Dr Katherine Dobson

Senior Lecturer

Civil and Environmental Engineering


Personal statement

I joined Strathclyde in 2019 as a Chancellor’s Fellow, and now hold a Senior Lectureship as a joint appointment in both Civil & Environmental Engineering and Chemical and process Engineering. I am a geologist by background, but my research routinely bridges disciplines. Having spent time in Geoscience, Materials Science and Engineering departments, I regularly bring methods across traditional subject and area boundaries, especially at the interfaces between geology, materials science, environmental science and engineering. My main research interests lie in understanding the behaviour and evolution of both natural and man-made materials. More specifically, it is questions about how the microstructure of a material evolves through time, and therefore changes the properties and behaviour of the larger system that underpin most of my work. To do this, I use x-ray computed tomography to see inside materials and objects and quantify their internal structures, and a range of experimental and analytical methods to observe the physical, chemical and biological changes within the sample overtime.

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Research Interests

I apply x-ray tomography and other materials characterisation methods to investigate the textures and structures within natural and man-made materials. Similar to a medical CT but at higher resolution, the method is non-destructive, and can be applied to a wide range of samples and sample sizes. More importantly, it can be used on samples as they are heated, cooled, compressed, stretched, twisted, stirred or inundated by a range of different fluids.

My work focusses on the latest state-of-the-art 3D and real time 4D imaging techniques. In 4D studies, the ability to inside the sample as it undergoes a change allows us to collect a "movie", where each frame is a full 3D x-ray tomography image. In my own core research, the individual 3D images of the movie are each collected in under a second. For other studies it is enough to image every few seconds, few hours, or even every few months depending on the rate and magnitude of change you wish to observe. This allows me to track the location and interactions between particles or between bubbles, to quantify fracture propagation, to capture dissolution or precipitation as it occurs, to observe fluids passing through pore throats, or corrosion, or sintering, or root growth. The opportunities are almost endless.

Current interests include:

  • Multi-phase flows and rheology in complex and concentrated fluids
  • Understanding pore scale controls on slope stability to improve embankment and cutting resilience to climate change
  • Diffusion and bubble growth in silicate classes
  • In situ deformation of composite materials
  • Damage accumulation in granular and non-granular systems
  • Continuous manufacturing
  • Sustainable resource management
  • Environmental management and remediation
  • Sintering and densification processes
  • Permeability evolution in the subsurface
  • Subsurface fluid flow and fluid-rock interactions
  • Pore scale processes
  • Soil mechanics
  • The physical-chemical-biological interactions that control soil fertility


Current PhD Students

  • Rory Brittain 
    Fines migration in porous media
    University of Strathclyde, Civil & Environmental Engineering. 
  • Phil Salter
    The use of microbially and enzyme induced carbonate precipitation  for improving subsurface storage integrity
    University of Strathclyde, Civil & Environmental Engineering. 
  • Andrea Kozlowski
    Development of sustainable substitutes for Pulversized Fly Ash in cement and concrete

    University of Strathclyde, Civil & Environmental Engineering
  • Rebecca Lindsey-Halls
    Effect of High temperatures on NRVB cement backfill for nuclear waste storage 
    University of Strathclyde, Civil & Environmental Engineering
  • Matthew Divers
    Quantifying the mineralogical controls on precious metal enrichment in the Rum layered intrusion, NW Scotland
    University of Glasgow, Geographical & Earth Sciences

Professional Activities

3D & 4D imaging - key skills for the Earth, Environmental & Planetary Sciences
NERC Training Course in 3D/4D X-ray computed tomography (X-CT) Imaging 2024
38th International Geological Congress, 2028
GeoNetZero XCT Training course
Leaching behaviour of concrete with Substitute Clinker Materials
3D & 4D imaging - key skills for the Earth, Environmental & Planetary Sciences

More professional activities


Imaging for Multi-scale Multi-modal and Multi-disciplinary Analysis for EnGineering and Environmental Sustainability (IM3AGES) (EPSRC Strategic Equipment)
Dobson, Kate (Principal Investigator) Minto, James (Co-investigator)
01-Jan-2024 - 30-Jan-2027
3D and 4D imaging - key skills for the Earth, Environmental & Planetary Sciences
Dobson, Kate (Principal Investigator)
01-Jan-2023 - 30-Jan-2024
EPSRC Summer Internship
Dobson, Kate (Principal Investigator)
22-Jan-2023 - 08-Jan-2023
XCT Analysis for Pernot-Ricard
Dobson, Kate (Principal Investigator)
EPSRC Core Equipment: Thermal characterisation for engineering and geological materials
Minto, James (Principal Investigator) Burnside, Neil (Principal Investigator) Dobson, Kate (Principal Investigator)
EPSRC Core Equipment grant for a thermal conductivity meter and gas pycnometer to allow thermal characterisation of engineering and geological materials.
£63,919 (inc. VAT)
01-Jan-2023 - 31-Jan-2023
X-ray tomogrphay project for Chivas
Dobson, Kate (Principal Investigator)

More projects

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Dr Katherine Dobson
Senior Lecturer
Civil and Environmental Engineering

Email: katherine.dobson@strath.ac.uk
Tel: Unlisted