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Brian Sheil BE PhD

Royal Academy of Engineering Research Fellow


Dr Brian Sheil studied Civil Engineering for his undergraduate degree at the National University of Ireland, Galway (NUIG). His PhD was a collaboration between NUIG and the University of California, Berkeley on the behaviour of pile group foundations.

In 2014, Brian joined the University of Oxford as a postdoctoral researcher in experimental geotechnics focused on industry-funded research projects and was subsequently promoted to departmental lecturer in geotechnical engineering in January 2017. 

He took up his current position as a Royal Academy of Engineering Research Fellow at Oxford in March 2018. He is also a Junior Research Fellow and Stipendiary Lecturer at St Catherine’s College and a Non-Stipendiary Lecturer at Mansfield College. In January 2021, Brian was also appointed to the position of Honorary Research Senior Lecturer at NUIG. He is the PI of the EPSRC-funded FOCUS project aiming to inject new science and technology into underground construction operations in collaboration with a range of industry partners. 

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Research Interests

A particular focus of Brian's research has been in the area of soil-structure interaction (SSI), covering development of normal and frictional contact stresses exerted by soil onto structures, soil strength mobilization displacements, pore water pressures and their time dependence. His research has included the use of numerical modelling, laboratory testing at model scale, and field testing/monitoring.

Underground construction

Underground construction monitoring represents a new line of research within civil engineering at Oxford University. The aim of this work is to develop the underpinning engineering science for SSI design applied to underground construction. This involves the use of laboratory testing and numerical modelling to elucidate the mechanics of soil-structure interface behaviour. Intelligent monitoring systems are being developed to measure and monitor soilstructure contact stresses on live construction projects to provide (i) field data for rigorous validation of developed design methods and (ii) real-time, automated feedback to site engineers to inform the construction of the field project itself essentially providing ‘early warning’ of unsatisfactory performance. Recent advances in fibre optic sensing will be exploited to develop novel multi-directional contact stress sensors.

Machine learning algorithms are also being employed such that prior data from previous construction projects may be synthesised with newly-acquired data to provide a robust datadriven decision-making process. Monitoring systems developed by Brian's research group have already been successfully trialled on a number of major UK construction projects. They will also be used to guide part of the Thames Tideway construction works in the near future.

Read more about our research here

Current Projects

  • Intelligent underground construction monitoring
  • Bayesian machine learning for construction
  • Soil-structure interaction
  • Construction support fluids

Journal papers

48. Buckley et al. Bayesian optimisation for CPT-based prediction of impact pile driveability. In preparation.

47. Bayaraa et al. A combined InSAR-geotechnical monitoring workflow for tailings dams: application to Cadia mine, Australia. In preparation.

46. Lissner, M. et al. Finite element studies on the mechanical basis of cortical cataract. In preparation.

45. Li, G., Cheng, W.-C., Ong, D.E.L., Sheil, B.B. & Bai, X.-D. On the role of segmental tunnel liner joints for close-proximity tunnelling in soft ground. Submitted.

44. Saberi, M., Annan, C.-D. & Sheil, B.B.  An efficient numerical approach for simulating soil-pipe interaction behaviour under cyclic axial displacement. Submitted.

43. Sheil, B.B., Suryasentana, S.K., Templeman, J.O., Phillips, B.M., Cheng, W.-C & Zhang, L. Prediction of pipe jacking forces using a Bayesian updating approach. Submitted.

42. Suryasentana, S.K., Sheil, B.B, Lawler, M., Jiang, X. & Lehane, B.M. Automated CPT-based soil layering identification using offline and online Bayesian changepoint detection. Submitted.

41. Sheil, B.B. & Templeman, J.O. Bearing capacity of large-diameter open caissons embedded in sand. Submitted.

40. Suryasentana, S.K., Sheil, B.B. & Cassidy, M.J. Gaussian Process regression for geotechnical engineering: a review of probabilistic interpolating, modelling and forecasting functions. Submitted.

39. Templeman, J.O., Sheil, B.B. & Suryasentana, S.K. A data-driven approach to multi-axis force sensing. Submitted.

38. Sheil, B.B. Circular excavations: a data-driven monitoring strategy for early collapse warning. Submitted.

37. Sheil, B.B., Byrne, B.W. & Martin, C.M. Rate effects on the uplift capacity of pipelines embedded in clay: finite element modelling. Computers & Geotechnics. Accepted.

