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Durham University

Department of Engineering

Staff Profile

Dr Will Coombs, MEng PhD

Associate Professor in the Department of Engineering
Telephone: +44 (0) 191 33 42516
Room number: E213 (Christopherson)

(email at


Will Coombs is an Associate Professor in the Department of Engineering. He graduated in Civil Engineering with a first class MEng honors degree from Durham University in 2008. Following his undergraduate studies, Will began a PhD at Durham University within the School of Engineering and Computing Sciences. He successfully completed in 2011. The research conducted during this time concentrated on the theoretical development and numerical implementation of finite deformation constitutive models for pressure-sensitive particulate geomaterials.

Will's research remains in the area of computational mechanics, focused on: (i) material (or constitutive) models for geomaterials, (ii) finite-deformation mechanics, (iii) non-linear finite-elements, (iv) non-mesh-based numerical methods and, more recently, (v) fracture. 


In more detail, Will's primary research interest surrounds inelastic constitutive modelling of geomaterials subjected to finite deformations. Included within this is the theoretical development and numerical implementation of a range of material constitutive models, from simple, rapid and robust isotropic models to complex anisotropic material behaviour frameworks. In addition he has developed a series of cutting-edge, compact and freely available finite-element scripts. His research continues on the development on constitutive models for a variety of engineering materials, including complex particulate behaviour. One aim in this area is relating the observed material behaviour to tangible and measurable material properties and fabric constituents whilst respecting the fundamental laws of thermodynamics. 


Will currently teaches in the following areas: finite-element method, non-linear mechanics (large deformation mechanics and plasticity) and aircraft structures. In the past he has also taught courses on plasticity for metal forming, structural analysis, contact mechanics, land surveying and Critical State soil mechanics as well as coursework in the areas of finite-element analysis, plasticity, contact and geometric non-linearity. 

Research Interests

  • Elasto-plasticity
  • Finite deformation mechanics
  • Finite-elements (continuous and discontinuous Galerkin)
  • Fracture prediction
  • Geomaterials
  • Hyperplasticity
  • Material point method
  • Stress integration
  • Discrete element modelling (DEM)
  • Offshore geotechnics
  • Peridynamics


Selected Publications

Doctoral Thesis

Journal Article

Newspaper/Magazine Article


  • Coombs, W.M., Augarde, C.E., Bing, Y., Charlton, T.J., Cortis, M., Ghaffari Motlagh, Y. & Wang, L. (2019), AMPLE: A Material Point Learning Environment, Second International Conference on the Material Point Method for Modelling Soil-Water-Structure Interaction. Cambridge, UK.

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