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Research Assistant/Associate in Geotechnical Engineering

Requisition ID:  5439

Newcastle, GB

Contract Type:  Fixed Term
Working Pattern:  Full Time
Posted Date:  18-Nov-2020


We are a world class research-intensive university. We deliver teaching and learning of the highest quality. We play a leading role in economic, social and cultural development of the North East of England. Attracting and retaining high-calibre people is fundamental to our continued success.


Salary: Research Assistant: £28,331 - £30,046 per annum

            Research Associate: £30,942 - £32,817 per annum


Closing Date: 3 January 2021


The Role


This is an excellent opportunity to join the National Green Infrastructure Facility (NGIF) at Newcastle University. NGIF is a full-scale, outdoor laboratory exploring soil-plant-atmosphere interactions in Green Infrastructure and Geotechnical assets. One of the group’s key aims is to better understand the relationship between climate and geo-infrastructure in order to support engineering design and help public bodies to make better informed decisions.


We are looking to appoint a dedicated Researcher to contribute to key research projects in geotechnical infrastructure monitoring and resilience, including weather-driven deterioration processes and vegetated barrier systems. Your outputs will form part of the EPSRC funded project research, Climate Adaptation Control Technologies for Urban Spaces (CACTUS).  You should be naturally collaborative, enthusiastic and resourceful to join our diverse and multidisciplinary team. You should have excellent skills in the communication of science and good interpersonal skills. As a representative of the School of Engineering, you will research, design and deliver presentation material to local and international stakeholders. You will enable our group to communicate our findings to our stakeholders and collaborators and sell our vision for the future of sustainability. You should be willing to travel locally and internationally at the discretion of the PI and subject to national and University restrictions.


You will benefit from being based within the multi-award winning Urban Sciences Building on the Newcastle Helix site, a ‘living laboratory’ and an exemplar of sustainable urban development in the heart of Newcastle upon Tyne.  Ideally you will hold a PhD for Associate level  (or be nearing completionle for Assistant level) in a relevant engineering subject with an underpinning degree in a relevant discipline. Knowledge of geotechnical engineering and experience in instrumentation and/or experiment design is essential. A proficiency in the use of data management and visualisation tools is desirable.


This post is full time, fixed term basis for 24 months, or until the current project end date on the 31st December 2022, whichever is soonest. Flexible working requests will be positively considered.


For all informal enquiries please contact Dr Ross Stirling, Lecturer via email ross.stirling@ncl.ac.uk


For more information about the School of Engineering, please click here

For more information about the Urban Sciences Building, please click here


Key Accountabilities



  1. To contribute to the setup, maintenance and interpretation of soil-plant-atmosphere monitoring campaigns at the (UKCRIC) National Green Infrastructure Facility (NGIF)
  2. To undertake field and laboratory-based experimental work: Design, construct and test a full-scale experiment to evaluate the behaviour and performance of a geo-composite climate barrier system; Design, construct and test a lysimeter-scale experiment to investigate weather-driven deterioration processes in clay-fill; Assist in the monitoring and maintenance activities related to full-scale embankment research infrastructure; Carry out laboratory testing to investigate geo-material behaviour, specifically unsaturated soil hydrological properties including soil water retention; Conduct a campaign of field hydraulic conductivity and infiltration testing; Interpretation of data within the wider context of the projects’ objectives and provision of support to numerical modelling
  3. To engage with project specific administrative tasks including representation at project meetings
  4. Share knowledge, skills and experience with other members of the research group and technicians to foster cooperation
  5. Carry out rigorous literature reviews of relevant topics to establish the current state-of-the-art and provide a basis for development
  6. Carry out further research and development work as appropriate for the successful completion of the projects, to assist related projects within the research group, and to assist in preparation of bids for funding
  7. To participate in outreach activities related to the work of the NGIF
  8. Work closely with the multi-disciplinary project teams and industrial partners to ensure delivery of coherent, integrated research projects
  9. Actively disseminate research outcomes including preparation of posters, delivery of presentations, preparation of manuscripts for high quality journals, production of internal project reports, workshops, networking events, webinars, and use of social media (if required)
  10. Manage time and resources to ensure delivery of project objectives in line with project plans and agreed budgets
  11. Identify and highlight risks to timely completion of project, and act to mitigate these risks
  12. Comply with Health & Safety policies, carry out risk assessments as required, work in a safe and responsible manner and participate in appropriate training
  13. Supervise undergraduate and MSc projects which are relevant and potentially beneficial to the project


The Person 

Knowledge, Skills and Experience


  • Ability to undertake specialist soils testing in a geotechnical laboratory with minimum supervision
  • Ability to undertake geotechnical/engineering geology field work in a safe manner with minimum supervision
  • Ability to efficiently and critically review scientific literature across a range of disciplines to establish the current state-of-the-art and identify directions for new research (Desirable for Research Assistant)
  • Ability to combine insights from diverse subjects to solve problems
  • Ability to manage time and resources to ensure delivery of project objectives
  • Ability to present work to a variety of audiences including preparation of posters, delivery of presentations, and preparation of papers for high quality journals
  • Ability to efficiently use standard software including Word, Excel, and willingness to learn to use new software
  • Experience in the use of a data management and visualisation package (e.g. R Studio, Matab etc.) (Desirable)
  • Experience with a technical drawing and design package (e.g. AutoCAD) (Desirable)

Attributes and Behaviour


  • Enthusiasm to collaborate with a broad, diverse and multi-disciplinary team
  • Committed to the School of Engineering’s underpinning values of equality, diversity and inclusion
  • Professional manner appropriate for communicating with project team and industrial partners
  • Ability to work independently without detailed instructions, using initiative to solve problems and make progress
  • Experience of geotechnical testing and experiment design
  • Experience presenting work to the national/international research community (at conferences, seminars and similar events) and/or successful journal publication
  • Willingness to undertake work outside normal office hours when occasionally required
  • Willingness to undertake work in inclement weather when safe to do so
  • Proven delivery of research outcomes to a defined timescale (Desirable)
  • Interest in geo-technology, instrumentation and novel experimental design (Desirable)
  • Experience of outreach / public engagement activities (Desirable)
  • Enthusiasm and resourcefulness, with a willingness to engage with the general public (Desirable)
  • Full, clean UK Driving License (Desirable)



  • PhD award for Associate level (or working towards for Assistant level) in a relevant science or engineering discipline with a focus on geotechnical engineering
  • A good underpinning degree in civil engineering, environmental science, or earth sciences 


Newcastle University is committed to being a fully inclusive Global University which actively recruits, supports and retains staff from all sectors of society.  We value diversity as well as celebrate, support and thrive on the contributions of all our employees and the communities they represent.  We are proud to be an equal opportunities employer and encourage applications from everybody, regardless of race, sex, ethnicity, religion, nationality, sexual orientation, age, disability, gender identity, marital status/civil partnership, pregnancy and maternity, as well as being open to flexible working practices.


Requisition ID: 5439