Prof. Susan A Bernal

Prof. Susan A Bernal


Susan is Professor of Structural Materials in the School of Civil Engineering at University of Leeds, and holds a prestigious EPSRC Early Career Fellowship in Multi-scale Engineering of Sustainable Concretes. Previously she was University Academic Fellow in Cementitious Materials at Leeds (2018-2019), and Research Fellow in Cements in the world leading NucleUS Immobilisation Science Laboratory in Department of Materials Science and Engineering at The University of Sheffield (2012-2018). During that period she also held a one year appointment (2015-2016) as Lecturer in Concrete Technology in the Civil and Structural Engineering Department of this University. Prior to this, she was a Postdoctoral fellow (2009-2010) with Professor Jørgen Skibsted in the iNANO Instrument Center for Solid-State NMR Spectroscopy at Aarhus University, Denmark, and she then undertook a Research Fellow position (2010-2012) focusing on durability assessment of alkali-activated concretes, with Professor Jannie van Deventer and Professor John Provis in the Chemical Engineering Department at The University of Melbourne, Australia.


  • Recipient of one of the Materials and Structures Outstanding Paper 2022 Awards – see paper here.
  • Recipient of the 2022 RILEM Robert L’Hermite medal, in recognition of exceptional scientific contribution to the field of construction materials and structures.
  • Recipient of the 2021 The Kavli Foundation Early Career Lectureship in Materials Science by the Materials Research Society (MRS), in recognition of significant novel contributions to materials science.
  • Recipient of the 2020 IOM3 Rosenhain Medal and Prize for distinguished achievements in any branch of materials science – read more here
  • Recipient of one of the Materials and Structures Outstanding Paper 2020 Awards – see paper here
  • Recipients of one of the 2018 ICE Advances in Cement Research Prize (Best paper in the journal) - see paper here
  • Recipient of one of the two 2016 RILEM Gustavo Colonnetti medals for outstanding scientific contributions to the field of construction materials and structures
  • Recipient of one of the 2016 Distinguished Graduate Awards, Faculty of Engineering, Universidad del Valle, Colombia, in recognition of outstanding scientific contributions promoting regional development.
  • Recipient of one of the Walter Mangold Trust Fund scholarship for studies in Australia, 2008. The programme provided funding for a 1-year occupational trainee position in The Department of Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering at The University of Melbourne, Australia.
  • Recipient of a COLCIENCIAS DEng Scholarship, 2005: Enhancement of Colombian Scientific Community through National Doctorate Programmes. (Fortalecimiento de la comunidad científica a través del programa de doctorados nacionales, Créditos condonables COLCIENCIAS).

Ongoing Professional Activities

Ongoing Commisions of Trust

Ongoing Research Projects

  • 2023 – 2024. Up-scaling on-site CO2 utilisation for decarbonisation of dispersed cement sector: a novel route to reliable net-zero concretes. IDRIC Wave 2 funding. X. Key (PI, U. Bath), P. Rainford (Heriot-Watt U.) & S.A. Bernal (U. Leeds).
  • 2022 – 2026. Engineering UK clays for production of low carbon cements. EPSRC grant (EP/W021811/1). U. Leeds investigators: L. Black, A. Marsh, S.A. Bernal; in collaboration with colleagues from Imperial College London and British Geological Survey.
  • 2022 – 2025Knowledge Transfer Partnership (KTP) with Wienerberger Ltd. U. Leeds investigators: S.A. Bernal (PI), J. Forth (co-I) & A. Marsh (co-I)
  • 2022  – 2025. Knowledge Transfer Partnership (KTP) with Sika Ltd. U. Leeds investigators: S.A. Bernal (PI) & L. Black (co-I)
  • 2021 – 2024UKRI Interdisciplinary Circular Economy Centre For Mineral-based Construction Materials. EPSRC grant (EP/V011820/1). U. Leeds investigators: L. Black, O. Iuorio, C. Velis & S.A. Bernal; in collaboration with colleagues from UCL, Loughborough U., Imperial College London, Lancaster U. & U. Sheffield. 
  • 2021 – 2023. Transforming Foundation Industries – A Network plus towards value by innovation. EPSRC / ISCF grant (EP/V026402/1). Investigator: I. Reaney (U. Sheffield, Director), S.A. Bernal (U. Leeds, Co-Director), W. Sampson (U. Manchester) and C. Preydell-Pearce (Swansea U.)
  • 2018 - 2024. Multicale engineering of alkali-activated concretes for sustainable infrastructure. EPSRC Early Career Fellowship (EP/R001642/1). Investigator: S.A Bernal

Research interests

Susan and her team research centres on novel cements and concretes, particularly focusing on waste management and valorisation, multi-scale infrastructure materials characterisation, durability assessment, and improving sustainability of novel cement and concrete technologies. Specifically Susan focuses on:

(i) Development, characterisation and exploitation of advanced and non-traditional cement and cement and concrete technologies, including:

  • Design of bespoke cements including geopolymers and alkali-activated materials for waste management and/or valorisation.
  • Determining the factors controlling phase assemblage evolution and stability of non-Portland cements, including application of thermodynamic modelling.
  • Mechanisms leading to structural modifications of Portland and non-Portland cements exposed to aggressive environments, emphasising chemical/physical binding of anions/cations and structural phase transformations.
  • Validation of testing methods for physicochemical characterisation of supplementary cementitious materials
  • Development and validation of standardised testing methods to determine performance of alkali-activated materials

