Dr Ana Heitor

Dr Ana Heitor


Before joining the University of Leeds, Ana worked as a Senior Lecturer in the University of Wollongong (Australia), and previously in industry for a brief time for companies engaging in consultancy work and infrastructure construction, where she gained some experience in the design of earth dams and delivery of road construction projects.  

She is an early career researcher focused on the research of geotechnical engineering topics, with particular emphasis on the study of the stress strain behaviour of unsaturated compacted materials in the context of transport infrastructure applications (e.g. roads, rail, ports and airports). 

Her research achievements have been recognised by several awards, including the Australian Geomechanics NSW Research Award and more recently University of Wollongong Women of Impact, IACMAG John Carter Award for young professionals and Churchill Fellowship. 

Academic service:

  • Associate Editor: Geomechanics and Geoengineering, Taylor and Francis (2020 – current)
  • Associate Editor: Ground Improvement, ICE (2022 – current)
  • Editor Board: Environmental Geotechnics, Institution of Civil Engineers, UK (2018 – 2020)
  • Editor Board: Soils and Foundations, Elsevier ( 2018-2020) 

Expert Pannel commitee membership:

  • PhD thesis examiner of Ms Meng Li (2023) of the University of Leeds on Developing a practical framework for Ecomuseums in China. 
  • PhD thesis examiner of Mr Kaiwen Ouyang (2022) of University of Newcastle on the Influence of physico-chemical interaction on sample quality in soft soils.
  • PhD thesis examiner of Yue Ma (2022) of the University of Leeds on New coupled Thermo-Hydro-Mechanical-Chemical formulations with consideration of swelling and dissolution
  • PhD thesis examiner of Miss Parisa Rahimzadeh Oskooei (2021) of Swinburne University on  Multi-scale investigation of the performance of demolition wastes using numerical analysis and experimental methods.
  • PhD thesis examiner of Mr Huu Liem Hu (2016) of the University of Technology Sydney (UTS) on  Analytical Solutions for Consolidation of Unsaturated Soils Subjected to Various Initial and Loading conditions.
  • Expert examiner in the PhD transfer panel at University of Leeds: Miss Hang Wu (2020), Mr Jiangwei Zhang (2020), Miss Maria Taccari (2021), Miss Erna Zharari (2022), Miss Karen Quintanilla (2022).

Prizes and Awards

Conributions to geotechnical research have been acknowledged through numerous national and international awards:

  • 2019 – Editorial Board Member Award  for outstanding contribution as an editorial board member for Soils and Foundations (27 July 2020)
  • 2017 – John Carter Award - received at 15th IACMAG Conference (Wuhan, China). The award recognizes early career researchers who have demonstrated outstanding research potential in Geomechanics as demonstrated by their recent scholarly publications and commitment to geotechnical education.
  • 2016 - UOW Women with Impact – University of Wollongong recognition celebrating the work of outstanding women at UOW part of UOW impact series that celebrate 40 years of research impact

Contributions to student education have been acknowledged through national awards, as follows,

  • 2022 – Leeds Partnership Award –  Inspirational Teaching category - University of Leeds
  • 2021 –  Leeds Partnership Award highly commended  – Positive impact category - University of Leeds
  • 2019 – Nomination for Leeds Partnership Award – Feedback category - University of Leeds
  • 2016 - Nomination for the ViceChancellors Outstanding Contribution to Teaching and Learning (OCTAL) Award - University of Wollongong
  • 2015 - Australian College of Educators Recognition Award awarded by the Australian College of Educators and given in recognition of high-quality contributions to the development of the new subject. 

PhD Completions:

  • Dr Chazath Kaliboulah (University of Wollongong, 2015): 
  • Dr SM Ali Tassaloti (University of Wollongong, 2016)
  • Dr Shiran Galpathage (University of Wollongong, 2017)
  • Dr Yujie Qi (University of Wollongong, 2018)
  • Dr Muditha Pallewattha (University of Wollongong, 2019)
  • Dr Miriam Tawk (University of Wollongong, 2020)
  • Dr Subhani Medawela (University of Wollongong, 2020)
  • Dr Pubudu Jayathilaka (University of Wollongong, 2020)
  • Dr Krishna Allulakshmi (University of Wollongong, 2022)
  • Dr Mohsin Nawaz (University of Wollongong, 2023)

Current PhD students:

