Scientia Professor Nasser Khalili is the new Head of School at UNSW Civil and Environmental Engineering, as Professor Travis Waller heads North. 

Congratulations to our new Head of School, Scientia Professor Nasser Khalili, and farewell and all the very best to our outgoing HoS, Professor Travis Waller.

Nasser is of course no stranger to the School. Since his appointment at UNSW in 1993 as Senior Lecturer in Geotechnical Engineering, he has been an indefatigable worker for the cause of Australia’s leading School.  In recent years, Nasser has held appointments at UNSW as Deputy Director of the Centre for Infrastructure Engineering and Safety (CIES), Associate Dean - Research in Engineering, and as Acting Head of the School of Civil and Environmental Engineering.

Throughout his academic career, Nasser has developed an internationally recognised research program, building a strong team of doctoral and postdoctoral researchers working collaboratively on projects in the field of unsaturated soil mechanics, with numerous significant contributions to geotechnical and environmental engineering.

He is currently in the process of establishing the successful ARC Industrial Transformation Research Hub for “Resilient and Intelligent Infrastructure Systems (RIIS) in Urban, Resources and Energy Sectors”, is lead CI on the CRC-P “Recycling plastic and paperboard waste into value-added asphalt additives”, as well as holding two ARC Discovery grants and one ARC Linkage grant.

Professor Khalili has won several awards for his research, including the prestigious Chandra Medal in 2014 and APACM Medal in 2016.

“I am absolutely privileged and thrilled,” says Professor Khalili, “to have been given the opportunity to contribute to the ambitious vision of one of the world’s leading Schools in Civil and Environmental Engineering. The School has a tremendous pool of talent, and the sky is truly the limit in what we can achieve in teaching, research. engagement and make a significant and positive impact for Australia and the world.”

Dean of UNSW Engineering, Professor Stephen Foster, said in announcing the news, “I know all will join me in congratulating Nasser on his new position, to begin 1 May.”


“I also take the opportunity of thanking out-going Head of School Professor Travis Waller for his highly valued contributions to UNSW over more than a decade. Travis began his career at UNSW in 2011 as the Evans & Peck Chair Professor of Transport Innovation (later the Advisian Chair) and the founding Director of UNSW Research Centre for Integrated Transport Innovation (rCITI), reenergising transport engineering at UNSW.

“Since stepping down as rCITI Director in 2018, Travis has held positions as Deputy Dean (Research) in the Faculty of Engineering and as Head of School of Civil and Environmental Engineering, where he introduced many initiatives that have propelled, and are propelling, the School and Faculty forward down our ambitious pathway.

“Travis, together with his wife Elaine, are departing for Germany, where Travis will take up his position as W3 Chaired Professor at the Technical University of Dresden. In addition to the thanks of the School and Faculty for Travis’ contributions to our excellence, I pass on my personal thanks to him as a colleague and friend of over 11 years and, with you, wish him and Elaine all the best for their next phase in their life’s journey.”

Professor Waller said he was sad to say goodbye.

“For over the past decade, I have been continually impressed with the staff, students, alumni and other engaged partners in this amazing School. This is truly one of the greatest Schools of our type in the world and that is made possible by everyone working together within it. Thank you. I am privileged to have served as its Head and my greatest hesitation, by far, in relocating is that I must step away from this role that I have valued very much.

“But I also know that we have an ideal leadership team and exceptionally committed staff. My personal contributions have played only one part in the grander scheme of things so I am confident that the School will emerge in this time of transition exceptionally well prepared for the future.”

Here’s to the ongoing journey!