Geotechnical Research Centre

Research Interests

K.Y. Lo

Professor and Emeritus
Director, Geotechnical Research Centre

Involved in broadly based geotechnical research in energy and resource development. These projects include tunnelling and underground structures in rocks for hydroelectric and nuclear power developments, high level nuclear waste depository, soft ground tunnelling and construction over existing tunnels, stability of concrete dams on rock foundations, foundations of tall buildings, stability of high slopes in residual soils and application of electrical processes for the dewatering, consolidation and strengthening of clays and slurries. Safety assessment and rehabilitation of aged underground structures.

Ernest K. Yanful

Professor, Civil and Environmental Engineering

Involved in fundamental and applied research to develop cost-effective and environmentally acceptable technology for managing reactive mine tailings and waste rock. Saturated-unsaturated flow and low temperature geochemical principles are used in fundamental research on soil covers and metal leaching from potentially acid producing mine waste. Applied research is focusing on design, installation and prediction of long-term performance of soil and water covers. Current emphasis is on measurement and prediction of the impact of environmental factors such as wind, rain and freeze-thaw on oxygen transfer into covered wastes, and assessment of resuspension in flooded cohesive mine tailings. Soil barrier work includes compatibility testing and interpretation of bentonite and natural soil liner-municipal leachate and bentonite-acid mine drainage systems. Recent work includes development of biofilter landfill final cover for methane reduction and bioremediation of sediments and biodegradation of plastics.

M. Hesham El Naggar

Professor, Civil and Environmental Engineering 
Associate Dean (Research and Graduate Studies)

Research interests cover a wide range of geotechnical and structural problems including: static and dynamic analysis of piles; soil-structure interaction; structural and soil dynamics, earthquake and offshore engineering; design of machine foundations. El Naggar has an ongoing interest in analysis and design of deep foundations. His contributions include a number of innovative solutions for foundation problems: using the Statnamic© load test to predict pile capacity; development of novel toe driving mechanism for installation of thin-walled piles and innovative tapered FRP composite piles; and application of electrokintec treatment to improve the response of piles. Current research involves the response of structures to wind, earthquake, and wave loading considering the interactive effects of the supporting soil medium and the development and testing of innovative base isolation system for seismic applications. He has a national and international reputation in the area of design of machine foundations (e.g. power plants, manufacturing equipment, etc.) and served as consultant in a variety of challenging projects both in Canada and abroad. He is a co-author for the computer program DYNA5 that is used worldwide for the design of machine foundations.

Julie Q. Shang

Professor, Civil and Environmental Engineering

Involved in electrokinetic phenomena in geomedia applied to a broad field of geotechnical and environmental engineering, such as dewatering contaminated sediments, mine tailings, dredged materials and water treatment sludge; strengthening soft clays, ground anchors, piles and other foundation elements; remediation of contaminated sediments and rocks; and control of contaminant migration in landfills. Other areas of expertise include physical, chemical and electrical behaviour of soil-water-electrolyte systems, engineering instru-mentation and geosynthetics.

Tim Newson

Associate Professor, Civil and Environmental Engineering 

Scaled Physical Modelling in the Geotechnical Centrifuge. Newson’s research interests and consulting activities include in situ testing, disposal of mine wastes, the behaviour of offshore structures and soils, centrifuge and laboratory testing techniques, constitutive modelling of clays, soil-structure interaction, contaminant and pathogen movement through soils, fracture behaviour in clayey soils and the biomechanics of the human eye.

Clare Robinson

Assistant Professor, Civil and Environmental Engineering

Clare Robinson joined the Geotechnical Research Centre in 2009 after completing her PhD at the University of Queensland, Australia and a postdoctoral fellowship at Ecole Polytechnique Federale de Lausanne, Switzerland. Her interest is in the fate and transport of groundwater contaminants and in particular in groundwater and geochemical modeling. Her modeling expertise allows her to investigate a wide range of water quality issues in subsurface systems and also to assist in the development and evaluation of sustainable engineering solutions. For example, she has developed models to enhance understanding of fundamental hydrological, chemical and biological processes controlling the behavior of contaminants the subsurface and also to assist in the design and optimization of DNAPL bioremediation strategies.

Jason I. Gerhard

Associate Professor, Civil and Environmental and Engineering and Canada Research Chair in Geoenvironmental Restoration Engineering

Restoration of sites contaminated by hazardous industrial liquids via innovative in situ technologies; Numerical modelling and physical experiments to advance understanding of how contamination scenarios evolve and build confidence in the capabilities of state-of-the-art simulators; Furthering understanding of the physics and chemistry governing the migration of dense, nonaqueous phase liquids (DNAPLs, such as chlorinated solvents and coal tar) below the water table; Simulation of technologies (including bioremediation, chemical oxidation, surfactant flushing, and dual phase recovery) for addressing DNAPL source zones in porous media and fractured rock environments; Developing a novel approach for in situ destruction of organic liquids via smouldering combustion; Developing ground penetrating radar as a non-invasive technique for monitoring site remediation progress.

Abouzar Sadrekarimi

Assistant Professor, Civil and Environmental Engineering

Research interests include advanced soil laboratory and field testing, interpretation of cone penetration tests, critical state soil mechanics, geotechnical earthquake engineering and soil dynamics. Sadrekarimi completed his PhD at the University of Illinois where he designed and supervised the construction of an advanced ring shear testing apparatus for studying the critical state and large deformation behavior of granular soils. He received the prestigious Ralph B. Peck Fellowship award for his excellence and outstanding performance in Geotechnical Engineering research. Sadrekarimi is an expert in advanced soil mechanics laboratory testing and exceptionally qualified to pursue experimental research projects. Before joining Western, Sadrekarimi was employed at Golder Associates, a Canadian-based international leading company in geotechnical engineering. At Golder Associates, he was involved in the design and analysis of slopes, retaining walls, and foundations as well as liquefaction analysis. Based on his strong laboratory experience, he also served as an advanced soil testing analyst and performed advanced unidirectional cyclic direct simple shear and stress-path triaxial shear tests. Current research projects include interpretation of CPT data, influence of scale on the behavior of cohesionless soils, seismic behavior of retaining walls, studying liquefied strength of soil using critical state soil mechanics, energy-based approach for liquefaction analysis, liquefaction potential of silts and sandy silts.