Oceania Geosciences Society

Member, Modelling and Simulation Society of Australia and New Zealand

Member, American Geophysical Union

Awards and Grants


2011 Malcolm Chaikin prize for Research Excellence at UNSW for the best PhD in engineering in 2010

Best presentation award at 2012 Hydrology and Water Resources Symposium for paper "Application of Bayesian GLSR to estimate sub daily rainfall parameters for the IFD Revision Project"

Awarded runner up in UNSW Faculty of Engineering Deans Award for Excellence in Postgraduate Research in 2009.

UNSW School of Civil and Environmental Engineering Research Excellence Prize in 2009 awarded for the best PhD student in Civil Engineering for the year.


CI Johnson, CI Sharma, PI Chowdhury, PI Beecham; Assessing future drought risk for water resources system management; ARC Linkage (LP150100548); 2015-2018; $300,000

CI Westra, CI Johnson, PI Fowler, PI Lenderink, PI Zwiers; A spatial extremes framework for predicting subdaily rainfall intensity; ARC Discovery (DP150100411); 2015-2017; $275 900

CI Sharma, CI Johnson, CI Liu, PI Moradkhani, PI Muddu, PI Wang, PI Robertson;  Reducing flood loss - A data-assimilation framework for improving forecasting capability in sparsely gauged regions; ARC Discovery (DP140102394); 2014-2016; $550,000



PhD (Civil Engineering), University of New South Wales, Sydney, Australia, 2010


Bachelor of Engineering (Civil) (Honours and University Medal), University of New South Wales, Sydney, Australia, 2002