36. Bai, X.-D., Cheng, W.-D., Sheil, B.B. & Li, G. Pipejacking clogging detection in soft alluvial deposits using machine learning algorithms. Tunnelling & Underground Space Technology. Accepted.

35. Franza, A. & Sheil, B.B. Pile groups under vertical and inclined eccentric loads: elastoplastic modelling for performance based design. Computers & Geotechnics. Accepted.

34. Sheil, B.B., Suryasentana, S.K., Mooney, M.A., Zhu, H. Reply to the discussion by McCabe and O'Dwyer on  "Machine learning to inform tunnelling operations: recent advances and future trends". Proceedings of the ICE - Smart Infrastructure and Construction.

33. Templeman, J.O., Phillips, B.M. & Sheil, B.B. Cutting shoe design for open caissons in sand: influence on vertical bearing capacity. Proceedings of the ICE - Geotechnical Engineering. Accepted.

32. Swallow, A. & Sheil, B.B. Group shape effects on the lateral capacity of pile groups in undrained soil. Géotechnique. Accepted.

31. Michael, R., Justin, C.D., Cortés, L.P., Burd, H.J., Sheil, B.B. & Barraquer, R.I. Deformations and ruptures in human lenses with cortical cataract subjected to ex vivo simulated accommodation. Investigative Ophthalmology & Visual Science. Accepted.

30. Sheil, B.B. (2020) Discussion of “On the Pointlessness of Machine Learning Based Time Delayed Prediction of TBM Operational Data” by Georg H. Erharter and Thomas Marcher. Automation in Construction. In press.

29. Sheil, B.B. (2020) Prediction of microtunnelling jacking forces using a probabilistic observational approach. Tunnelling & Underground Space Technology. In press.

28. Sheil, B.B., Suryasentana, S.K., Mooney, M.A. & Zhu, H. (2020) Machine learning to inform tunnelling operations: recent advances and future trends. Proceedings of the ICE - Smart Infrastructure and Construction. In press.

27. Chieh, W.-C., Bai, X.-D., Sheil, B.B. , Li, G. & Wang, F. (2020) Identifying characteristics of pipejacking parameters to assess geological conditions using optimisation algorithm-based support vector machines. Tunnelling & Underground Space Technology. Accepted.

26. Royston, R., Sheil, B.B. & Byrne, B.W. (2020) Undrained bearing capacity of the cutting face of large-diameter caissons. Géotechnique.In press.

25. Sheil, B.B., Suryasentana, S.K. & Cheng, W-.C. (2020) An assessment of anomaly detection methods applied to microtunnelling. Journal of Geotechnical and Geoenvironmental Engineering. DOI: 10.1061/(ASCE)GT.1943-5606.0002326.

24. Royston, R., Sheil, B.B. & Byrne, B.W. (2020) Monitoring the construction of a large-diameter caisson in sand. Proceedings of the ICE - Geotechnical Engineering. DOI: 10.1680/jgeen.19.00266.

23. Mayall, R.O., McAdam, R.A., Whitehouse, R.J.S., Burd, H.J., Byrne, B.W., Heald, S.G., Sheil, B.B. & Slater, P.L. (2020) Flume tank testing of offshore wind turbine structural dynamics under the influence of foundation scour and scour protection. ASCE Journal of Waterway, Port, Coastal and Ocean Engineering. DOI: 10.1061/(ASCE)WW.1943-5460.0000587.

22. Templeman, J.O., Sheil, B.B. & Sun, T. (2020) Multi-axis force sensors: a state-of-the art review. Sensors and Actuators A: Physical. DOI: 10.1016/j.sna.2019.111772.

21. Sheil, B.B. (2020) Lateral limiting pressure on square pile groups in undrained soil. Géotechnique. DOI: 10.1680/jgeot.18.p.118.

20. Sheil, B.B., Martin, C.M. & Byrne, B.W. (2019) Simulation of overburden pressure during laboratory investigations of axial pipe-soil interaction. Géotechnique. DOI: 10.1680/jgeot.18.t.040.

19. Georgiadis, K. & Sheil, B.B. (2019) Effect of torsion on the undrained limiting lateral resistance of piles in clay. Géotechnique. DOI: 10.1680/jgeot.19.ti.010.