(ii) Sustainability aspects of novel cement and concrete technologies

  • Waste management and valorisation for production of low carbon construction materials
  • Circularity of cement and concretes integrating durability concepts
  • Infrastructure for well-being

(iii) Evaluation of fit-for-purpose cementitious wasteforms for immobilisation of nuclear wastes, including:

  • Chemical/physical binding mechanisms of radionuclides in cements with different chemistries
  • Phase assemblage evolution and stability of Portland and non-Portland based cementitious wasteforms
  • Effect of radiation in cementitious systems

Current team members

  • Mithun Sabramaniam (MSc)
  • Abdulaziz Almanzel (MSc)
  • Atif Mulla (MSc)
  • Megha Krishnan (MSc)
  • Ngo Suet Au-Yeung (MSc)
  • Savan Bharath (MSc)
  • Muzzamil Shakil (MSc ACT)
  • Juan Moreno Restrepo (MSc ACT)
  • Chloe Monin (MEng – co-supervisor, University of Ottawa, Canada)
  • Yuyan Huang (PhD researcher)
  • Zengliang Yue (PhD researcher)
  • Donald Nwonu (PhD researcher)
  • Moro Sabtiwu (EPSRC CASE PhD researcher – National Highways)
  • Heng Song (PhD researcher, co-supervisor)
  • Ali Al-Janabi (PhD researcher, co-supervisor)
  • Zixian Su (PhD researcher, co-supervisor, University of Manchester)
  • Suraj Rahmon (Research Assistant in Cements)
  • Dr Yuvaraj Dhandapani (Research Fellow in Durability of Cement and Concrete Materials)
  • Dr Sreejith Krishnan (Research Fellow in Cement Materials Chemistry)
  • Dr Zhi (Eric) Hu (KTP Associate In Low Carbon Cement Technologies)
  • Dr Tharwat Hassan (KTP Associate in Geopolymers Technology)
  • Dr Bruno Fernandes (Research Fellow in Circular Concrete, co-supervisor)
  • Dr Alastair Marsh (Visiting Research Fellow)

Former team members

  • 2022 – 23 – James McKeen (BEng)
  • 2022 – 23 – Ella Shuttleworth (BEng)
  • 2022 – 23 – Similda Turay (BEng)
  • 2022 – 23 – Thomas King-Cline (MEng)
  • 2022 – 23 – Adam Dawson (BEng)
  • 2022 – 23 – Jessica Inacio Boa (BEng)
  • 2022 – 23 – Dr Elijah Adesanya (Visiting Research fellow)
  • 2022 – Juan Manuel Etcheverry (Visiting PhD researcher)
  • 2022 – Ana Rita Damasceno Costa (Visiting PhD Researcher)
  • 2022 – Matthew Brayne (Henry Royce Institute/ Bragg Centre summer intern)
  • 2021 – 22 – Hanwen Chen (MSc)
  • 2021 - 22 – Srajan Bhandauria (MSc)
  • 2021 – 22 – Niki Jackson (MSc ACT)
  • 2021 – 22 – Jarod Wilson (MSc ACT)
  • 2021 – 22 – Ares Neda (MEng)
  • 2021 – 22 – Shahad Al-Busaidi (BEng)
  • 2021 – 22 – Thomas King-Cline (BEng)
  • 2021 – Natalia Wolfe (Henry Royce/ Bragg Centre summer intern)
  • 2020 – 21 – Rutendo Rusike (BEng Laidlaw Scholar)
  • 2020 – 21 – Madeline Rhiner (MSc)
  • 2020 – 21 – Devika Nair (MSc)
  • 2020 – 21 – Ivan Clarke (MSc ACT)
  • 2020 – 21 – Thomas Dillon (MEng)
  • 2020 – 21 – Gabriel Bowless (MEng)
  • 2020 – 21 – Ryan McAlister (MEng)
  • 2019 – 21 – Dr James Vigor (Research Fellow)
  • 2019 – 21 – Dr J.P. Gevaudan (Research Fellow)
  • 2019 – 20 -  Luke Atkinson (MSc)
  • 2019 – 20 -  Moosa Awad (MSc)
  • 2019 – 20 – Dr Tao Yang (Visiting Research Fellow)
  • 2019 – 20 -  Xiaowen Zhang (Visiting PhD researcher)
  • 2018 – 19 -  Kate Button (MEng)
<h4>Research projects</h4> <p>Any research projects I'm currently working on will be listed below. Our list of all <a href="">research projects</a> allows you to view and search the full list of projects in the faculty.</p>


  • Doctor in Engineering, emphasis in Materials Engineering (Cum Laude) Universidad del Valle, Colombia
  • Materials Engineer (Cum Laude), Universidad del Valle, Colombia

Professional memberships

  • Fellow of the Institute of Materials, Minerals and Mining, IOM3
  • Senior Member of International Union of Laboratories and Experts in Construction Materials, Systems and Structures, RILEM

Student education

  • CIVE3750 – BEng Research Project
  • CIVE5000 – MSc Dissertation
  • CIVE5755 – MEng Research Project
  • CIVE5455 – MSc Advanced Concrete Technology Research Project
  • CIVE5452 – Cement and Concrete Properties

Research groups and institutes

  • Materials and Structures

Current postgraduate researchers

<h4>Postgraduate research opportunities</h4> <p>We welcome enquiries from motivated and qualified applicants from all around the world who are interested in PhD study. Our <a href="">research opportunities</a> allow you to search for projects and scholarships.</p>
    <li><a href="//">Low-carbon and reusable structural systems formed with eco-friendly materials for sustainable infrastructures</a></li>