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Staff Profile: Dr M Harbottle


Dr Michael Harbottle
M.Eng., D.Phil.



Lecturer - Teaching and Research
Director of Undergraduate Admissions


Teaching Discipline:

Architectural, Civil & Environmental Engineering


Research Theme:

Energy and Environment


Research Group:

Geoenvironmental Research Centre



Room W/2.33 Newport Road



+44 2920 875759





Latest News
• Chunhui Chen has joined the group as a visitor for 2 years. He is studying for a PhD at the China University of Geosciences in Beijing, and is supported by the China Scholarship Council.

Prospective research students
I am happy to consider applications for PhD study from high quality applicants with existing funding, or those intending to apply for an external scholarship, in areas which correspond to my fields of expertise, described below. Please contact me via email. Any funded studentships or postdoctoral research positions that become available will be advertised on, or the School of Engineering's webpages.

Current Interests
Currently, my group is undertaking work in a number of areas of civil and environmental engineering. I am particularly interested in four general areas:
• Interactions between civil and geotechnical engineering and biology (‘biogeotechnics’). Many organisms, particularly plants and microorganisms, have the potential to impact on soil structure and properties. We are developing a number of projects in this area, for example in situ biofilm growth for soil stabilisation and self-healing of geotechnical structures.
• Biotechnology in contaminated land remediation. We are using living organisms, both plants and microorganisms, in a range of projects. These include dealing directly with contamination through bioremediation as well as using biological methods to enhance other techniques, particularly those that are operated in situ, such as pump and treat or electrokinetics.
• Electrical properties of soil and groundwater. We are using electrokinetic techniques for the remediation of metal- and organic-contaminated ground, as well as investigations of potential energy applications.
• Resource recovery from waste. Many waste repositories contain significant quantities of valuable elements but their recovery has been considered uneconomic or not feasible (or both). We are investigating technologies for material recovery in a range of waste types.

Major Projects
• Materials for Life (M4L) (EPSRC, EP/K026631/1, £2.1M) is the first major UK investigation into self-healing construction materials. Together with Cambridge and Bath Universities, we are working on multi-scale self-healing mechanisms to produce new materials with significantly enhanced durability and sustainability.
• INSPIRE (In situ processes in resource extraction) is a project led by Cardiff, with Warwick University and the University of the West of England, investigating the potential for recovery of valuable resource from waste repositories through in-situ technologies (NERC, NE/L013908/1, £1.3M).

Current research students
• Khabeer Al-Awad is exploring the effect of biological exudates (‘biofilm’) on soil mechanical and hydrological properties. Such materials are known to affect particulate media properties in certain environments, such as seabed sediments, and so may be harnessed for engineering purposes.
• Stefani Botusharova is applying the concepts of self-healing materials, previously considered in cementitious, polymeric and other materials, to soil structures. Stefani’s studentship is supported by BRE, as part of the EPSRC-funded ‘Materials for Life’ project on self-healing construction materials (Grant Ref. EP/K026631/1).
• Sunday Akinsola Oniosun has recently begun studying multiphase interactions of plant roots in unsaturated, NAPL-contaminated soils.
• Claudia Peppicelli is researching electrokinetically enhanced in-situ resource recovery from waste.
• Mark Roberts is looking at biogeometallurgical processes in waste repositories to enhance material recovery.
• Steven Warwick is appraising technologies for in/ex-situ resource recovery from waste.

Completed PhD projects
• Richard Gill (based at the University of Sheffield, co-supervised with Dr S Thornton and Prof J Smith (Shell)) investigated heterogeneity and electrokinetic transport of ions in supplying electron acceptors for enhanced biodegradation.
• Ahmed Mugwar worked on biological stabilisation of inorganic contamination, particular heavy metals and elements of interest in radionuclide contamination.
• Paris Alshiblawi explored the use of microbiological activity and bioclogging to manage sub-surface water flow.
• Dan Herbert employed scale model tests and 3D digital image correlation (DIC) techniques in a geotechnical centrifuge to study flood loading on masonry walls.
• Katherine Page investigated use of compost-like organic wastes as a substrate for short rotation coppicing on brownfield sites.
• Ziad Milad studied the impact of landfill leachate on basic geotechnical properties of natural soil in Kuwait.

Past Experience
I have been a lecturer and now senior lecturer in geoenvironmental engineering at Cardiff University School of Engineering since September 2006. Following a Masters in Engineering at Oxford University, I joined Fugro Limited (UK), working on offshore and onshore site investigation and engineering. I then returned to Oxford University as a doctoral student working with the NERC Centre for Ecology and Hydrology (Oxford). Postdoctoral work at Cambridge University Engineering Department followed, with the SUBR:IM (Sustainable Urban Brownfield Regeneration: Integrated Management) consortium. Whilst in Cambridge, I was elected Fellow of Robinson College.


Professional Activities and Recognition:

• Geotechnique Advisory Panel member (2013-2016).
• Editorial Board member, Environmental Geotechnics, ICE Journals (2013 onwards).
• Institution of Civil Engineers Education & Careers Panel
• ICE Ground Engineering Group (Wales) chair (2015/16)
• Invited participant in inaugural Welsh Crucible (2011).