Scientia Professor Nasser Khalili honoured by the Australian Academy of Technology and Engineering (ATSE)

Congratulations to Prof. Nasser Khalili – new Fellow of the Australian Academy of Technological Sciences and Engineering (ATSE).

Elected by their peers, ATSE Fellows are leaders in applied science, technology and engineering.

UNSW Civil & Environmental Engineering Head of School Professor Nasser Khalili, an international leader in geotechnical engineering, is amongst 27 academics elected in October as new Fellows of the Australian Academy of Technological Sciences and Engineering (ATSE).

Prof. Khalili is an international leader in geotechnical engineering, computational geomechanics and unsaturated soil mechanics. His work encompasses roads, tunnels, mines, dams, earthquake engineering and groundwater projects.

ATSE President Hugh Bradlow said the new Fellows are shaping Australia’s technology powered human driven future.

“Elected by their peers, ATSE Fellows are leaders in applied science, technology and engineering and we celebrate their exceptional professional contributions to Australian STEM innovation,” Professor Bradlow said.

“While the 2022 new Fellows span multiple critical industries, we are pleased to welcome so many at the forefront of tackling climate change.

“ATSE is Australia’s foremost impact network for leading applied scientists, technologists and engineers, and we’re thrilled to see Professor Nasser Khalili join this group. Congratulations on this wonderful accomplishment, Nasser.”

PSM Professor and Scientia Professor Nasser Khalili FTSE,
has contributed to projects of national and international interest including the stability assessment of the Olympic Stadium site at Homebush Bay and the seismic hazard investigation for Sydney Airport’s third runway.

Prof. Khalili currently oversees a project diverting 10,000 tonnes of paper and plastic waste into road construction, creating technical leadership in Australian recycling and reducing infrastructure costs. National design guidelines for embankment dams include Nasser’s seismic analysis. His assessment of the Hume Dam helped determined the cause of increasing movement in the dam’s core-wall and the design of an effective solution.

Prof. Khalili is also Director of the ARC Industry Transformation Research Hub for Resilient and Intelligent Infrastructure Systems (RIIS) (NSW).

He says his top priorities as a Fellow will be to promote the quality of science, technology, and engineering education at all levels, particularly amongst high school students and the broader community and engage industry, government, research leaders, and infrastructure stakeholders, to facilitate the implementation of integrated science-based practical solutions to address the challenges facing Australia’s infrastructure.

Congratulations to Nasser!

Read more about the 2022 ATSE Fellows at

Story source – Olga Gerloff,  UNSW Newsroom, 19 Oct 2022


Congratulations Dr Mohammad Vahab – IACMAG Award Winning Paper.

RIIS Chief Investigator Dr Mohammad Vahab has been awarded a prestigious award for early career researchers from the International Association for Computer Methods and Advances in Geomechanics (IACMAG).

Mohammad received the ‘Excellent Paper Award to Junior Individuals (45 years and under)’ for his paper “X-FEM Modeling of Multizone Hydraulic Fracturing Treatments within Saturated Porous Media”, published in Rock Mechanics and Rock Engineering (2018) 51:3219–3239.In this paper, a fully coupled hydro-mechanical model was presented for the study of multizone hydraulic fracturing. Several numerical examples were presented to demonstrate the robustness of the proposed X-FEM framework in the study of multizone hydraulic fracturing treatments through saturated porous media. The results appear to accord with the field observations reporting numerous failed attempts of multistage multizone fracturing treatments, which provide a great insight into the complexities encountered in practice.

The IACMAG Excellent Paper Award recognises excellent research contributions published through refereed paper(s) in archived journals.  This prestigious award is granted every three years to 5 early career researchers in the field. The nominated research should be of high quality and may be in a wide range of subjects in geomechanics/geotechnics, including areas such as analytical or numerical methods, constitutive modelling and testing, and important practical geotechnical applications.

IACMAG was established in 1988. It has organized successful international conferences approximately every three to four years since then.

About Mohammad Vahab

Dr Mohammad Vahab received his PhD in Civil Engineering from Sharif University of Technology in 2015. He immediately joined UNSW, Sydney as a research associate in Geotechnical Engineering, where he is currently employed as a lecturer. The focus of his research is numerical simulation by employing the state-of-the-art computational methods, namely:

– Extended Finite Element Method (XFEM);
– Non-differentiable Energy Minimisation using Discontinuous Galerkin Method (DG); and
– Phase-field Method (PF).

Mohammad specializes in the hydro-mechanical coupling processes in saturated/unsaturated porous formations. This involves the development of physical models as well as advanced computational frameworks in relation to the hydraulic fracturing treatments in neat, fractured and/or layered domains.

About Geomechanics

Geomechanics is an interdisciplinary area that involves the study of natural and man-made systems with emphasis on the mechanics of various interacting phenomena. It comprises aspects of various engineering and scientific disciplines such as civil, mechanical, hydraulic, materials, and geological engineering and geophysics, with appropriate scientific foundations in mechanics and physics. Some of the specific subjects involved are soil and rock mechanics, statics and dynamics of interacting structures and foundations, oil and fluid flow through porous media, environmental geotechnology, offshore and marine technology, geothermal energy and ice mechanics.

