Nasser Khalili

Head of School
Sch: Civil & Environmental Eng
Contact details:
(+61 2) 9385 5074
(+61 2) 9385 6139

Civil Engineering Building (H20)
Level 4, Room CE404
Kensington Campus

PSM Professor, Scientia Professor and Head, School of Civil & Environmental Engineering

Nasser Khalili is the Head of  School of Civil and Environmental Engineering and brings to this position an international reputation for innovation and setting industry standards.

Scientia Professor Khalili’s publications are prolific, awarded, often cited and highly regarded, particularly his work in unsaturated soil mechanics and computational geo-mechanics. In the last two years alone, he has contributed to over 25 peer reviewed articles and is credited with the development of the first thermodynamically consistent framework for constitutive modelling of unsaturated porous media. Similarly, his research into the mechanics of double porosity media has set an international benchmark in numerical modelling of fractured porous media.

Nasser is regularly invited to speak at conferences, deliver specialised workshops for practicing engineers and consult widely on engineering matters within his area of expertise, maintaining vital ties with industry, other academic institutions, peak bodies and government. He sits on 3 international editorial boards, keeping his finger on the pulse of the latest research. Nasser is generous with his time, sitting on numerous industry and university bodies and organising international conferences, further strengthening CVEN’s global reputation as a hub of excellence and innovation.  He has been a visiting or honorary academic in China, France, the UK, USA and Canada.

He has recently been honoured for his consistent and excellent contributions to the fields of computational geomechanics, as his 2018 election to the ARC College of Experts confirms.


PhD, University of New South Wales 1991
MSc, University of Birmingham 1987
BSc (Civil), University of Amirkabir 1985


CVEN9512 Geomechanics
CVEN9524 Geotechnical Engineering of Dams

Research Interests

Professor Khalili is currently supervising 16 postgraduate candidates in the areas of

  • Geotechnical Engineering
  • Computational and constitutive modelling as applied to geotechnical engineering
  • Continuum mechanics of multi porous multi phase media
  • Environmental Engineering and soil remediation Anisotropic plasticity in unsaturated soils in generalised stress space
  • Non-isothermal mechanics, and geothermal energy.

Projects have included:

Hydraulic fracturing through 3D printing and lattice modelling
Study of small strain dynamic properties of sands and silty sands

Nasser has received over $7 million in research funding from the Australia Research Council in the last decade, as well as publishing 3 book chapters and 116 articles in peer reviewed journals.  


Robert Niven; Nasser Khalili; Richard Pashley; Mark Taylor; Vladimir Strezov; Scott Wilson; Peter Murphy; Steven Phillips. ARC Special Research Initiatives. 2018 – 2021. With Macquarie University; OPEC SYSTEMS PTY LTD. “PFAS source zone remediation by foam fractionation and in situ fluidisation” $900,000

Jian Zhao; Pathegama Ranjith; Nasser Khalili; Arcady Dyskin; Samanthika Liyanapathirana; David Williams; Itai Einav; Murat Karakus; Jay Sanjayan; Luming Shen; Guowei Ma; Chengqing Wu; Chaoshui Xu; Alexander Scheuermann; Elena Pasternak; Chin Leo; GaoFeng Zhao; Samintha Perera, 2015-2018. ARC Linkage Infrastructure, Equipment and Facilities. Monash University; The University of Western Australia; The University of Queensland; The University of Adelaide; Swinburne University of Technology; University of Western Sydney; The University of Sydney. “Three dimensionally compressed and monitored Hopkinson bar.” $560,000

Adrian Russell; Nasser Khalili; GaoFeng Zhao; Arman Khoshghalb; Scott Sloan; Georgios Kouretzis; Buddhima Indraratna; Cholachat Rujikiatkamjorn; Mark Cassidy; Christophe Gaudin; David Williams; Alexander Scheuermann. ARC Linkage Infrastructure, Equipment and Facilities 2015. With the University of Newcastle; University of Wollongong; The University of Western Australia; The University of Queensland. “An earthquake shaking table to investigate soil-structure interactions.” $320,000

