Professor and ARC Future Fellow in the School of Civil and Environmental Engineering
Adrian Russell is a Professor in Geotechnical Engineering and an Australian Research Council Future Fellow in the School of Civil and Environmental Engineering at UNSW.
As a geotechnical engineer, Russell looks to understand how infrastructure such as tailings storages, buildings, foundations, roads, tunnels, bridges, railways and ports interact with the ground. His research interests include soil mechanics, rock mechanics and the mechanics of fibre reinforced geomaterials and their use in infrastructure to increase strength and failure resistance. Able to recognise the value of academic-industry partnerships, a number of his research ideas have been successfully implemented within industry including the development of a new type of soil-cement-fibre mix technology for use in retaining wall systems to reduce cost and embodied carbon in partnership with Wagstaff Piling Pty Ltd, and the development of a technique to prevent blockages in ore passes in partnership with Glencore Pty Ltd.
A natural teacher, Russell brings innovation into the classroom with a more creative approach to teaching engineering design. Encouraging students to reach beyond the standard texts for an answer and utilise new technologies while maintaining an understanding of basic concepts is key to developing a more innovative approach to problem solving. Russell’s love of teaching extends outside the university classroom. He also delivers the travelling workshop 'Unsaturated soil mechanics for practicing engineers' to industry professionals on behalf of the Australian Geomechanics Society.
PGCert in Higher Education, University of Bristol, UK, 2008
PhD, The University of New South Wales, Australia, 2005
BE (Civil Engineering), The University of New South Wales, 1998
Russell teaches in most areas of soil mechanics and geotechnical engineering to undergraduate and postgraduate coursework students at UNSW.
Courses he recently taught include:
- CVEN9521 Slope Instability and Stabilisation
- CVEN9513 Advanced Foundation Engineering
- CVEN4202 Advanced Topics in Geotechnical Engineering
Research interests and supervision
Professor Russell is always interested to hear from people who are considering pursuing a PhD. He currently leads a research group comprising 1 Research Associate and 5 PhD students working in the research areas of:
- Liquefaction of soils and tailings under static and dynamic conditions;
- Applied unsaturated soil mechanics, particularly the way unsaturated soils can be characterised using in situ tests, and the way unsaturated soils interact with shallow foundations and retaining walls;
- The fundamental modelling of the stress–strain behaviour of soils, linking microstructure to large scale behaviour;
- Fundamental rock mechanics, focussing on failure mechanisms and microstructural deformation; and
- The mechanics of fibre reinforced geomaterials and their use in infrastructure to increase strength and failure resistance.
Russell uses mainly analytical modelling techniques in his research, along with full-scale physical model experiments, such as UNSW’s biaxial seismic simulator.
The skills and expertise his PhD students obtain equip them for successful academic careers. One of his former students (Diambra) is a Professor at the University of Bristol, UK, one (Sufian) is Senior Lecturer at UNSW, one (Masoumi) is Associate Professor at Monash University, one (Yang) is Associate Professor at Sun Yat-Sen University. Another (Hadsari) is Lecturer at the Universitas Atma Jaya Yogyakarta, Indonesia. Five others are Research Associates at the University of Warwick (Vo) and Loughborough University (Li) in the UK, the University of Canterbury in New Zealand (Yates), Taiyuan University of Technology in China (Zhang), and the Nanjing Hydraulic Research Institute in China (Tang).
Recent and ongoing examples of engagement include:
- Expert review work for mining companies, related to tailings characterisations, in situ test result interpretations considering partial saturation and liquefaction susceptibilities, and tailings storage stabilities.
- Determining tailings susceptibility to static liquefaction using the CPT; in partnership with UWA, Uni of Wollongong, Uni of SA, and Newmont Mining, Rio Tinto, Tech Coorporation, BHP, Anglo American and Freeport-McMoran (https://www.tailliq.com/).
- Developed a technique to prevent blockages in ore passes when the ore is moist making it 'sticky', in partnership with Glencore Pty Ltd. Outcomes feature in a 2016 paper published in the International Journal for Rock Mechanics and Mining Sciences.
- Understanding how salt and osmotic suction, when combined with matric suction, affect the mechanical behaviour of reactive soils and their interaction with infrastructure; in partnership with Uni of Adelaide, Pells Sullivan Meynink Pty Ltd and the Department of Planning, Transport and Infrastructure, Government of South Australia.
- The development of a new type of soil-cement-fibre mix technology for use in retaining wall systems to reduce cost and embodied carbon, in partnership with Wagstaff Piling Pty Ltd. Outcomes feature in a 2017 paper published in the journal Geosynthetics International.
Russell was also seconded to industry in 2019, working for the consulting engineering firm Pells Sullivan Meynink Pty Ltd on a variety of mining and civil projects and legal cases.
Grants - National (since 2010)
- A. Russell. Preventing mining disasters: reducing the risk of tailings dam failures. Australian Research Council Future Fellowship FT200100820, 2020-2024, $1,040,000.
- N. Khalili, A. Russell, M. Jaksa, G. Mostyn. Experimental investigation and constitutive modelling of reactive soils. Australian Research Council Linkage Project LP180100235, 2019-2021, $343,000 from the ARC plus $150,000 from industry partners (Pells Sullivan Meynink Pty Ltd ($120,000) and Department of Planning, Transport and Infrastructure, Government of South Australia ($30,000)).
- N. Khalili, A. Russell. Modelling creep and time-dependency in unsaturated soils. Australian Research Council Discovery Project DP190103771, 2019-2021, $325,000.
