Dr. Zili Li


Dr. Zili Li is a tenured Lecturer above the merit bar in Geotechnics from University College Cork (UCC), Ireland and a visiting Assistant Professor at Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), USA. He holds a PhD degree in Geotechnical Engineering from the University of Cambridge, UK. He used to be a Research Associate at the Centre for Smart Infrastructure and Construction (CSIC) in the University of Cambridge, UK, and also worked at the Centre for Underground Construction and Tunnelling, Colorado School of Mines, US. Dr Li was the Theme Leader in Geotechnics of Civil Engineering Research Association of Ireland (CERAI) from 2017 to 2021.

Research Interests

  • Energy geotechnics (underground hydrogen storage and advanced laboratory testing)

  • Computational geotechnics (advanced finite element modelling, ground constitutive model)
  • Tunnelling engineering and underground space
  • Geothermal foundation (thermo-hydro-mechanical (THM) modelling)
  • Innovative monitoring technologies and data analytics (distributed fibre optic sensing, wireless sensor network)


Selected Publications

  • 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, (accepted)
  • 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., Zhang, D., Li, Z.*, (2022), Mechanical assessment of energy wall in the long term, Acta Geotechnica, https://doi.org/10.1007/s11440-022-01579-5
  • Dai, Q., Li, Z.*, (2019), Long-term mechanical performance of geothermal diaphragm walls in stiff clay, Tunnelling and Underground Space Technology, 94, 103113
  • Li, Z.*, Soga, K., Kechavarzi, C. (2018), Distributed Fibre Optic Sensing of a Deep Excavation Adjacent to Pre-existing Tunnels, Geotechnique Letters, 8, 1-7

See Dr. Li's Google Scholar Profile for full details of publications. 

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 https://www.ismlg2023.com.

Dr. Li has been invited to deliver 5 keynote presentations in a series of national & international conferences. Currently, he is mentoring a Postdoc, supervising 7 PhDs,1 research master student, and 2 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:


Lecturer above the bar


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