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 (╬╝CT).  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.

Catherine's publication list on Google Scholar can be found here.

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 a MATHEGRAM training event in Nov. 2019 at TU Graz.  Slides are available here.
  • Catherine delivered a key note entitled Particle Scale Modelling in Soil Mechanics: Stiffness, strength, and seepage at the Particles 2019 conferenceSlides are available here.
  • Catherine delivered a keynote entitled DEM, dams and dikes at the DEM8 conference in July 2019.  Slides are available here.
  • Catherine is participating in the Horizon 2020 funded ITN MATHEGRAM
  • Catherine participated in the Lorentz centre workshop entitled "Granular Matter Across Scales" in March 2019.  Slides from her contribution are available here.
  • Catherine delivered her inaugural lecture on 20th of February 2019.  Slides from this lecture are available here.  You can watch the lecture via YouTube here.
  • The source code used for void partioning in recent DEM research has been made available on github by Dr. Thomas Shire.  Refer to this link:  Relevant papers are Shire and O'Sullivan (2016) and Taylor et al. (2018).
  • In June 2018 Catherine delivered a special lecture to the Japanese Geotechnical Society entitled " A particle scale perspective on internal erosion and filter design.  Her presentation slides"  are here.
  • Catherine delivered a presentation on the use of DEM to advance understanding of load:deformation response at the Institute of Industrial Science at the University of Tokyo in June 2018.  Her presentation slides are  here.
  • Catherine presented some of her recent research at the 2018 Pre-Rakine Seminar.  Her presentation slides are here.
  • Catherine participated in the 25th meeting of the ICOLD European Working Group on Internal Erosion in Sept 2017.  Her presentation slides are here.
  • 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.

Selected Publications

Journal Articles

Huang X, Hanley K, 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