- A. Fourie, J. Vinod, Md. Mizanur Rahman; A. Russell, I. Gillani, M. Davies, J. Lupo, P. Maney, T. Martin, G. Lysay, T. Johndrow, C. Priscu. Evaluating potential static liquefaction of taiklings to prevent failures. Australian Research Council Linkage Project LP160101561, 2016-2019, $630,000 from the ARC plus $600,000 from industry partners (Newmont Mining, Rio Tinto, Tech Coorporation, BHP Billiton, Anglo American and Freeport-McMoran).
- D. Williams plus 14 others including A. Russell. National rock, concrete and advanced composite testing capability. Australian Research Council Linkage Infrastructure, Equipment and Facilities LE160100206, 2016, $800,000.
- A. Russell, D. Muir Wood. Internal erosion of soils: microstructural modelling. Australian Research Council Discovery Project DP150104123, 2015-2017, $325,500.
- A. Russell, N. Khalili, G. Zhao, A. Khoshghalb, S. Sloan, G. Kouretzis, B. Indraratna, C. Rujikiatkamjorn, M. Cassidy, C. Gaudin, D. Williams, A. Scheuermann. An earthquake shaking table to investigate foundation and soil structure interaction systems. Australian Research Council Linkage Infrastructure, Equipment and Facilities LE150100130, 2015, $320,000.
- A. Russell, N. Khalili. Shallow foundations in unsaturated soils: understanding mechanistic behaviour through numerical modelling, analysis and experimental investigation. Australian Research Council Discovery Project DP140103142, 2014-2016, $420,000.
- B. Indraratna plus 28 others including A. Russell. National facility for cyclic testing of highspeed rail. Australian Research Council Linkage Infrastructure, Equipment and Facilities LE140100010, 2014, $900,000.
- N. Khalili, A. Russell. Erosion of variably saturated soils - a fundamental investigation. Australian Research Council Discovery Project DP1096497, 2010-2012, $270,000.
Grants – International
- G. Zhao plus others including A. Russell. Multi-scale discrete numerical method and heterogeneous high performance computing for the rock dynamics. National Natural Science Foundation of China, 2017-2020.
- J. Wang, A. Russell, M. Coop. Tackling particle morphology in the micromechanical study of crushable sands: a combined experimental, theoretical and numerical approach, General Research Fund, Research Grant Council of Hong Kong SAR, 2016-2019, HK$780,000.
Awards and invitations
To Professor Russell and his PhD students:
- Keynote Lecturer, ISSMGE TC221 Conference on Tailings and Mine Waste, Brazil, 2023
- Invited Lecturer, ISSMGE TC221 Webinar on Assessing Undrained Strength of Tailings inside Existing Tailings Dams, Germany, 2022
- Keynote Lecturer, First International Congress of Geotechnical Engineering GEOUPC - CIIGGUPC, Chile, 2022
- Invited Lecturer, Mechanics of and CPTs in Unsaturated Tailings, the Tailings Centre, USA, 2022
- Keynote Lecturer at the AGERP Workshop on Unsaturated Soils, 2022
- Invited Panel Session Lecturer on Codes of Practice at '4th European Conference on Unsaturated Soils', 2020
- Invited Theme Lecturer at ‘7th International Symposium on Deformation Characteristics of Geomaterials’, 2019
- Invited Lecturer at a conference on ‘Patterns in Geomechanics’, 2018
- Invited Lecturer at InterPore 2016, a conference of the International Society for Porous Media
- Invited Lecturer at a conference on Advancing Experimental Geomechanics, 2016
- International Best Journal Paper Award, from TC106, the Technical Committee on Unsaturated Soils within the International Society for Soil Mechanics and Geotechnical Engineering (ISSMGE), 2016
- Keynote Lecturer at the Australian Academy of Science Elizabeth and Frederick White Conference, 2015
- Best Paper Award at Australasia’s ACCM, 2015
- International Innovation Award from TC106, 2014
- Editor's Choice Award, one of four best journal papers in Géotechnique Letters, 2012
- Editor's Choice Award, one of four best journal papers in Géotechnique Letters, 2011
- IACMAG Excellent Journal Paper Award, 2011
- Semi-plenary lecture to IACMAG, 2011
- The Australian Geomechanics Society (AGS) Research Award (NSW), 2011
- Best Paper Award at the UK's YGES, 2008
- Best Paper Award at IS-KYUSHU, 2007
Selected lecture recording
Partial saturation influences on silty tailings: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=d_0A2p2f5uk
- Australian Geomechanics Society, Member
- Australasian Association for Computational Mechanics, Member
- The Australian National University, Visiting Fellow, 2013-2015
- The University of Sydney, Visiting Scholar, 2010
- International Journal of Rock Mechanics and Mining Sciences
- Computers and Geotechnics
- Australian Geomechanics Society, Sydney Chapter, Committee Member, 2016- present
- Australasian Association for Computational Mechanics, Executive Committee Member, 2012- present
- TC106, The Technical Committee on Unsaturated Soils, Secretary, 2014- 2021; Chair Nominated Member, 2022- present
- TC221, The Technical Committee on Tailings and Mine Waste, Nominated Member, 2021- present
- The 20th International Conference on Soil mechanics and Geotechnical Engineering, held in Sydney May 2022, Technical Program Committee
- The Sixth International Conference on Unsaturated Soils, held in Sydney July 2014, Secretary
Professor Russell has expertise in the areas of soil mechanics, rock mechanics, microstructure, geotechnical science, geotechnical engineering, unsaturated soils, soil-structure interactions, shallow foundations, retaining walls, physical modelling, analytical modelling, constitutive modelling, cone penetration testing, in situ testing, fibre reinforcement, granular media, particle mechanics, morphology, fractals, particle crushing, particle breakage, tailings, liquefaction, geotechnical earthquake engineering.