Dr Danny Smyl

Department of Civil and Structural Engineering


CIV Danny Smyl
+44 114 222 5705

Full contact details

Dr Danny Smyl
Department of Civil and Structural Engineering
Room F111d
Sir Frederick Mappin Building (Broad Lane Building)
Mappin Street
S1 3JD

My research aims to improve the techniques used to diagnose the health of our ageing infrastructure.

Dr Danny Smyl

Danny is originally from a small town in rural Kansas. He completed his Bachelors and Masters degrees in the Department of Civil, Environmental & Architectural Engineering at the University of Kansas.

He then served as a Combat Engineer officer in the US Marines, completing a tour of Afghanistan. After finishing active duty service, Danny completed a PhD in the Department of Civil, Construction & Environmental Engineering at North Carolina State University.

During this time, he received a Fulbright grant to study inverse problems in the Department of Applied Physics at the University of Eastern Finland. After completing his PhD, Danny was a postdoctoral researcher in the Department of Mechanical Engineering at Aalto University, Espoo, Finland. He joined us in 2019.

Danny’s overarching research interests lie in inverse problems, structural health monitoring, material characterisation, structural engineering, and cement-based materials.

Danny’s interdisciplinary work will also feed into many other areas of research in the Department, such as geotechnics, optimisation, blast, concrete materials, and earthquake engineering.

For example, he will work with our Blast & Impact research group to quantify near-field blast events and the damage they cause. He will also work with our Geotechnical Engineering research group to quantify how water moves through soil and characterise subsurface structural features.

Danny’s methods of diagnosing abnormalities can also be applied to medical imaging, where he develops imaging regimes for biomedical processes, which can, for instance, help with cancer detection in human tissue.

Research Themes





Research interests

Danny’s overarching research interests lie in inverse problems, structural health monitoring, material characterisation, structural engineering, and cement-based materials.

In Danny’s approach to structural health monitoring, he incorporates tomographic techniques to detect, diagnose, visualise and quantify damage or flaws in a structure.

These techniques incorporate photographic, electrical or displacement data applied to a structure or element of a structure, and are then used to visualise the damage.

Detecting damage in structures is important as it can lead to weaknesses or failure. It can be caused by many things: earthquakes, subsidence, corrosion, impact or blast loading, for instance.

If a structure is somehow weakened by any of these, it’s important that we identify the damage that can’t be seen so it can be remedied.

Danny uses inverse problem solving techniques to work towards diagnosis. He starts by collecting data and then works through numerical modelling, in order to generate an image of the damage.

This inverse approach, starting with data and working towards causalities, is a unique approach to solving engineering problems, but is particularly useful when the parameters are uncertain.

The techniques currently being used to diagnose the health of our infrastructure are often rudimentary and done on a small scale. Danny aims to improve on these techniques and translate them to large existing infrastructure using our unique facilities at ICAIR.


Journal articles

Conference proceedings papers

Research group

Computational Mechanics & Design

Intelligent Infrastructure

Blast & Impact

Potential PhD offerings

State Estimation For Monitoring Structures During Extreme Loading And Environmental Conditions

This thesis aims to develop state estimation algorithms for imaging structures subjected to extreme loading present in, e.g., earthquakes, blast/impact exposure, etc. In this effort, we will validate the algorithms using experimental data from structural testing and gain fundamental insights into the 3D progression of damage and other physical processes occurring in structures subject to extreme loading.

Tomographic Imaging Of Transport In Cement-based Materials

In this work, we advance the state-of-the-art in the use of tomography for characterising unsaturated/saturated moisture and ion transport in undamaged and damaged cement-based materials. In this effort, we aim to gain significant insights into the fundamental transport mechanisms of cement-based materials including, for example: dual-permeability flow, matrix-fracture moisture transmittance, salt ingress into discrete and distributed fractures, moisture movement in high-temperature environments, corrosion of reinforcement, and much more.