Nasser Khalili; Arman Khoshghalb; John Rubsov 2014-2017. ARC Linkage Project Grant together with Roads and Maritime Services. "Experimental investigation and constitutive modelling of weak rocks subject to mechanical and moisture degradation" $314,280

Adrian Russell; Nasser Khalili. ARC Discovery Project, 2014-2017. “Shallow foundations in unsaturated soils: Mechanistic design through numerical modelling, analysis and experimental investigation.” $420,000

Buddhima Indraratna; Scott Sloan; Mark Cassidy; Daichao Sheng; Cholachat Rujikiatkamjorn; Kiet Tieu; John Carter; Andries Fourie; Nasser Khalili; Abdelmalek Bouazza; Jayantha Kodikara; Kenny Kwok; Manicka Dhanasekar; Priyan Mendis; David Williams; Brian Uy; Arul Arulrajah; Hadi Khabbaz; Mohamed Shahin; Alex Remennikov; J. Antonio H. Carraro; John Wilson; Kristian Krabbenhoft; Christophe Gaudin; Sanjay Nimbalkar; Chin Leo; Adrian Russell; Paul Meehan; Norm Grady. ARC Linkage Infrastructure, Equipment and Facilities 2014. With the University of Wollongong; University of Newcastle; The University of Western Australia; The University of Queensland. “National Facility for Cyclic Testing of High-speed Rail (FCTHSR)” $900,000

Nasser Khalili; GaoFeng Zhao. ARC Discovery Project, 2013-16 “Dynamics analysis of unsaturated porous media subject to damage due to cracking. This project relates to rigorous analysis of dynamic response in unsaturated soils.” $300,000

Scott Sloan; Mark Randolph; John Carter; Daichao Sheng; Mark Cassidy; Buddhima Indraratna; David White; Nasser Khalili; David Williams; Richard Merifield; Jayantha Kodikara; David Airey; Itai Einav; Andrew Abbo; Cholachat Rujikiatkamjorn; Samuel Stanier; Conleth O'Loughlin; Dorival Pedroso; Alexander Scheuermann; Ha Bui; “A national facility for in situ testing of soft soils” $300,000

Nasser Khalili; Robert Niven; Markus Oeser. ARC Discovery Project, 2010-2013. “CO2 sequestration in deformable, chemically interactive, double porosity media. Increasing atmospheric carbon dioxide (CO2) level is emerging as one of the most serious issues affecting humanity.” $360,000

Nasser Khalili; Adrian Russel. ARC Discovery Project, 2010-2013. “Erosion of variably saturated soils - a fundamental investigation.” $270,000

Gang-Ding Peng; John Canning; Aibing Yu; Rose Amal; Nasser Khalili; Brant Gibson; Xiaosong Gan; John Holdsworth; Stephen Collins; Jiangtao Xi; Jayantha Epaarachchi; Jeffrey Reimers; Javid Atai; Tony Khoury; Andrew Michie; Mattias Aslund; Kevin Cook; Jun Wang; Jason Scott; Chee Kwok; Rodica Ramer; D Sen; Jie Bao; Maxwell Crossley; Graham Town; Gregory Baxter; “Advanced facility for next generation sustainable energy” $600,000

Markus Oeser; Adrian Russell; Nasser Khalili. ARC Linkage Project, 2009-2012. “Enhanced Analysis and Structural Design of Pavements - Virtual Laboratory for Advanced Pavement Design.” $300,000

Nasser Khalili; Chongmin Song; Peter Tamsett; Prathapa Ravindra. ARC Linkage Project, 2007-2010. “An integrated approach to modelling granular materials in a pavement system.” $276,000

Nasser Khalili; Somasundaram Valliappan; Sik-Cheung Lo. ARC Discovery Project, 2002-2005. “A fully coupled elasto-plastic model for dynamic analysis of unsaturated soils.” $187,000

Nasser Khalili; Somasundaram Valliappan; Benjamin Loret; Adrian Russel. ARC Discovery Project, 2006-2009. “Determination of unsaturated soil properties using cone penetrometer data.” $250,000

