School of Engineering

Staff Profile

Professor Stefano Utili

Professor of Geotechnical Engineering, Academic Parliamentary Fellow at POST, former Adviser for the Science & Technology Committee of the House of Commons


Laurea (equivalent to MEng, Politecnico di Milano, It), MSc (Chalmers University, Sweden), PhD (Politecnico di Milano), CEng FICE FGS, Eur Ing

Stefano is currently seconded at POST as Parliamentary Academic Fellow advising the Science and Technology Committee of the House of Commons. He leads the GEST Group.

His first degree was in Structural Engineering followed by a doctorate in Geotechnical Engineering. Prior to being appointed at Newcastle University he was Lecturer at the University of Oxford (2008-11) and Associate Professor at University of Warwick (2011-16).


  • UK representative on the CEN committee TC250/SC7/WG3/TG1 tasked with the revision of Eurocode 7 (European wide code of practice for Geotechnical Engineeering mandated in the UK) for the section ‘Slopes and embankments’

  • Editorial Board member of Geotechnique
  • Editorial Board Member of Engineering Geology
  • Editorial Board Member of Rock Mechanics and Rock Engineering
  • Fellow of the Institution of Civil Engineers (FICE).
  • Fellow of the Geological Society of London (FGS).
  • Member of International Technical Committee TC105 of the ISSMGE
  • Member of International Technical Committee TC208 of the ISSMGE
  • Full Member of the EPSRC College of Reviewers
  • Member of the British Geotechnical Association.
  • European Engineer, FEANI member.

Professional History

  • Sept 2016 - Professor of Geotechnical Engineering at Newcastle University
  • Feb 2016 to Aug 2016: full Professor at University of Warwick
  • October 2011 to Feb 2016: Associate Professor at University of Warwick.
  • October 2008 to September 2011: Departmental Lecturer at University of Oxford and Tutor at St Anne's College .
  • November 2006 to October 2008: Post-doctoral Research Fellow (grade 7) in the Department of Civil Engineering, University of Strathclyde (Glasgow, UK).
  • May 2005 to October 2006: senior engineer at SnamReteGas (ENI group, national oil and gas company), San Donato Milanese (Italy)
  • April 2004 to April 2005: technical office responsible at GL Locatelli Srl, Turate (Italy)
  • March 2001 to April 2004: PhD student at Politecnico di Milano, Milano (Italy).

Academic Qualifications

  • 2004: PhD in Geotechnical Engineering, with distinction, Politecnico di Milano, Milano (Italy)
  • 2001: M.Sc. in Structural Engineering, Chalmers University of Technology, Goteborg (Sweden)
  • 2000: Laurea (MEng) in Civil Engineering (5 years degree), summa cum laude, Politecnico di Milano, Milano (Italy)


Scopus author profile


Google scholar

Design of geosynthetic-reinforced slopes in cohesive backfills is the most downloaded article in Geotextiles and Geomembranes

Guest Editor of the following Special Issues:

The bulk of my research is about reducing the impact of landslides and slope instabilities on engineering infrastructure and the built environment. The increasing threat of natural hazards due to the expanding size of cities, growing use of infrastructure, and the effect of increased climatic variations means that the economic losses induced by geohazards keep increasing so engineering solutions able to provide a step change in the way we tackle landslides are urgently needed.

My main research interests are as follows:

  • Numerical and experimental modelling of the initiation of landslides and subsequent debris flows under various load and climatic conditions.
  • Development of analytical solutions based on limit analysis to assess the stability of slopes
  • Development of the Discrete Element Method for non -spherical particles (e.g. sand grains) and the simulation of engineering problems in rock mechanics such as tunnelling in jointed rock masses and the stability of rock slopes 
  • Investigation of the behaviour of sands and cemented soils (e.g. lunar soil,
    methane hydrate bearing sands) via the Discrete Element Method for constitutive modelling purposes.

My research group

PhD candidates are welcome to contact me to apply for a thesis in one of the mentioned areas or to propose their own research theme.

