University of Newcastle professor elected to prestigious Royal Society

7 May 2015

A geotechnical engineer at the University of Newcastle has been named a Fellow of the distinguished Royal Society in London.

Laureate Professor Scott Sloan is one of only two New South Wales researchers to receive the high honour this year. The other is Professor Anne Cutler, a leading figure internationally in psycholinguistics, who's based at the MARCS Institute at the University of Western Sydney.

Sloan heads up the University's Centre for Geotechnical and Materials Modelling and also leads the prestigious Australian Research Council Centre of Excellence in Geotechnical Science and Engineering. 

The Centre of Excellence, with funding of $14.4 million over seven years, is pioneering new scientific approaches to geotechnical engineering design to underpin Australia's energy and transport infrastructure, resulting in increased productivity and sustainability of the nation's major export industries. 

Under Sloan's guidance, the University of Newcastle has long been a leader in computational modelling in the field. Sloan has won international acclaim for developing faster and more efficient methods of calculating the load capacity for buildings and structures. 

NSW Chief Scientist & Engineer, Professor Mary O'Kane, said Sloan has also made a wonderful contribution at a state level.

"I congratulate Scott on this tremendous and well deserved honour," Professor O'Kane said. "Scott has been a pioneer in the field of geomechanics. His research has made it possible for engineers to model complex geomaterial behaviour robustly, resulting in cheaper and safer civil infrastructure internationally.

"He has also been a great contributor on matters of importance to the Hunter, and at a state level on issues such as coal seam gas, including providing the independent Review technical advice on subsidence," she said.

The Royal Society is the oldest scientific academy internationally and many of the world's most-eminent scientists have been elected to its Fellowship, including Newton, Hawking, Darwin and Einstein.

Professor Sloan told the ABC his election to the Fellowship is a reflection of the high quality research being undertaken at the University of Newcastle. 

"It does give you quite a lot of sway when you are seeking research funds and organising conferences and so on so it does give you extra credibility," Sloan said.

"But for me the biggest thing its the recognition by your peers not just in engineering but other sciences and I think that's enormously satisfying."