Personal profile


From 1977 to 1980 I was at the Centre for Tectonophysics, Texas A&M University (experimental rock mechanics, fracture systems, upper crustal deformation). This was followed by 10 years in the US oil and gas industry (management of structurally complex fractured reservoirs, simulation of their flow). A return to academia (1991 to 1998) produced a PhD in Basin Development and Basin-scale Flow Systems at Glasgow University concurrent with and followed by a fixed-term research contact (flow in deforming fractured media) joint between Geology and Civil Engineering. I have been at Heriot-Watt University for 20+ years. This time includes several years as Director of the Applied Geoscience MSc but has mostly been focused on Geomechanics and Geomaterials research encompassing topics from Structural Geology to Nanomaterials Science and Full Field Rock Mechanics laboratory testing to subsurface fractured and fracture-induced reservoir issues. My current research focus is 2-fold: linked geomechanics and flow in developing geological structures at the cm to the reservoir scale; and laboratory-based rock and flow system testing, particularly with embedded sensor systems.  This work has been enabled by   grants for neutron beam access and  IGE's aquisition of an X-ray tomograph.  

Research interests

Current main area:

Identification of rock damage in subsurface reservoirs caused both by natural deformation (e.g. faulting and fracturing) and by human intervention (e.g. wells for access).  Application to storage and retrevial of liquids and gases and to storage and retreival of heat and cold.  Methods encompass experimental rock deformation (rocks and fluids), 3D/4D observations  via X-ray and neutron tomographic experiments (HWU and national facilities) numerical simulation and  old-fashioned geological fieldwork.

Historical Projects:

Deformation band development in sands and sandstones 2015-2019  (with Dr Charalampidou) Quantitative assessment and experimental replication of deformation band development in partially consolidated natural sands and sandstones.  A collaborative project with Universitie de Grenoble.

MechSeis 2011-18. Identification and prediction of evolved petrophysical and acoustic properties in deformed carbonate rocks via rock mechanics testing and geomechanical simulation.

Bots in Rocks 2014 -17 (with Dr Flynn). Development and use of nanosensors in deforming rocks for evolving rock and fluid property identification: a non-destructive laboratory study of rock deformation and fluid movement.  Experimental investigation of reservoir rock deformation using sensors for direct measurement (Bots in Rocks 2)

Numerical Diagenesis (with Drs Buckman and Jiang). Characterisation via high resolution methods of diagenesis in clastics and its digital representatation via pore architecture reprentations. 

ICCR/ BasDiHist 2011-16 (with Profs. Sebastian Geiger and Rachel Wood, Univ. of Edinburgh).  Characterisation of a dolomitised offshore carbonate reservoir using basin modelling, digital rock models and high-resolution heat-flow simulations

Quartz Cementation Prediction Niger Delta.   Identification via linked basin modelling and petrophysics of quartz cementation initiation conditions.  Funded by the PTDF.

RFI: Robust Fracture Identification using geomechanical modelling and seismic anisotropy studies.  Funded by consortium of 9 companies plus the DTI

BMFFFS: Behaviour of Fault-Fracture Flow Systems via geomechanical and flow simulation. Funded by consortium of 9 companies plus the DTI

HYDRO-DDA - a numerical tool to soft-couple a deforming, fractured, porous framework and its fluid system, with special application to fractured topseals and folding rock systems.  EPSRC funded.  With University of Glasgow.

Geomechanical evolution of basins and their basement.  Ongoing theme from PhD project onwards investigating the geometric, kinematic, geomechanical and flow evolution of basins for petroleum and mineral rsources.

Fractured reservoirs. A long lived theme, especially fracture evolution in folding layered systems and  geomechanical assessment of effective stress evolution. 


Roles & Responsibilities


  • ICCR (International Centre for Carbonates Research) Founder Member, Edinburgh and Heriot-Watt Universities.
  • The Geological Society of London, Special Publications.  Volume Editor to 2007.
  • European Journal of Environmental and Civil Engineering, Taylor and Frances, Volume Editor in Chief, to 2014.
  • Lecturer (Annual) Geomechanics in Reservoir and Basin Systems Course.  Part of International Masters in Geomechanics, Civil Engineering and Risks, Department of Civil Engineering, Universitie de Grenoble, France.
  • Member ALERT   (Alliance of Laboratories in Europe for Research and Technology, an Invitation-membership EU network)  


  • Member Postgraduate Studies Committee
  • Member Athena Swan (Women in Science) Champions Committee
  • Dean’s Representative

Former and Recent:

  • Athena SWAN Bronze Award University Committee 2007-10 and

  • Member QESC/ QSC 2008-2012

  • ELIR Preparation Staff 2010-11

  • Member Senate 2004-2012


  • Lead IPE Athena Swan (Women in Science) Working Committee 2014-15
  • Joint Deputy Lead EGIS Athena SWAN Working Committe 2015-present

Expertise related to UN Sustainable Development Goals

In 2015, UN member states agreed to 17 global Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) to end poverty, protect the planet and ensure prosperity for all. This person’s work contributes towards the following SDG(s):

  • SDG 7 - Affordable and Clean Energy
  • SDG 13 - Climate Action


  • QE Geology
  • Geomechanics


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