Current PhD students

The list of my current PhD students is in chronological order of start date. Links to their individual profiles are provided:

Past PhD students
  • Graduated in 2013, Chia Weng Boon has been awarded the Rocha Medal 2016 for the best PhD thesis in Rock Mechanics. This award is conferred to the best PhD selected among a worldwide pool of theses. Further details are available at Currently Dr Boon is working in a private company in Singapore as specialist geotechnical engineer for projects involving undeground excavations in rock.
  • Graduated in 2013, Chiara Modenese currently works at Atkins Global.
  • Graduated in 2014, Tao Zhao currently is Lecturer at Brunel University (London).
  • Graduated in March 2015, Kovthaman Murugaratnam currently works in industry.
  • Graduated in July 2015, Giulia Macaro currently works at Atkins Global.
  • Graduated in May 2016 Weigao Wu currently works as geotechnical engineer in China.
  • Graduated in January 2017, Chrysoula Vulgari currently works at Atkins as geotechnical engineer.
  • Graduated in August 2017, Akram Abd currently is a lecturer at Tikrit University (Tikrit, Iraq).
Post-Doctoral collaborators

  • Dr Maria Lazari
  • Dr Prashanth Vangla now at IISC (Bangalore, India)
  • Dr Anitha Kumari now at IISC (Bangalore, India)  
  • Dr Giuseppe Dattola is now working at Universita Milano Bicocca.
  • Dr Irene Redaelli is now a Post-doc at Politecnico di Milano.

Current grants

July 2018 - December 2022:

Co-I (Lead Prof Glendinning) for "Assessment, Costing and enHancement of long lIfe, Long Linear assEtS (ACHILLES)" EPSRC Programme grant EP/R034575/1. Total funds: 4,872,904. Academic partners involved: Newcastle University, Durham University, Loughborough University, Bath University, Southampton University, BGS. Industrial partners Adept, Arup, CH2M, Environment Agency, Geotechnics Ltd, High Speed Two, Highways England, Mott McDonald, Network Rail, Severn Trent Water.   

April 2018 - March 2022:

Co-I (Newcastle lead) for “towards geoHazards rEsilient infRastruCtUre under changing cLimatES” EU H2020 RISE. Total sum of the project 2.372 € million (EU funds for €2,016,000). The academic partners involved in the exchange are: University of Warwick (coordinator), Newcastle University, RWTH-Aachen University (Aachen, Germany), University of Natural Resources & Life Sciences (Vienna, Austria), Istituto di Ricerca per la Protezione Idrogeologica di Torino (Turin, Italy), Eurac Research centre (Bolzano, Italy), Arup Italia Srl (Milan, Italy), Zhejiang University (Hangzhou, China), University of San Simon (Cochabamba, Bolivia), Nazerbayev University (Astana, Kazakstan), The University of Newcastle (Newcastle, Australia).

March 2018 - February 2019:

£60,000 EPSRC IAA secondment at the Select Committee on Science and Technology House of Commons for project 'Does the UK need EU funding to remain a world-leader in scientific research and innovation? An analysis of the impact of EU vs UK funding on UK Research and Development.'

April 2015 - March 2019:

Coordinator for “Geohazards risk assessment, mitigation and prevention” EU H2020 RISE. Total sum of the project 2.147 € million (EU funds for €1,804,500). The academic partners involved in the exchange are: University of Warwick, Institut National Polytechnique de Grenoble (Grenoble, France), Universidad Politecnica Catalunya (Barcelona, Spain), University of Natural Resources & Life Sciences (Vienna, Austria), Applied Seismology Consultants (Shrewsbury, UK), University of San Simon (Cochabamba, Bolivia), University of San Juan (Buonos Aires, Argentina), Tongji University (Shanghai, China), Georgia Institute of Technology (Georgia, US), Nazerbayev University (Astana, Kazakstan).

February 2012 - January 2016:

Coordinator for “Geohazards and geomechanics” EU FP7 IRSES (International Researchers staff Exchange Scheme). Total sum awarded: €438,900. The academic partners involved in the exchange are: University of Warwick, Universidad Politecnica Catalunya (Barcelona, Spain), Institut National Polytechnique de Grenoble (Grenoble, France), Universita Milano Bicocca (Milano, Italy), University of Edinburgh (Edinburgh, UK), Tongji University (Shanghai, China), Tsinghua University (Beijing, China), Indian Institute of Science (Bangalore, India).


Undergraduate Teaching

I contribute to teach:
  • CEG3003 - Engineering Ethics and Sustainability (10 credits)
Project supervision:
  • CEG8099 Investigative Research Project (MEng)

Postgraduate Teaching

I teach:

  • CEG8208 - Geotechnical Design (20 credits)
Project supervision:
  • CEG8296 Project and Dissertation in Geotechnical Engineering and Engineering Geology (MSc)