Dr Katherine Dobson

Senior Lecturer

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.

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Root structures and their impact on drought tolerance in key food crops
Dobson Katherine J
ToScA (2023)
The evolution of paleo-porosity in basalts : reversing pore filling mechanisms using X-ray Computed Tomography
Macente A, Dobson K J, MacDonald J, Wadsworth F B, Vasseur J
Transport in Porous Media Vol 145, pp. 697-717 (2022)
The permeability of loose magma mush
Bretagne Eloise, Wadsworth Fabian B, Vasseur Jérémie, Dingwell Don, Dobson Katherine J, Humphreys Madeleine, Rooyakkers Shane
EGU General Assembly 2022 (2022)
Replacing pulversized fly ash in cement with natural and anthropogenic geomaterials identifying the corresponding physico-chemical properties used for the encapsulation of low-level waste
Kozlowski Andrea, Renshaw Joanna, Dobson Katherine J
EGU General Assembly 2022 (2022)
Experimental simulation of burial diagenesis and subsequent 2D-3D characterization of sandstone reservoir quality
Charlaftis Dimitrios, Dobson Katherine J, Jones Stuart J, Lakshtanov Dmitry, Crouch Jonathan, Cook Jennie
Frontiers in Earth Science Vol 10 (2022)
Damage accumulation during high temperature fatigue of Ti/SiCf metal matrix composites under different stress amplitudes
Wang Ying, Xu Xu, Zhao Wenxia, Li Nan, McDonald Samuel A, Chai Yuan, Atkinson Michael, Dobson Katherine J, Michalik Stefan, Fan Yingwei, Withers Philip J, Zhou Xiaorong, Burnett Timothy L
Acta Materialia Vol 213 (2021)

More publications

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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 2021 start

I am happy to accept PhD students on projects starting in 2021.  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.



  • 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 opportunities are still available for 2021 start.

  • Microstructural controls on the rheology of complex fluids

Please contact me for further information
No funding in place, but scholarship opportunities are still available for 2021 start.

  • From micro- to macro- understanding how pore-scale behaviours control slope stability in embankments and cuttings

Please contact me for further information
No funding in place, but scholarship opportunities are still available for 2021 start.


Current PhD Students

  • Rory Brittain University of Strathclyde, Civil & Environmental Engineering.

Geosciences towards Net Zero

  • Phil Salter University of Strathclyde, Civil & Environmental Engineering.

Geosciences towards Net Zero

  • Andrea Kozlowski University of Strathclyde, Civil & Environmental Engineering.

Nuclear Disposal

  • 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

GeoNetZero XCT Training course
Leaching behaviour of concrete with Substitute Clinker Materials
3D & 4D imaging - key skills for the Earth, Environmental & Planetary Sciences
Optimising XCT Acquisition Speed for Image Quality and Dimensional Measurements
Development of sustainable substitutes for Pulverised Fly Ash in Cement and Concrete

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
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)
X-racy tomography of weld joins (AFRC)
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