Buddhima Indraratna

Distinguished Professor Buddhima Indraratna

Professor Buddhima Indraratna

  • Professor of Civil Engineering, University of Wollongong (since 2000)
  • Head, School of Civil Mining and Environmental Engineering, University of Wollongong (2006-2012).
  • Research Director, Faculty of Engineering, UOW (since 2012)
  • Founding Director, Centre for Geomechanics & Rail Engineering (since 1995).
  • UOW Coordinator, CRC - Rail Engineering; CRC - Rail Innovation (since 2007), CRC Rail Manufacturing (since 2014)
  • Chief Investigator and Program leader: ARC Centre of Excellence in Geotechnical Sciences and Engineering (since 2011)
  • Distinguished Adjunct Professor, Asian Institute of Technology (AIT), Thailand (since 2015).
  • Honorary Professor, Uni. of Shanghai for Science & Technology, China (since 2009)

Professional links



I have pioneered research on both rail geotechnics and road embankments on soft soil in Australian academia since early 1990s. I was instrumental in the successful bid for the first CRC for Railway Engineering in 1999 (Federal Government initiative) and became the founding Director of Centre for Geomechanics and Railway Engineering. My contributions through research to innovative design and construction practices in rail track engineering and problematic ground improvement for stabilising transport infrastructure and have made a significant impact worldwide. My career is characterized by research excellence, close collaboration with industry and the implementation of innovative research-based solutions. Over two decades, my research encompasses a wide spectrum of applications from theory to practice, particularly in transportation geomechanics. I have developed an international reputation for: [a] conceptualisation and design innovation for stabilising rail and road embankments built over soft foundations; [b] novel analytical techniques and design procedures for high speed rail tracks capturing the role of ballast degradation, track confinement and subgrade deformation; [c] dams and embankment design and associated filtration and drainage; [d] analysis of jointed and porous media and stability implications on transport infrastructure. The above contributions have been instrumental in changing the often conservative industry practices, including revisions to some Australian Standards.

Featured Media


SMART Infrastructure Facility Laboratories - Rail and Soil UOWNow (YouTube) 

Can Wollongong hop on fast train to future? Illawarra Mercury 10 July, 2014

Engineering the Railways International Innovation, August 2015

Research Interests

My key strength is the ability to work closely with industry in understanding and finding solutions to the real field problems and being able to disseminate the salient research outcomes to considerable and tangible industry benefits. I have consistently received major national competitive research grants through ARC-Discovery, ARC-Linkage and CRC-Rail over the past 15 years. This has enabled the Centre for Geomechanics and Railway Engineering (GRE) founded by me a decade ago, now being recognised as one of the world’s most active and largest Subgrade Stabilisation and Rail Geomechanics research groups (currently accommodating 38 PhD students and 9 full-time Post-doctoral Research Fellows) with an annual research income over $2.2 million/year. GRE is one of the 3 Geotechnical Centres forming the ARC Centre for Excellence in Geotechnical Science and Engineering funded in July 2010.


Over 500 scholarly publications including 200+ top ranked, peer-reviewed journals, 6 research-based books, 300+ peer-reviewed national and international conference papers including 45 invited Keynote papers and Special Guest Lectures.

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Research Grants

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  • PhD (Alberta): Geotechnical Engineering 1987
  • MSc: Soil Mechanics and Engineering Seismology, Imperial College, University of London 1983
  • BSc-Honours in Civil Engineering; Imperial College, University of London 1982




  • FTSE - Fellow, Australian Academy of Technological Sciences & Engineering 2011
  • FIEAust - Fellow, Institution of Engineers Australia 1999
  • FASCE - Fellow, American Society of Civil Engineers 2004
  • FGS - Fellow, Geological Society of UK 1991
  • FAusIMM – Fellow, Australasian Inst. of Mining & Metallurgy 2011
  • CPEng - Chartered Professional Engineer, Australia 1999
  • CEng - Chartered Engineer, UK 1991

Major Honours & Awards

Recipient of the Inaugural Ralph Roscoe Proctor Lecture of International Society of Soil Mechanics and Geotechnical Engineeringto be delivered in Portugal, September 2015

Recipient of  the 2014 Chandra S Desai Medal by the International Association for Computer Methods and Advances in Geomechanics (IACMAG)

Appointed as Distinguished Adjunct Professor of Geotechnical Engineering at the Asian Institute of Technology, Thailand by its President, 2015

Vice-Chancellor’s Award for Research Partnership, University of Wollongong, Australia, 2013

Eurasian University Medal for contributions to geomechanics and rail geo-technology 2012

Robert M. Quigley Award by the Canadian Geotechnical Society for outstanding contribution through article in Canadian Geotechnical Journal in the area of soft soil stabilisation by vacuum consolidation 2012

Engineers Australia Transport Medal for distinguished contributions to Australian transport industry 2011

Vice-Chancellor’s Award for Outstanding Research, University of Wollongong, Australia. 2010

Appointment to the Awards Committee of the International Society of Soil Mechanics & Geotechnical Engineering (ISSMGE), the primary society with @ 20000 members of the worldwide geotechnical community. 2010

EH Davis Memorial Lecture Award by the Australian Geomechanics Society for Distinguished Contributions to theory and practice of Australian Geomechanics. 2009

B-HERT (Business-Higher Education Round Table) Award: "Best Research and Development Collaboration", in recognition of contribution to: "Rail Track Innovations in Australia" in partnership with RailCorp (NSW). Sponsored by the Australian Government, Dept. of Education, Employment & Workplace Relations. 2009

Vice-Chancellor's Commendation Award for Collaborative Industry Partnerships, University of Wollongong. 2009

IACMAG Medal for Excellent Contributions, awarded by the International Association for Computer Methods and Advances in Geomechanics (IACMAG). 2008

IACMAG Outstanding Paper Award: Indraratna, et al. (2005). Analytical and Numerical Modelling of Soft Soil Stabilised by PVD incorporating Vacuum Preloading. International Journal of Geomechanics, ASCE, Vol. 5, pp. 114-124. 2008

Prix Robert M. Quigley Award by the Canadian Geotechnical Society for outstanding contribution to the geotechnical profession through the article in the Canadian Geotechnical Journal in the area of radial consolidation of soft soil with non-Darcian flow. 2007

Wollongong Trailblazer Open Competition - First Prize for research innovation in recognition of commercial potential: “A novel soft soil improvement method for transport infrastructure”. 2006

Hon. Late Prime Minister Sirima Bandaranaike Award (c/o Ministry of Science and Technology, Sri Lanka) for research contributions to infrastructure development in Sri Lanka. 2001 Swedish Geotechnical Society Award for contribution to the field of ground improvement. Award received at the 12th European Conference on Soil Mechanics. 1999 Vice-Chancellor’s Award for Excellence in Teaching, Uni. of Wollongong 1997

Contact Information

email: indra@uow.edu.au
phone: +61 2 4221 3046
fax: +61-2 4221 5474

Last reviewed: 15 July, 2016