Research

A particular focus of my research has been in the area of soil-structure interaction (SSI) covering development of normal and frictional contact stresses exerted by soil onto structures, soil strength mobilization displacements, pore water pressures and their time dependence. My research has included the use of numerical modelling, laboratory testing at model scale, and field testing/monitoring.

Intelligent underground construction monitoring

The research is in collaboration with a range of industry partnersThis work involves the development of the underpinning engineering science for soil-structure interaction (SSI) design applied to underground construction processes. Intelligent monitoring systems are being developed to measure and monitor soil-structure contact stresses on live construction projects to provide (i) field data for rigorous validation of developed design methods and (ii) real-time, automated feedback to site engineers to inform construction processes and provide 'early warning' of adverse responses. Recent advances in fibre optic sensing are being exploited to develop novel multi-directional contact stress sensors. The new sensors will alleviate limitations associated with traditional transducers such as excessive sensor flexibility and susceptibility to electromagnetic noise and water damage. Our monitoring systems will employ machine learning algorithms in the form of Bayesian non-parametrics such that prior data from previous construction projects may be synthesised with newly-acquired data to provide a robust data-driven decision-making process. The monitoring systems are currently being deployed on live construction projects throughout the UK and Ireland alongside industry partners. A suite of new design methods tailored specifically for underground construction operations are also being developed, informed by the field monitoring, laboratory testing and numerical modelling.

Pile group behaviour

Pile foundations have been used for centuries as a means of transmitting structural loads to competent strata at depth in the ground. Piles installed in groups have the potential to carry large loads and are often the only viable solution when structures to be supported are heavy, or when the ground conditions are challenging. Traditionally, the emphasis in pile design was on predicting ultimate pile capacity, with a large factor of safety ensuring that settlements were small, formal estimates of which could often be avoided. More recently, this focus has shifted towards more economical serviceability limit‒state design. My research has focused on refining predictions of pile foundation settlement through improved numerical, analytical, and empirical models of pile-soil-pile interaction.