Prof. Susan A Bernal
- Position: Professor of Structural Materials
- Areas of expertise: Traditional and alternative cements; cement materials characterisation; wastes management and valorisation; durability of cement and concrete
- Email: S.A.BernalLopez@leeds.ac.uk
- Location: Civil Engineering Building, room 1.11
- Website: LinkedIn | Googlescholar | Researchgate | ORCID
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 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).
- Deputy-Chair of the RILEM technical committee TC 281 – CCC: Carbonation of concrete with supplementary cementitious materials, since 2017.
- Member of the RILEM technical committee TC MPA: Mechanical properties of alkali-activated concretes, since 2019.
- Member of the RILEM technical committee TC 283 – CAM: Chloride transport in alkali-activated materials, since 2018.
- Member of the RILEM technical committee TC 282 – CCL: Calcined clays as supplementary cementitious materials, since 2018.
- Member of the RILEM technical committee TC 267-TRM: Tests for reactivity of supplementary cementitious materials, since 2015.
- Member of the RILEM technical committee TC 247-DTA: Durability testing of alkali-activated materials, since 2013-2018.
- Member of the RILEM technical committee TC 238-SCM: Hydration and microstructure of concrete with supplementary cementitious materials, 2012-2015.
- Member of the RILEM Technical committee TC 224-AAM: Alkali-activated materials, 2011-2012.
- Reviewer for more than 50 international journals (in both Spanish and English) in the areas of materials science and engineering of infrastructure materials, cement and concrete chemistry and performance, nuclear waste management, and sustainability.
Commisions of trust
- Member of the UKRI Future Leaders Fellowship Peer-Review College. Since 2021
- Materials and Structures Group Lead, School of Civil Engineering, University of Leeds. Since 2020
- Member of the Management Committee of the Bragg Centre for Materials Research at University of Leeds. Since 2019
- Member of the EPSRC Peer Review College. Since 2019
- Associate Editor, Materials – Open Access Journal of Materials Science. Since 2018
- Associate Editor, RILEM Technical Letters. Since 2016
- Editorial Advisory Panel member, Proceedings of the Institute of Civil Engineers (ICE) Construction Materials. 2016 – 2020
Ongoing Research Projects
- 2021 – 2024. UKRI 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.)
- 2021 – 2022. Enhancing analytical capabilities in soils for low-carbon technologies. White Rose Collaboration Fund. Investigators U. Leeds: A. Marsh (PI), H. Freeman, A. Brown; V. Leadley; S.A. Bernal; U. Sheffield: B. Walkley (Co-PI), M. Stennett, N. Hyatt; U. York: M. Hodson (Co-PI), R. Mills.
- 2020 – 2022. WISE: Maximising waste resources utilisation in future infrastructure development. Royal Society – International Exchanges Cost Share (Argentina). UK Investigators: S.A. Bernal (UK-PI), L. Black, S. Adu-Amankwah, A. Marsh, J.P Gevaudan; Argentina Inverstigators: Y.A. Villagran-Zaccardi (Argentina PI), M.A. Sosa, C. Pico Cortes, L. Masselli
- 2020 – 2023. CMMI-EPSRC RENACEM: Response to CO2 exposure of concrete with natural supplementary cementitious materials. NSF-EPSRC Lead Agency grant (EP/T008407/1 and 1903457). UK Investigators: S.A. Bernal (UK-PI), J.L. Provis, L. Black & P.A.M. Basheer; US Investigators: M. Juenger (US-PI) & L. Katz
- 2019 - 2023. Design-for-manufacture of 3D concrete printed structural composites (DfM:3DCP). EPSRC grant (EP/S019650/1). Investigators: L. Susmel (PI), R. de Borst, J.P. Provis & S.A. Bernal
- 2019 – 2021. NOVA-VIDA: Novel approach for vital infrastructure post-disaster. British Academy – Infrastructure for wellbeing grant. Investigators: O. Iuorio (PI), M. Janoschka, R. Romano & S.A. Bernal
- 2018 - 2023. Multicale engineering of alkali-activated concretes for sustainable infrastructure. EPSRC Early Career Fellowship (EP/R001642/1). Investigator: S.A Bernal
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) 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
- Rutendo Rusike (UG Laidlaw Scholar)
- Natalia Wolfe (Henry Royce/ Bragg Centre summer intern)
- Madeline Rhiner (MSc)
- Devika Nair (MSc)
- Ivan Clarke (MSc ACT)
- Juan Moreno (MSc ACT)
- Yuyan Huang (PhD researcher)
- Thomas Hutchinson (EPSRC CDT GREEN PhD researcher)
- Moro Sabtiwu (EPSRC CASE PhD researcher – Highways England)
- Zengliang Yue (PhD researcher)
- Heng Song (PhD researcher, co-supervised by Dr. Gehan Selim)
- Dr Alastair Marsh (Research Fellow in Alkali-Activated Materials)
- Dr Yuvaraj Dhandapani (Research Fellow in Durability of Cement and Concrete Materials)
Former team members
- 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 Juan Pablo Gevaudan (MSC 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)
- Circular Economy Centre for Mineral-based Construction Materials
- CMMI-EPSRC RENACEM: Response to CO2 exposure of concrete with natural supplementary cementitious materials
- Multi-scale engineering of alkali-activated concretes for sustainable infrastructure
- Novel Approach for Vital Infrastructure Post Disaster (NOVA VIDA)
- Doctor in Engineering, emphasis in Materials Engineering (Cum Laude) Universidad del Valle, Colombia
- Materials Engineer (Cum Laude), Universidad del Valle, Colombia
- 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
- CIVE5452 – Cement and Concrete Properties
Research groups and institutes
- Materials and Structures