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Senior Lecturer in Geology & Geotechnical Engineering, Vice Dean (Education), Brunel University London

Phil Collins is Vice Dean (Education) in the College of Engineering, Design & Physical Sciences and Senior Lecturer in Geology & Geotechnical Engineering. He completed his doctoral research into the Quaternary geology of the Kennet Valley at the University of Reading in 1994. He started postdoctoral studies into relative sea level change in the Department of Geography & Earth Sciences at the West London Institute, before becoming a lecturer at Brunel University College in 1995, moving to the Uxbridge Campus in 1997.

In 2007, University restructuring saw him join the Department of Mechanical Engineering where he led the establishment of the new Civil Engineering degree programme. In 2009, he was appointed Acting Head of the newly formed Civil Engineering Subject Area. He continues to be an active member of the Department of Civil & Environmental Engineering, as well as contributing to a range of College and University activities.

My research interests cross the boundaries between engineering, geology and geography. I have conducted field studies in a number of locations including the UK, Canary Islands, Greece, Turkey, Italy, Norway and Canada. Current research covers a series of themes:

Resilience in river and coastal settings: I am particularly interested in the role of education in increasing engineering and community resilience to events such as floods and coastal change.

Properties of natural and artificial materials: I am interested in how natural and artificial materials such as soil, rock and pavement materials, respond to change. This includes the behaviour of soluble rocks and soil during dissolution, change in permeability due to temperature and solute chemistry change, and the impact of freezing and thawing. The environmental contexts for this primarily laboratory-based research include large dam structures, highways and karstic areas.

Soil deformation diagnostics: I am currently working on improving the forensic interpretation of deformation structures found in soils and sediments. Work has included sites in the UK, Turkey and Italy, and includes active faults, possible faults and periglacial sites.

Quaternary geotechnics: Building on a strong background of reconstructing the palaeoenvironments of Quaternary-age sites, I am exploring the application of geotechnical parameters in both enhancing understanding of environmental change, and providing better understanding of site properties for management and design. I am particularly interested the diagnostic characteristics of soil and sediment deformation structures. Work is focusing on riverine, coastal sites and periglacial sites, and has included research on active faults, palaeoseismic sites, and ground ice.

Geodynamics, tectonics and seismicity: building on my work on active faults and palaeoseismicity, I have worked with colleagues in the UK and Greece on assessments of seismic risk, and developing a better understanding of earthquake patterns.


  • –present
    Senior Lecturer in Geology & Geotechnical Engineering, Vice Dean (Education), Brunel University London