18. O'Dwyer, K.G., McCabe, B.A. & Sheil, B.B. (2019) Interpretation of pipe-jacking and lubrication records for drives in silty sand. Underground Space. DOI: 10.1016/j.undsp.2019.04.001.

17. Michael, R., D'Antin, J.C., Cortés, L.P., Sheil, B.B., Burd, H.J. & Barraquer, R.I. (2019) Ex vivo simulated accommodation in human donor eyes with and without cortical cataract. Investigative Ophthalmology & Visual Science 60(9): 3164-3164.

16. Sheil, B.B., McCabe, B.A., Comodromos, E.M. & Lehane, B.M. (2018) Pile groups under axial loading: an appraisal of simplified nonlinear prediction models. Géotechnique. DOI: 10.1680/jgeot.17.R.040.

15. Sheil, B.B., Martin, C.M., Byrne, B.W., Plant, M., Williams, K. & Coyne, D. (2018) Full-scale laboratory testing of a buried pipeline in sand subjected to cyclic axial displacements. Géotechnique. DOI: 10.1680/jgeot.16.P.275.

14. Sheil, B.B. (2017) Numerical simulations of the reuse of piled raft foundations in clay. ACTA Geotechnica, DOI: 10.1007/s11440-017-0522-8.

13. Sheil, B.B., McCabe, B.A, Zhang, Feng, Lie & Zhang. (2016) Discussion: An analytical approach for predictions of single pile and pile group behaviour in clay, Comput. Geotech. In press.

12. Sheil, B.B. & McCabe, B.A. (2016) Biaxial loading of offshore monopiles: numerical modelling. ASCE Int. J. Geomech, DOI: 10.1061/(ASCE)GM.1943-5622.0000709.

11. Sheil, B.B., McCabe, B.A & Li (2016) Discussion: An analytical approach for predictions of single pile and pile group behaviour in clay, Comput. Geotech. In press.

10. Wang, A.D., Wang, W.D., Huang, M.S., Wu, J.B., Sheil, B.B. & McCabe, B.A. (2016) Discussion: Interaction factor for large pile groups. Geotechnique Letters. In press.

9. Sheil, B.B. & McCabe, B.A. (2016) An analytical approach for predictions of single pile and pile group behaviour in clay. Comput. Geotech., 75: 145-158.

8. Sheil, B.B. & Finnegan, W. (2016) Numerical simulations of wave-structure-soil interaction of an offshore monopile. ASCE Int. J. Geomech,. DOI: 10.1061/(ASCE)GM.1943-5622.0000667.

7. McCabe, B.A., Sheil, B.B. et al. (2016) Discussion: An empirical correlation between the compression index and water content of soft Irish soils. ICE Geotech. Eng., DOI: 10.1680/jgeen.15.00101.

6. Sheil, B.B., Curran, B. & McCabe, B.A. (2016) Recent experiences of utility microtunnelling in Irish limestone, mudstone and sandstone rock. Tunnelling & Underground Space Technology. 51: 326-337.

5. Sheil, B.B., McCabe, B.A., Hunt, C.E. & Pestana, J.M. (2015) A numerical study of single pile and pile group installation effects in clay. Journal of Geo-engineering Sciences. DOI 10.3233/JGS-140027.

4. McCabe, B.A. & Sheil, B.B. (2015) Pile group settlement estimation: suitability of nonlinear interaction factors. ASCE Int. J. Geomech. 15(3): 04014056.

3. Sheil, B.B. & McCabe, B.A. (2015) Numerical modelling of pile foundation angular distortion. Soils & Foundations 55(3): 614-625.

2. McCabe, B.A., Sheil, B.B., Buggy, F., Long, M. & Farrell, E. (2014) An empirical correlation between the compression index and water content of soft Irish soils. ICE Geotech. Eng. 167(6): 510-517.

1. Sheil, B.B. & McCabe, B.A. (2014) A finite element-based approach for predictions of rigid pile group stiffness efficiency. ACTA Geotechnica 9(3): 469-484.

DPhil Opportunities

We have two fully-funded DPhil (PhD) studentships available to UK citizens or residents to join our group: (a) intelligent underground construction monitoring and (b) the design and performance of construction support fluids.

Please do not hesitate to contact me if you are interested in postgraduate or postdoctoral research opportunities.

Read more on our vacancies here