The AGS Victoria PhD Research Award

The AGS Victoria PhD Research Award

The Australian Geomechanics Society (Victoria Chapter) is pleased to present its inaugural PhD Research Award. This forms part of its ongoing support of academic institutions and researchers and to foster increased collaboration between academia and industry. The award aims to provide a forum for PhD researchers to showcase their research to geotechnical profession. The award is presented biannually starting from 2022.

Basis of the award

This award is open to those currently undertaking PhD research at a Victorian university in the field of geotechnical engineering, geo-environmental engineering or engineering geology. Nominees must be a member of the Australian Geomechanics Society and a resident of Victoria at the time of application. Nominees must also have their supervisor’s consent to apply for this award.


A call for abstracts was made in February with three short listed candidates selected to prepare a technical paper for publication in Australian Geomechanics Journal and make a 15 minutes presentation at the August meeting of the Victorian Chapter. A judging panel comprised of independent experts in the field will evaluate abstracts and review technical papers and presentations. Finalists papers will be included in the Q3 publication of Australian Geomechanics. Candidates will be assessed based on the following criteria, with equal weighting given to paper and presentation:

The winner will be announced at the conclusion of the meeting and in Australian Geomechanics at the time of publication. The winner will receive a token of appreciation and cash prize of $1,500 from the Australian Geomechanics Society.


The three finalists selected to present at our August meeting and be published in the Q3 edition of Australian Geomechanics are:

Amir Tophel PhD Candidate Monash University

“Automated Proximal Sensing of Density During Soil Compaction by instrumented rollers”

Mr Amir Tophel is a 3rd year PhD scholar at the Department of Civil Engineering, Monash University. He is supervised by Prof. Jayantha Kodikara, Prof. Jeffrey Walker and Dr Ye Lu. His PhD project aims to develop advanced instrumentation to estimate the road material density in real-time during compaction, and the successful completion will advance the current Intelligent Compaction (IC) technology. The novel methodology developed during his PhD has been protected with an international patent (International Patent Application No. PCT/AU2021/051505). Amir completed his B.Tech in Civil Engineering at IIT Delhi and his M.Tech in Geotechnical and Geoenvironmental Engineering from IIT Delhi and TU Munich.

Mengqi Huang PhD candidate at Monash University

“Digital Twin For Underground Stations: Improving Decision Making For Construction Lifecycle”

Amanda (Mengqi) Huang received her Bachelor (Honours) degree in Mining Engineering from Monash University in 2018, including an Exchange Program at the Camborne School of Mines in United Kingdom. Her PhD study focuses on digital twin for underground infrastructure by leveraging building information modelling, geological/geotechnical modelling and field monitoring technologies. She has been working as a casual tunnel engineer at SMEC on the projects of Melbourne Metro Tunnel and Snowy 2.0 since 2019. She is currently a postdoctoral researcher working on sustainability and resilience assessment of underground infrastructure at Monash University. She has published several peer-reviewed journal and conference papers.

Sanchari Mondal PhD candidate at Melbourne University

“Soil-structure interaction of battered minipile groups in sandy soil”

Sanchari is a Postdoctoral Research Fellow at the University of Melbourne and she completed her PhD from the same University in April 2022 through the support of a prestigious Melbourne Research Scholarship. She has received numerous awards and scholarships during her PhD candidature including the AGS (Australian Geomechanics Society) and ISSMGE awards. She was also awarded Institute Silver Medal at the Indian Institute of Technology Kharagpur, India. Her research interests include but are not limited to element testing, designing and modifying element testing equipment, 1g-physical modelling, field investigation and numerical modelling.

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