Geomechanics: an integration of old and innovative technologies
Geomechanics has the potential for developing innovative technologies, and providing challenging careers to outstanding people. It covers both fundamental and practical aspects, and recognizes the need for a rational process of simplification through integration of theory, experiments, and verification for the development of procedures for solution of practical industrial problems. Geomechanics, with its emphasis on both basic and applied aspects, and its interdisciplinary nature, is capable of participation in and integration of emerging scientific and technological developments so as to contribute to a wide range of areas.



Congratulations and due recognition for RIIS Lead CI Professor Sisi Zlatanova

Congratulations and due recognition for RIIS Lead CI Professor Sisi Zlatanova

At the XXIV congress of the International Society for Photogrammetry and Remote Sensing  (ISPRS) RIIS Hub Lead Chief Investigator Professor Sisi Zlatanova was awarded the honour of being elected as a lifelong Fellow of ISPRS for her sustained, excellent contribution to ISPRS and its goals.

Professor Zlatanova, SHARP Professor and Head of GRID (Geospatial Information Centre) at the Faculty of Built Environment, UNSW Sydney, is only the third woman of the 25 Fellows.  She joins her PhD supervisor and promotor (at Graz University of Technology – Austria) Franz Leberl, founder of Vexcel Imaging.

At the congress Sisi was also elected as the President of Technical Commission IV on Spatial Information Science for the period 2022-2026.  This will mean that the Commission is hosted by Australia (Surveying & Spatial Sciences Institute (SSSI)), and the TCIV symposium will be held in Australia in 2024. The symposium usually attracts 200-300 people internationally.

Huge congratulations to Sisi!

Prof Zlatanova presenting at International Congress 2022

RIIS Hub Director delivers state-of-the-art lecture on unsaturated soils (ICSMGE 2022)

Congratulations to Scientia Professor Nasser Khalili, Head of UNSW Civil & Environmental Engineering, who delivered a state-of-the-art lecture on unsaturated soils at the International Conference on Soil Mechanics and Geotechnical Engineering (ICSMGE).

This conference is organised every four years and is the peak conference in geotechnical engineering and rock mechanics internationally. ICSMGE 2022 was a hybrid Conference hosted by the Australian Geomechanics Society (AGS), from 1 – 5 May at the International Convention Centre Sydney.

One of the Conference highlights was the outstanding content presented in State of the Art (SoA) Lectures by invited world experts on their particular topic, including Biomediated bioinspired Geotechnics, Earthquake Geotechnical Engineering, Energy, Environmental Geotechnics, Unsaturated Soils, Tailings Dams and Transportation Geotechnics.

‘It was a major honour to present the SOA in this gathering,’ Professor Khalili said, ‘Someone said it is like receiving a gold medal in the Olympics!’

Professors Khalili and Romero received a certificate of presentation from ICSMGE2022, from the Session Chair, Jean-Louis Briaud, Distinguished Professor of Civil Engineering at Texas A&M University.

Professor Khalili’s publications are prolific, awarded, often cited and highly regarded, particularly his work in unsaturated soil mechanics and computational geo-mechanics. He has an international reputation for innovation and setting industry standards.

Professor Khalili is credited with the development of the first thermodynamically consistent framework for constitutive modelling of unsaturated porous media. Similarly, his research into the mechanics of double porosity media has set an international benchmark in numerical modelling of fractured porous media.

Nasser is regularly invited to speak at conferences, deliver specialised workshops for practicing engineers and consults widely on engineering matters within his area of expertise, maintaining vital ties with industry, other academic institutions, peak bodies and government. He sits on three international editorial boards and has been a visiting or honorary academic in China, France, the UK, USA and Canada.

He has been honoured for his consistent and excellent contributions to the fields of computational geomechanics, as his 2018 election to the ARC College of Experts confirms.  Nasser has received over $10 million in research funding from the Australia Research Council in the last decade. He is Director of the ARC Industry Transformation Research Hub for Resilient and Intelligent Infrastructure Systems (RIIS) in Urban, Resources and Energy Sectors.

His co-presenter in Unsaturated Soils was Professor Enrique Romero, Director of Research and Head of the Geotechnical Laboratory in the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering at the Universitat Politècnica de Catalunya (Spain), and Full Research Professor in the Geomechanics Group at CIMNE (Spain).

Romero’s research is mainly focused on multi-physics and multi-scale studies of geomaterials. He is the author or co-author of 300+ scientific papers, a member of editorial boards of several international journals, and co-editor of the books ‘Advanced Experimental Unsaturated Soil Mechanics’ (2005) and ‘Laboratory and Field Testing of Unsaturated Soils’ (2009).

