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Dr. Zili Li


Dr Zili Li graduated with a PhD in Geotechnical Engineering in 2015 from the University of Cambridge, UK. He has postdoctoral work experience in Colorado School of Mines, US and currently work as a Senior Lecturer (Associate Professor) in Geotechnical Engineering at University College Cork, Ireland. He worked as a visiting Professor / Scientist at the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering (CEE), Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), USA in 2022-2023 during his sabbatical research leave.

Since his employment at UCC in 2016, he has secured €2+ million research grant as the PI, including prestigious SFI Frontiers for the Future Programme (€612.8k total budget) (top-tier independent research grant). He is the chair of ISMLG 2023 (the 4th International Symposium of Machine Learning and Big Data in Geoscience), 29th August to 1st September 2023, University College Cork, Ireland

In addition, Dr. Li leads the monitoring and assessment of world-class CERN tunnel projects (€405k) for Large Hardon Collider (LHC), funded by the European Organization for Nuclear Research (CERN) at Geneva Switzerland. He is also the Leader of Task Force ‘Big Data Acquisition’ in TC309 Machine Learning & Big Data at International Society for Soil Mechanics and Geotechnical Engineering (ISSMGE).

Research Interests


·       Innovative monitoring technologies and data analytics (distributed fibre optic sensing, image-based machine learning, smartphone sensing)

·       Computational geotechnics (advanced finite element modelling, ground constitutive model)

·       Tunnelling engineering and underground excavation

·       Geothermal foundation (thermo-hydro-mechanical (THM) modelling, large-scale energy geostructures)

·       Energy geotechnics (underground hydrogen storage, offshore renewable energy foundations)


Selected 5 Publications

  • Wang, C., Firedman, M., Li Z.*, (2023), Monitoring and assessment of a cross-passage twin tunnel long-term performance using Wireless Sensor Network, Canadian Geotechnical Journal,·   
  • Wang, C., Tavares, A., Fonseca, J., Soares, F., Li Z.*, (2022), Real-time condition assessment of a painted megalithic cave using Wireless Sensor Network, Tunnelling and Underground Space Technology, 120, 104270 (won John Murphy Postgraduate Research Fellowship – the best journal paper Award in UCC Civil Engineering Discipline in 2022)
  • Dai, Q., Li, Z.*, (2019), Long-term mechanical performance of geothermal diaphragm walls in stiff clay, Tunnelling and Underground Space Technology, 94, 103113
  • Laver, R., Li, Z.*, Soga, K, (2016), Method to evaluate the long-term surface movements by tunneling in London Clay, Journal of Geotechnical and Geoenvironmental Engineering, 143, 23-29
  • O'Brien, D., Osborne, J., Perez-Duenas, E., Li, Z., (2022), Automated crack classification in the CERN underground tunnel infrastructure using deep learning, Tunnelling and Underground Space Technology, Volume 131, 104668

See Dr. Li's website for full details. 

Professional Activity

Internationally, Dr. Li is the Leader of Task Force ‘Big Data Acquisition’ in TC309 Machine Learning & Big Data at ISSMG, and the chair conference organiser of the 4th International Symposium on Machine Learning and Big Data in Geoscience 2023

Dr. Li has been invited to deliver 5 keynote presentations in a series of national & international conferences. Currently, he is mentoring a Postdoc, supervising 8 PhDs and 3 visiting PhDs.

Teaching Activity

Postgraduate Level: GL6021 Engineering Geology

Undergraduate Level: CE3004 Mechanics of Soil I, CE3005 Mechanics of Soil II,

CE4007 Geotechnical Engineering, CE4002 Dissertation in Civil and Environmental Engineering



Zili Li

Contact Details:


Senior Lecturer


Bachelor in Civil Engineering (Tongji University); PhD in Engineering (University of Cambridge)

Research Area:

Geomechanics & Geotechnics



Civil, Structural and Environmental Engineering

Innealtóireacht Shibhialta agus Timpeallachta

University College Cork, Cork