Dr Elisabeth Bowman

Lis Bowman

Senior Lecturer

Department of Civil and Structural Engineering
Sir Frederick Mappin Building
Mappin Street, Sheffield, S1 3JD

Telephone: +44 (0) 114 222 5747
Fax: +44 (0) 114 222 5700
Email: e.bowman@sheffield.ac.uk
Room: C109d


  • MA; PhD (Cambridge University)
  • CEng, Member of the Institution of Civil Engineers, UK.


Elisabeth Bowman is a graduate of the University of Cambridge and spent several years in consulting practice in between her studies in general (civil) engineering and geotechnical engineering. She received her PhD in 2002 for research on the mechanics of creep and ageing of freshly disturbed granular materials. She then spent a three years as a Royal Academy of Engineering Postdoctoral Fellow at the University of Cambridge exploring the mechanics of large and catastrophic landslides via physical modelling. This led to her joining the academic staff at the University in Canterbury in Christchurch, New Zealand, where she gained valuable field experience in investigating landslide and earthquake behaviour as well as continuing with experimental research and numerical modelling of slope stability / landslide mechanics. She returned to the UK and joined the University of Sheffield in May 2013.

Elisabeth’s research interests lie in understanding the micro-mechanisms of geomaterials undergoing deformation, leading observed macro-scale behaviour. This has led to her current research into the following topics:

  • Creep of granular soils leading to observed ageing effects (as exhibited as increases in strength with time of freshly deposited sands, as displacement pile “set up” in granular soils, and as an increased resistance of older deposits to seismically-induced liquefaction)
  • Mechanisms behind the extraordinary spreading of large (>106 m3) and catastrophic rock avalanches
  • Mechanics of the motion of debris flows with a view to better modelling of their runout behaviour
  • Behaviour of granular flows within geotechnical centrifuge physical model experiments (influences of Coriolis and other induced effects)
  • Internal erosion of susceptible soils (such as glacial tills), which may lead to internal instability in embankment dams, levees and canals
  • Local deformation modes of model geosynthetic reinforced soil walls under seismic loading

Activities and Distinctions

  • Associate Editor: Canadian Geotechnical Journal (2013 - )
  • Secretary of International Society of Soil Mechanics and Geotechnical Engineering Technical Committee (TC) 208: “Slope Stability in Engineering Practice” (2010 - present)
  • Recipient of the Casimir Gzowski Medal, CSCE (2013) for the paper “Physical models of rock avalanche spreading with dynamic fragmentation”
  • Recipient of a Telford Premium Prize, ICE (2013) for the paper “Internal imaging of saturated granular free surface flows”
  • Chartered Engineer: Member of the Institution of Civil Engineers, UK (2005-present)


  • Senior Member Responsible for Year 2 Modules: CIV2500 & CIV2501 Geotechnical Engineering 2 & 2a
  • Engineering Geology component of Year 3 Module: CIV350 Geotechnical Engineering 3


  • April 2017 – March 2020: EPSRC Grant EP/P010423/1 Particle scale investigation of seepage induced geotechnical instability. PI: E.T. Bowman Co-I: J.A. Black
  • February 2017 – January 2020: Leverhulme Trust International Networks: Rosetta Stone Network – Towards a Common Understanding of Debris Flow. PI: E.T. Bowman 
  • May 2015 – May 2017: EPSRC Grant EP/M017427/1 High speed granular debris flows: new paradigms and interactions in geomechanics. PI: E.T. Bowman
  • 2010-2012: New Zealand Earthquake Commission (EQC) Biennial Fund: “Seismic behaviour of geosynthetic reinforced soil walls” PIs: E.T. Bowman and M. Cubrinovski
  • 2009-2010: New Zealand EQC Non-biennial Postgraduate Fund “Deformation behaviour of geosynthetic reinforced soil walls under seismic loading” PIs: E.T. Bowman and M. Cubrinovski
  • 2008-2010: New Zealand EQC Biennial Fund “Debris flow mechanics in New Zealand mountain catchments” PI: E. T. Bowman
  • 2007-2010: Royal Society of New Zealand (RSNZ) Marsden Fund “The internal mechanics of debris flows” PI: E.T. Bowman
  • 2002-2005: Royal Academy of Engineering (RAEng) Postdoctoral Fellowship, UK “The mechanics of high speed landslides” PI: E.T. Bowman

Selected Publications

Journal articles