PhD Position in Department of Civil Engineering, University College Dublin, Ireland

Hydro-Mechanical Behaviour of Biopolymer-Treated Soils

Research project: The PhD position involves laboratory testing and numerical simulations on biopolymer-treated soils with enhanced erosion resistance, water retention, and vegetation etc. This soil improvement approach has a lower carbon footprint thus is more eco-friendly than chemical stabilizations with cement, lime, and fly ash. Field studies demonstrate the feasibility and potential of biopolymer applications in slope surface protection in various soil types, including organic peat covering 17% of Ireland. The viscoelastic gel-like biopolymers change soil properties primarily through particle binding, pore-filling, and pore-clogging. The successful candidate is expected to apply experimental and numerical approaches to advance our understanding of the hydro-mechanical behaviour of biopolymer-treated soils including soil-water retention behaviour, hydraulic conductivity, undrained shear strength. The candidate will adopt non-destructive imaging techniques, i.e., X-ray computed tomography, advanced soil water potential devices, and numerical simulation methods such as discrete element method.

Supervisors: Dr Budi Zhao, Dr Mike Long (Co-supervisor)

Location:  University College Dublin, Belfield, Dublin 4, Ireland

Applicant Requirements: We seek a highly enthusiastic PhD candidate who can independently plan and conduct the research project. Applicants should have a first or upper second-class honours degree in geotechnical engineering, civil engineering or other relevant fields such as mechanical engineering or physics. Excellent written, oral communication skills and a high level of competence in the English language are essential (See UCD’s policy on minimum English language requirements here).

Stipend & fees: The successful candidate will receive a stipend of €18,000 per annum and the fully funded tuition fees for EU/non-EU applicants. The position is funded for four years – subject to satisfactory progress.

Application procedure: Applicants should submit their CV, transcript, and recommendation letters from two referees as a single .pdf document to

Application deadline: 21st Oct 2022

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