Dr Katherine Dobson

Strathclyde Chancellor's Fellow

Civil and Environmental Engineering

Personal statement

I joined Strathclyde in 2019 as a Chancellor’s Fellow in Energy, and hold a joint appointment as a lecturer 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 underpins 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.


From a waste to a valuable resource : combined application of water treatment residual and compost improves maize productivity
Gwandu T, Nezomba H, Mtambanengwe F, Chivasa S, Dobson K, Lark M, Johnson K
Goldschmidt 2020 (2020)
A systematic study of element mobilisation from gas shales during hydraulic fracturing
Otalega I, Apte SC, King J, Dobson KJ, Shipton ZK, Renshaw JC
Goldschmidt 2020, pp. 2002 (2020)
Growth and resorption of bubbles in magma
Llewellin EW, Coumans JP, Wadsworth FB, Humphreys MCS, Dobson KJ, Allabar A, Brooker RJ, Gardner JE, Connolley T
Goldschmidt 2020, pp. 1629 (2020)
Quantifying microstructural evolution in moving magma
Dobson Katherine J, Allabar Anja, Bretagne Eloise, Coumans Jason, Cassidy Mike, Cimarelli Corrado, Coats Rebecca, Connolley Thomas, Courtois Loic, Dingwell Donald B, Di Genova Danilo, Fernando Benjamin, Fife Julie L, Fyfe Frey, Gehne Stephan, Jones Thomas, Kendrick Jackie E, Kinvig Helen, Kolzenburg Stephan, Lavallée Yan, Liu Emma, Llewellin Edward W, Madden-Nadeau Amber, Madi Kamel, Marone Federica, Morgan Ceryth, Oppenheimer Julie, Ploszajski Anna, Reid Gavin, Schauroth Jenny, Schlepütz Christian M, Sellick Catriona, Vasseur Jérémie, von Aulock Felix W, Wadsworth Fabian B, Wiesmaier Sebastian, Wanelik Kaz
Frontiers in Earth Science (2020)
Syn-eruptive agglutination of kimberlite volcanic ash
Haddock David, Manya Shukrani, Brown Richard J, Jones Thomas J, Wadsworth Fabian B, Dobson Katherine J, Gernon Thomas M
Volcanica Vol 3, pp. 169-182 (2020)
Editorial : Volumes, timescales, and frequency of magmatic processes in the Earth's lithosphere
Pistone Mattia, Taisne Benoît, Dobson Katherine J
Frontiers in Earth Science Vol 8 (2020)

More publications

Research interests

I apply x-ray tomography to investigate the textures within natural and man-made materials. The method is non destructive, and can be applied to a wide range of samples and sample sizes, and 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 research projects include:

  • Multi-phase flows and rheology in complex and concentrated fluids (NERC-IRF)
  • Understanding pore scale controls on slope stability to improve embankment and cutting resilience to climate change (ACHILLES)
  • Diffusion and bubble growth in silicate melts
  • In situ deformation of composite materials
  • Damage zone development
  • Continuous manufactuing
  • 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


PhD projects Available for 2020 start

I have three projects available for start in 2020.  Please follow the links or contact me to find out more information about any of the projects below.  If you are interested in working in another of the areas listed above, please contact me to discuss your project ideas.


  • POSITION AVAILABLE From fines migration to filter cake formation and back again: state-of-the-art in situ observation to understand pore scale processes

More information
Fully funded for students meeting the eligibility requirements.

  • Pore-Scale Imaging of Cross Fault Flow in High Porosity Sandstones using High Pressure-Temperature Fluid Tomography

Please contact me for further information
No funding in place, but scholarship opportunites are still available for 2020 start.

  • POSITION FILLED. Exploiting thermally and microbially induced carbonate precipitation to improve reservoir storage integrity

More information
Available through the GeoNetZero CDT. More informaion and details of the application process can be found here.


Current PhD Students

  •  Izabella Otalega University of Strathclyde, Civil & Environmental Engineering.

Oil and Gas

  • Tariro Gwandu Durham University,Enineering

Soil Mechanics, Sustainability

  • Eloise Bretagne Durham University, Earth Sciences

Magmatism, Complex fluids

  • Catriona Sellick Durham University, Earth Sciences

Enhanced Oil Recovery

  • Bridie Davies University of East Anglia, Enviornmental Sciences

Volcanism, Hazard

  • Nikos Apeiranthitis University of Durham, Earth Sciences

Enhanced Oil Recovery

Professional activities

Frontiers in Earth Science (Journal)
Guest editor

More professional activities


The GeoX Suite: Environmental cells for NERC research usin in situ imaging
Dobson, Kate (Principal Investigator)
01-Jan-2019 - 31-Jan-2020
Mobilising magma in the largest eruptions: Quantifying critical processes using in situ real time x-ray tomography
Dobson, Kate (Principal Investigator)
01-Jan-2019 - 20-Jan-2021
Magmatic Soup: experimental and microstructural investigation of slurry flow and magmatic sedimentation
Dobson, Kate (Co-investigator) Wadsworth, Fabian B. (Co-investigator) Talling, Pete (Co-investigator)
01-Jan-2018 - 31-Jan-2022

More projects


Civil and Environmental Engineering
James Weir Building

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