Nasser Khalili. ARC Discovery Project, 2005-2008. “Experimental Investigation and Constitutive Modelling of Thermo-Hydro-Mechanical Coupling Effects in Unsaturated Porous Media.” $178,000


  • Valliappan APACM Medal, for “Contributions to Computational Geomechanics” APACM, 2016
  • Chandra Desai Medal, for “seminal contributions to the advancement of numerical, constitutive and experimental modelling of unsaturated soils”, IACMAG, 2014
  • Elsevier’s inaugural “outstanding paper award” based on citations received in the past 5 years, excluding self-citation, 2014
  • “Editor's Choice Award”, best journal paper in Géotechnique Letters, 2012
  • "Excellent Contributions Award” for “outstanding contributions in constitutive and computational modelling of unsaturated soils”, International Association for Computer Methods and Advances in Geomechanics (IACMAG), 2005, 2011
  • “Most Valuable Paper Award”, Joint Australia and New Zealand Geomechanics Societies Award, 1999
  • “Award for Significant Paper”, International Association for Computer Methods and Advances in Geomechanics, 1997
  • “Young Investigator Award”, UNSW, 1995


  • Khalili, N. and Niven, R, “The upflow washing of environmental contaminants from the material beneath the ground”, Provisional Application No. PN0752, dated 25 January 1996.


Professional Affiliations/Organisations

  • Australian Association of Computational Mechanics, President
  • International Technical Committee on Unsaturated Soils, TC106, Invited Core Member
  • QS Board, Member
  • Institution of Engineers, Australia, Fellow
  • Australian Geomechanics Society, Member

Editorial Boards

  • Computers and Geotechnics
  • International Journal of Geomechanics, ASCE
  • International Journal of Computational Mechanics

Service Roles

  • Member of the ANCOLD Working Party drafting Australia’s first guidelines for Design of Dams for Earthquake. These guidelines are widely used in practice.  
  • Member of Editorial Board, International Journal of Geomechanics, ASCE.
  • Member of Editorial Board Computers and Geotechnics.
  • Member of Editorial Board International Journal of Applied Mechanics.
  • OZ Reader for Australian Research Council.
  • Reviewer for a number of international granting agencies including NSF and UK Research Council.
  • Reviewer for the most prestigious journals in the field of geo-mechanical engineering
  • Invited Core Member of TC106 - International Technical Committee for Unsaturated Soils, representing Australasia.
  • Member of QS university ranking advisory board.
  • President of the Australian Association for Computational Mechanics (AACM).
  • Board Member, QS World University Rankings.
  • Secretary for two International Conferences on Computational Mechanics in Sydney.
  • President of the 9th World Congress on Computational Mechanics held in Sydney in July 2010.
  • President of IACMAG2011 held in Melbourne in 2011.
  • President and organiser of UNSAT2014, the most prestigious conference in unsaturated soil mechanics, held in Sydney in July 2014.  
  • Associate Dean Research, Faculty of Engineering, UNSW (2011-2015)
  • Head of Geotechnical Engineering, School of Civil and Environmental Engineering, UNSW (since 2006)
  • Membership of various UNSW committees including:
    • Member, Faculty of Engineering Executive Committee (2011- 2015
    • Member, Dean of Engineering Advisory Committee (2011- 2015)
    • Chair, Faculty of Engineering Research Management Committee (since 2011)
    • Member, University Promotions Committee to Professor (2011- 2013)
    • Member, Faculty of Engineering Research Management Committee (2011- 2015)
    • Member, Faculty of Engineering International Committee (2009- 2015)
    • Member, Faculty Promotions Committee to Professor (2006- 2008)
    • Member, Faculty Promotions Committee to Associate Professor (2003- 2005)
    • Member, Academic Board (2007- 2010)
    • Member, School of Civil and Environmental Engineering Executive Committee (since 2012)
    • Member, School of Civil and Environmental Engineering Management Committee (since 1998)
    • Director, School of Civil and Environmental Engineering Research Management Committee (2009- 2011)
    • Director, Technical Services Committee (1998- 2007)