Professor René de Borst

The Centenary Professor of Civil Engineering

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

Telephone: +44 (0) 114 222 5796
Fax: +44 (0) 114 222 5700

Room: F113




I use numerical techniques to predict the strength, durability and failure of a wide range of structures in civil, mechanical and aerospace disciplines.

Professor Rene Deborst


Professor René de Borst’s research concentrates on computer simulations of materials and structures, with the aim to make structures more robust and resilient to extreme loadings. His work covers several topics in engineering mechanics and engineering materials, such as the mechanical properties of concrete, soils, composites and rubbers, in particular the development of mathematical and numerical models for deformation and failure. His most significant work is on fracture, computational mechanics, frictional materials, and is of relevance in civil engineering, structural engineering, and aerospace engineering. His research also extends into the interaction between porous materials and fluid flow through them.

His numerical modelling allows virtual prototyping, thus avoiding expensive physical testing, and helps to optimise materials and structures for maximum strength, durability and safety, using a minimum of resources.
Some examples where his research can be applied:

  • Earthquakes – to predict forces, deformation and collapse loads.
  • Hydraulic fracturing – to understand and predict how fluid-filled fractures propagate.
  • Waste storage – to predict how contaminated fluid moves in subsurface formations.
  • The human body – for instance, cell motility is governed by mechanics and chemistry, while soft tissues are filled with fluids and ions, and prediction of fracture requires knowledge of the interaction between them.

René de Borst received his Ir. degree in civil engineering from Delft University of Technology (cum laude). He started his career at TNO, the Netherlands Organisation for Applied Scientific Research, completing his doctoral thesis in the evening hours and weekends three-and-a-half years later (also cum laude). In 1988 he was appointed Professor of Computational Mechanics at the Faculty of Civil Engineering, Delft University of Technology – the youngest professor in Delft. In 1999 he was made the inaugural holder of the Chair of Engineering Mechanics at the Faculty of Aerospace Engineering at the same university. In 2000 he was one of the first two professors in Delft to be made Distinguished Professor. In 2007 he was appointed Dean of the Faculty of Mechanical Engineering and Distinguished Professor at Eindhoven University of Technology. In 2012 he was appointed as the Regius Chair of Civil Engineering and Mechanics at the University of Glasgow and joined our Department as The Centenary Professor of Civil Engineering in 2016. He has held visiting professorships in Albuquerque, Cachan, Metz, Lyon, Lublin, Milan, Barcelona, and Tokyo. Recently, he was the inaugural holder of the John Argyris Visiting Chair in Stuttgart and MTS Visiting Professor of Geomechanics in Minneapolis.

He is the author of two books, has edited 14 books and conference proceedings, and written over 230 journal papers and 30 book chapters. His work has been cited more than 8,800 times according to the ISI database (h-index 53), and over 24,000 times according to Google Scholar (h-index 74). He has supervised over 50 PhD students, over 20 post-docs, and 14 of his former students have become professors.

Selected Publications

Journal articles