Deepa Samanthika Liyanapathirana, Ph.D., F.ASCE, an associate professor of geotechnical engineering at the University of Western Sydney (Australia), has been named a fellow by the ASCE Board of Direction.
Liyanapathirana’s academic career began in 1992 as an assistant lecturer at the University of Moratuwa, Sri Lanka. She then worked as a postdoctoral fellow at the University of Sydney for five years before moving to University of Wollongong as a lecturer in 2003, her passion for research and educating the younger generation having led her to solidify a career in academia.
Her research is focused on computational geomechanics and she has extensively published in the areas of column-supported embankments, soil liquefaction and its effects on pile foundations during seismic loading, pile driving dynamics, ground vibrations induced during constructions activities, the effect of ground deformations during deep excavations on pile foundations, structured soil behavior, and ground characterization using ambient vibrations. These research projects were funded by the Australian Research Council Discovery and Linkage research grant schemes.
Liyanapathirana’s research has been recognized internationally. In 2007 she received ASCE’s Thomas A. Middlebrooks Award for her published research on soil liquefaction and its effects on pile foundations. In 2013, she was the recipient of the Australian Geomechanics Award for research on column-supported embankments. She also received the Outstanding Reviewer Award from the Computers and Geotechnics in 2015 for her submission of high-quality review reports to that journal.
For the past 20 years she has been a reviewer for many geotechnical engineering journals published by ASCE, the Institution of Civil Engineers–UK, Canadian Geotechnical Society, Elsevier, and the Japanese Geotechnical Society. She works closely with the industry, always formulating research projects with practical benefits in terms of cost, safety, and reliability. She has successfully completed consulting projects for Coffey Geotechnics, Transport for NSW, Cardno Pty Ltd, and EIC Activities Pty Ltd. Her teaching is integrated with current industry practices, and she received the Vice Chancellor’s Award for Outstanding Contribution to Teaching and Learning while working at the University of Wollongong in 2008.
Liyanapathirana has served on various university-level committees related to both teaching and research, and promotes better mentoring practices for early-career academics. She is also enthusiastic about encouraging female students to choose engineering as a career; her work with the Women of Wisdom group at Western Sydney University helps increase the retention of female undergraduate engineering students. The Institution of Engineers, Australia, appointed her as a fellow in 2019.
Liyanapathirana completed her undergraduate degree at the University of Moratuwa, in Sri Lanka, in 1991. She earned her doctoral degree from the University of Western Australia in 1999.