Among other awards, Romero has been ‘2nd European Distinguished Lecture on Unsaturated Soils’ (2020). He co-chaired the ‘4th European Conference on Unsaturated Soils’ held in Lisbon (Portugal) in October 2020. He has been elected (January 2022) as chair of the TC 106 of Unsaturated Soils.

Professors Khalili and Romero received a certificate of presentation from ICSMGE2022, from the Session Chair, Jean-Louis Briaud, Distinguished Professor of Civil Engineering at Texas A&M University.

ICSMGE 2022 focused on the application of theory and the discovery that comes when world-class minds are focussed on the geotechnical problems facing our world. Conference program and technical sessions reflected this emphasis on applications, and were designed to trigger collaboration, innovation and discovery from a diverse group of participants.

The Conference had a Covid-era hybrid model – with in-person attendance and live and recorded streaming of the lectures and presentations. The written Proceeding of this Conference will be made available in due course on-line at the ICSMGE Web site, in line with their policy of open access.


Transformational technologies will address Australia’s critical infrastructure needs

UNSW is home to a brand-new Industry Transformation Research Hub. Resilient and Intelligent Infrastructure Systems (RIIS) in Urban, Resources and Energy Sectors.

The Hub which is co-funded by ARC, seventeen industry and four university partners will deliver transformational technologies to address Australia’s critical infrastructure needs.

Australia’s critical infrastructure and physical assets such as buildings, roads, bridges, rail lines, tunnels, utilities, processing plants, mines and refineries form the backbone of national productivity. Yet, according to the Australian Infrastructure Audit (2015) most of our infrastructure will be in a substandard state of repair by 2030, well below par with other OECD nations.

With demand for new infrastructure in all sectors for our growing population, combined with impacts of climate change and aging infrastructure, there is an increasing need, says Hub Director UNSW Scientia Professor Nasser Khalili, ‘for new technologies to predict infrastructure rehabilitation and renewal needs, pre-empt failure and prolong life as well as for new systems to deliver sustainable, resilient, and cost-effective infrastructure.’

Nasser Khalili‘RIIS will leverage a suite of innovative and integrated technologies,‘ he says, ‘to monitor, model and improve our urban infrastructure, transport, water, resource, and energy management in order to achieve economic, low-carbon, and sustainable development.’

Led by Professor Khalili (Deputy Head of the UNSW School of Civil & Environmental Engineering) and Professor Abbas Rajabifard, (Director of the University of Melbourne’s Centre for Spatial Data Infrastructures and Land Administration – CSDILA) as RIIS Deputy Director, the Hub draws strength from world class engineering and scientific research expertise at UNSW Sydney, University of Melbourne, Queensland University of Technology, and Western Sydney University, as well as a wide range of experienced industry partners.Abbas Rajabifard


RIIS will integrate advances in sensor technology, connectivity, data analytics, machine learning, robotics, smart materials, and reliable models to deliver resilient and adaptive infrastructure systems in urban, energy and resource sectors – sectors critical to Australia’s prosperity and well-being.

‘The benefits of RIIS research ‘Professor Rajibifard says, ‘will include improved local productivity and urban liveability, as well as increasing the resiliency & safety of our infrastructure. It will also increase our technological leadership, global competitiveness and technology export potential.’

RIIS Research and Innovation Themes

RIIS has the potential to transform advanced manufacturing, service and infrastructure engineering in Australia focussing on five main themes:

THEME 1 Sensing, intelligent and adaptive systems

  • Robust, low energy sensors and actuators
  • Ubiquitous positioning, sensing & communications
  • Internet of Things (IoT) & sensing platforms
  • Signal processing, network and sensing optimization

THEME 2 Data collection, security and integration

  • Robotics, satellite, UAV, autonomous systems for data collection
  • Big data management storage & transmission
  • Data security, robustness and reliability

THEME 3 Modelling, simulations and prognostics

  • Predictive modelling simulation & performance assessment
  • Physics-informed artificial intelligence machine learning & explanation
  • Real-time analytics – adaptive decisions

THEME 4 Infrastructure health monitoring and predictive maintenanc

  • Degradation quantification & failure prediction
  • Risk & safety
  • Service life assessment
  • Remedial & renewal technologies

THEME 5 Spatial data, Digital Twins and decision support

  • Integration & structuring of data & prognosis
  • Digital twins & decision support
  • Visualisation, virtual reality & interactive guidance systems
  • Adaptive, intelligent & resilient design

The Hub will provide opportunities for industry and university partners to develop, co-design, and enhance technologies suitable for safe and sustainable operations, further strengthening the resilience and intelligent capability of existing and new infrastructure, transportation networks, distribution systems, minerals and energy sectors, and other hard infrastructure.

Additional partnership opportunities in R&D are available to expand and invest in RIIS’s exciting collective research investigation program.

To discuss your participation interest please contact

RIIS Hub Director: Scientia Professor Nasser Khalili


Hub Manager: Ms Theresa Wisnewski.