Dr Alister Smith is an EPSRC Research Fellow and Lecturer (Assistant Professor) in Civil Engineering Infrastructure at Loughborough University.

Infrastructure is vital for society – for economic growth and quality of life. Existing infrastructure assets are rapidly deteriorating and new-builds are being designed and constructed to withstand largely unknown future conditions. Alister’s research addresses these grand challenges by exploiting technology to increase understanding of asset deterioration and improve decision making and asset management.

His Fellowship is titled ‘Listening to Infrastructure’ and aims to develop novel, low cost, autonomous sensing technologies for asset condition appraisal and early detection of deterioration.

Interests and expertise:

  • Geotechnical Engineering
  • Soil Mechanics
  • Soil-Structure Interaction
  • Experimental Geotechnics (Laboratory & Field)
  • Instrumentation & Monitoring
  • Smart Infrastructure
  • Acoustic Emission

Employment history:

  • EPSRC Research Fellow and Lecturer (Assistant Professor) in Civil Engineering Infrastructure, Loughborough University, July 2017 – present
  • Lecturer (Assistant Professor) in Infrastructure Engineering, Loughborough University, February 2017 – July 2017
  • EPSRC Doctoral Prize Fellow, Loughborough University, September 2015 – February 2017
  • Doctoral Researcher in Geotechnical Engineering, Loughborough University, October 2012 – August 2015
  • Graduate Geotechnical Engineer, Coffey Geotechnics, 2012


  • Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.), Geotechnical Engineering, Pass (no required corrections), Loughborough University, 2015
    • Thesis: Quantification of slope deformation behaviour using acoustic emission monitoring.
  • Master of Engineering (MEng), Civil Engineering, First Class Honours, Loughborough University, 2012 (graduated at the top of the cohort and won two University awards)


I teach on Loughborough’s undergraduate Civil Engineering programmes. I currently lecture on the Ground Engineering (3rd year) module and deliver topics including: problematic ground, ground improvement, geohazards, instrumentation and monitoring, geosynthetics, and reinforced soil.

Previous teaching:

  • Geotechnics (2nd year) – shallow and deep foundations, retaining structures, slope stability
  • Engineering Materials (1st year) – mechanical properties of materials, composites, introduction to soil mechanics
  • Structural Analysis and Mechanics (3rd year) – pre-stressed concrete

External activities and affiliations:

  • Editorial Board Member, Quarterly Journal of Engineering Geology & Hydrogeology, 2017
  • Panel Member and Peer Review, NERC (Natural Environment Research Council), Innovative Monitoring Approaches Call 2017
  • Expert peer reviewer for journals including: Géotechnique, Sensors, Engineering Geology, Geotechnical Testing Journal, Applied Acoustics, Natural Hazards, International Journal of Rock Mechanics and Mining Sciences, and Energies.
  • Fellow of the Higher Education Academy.
  • Fellow of the Geological Society of London.
  • Graduate Member of: the Institution of Civil Engineers; the British Geotechnical Associations; and the International Society for Soil Mechanics and Geotechnical Engineering.

Collegial service:

  • Panel Member and Peer Review – Loughborough University EPSRC and RAEng Fellowship applications (2017 – present).
  • Research Committee – Loughborough’s School of Architecture, Building and Civil Engineering, which has responsibility for delivering the REF2021 submission (2017 – present).
  • Welfare and Communications Committee (2014 – 2017) – Loughborough’s School of Architecture, Building and Civil Engineering: part of the team responsible for a successful Athena Swan Bronze Award submission.