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Durham University

Research & business

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Professor David Toll, BSc PhD DIC Eur Ing FICE CEng

Professor in the Department of Engineering
Telephone: +44 (0) 191 33 42388
Room number: E370 (Higginson)

(email at


David Toll is a Professor in the Department of Engineering at Durham University, UK. He also has the following roles:

  • Chair of Technical Committee TC106 on Unsaturated Soils of the International Society of Soil Mechanics and Geotechnical Engineering (ISSMGE)
  • Chair, Joint Technical Committee JTC2 of the Federation of International Geo-Engineering Societies (representing ISRM, ISSMGE, IAEG and IGS) (2005-2017)
  • Kwang-Hua Chair Professor at Tongji University, China
  • Vice-Chair, British Geotechnical Association
  • Chair, Institution of Civil Engineers North East (2013-14)
  • Chair, Northern Geotechnical Group (the regional group of the British Geotechnical Association and part of ICE North East) (2009-2014)

David Toll's research encompasses two highly relevant areas of civil engineering: (i) the engineering behaviour of unsaturated and tropical soils and (ii) the application of information technology to geotechnical engineering. The primary focus for his work on unsaturated soils is to find engineering solutions for natural hazards, particularly landslides. Much of his current work examines the impacts of climate change on transportation infrastructure through field and laboratory studies and numerical modelling. His research in information technology involves work on data exchange and standards, BIM, data acquisition and computer control systems.

He was Chair of the Scientific Committee for the European Conference on Soil Mechanics and Geotechnical Engineering held in Edinburgh in 2015. He has been a member of the organising/technical committee for many international conferences on unsaturated soils: Singapore, 2000; Recife, 2002; Weimar, 2003; Trento, 2005; Nanjing, 2007; Barcelona, 2010; Pattaya, 2011; Naples 2012; Sydney 2014; Lisbon 2020 and organised the First European Conference on Unsaturated Soils in Durham, 2008. He also organises the conference series on Information Technology in Geo-Engineering with conferences in Shanghai in 2010 and Durham in 2014.

He has twice been a member of the editorial advisory board of Geotechnique and been member of the Editorial Panels for two Geotechnique Symposia in Print (2011 and 2013). He was the founding editor for the international journal, Geotechnical and Geological Engineering, published by Springer, and remains a member of the editorial board. He has been a member of the editorial boards of the Quarterly Journal for Engineering Geology and Hydrogeology and the Electronic Journal of Geotechnical Engineering

He is Director of the Sustainable Infrastructure Research Challenge for the Department of Engineering. He has been Director of Education, Design Coordinator, Accreditation Coordinator and International Coordinator for the School of Engineering and Computing Sciences. He teaches Geotechnical Engineering and Geomatics on the undergraduate MEng course in Engineering.

Research Groups

Department of Engineering

Research Projects

Department of Archaeology

Research Interests

  • Geotechnical engineering
  • Engineering geology
  • Information technology

Selected Publications

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Media Contacts

Available for media contact about:

  • Mechanics: Geotechnical engineering i.e. the engineering properties of the ground with relevance to roads, landslides, foundations
  • Geological hazards: Landslides, particularly rainfall-induced landslides in tropical areas
  • Computers: International Data Exchange (XML)
  • Asia (excluding Middle East): Tropical Soil Engineering with experience in Singapore, Malaysia, China


Selected Grants

  • 2020: Shallow Landslide Susceptibility Mapping in Rize, Turkey (£40000.00 from Royal Academy of Engineering)
  • 2019: Embedding Sustainability And Inclusivity In Durham University Taught Programmes (£30000.00 from Royal Academy of Engineering)
  • 2019: Integrated Modelling of Landslides due to Hydrometeorological Impact in Langat Basin, Peninsular Malaysia (iModelLandslides) (£380825.00 from Natural Environmental Research Council)
  • 2018: Achillies (£551677.63 from Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council)
  • 2018: CACTUS: Climate Adaptation Control Technologies for Urban Spaces (£349758.00 from Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council)
  • 2017: Reducing Disaster Risk to Life and Livelihoods by Evaluating the Seismic Safety of Kathmandu's Historic Urban Infrastructure (£109301.00 from The British Academy)
  • 2017: Sustainability and Resilience of Transportation Infrastructure in African Countries (£1108696.16 from Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council)
  • 2017: Increasing Climate Resilience of Urban Infrastructure (£37200.00 from British Council Yemen)
  • 2015: Predicting collapse of sinkholes using an unsaturated soil mechanics framework (£12000.00 from Royal Academy of Engineering)
  • 2015: Unsaturated Soils Mechanics for Engineering Practice (UnsatPractice) (£152219.56 from ESRC)
  • 2013: iSmart (£240833.00 from Epsrc)
  • 2004: BIONICS (£73695.00 from Epsrc)
  • 2004: MUSE (£184136.00 from European Commission)

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