Dr Alister Smith is a Senior Lecturer in Civil Engineering at Loughborough University.

Download CV and publications list (May 2021).


Summary of expertise

I am a civil engineer specialising in geotechnical engineering, acoustic emission (AE) and smart infrastructure. My current research can be categorised into two primary areas: (i) the development of acoustic emission monitoring for geotechnical applications, which spans element testing of fundamental soil behaviour to full-scale experiments with buried infrastructure; and (ii) the investigation of climate change impacts on infrastructure deterioration and performance. I was a Co-Inventor of the Slope ALARMS and Community Slope SAFE AE landslide early warning systems, which have been commercialised by RST Instruments Ltd (Geo Acoustic Aware). I am Principal Investigator of an EPSRC Fellowship titled Listening to Infrastructure, which is developing AE sensing technologies for a range of new geotechnical domains (e.g. buried pipelines, foundations, tunnels, retaining structures and dams). I am also Co-Investigator of the EPSRC Programme Grant, ACHILLES, which is investigating the impacts of climate change on infrastructure earthworks. I have received numerous prizes for my research and enterprise activities, including the Philip Leverhulme Prize in Engineering, Worshipful Company of Engineers’ Hawley Award for Engineering Innovation, Thomas Telford Premium and Professor Dearman Young Author of the Year Award. I welcome enquires from postgraduates who wish to study for a PhD in my areas of research interest.

Career profile

I graduated from Loughborough University in 2012 with a first-class MEng degree in Civil Engineering. I then joined Coffey Geotechnics as a Graduate Geotechnical Engineer, where I was involved in the design and construction monitoring of several projects, before returning to Loughborough University to carry out research in Geotechnical Engineering. I was awarded a PhD in 2015 for a thesis titled “Quantification of slope deformation behaviour using acoustic emission monitoring”. This was followed by an EPSRC Doctoral Prize Fellowship at Loughborough University between 2015 and 2017. I was awarded an EPSRC Postdoctoral Fellowship (Listening to Infrastructure, EP/P012493/1) in 2017 and became a Lecturer (Assistant Professor) in Civil Engineering at Loughborough University.


My current doctoral researchers are listed below. Please get in touch here if you are interested in pursuing PhD opportunities.

  • Hao Wang, 2019 – 2022
    • Title: Structural health monitoring and big data Analysis for resilient infrastructure
    • Primary Supervisor: Dr Alister Smith
    • Secondary Supervisor: Dr Giorgio Barone
  • Dan Gibbs, 2019 – 2022
    • Title: Climate change impacts on infrastructure earthworks
    • Primary Supervisor: Dr Alister Smith
    • Secondary Supervisors: Dr Ashraf El-Hamalawi and Dr Tom Dijkstra
  • Tiago Biller, 2017 – 2020
    • Title: Early detection of seepage-induced internal erosion using acoustic emission
    • Primary Supervisor: Dr Alister Smith
    • Secondary Supervisor: Professor Neil Dixon
  • Helen Heather-Smith, 2016 – 2020
    • Title: Generation and propagation of acoustic emission in buried steel infrastructure for monitoring soil-structure interactions
    • Primary Supervisor: Dr Alister Smith
    • Secondary Supervisors: Professor Neil Dixon and Dr James Flint