Imperial College London


Faculty of EngineeringDepartment of Civil and Environmental Engineering

Professor of Particulate Soil Mechanics



+44 (0)20 7594 6117cath.osullivan Website




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.


Research Activities:


  • Catherine presented some work on radiography and tomography in MATHEGRAM ATC2 in April 2021.  Slides are available here.
  • Catherine's  Granular Matter seminar in delivered in March 2021 can be viewed here. Slides are available here.
  • Catherine gave a presentation on wave propagation in granular materials at Georgia Institute of Technology on Feb 25 2020.  Slides are available here.
  • 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 delivered her inaugural lecture on 20th of February 2019.  Slides from this lecture are available here.  You can watch the lecture via YouTube here.

Diversity and Equality

Selected Publications

Journal Articles

Liu D, O'Sullivan C, Harb Carraro JA, 2021, Influence of particle size distribution on the proportion of stress-transmitting particles and implications for measures of soil state, Journal of Geotechnical and Geoenvironmental Engineering, Vol:147, ISSN:0733-9410, Pages:04020182-1-04020182-14

Otsubo M, Kuwano R, O'Sullivan C, et al., 2021, Using geophysical data to quantify stress-transmission in gap-graded granular materials, Geotechnique, ISSN:0016-8505

Dutta TT, Otsubo M, Kuwano R, et al., 2020, Evolution of shear wave velocity during triaxial compression, Soils and Foundations, Vol:60, ISSN:0038-0806, Pages:1357-1370

Knight C, O'Sullivan C, Dini D, et al., 2020, Computing drag and interactions between fluid and polydisperse particles in saturated granular materials, Computers and Geotechnics, Vol:117, ISSN:0266-352X, Pages:1-16

More Publications