Dr Brian Sheil awarded Royal Academy of Engineering Research Fellowship

21 March 2018

Dr Brian Sheil, Departmental Lecturer in Geotechnical Engineering, has been awarded a Royal Academy of Engineering Research Fellowship which will allow him to devote more time to his 'Intelligent Real-time Monitoring to Inform Underground Construction Processes'.

The Royal Academy of Engineering announced support for seven new engineering research fellowships, with each awardee receiving five years’ worth of funding to advance their academic research.

The Research Fellowships, which are highly competitive, are designed to advance excellence in engineering by enabling outstanding early-career academics to concentrate on basic research in any field of engineering. Covering a variety of engineering disciplines, the proposed research topics include deep learning for robotics, technologies to enable the conversion of waste into biofuels and new 3D imaging techniques for tissue engineering.

The funding allows researchers to devote more time to develop a track record in their discipline. Research Fellows also receive mentoring from an experienced Academy Fellow, providing valuable advice and industry links that will enable them to establish themselves as future leaders in their fields.


Dr Sheil’s project will develop intelligent, automated methods for instrumenting, measuring and monitoring structural interaction with soil during underground construction operations. The monitored data will be used to provide real-time feedback to site engineers and to develop new design methods for underground construction processes.

A key aspect of this work will be the development of novel instruments employing fibre-bragg-grating sensors to measure soil-structure normal and frictional contact stresses in the field. These monitoring systems will be deployed on upcoming construction projects alongside industry partners.

Associate Professor Ton van den Bremer of the Department's Civil Engineering Group also received a Royal Academy of Engineering Research Fellowship in July 2017 for his project  'Cleaning the ocean: understanding transport of plastic pollution by waves'. The project started in September 2017, the first 4 months at the University of Edinburgh, continuing at Oxford from the beginning of January 2018. He says, "Every day, the UK witnesses the harmful effects of plastic pollution on its coastlines, with a large share of fish in the English Channel reported to be contaminated with microplastic particles and the threat to seabirds reported as very serious. The Fellowship aims to determine the fundamental mechanisms of transport and dispersion of plastic pollution in realistic, stochastic seas. Together with currents and wind, waves determine the global pathways along which plastic pollution is transported. The intended impact will be to improve understanding of these pathsways, to ultimately aid and inform clean-up and mitigation".

construction site