School of Engineering

Staff Profile

Dr Ross Stirling

Lecturer in Geotechnical Infrastructure


PhD Studentships

I am actively seeking well qualified and motivated PhD candidates in the fields of Geotechnical Engineering and Hydrology with a particular focus on environmental geotechnics (soil-plant-atmosphere interaction, hydro-thermal energy and climate change impacts), slope and buried infrastructure, sensing and monitoring, Green Infrastructure and Sustainable Drainage Systems (SuDS). Please contact me for informal enquiries.

    The National Green Infrastructure Facility (@NGIF_UK):  

    Background & Research Interests

    My role at Newcastle since 2016 has been to co-ordinate the research activities of the National Green Infrastructure Facility (NGIF), part of the UK Collaboratorium for Research on Infrastructure and Cities (UKCRIC) network, situated at Newcastle Helix.

    Completed in September 2017, the National Green Infrastructure Facility is a ‘living lab’ for exploring how Green features such as planting and soils (natural and amended) help mitigate the effects of climate change in urban areas, making them more resilient and sustainable. This is a world-class facility hosting collaborative, full-scale, multi-disciplinary research into Sustainable Drainage Systems (SuDS), Green Infrastructure performance and fundamental soil-plant-atmosphere interactions.

    Prior to my involvement in the NGIF, I completed a PhD in numerical modelling of desiccation cracking in unsaturated, compacted clay fill in the field of infrastructure slope stability. I then worked simultaneously on two large EPSRC funded projects –iSMART and Assessing The Underworld. There, my role was primarily as an experimentalist (laboratory and full-scale). I continue to manage the BIONICS research facility - a trial infrastructure embankment which hosts a number of innovative techniques to monitor the slope asset condition (e.g. PRIME and SlopeALARMS) as well as a comprehensive suite of buried and meteorological sensors and associated extensive dataset.

    My laboratory interests revolve around the cyclic wetting-drying behaviour of clays - specifically geotechnical properties (e.g. Soil water retention curves (SWRC), tensile and shear strength testing and small-large strain stiffness testing), geophysical techniques (i.e. resistivity) and imaging (Digital Image Correlation, Environmental-SEM and XRCT). My work also centres on understanding geotechnical deterioration mechanisms across the scales of infrastructure performance, from the soil element itself up to the network, strategic level. Through my involvement with iSMART and ATU, I have helped to develop ideas of progressive asset deterioration in the infrastructure slope and buried utility contexts, assets upon which the future resilience of our cities relies.


    I am actively engaged in geotechnical design consultancy and have worked with Electrokinetic Ltd on several slope stabilisation sites for Highways England in Cambridgeshire.  Electrokinetic Ltd provides solutions for remediating unstable slopes and dewatering slurries and sludges based on patented electrokinetic geosynthetic technology. They are recipients of numerous ICE awards owing to the outstanding sustainability credentials that electro-osmotic remediation brings.

    Together with the Environment Agency, I am supervising bank stability monitoring and analysis project on the River Tyne. The purpose of this work is to identify sustainable remediation methods that exploit coupled hydro-mechanical mechanisms to provide green, aesthetic solutions.  


    • BSc (Hons) - Geology - Durham University 2008
    • MSc - Geotechnical Engineering - Newcastle University 2009
    • PhD - Multiphase modelling of desiccation cracking in compacted soils - Newcastle University 2014 (pdf)

    -        Development of a pseudo-discrete continuum finite difference model (FLAC) capable of capturing two-phase flow within a porous media subject to mechanical and hydrological boundary conditions and a tension failure criterion. Additionally, this work saw the design and development of an apparatus to establish the variable (un)saturated soil tensile strength.


    • Fellow of the Geological Society
    • Member of the British Geotechnical Association
    • TUD COST Action TU1202 member (Website)

    Grants & Awards

    • Urban Green DaMS (Design and Modelling of SuDS) (EP/S005862/1) Co-Investigator, March 2018 - Feb 2021 (£800,000)
    • ACHILLES - Assessment, Costing and enHancement of long lIfe, Long Linear assEtS (EP/R034575/1) Co-Investigator, July 2018 - Dec 2022 (£4,872,904)
    • CACTUS - Climate Adaptation Control Technologies for Urban Spaces (EP/R005834/1) Co-Investigator, Jan 2018 - Dec 2021 (£1,761,592)
    • PLEXUS - Priming Laboratory EXperiments on infrastructure and Urban Systems (EP/R013535/1) Co-Investigator, Jan 2018 -  Dec 2019 (£1,013,092)
    • UKCRIC - UK Collaboratorium for Research in Infrastructure & Cities: Newcastle Laboratories (EP/R010102/1) Researcher Co-Investigator, April 2016 - March 2021 (£9,671,332)
    • Organiser of the International Training School ‘The Vadose Zone Workshop’.  An event for European Early Stage Researchers convened between Newcastle University and Durham University, July 2015 (15,000EUR)
    • ‘Short Term Scientific Mission’ travel grant to École des Ponts ParisTech, February 2015 - COST Action TU1202 (Report) (2,500EUR)
    • CEGS Newcastle internal conference - Oral Presentation Prize 2011
    • CEGS Newcastle internal conference - Poster Prize 2010

    Journal Reviewer

    • Canadian Geotechnical Journal
    • Journal of Geotechnical and Geological Engineering
    • International Journal of Rock Mechanics and Mining Sciences
    • Engineering Geology
    • Geotechnique Letters

    Researcher Profile: ResearchGate

    Google Scholar: Click here.

    SCOPUS: Click here.


    Research Project Supervision:

    • Medical imaging soil-water processes (PhD) (to start Sept 2019)
    • Digital Twins for Resiliet Geo-Infrastructure (PhD) (to start Sept 2019)
    • Rixia Zan (PhD) - Using biochar amended gravel/sand as pollution attenuating materials in soak-aways and under permeable pavements for sustainable stormwater management (2018 – current)
    • Oboho Okon Eminue (PhD) - Environmental and Material Controls on Desiccation Cracking in Engineered Clay Embankments (Completed 2018)
    • MSc Geotechnical Engineering/Engineering Geology (PGT) (annually)
    • BEng and MEng Civil Engineering (UG) (annually)