  • Mr Christopher Walker (University of Leeds, 2020 - 2024)  – Lead supervisor
  • Mr Carl Sellers (University of Leeds, 2022 - 2026) – Lead supervisor 
  • Mr Michael Atukunda (University of Leeds, 2022 - 2025) – Lead supervisor
  • Mr Seif Alnahar (University of Leeds, 2021 - 2024) – Project led by Prof. Fleur Loveridge
  • Mr George Appiah-Kubi (University of Leeds, 2022 - 2025) – Project led by A/Prof. Xiaohui Chen
  • Mr Biao Yuan (University of Leeds, 2022 - 2025) – Project led by A/Prof. Xiaohui Chen


  • Deputy Director of Student Education - Taught Postgraduate
  • Sustainability Architect

Research interests

I can divide my research into four distinct topics all contributing to the overarching theme of compacted materials behaviour:

  1.  Impact of climate change in geostructures with particular reference to transport infrastructure and heritage assets This includes the study of the role of compaction state for geostructures built before modern principles of compaction were introduced and associated performance post-compaction drying and wetting cycles.
  2.  Soil stabilization applied to transport infrastructure for enhancing performance/resiliency against climate change. This includes the use of waste materials such as lignosulfonate,  fly ash and calcium carbonate but also use of bio-mediation as low carbon alternatives to more established binders (e.g. lime and cement) and the use of alkali activated binders.
  3. Behaviour of compacted  waste materials to be used as synthetic fill materials. This includes but not limited to waste materials such as steel slag, coalwash, rubber, fly ash and waste incineration ash. 
  4. Geoenviromental applications This includes strategies for management of soil acidity in lowland peats (e.g. permeable reactive barriers) and opportunities for carbon sequestration in soils and use of native vegetation.

 Recent Research Grants:

 2022 CE-Hub feasibility fund – Sustainable infrastructure construction and repair using calcium carbonate waste (CCW) lime (EP/V029746/1) (Principal Investigator)

 Past Research Grants:

  • 2020  Australian Research Council (ARC) Linkage Project –  Clogging of Permeable Reactive Barrier when treating Acidic Groundwater  (LP190100439)
  • 2019 Australia Nuclear Science and Technology Organisation (ANSTO) - Australian Synchrotron (Principal Investigator)  (in-kind) equivalent to 112h of Infrared microscopy beamline –  Soil stabilization using biopolymer xanthan gum
  • 2016  Australian Research Council (ARC) Linkage Project –  Performance of granular matrix under heavy haul cyclic loading (LP160100280) 
<h4>Research projects</h4> <p>Any research projects I'm currently working on will be listed below. Our list of all <a href="https://eps.leeds.ac.uk/dir/research-projects">research projects</a> allows you to view and search the full list of projects in the faculty.</p>


  • LicEng (MEng equivalent) from the New University of Lisbon (Portugal)
  • MSc in Geotechnical Engineering from Kyoto University (Japan)
  • PhD in Geotechnical Engineering from the University of Wollongong (Australia)
  • FHEA, Fellow of Higher Education Academy

Professional memberships

  • British Geotechnical Society
  • Australian Geomechanics Society
  • Engineers Australia (Australia)
  • Ordem dos Engenheiros (Portugal)

Student education

I presently teach Modules on the Post-graduate taught program in MSc Geotechnical Engineering: 

CIVE 5160M – Geotechnical Investigation and Characterisation (Module Leader)

CIVE 5164M – Transport Infrastructure Strategy (Module Leader)

CIVE 5162M – Constituitive Models and Numerical Analysis

CIVE 5000M – MSc Disseration (Module Leader)

Civil Engineering BSc/MEng program:

CIVE2470  – Water Engineering and Geotechnics (2021-2022)

Research groups and institutes

  • Water, Public Health and Environmental Engineering
  • Cities, Infrastructure and Energy

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="https://phd.leeds.ac.uk">research opportunities</a> allow you to search for projects and scholarships.</p>
    <li><a href="//phd.leeds.ac.uk/project/1402-low-carbon-soil-stabilisation-for-mitigating-the-impact-of-climate-change-in-transport-infrastructure">Low carbon soil stabilisation for mitigating the impact of climate change in transport infrastructure</a></li> <li><a href="//phd.leeds.ac.uk/project/1401-performance-of-high-density-geopolymer-pillars-for-ground-improvement-and-structural-support">Performance of high density geopolymer pillars for ground improvement and structural support</a></li>