Imperial College London


Faculty of EngineeringDepartment of Civil and Environmental Engineering

Professor of Particulate Soil Mechanics



+44 (0)20 7594 6117cath.osullivan




501Skempton BuildingSouth Kensington Campus





Prof. O'Sullivan has been a professor in the Geotechnics Section of the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering at Imperial College since September 2017.  She joined the Dept. in 2004 as a lecturer, following a two-year period at University College Dublin. She completed her PhD studies at the University of California, Berkeley in 2002. Her main research interest is in particulate soil mechanics.  Her research uses discrete element modelling (DEM) as well as experimental techniques including micro-computed tomography (μCT).  Catherine has been applying these techniques to look at fundamental sand behaviour, behaviour of reservoir sandstones, internal erosion and interpretation of laboratory tests.

Details of Catherine's book on Particulate Discrete Element Modelling  can be found at: Particulate DEM: A geomechanics perspective. A Japanese language edition of Catherine's book on Particulate Discrete Element Modelling has been translated by Kiichi Suzuki.

Areas of Expertise:


Discrete element modelling, laboratory validation of discrete element models, development of discrete element analysis tools, micromechanics of granular material response, micro-computed tomography, characterisation of granular materials.


  • Catherine participated in the 25th meeting of the ICOLD European Working Group on Internal Erosion in Sept 2017.  Her presentation slides are here.
  • Catherine co-organized a workshop on seepage induced geotechnical instability that was held at Imperial College on Aug 31 and Sept 1 2017. 
  • The EPSRC project   involving the application of coupled DEM-CFD modelling to look at internal instability is now underway.  This project is run in collaboration with Dr. Elisabeth Bowman in Sheffield.
  • A PhD Studentship for a project entitled "Improving resilience of embankment dams and levees to internal erosion" is available via the EPSRC funded Centre for Doctoral Training (CDT) on Sustatinable Civil Engineering.  The project will start in Oct. 2017.  Details on the CDT are available here, while the PhD project is detailed at this link. For this studentship full funding is available for Home Students and European Union nationals who have been ordinarily resident in the UK for at least three years prior to starting a CDT studentship, as detailed here.


Selected Publications

Journal Articles

Huang X, Hanley KJ, O'Sullivan C, et al., 2017, Implementation of rotational resistance models: A critical appraisal, Particuology, Vol:34, ISSN:1674-2001, Pages:14-23

More Publications