Celebrated Engineer honoured for commitment to global sustainability

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Professor Lyesse Laloui
Professor Lyesse Laloui

An engineer, recently named as one of the world’s greatest scientists, was presented with an honorary degree for his commitment to sustainability by Heriot-Watt University today.

Professor Lyesse Laloui from the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology, EPFL, received his academic title of Doctor of Engineering from Heriot-Watt during its Summer Graduation 2022 programme.

An internationally respected scientist, Professor Laloui has dedicated much of his career to understanding the natural world for the benefit of society. His research and exploration of the mechanics of geomaterials and other geology has bolstered understanding around the physical mechanisms of these materials. From this, he has developed innovative and sustainable technologies for today and the generations to come. Professor Laloui has been turning cutting-edge research into geotechnical solutions aimed at addressing the global challenges; working on energy geostructures, CO2 storage and enhanced geothermal systems, bio-improved soils, behaviour of shales as well as nuclear waste storage and landslide analysis. At the same time, Professor Laloui has been developing practical and cost-effective technologies to deliver environmental and energy production and storage solutions supporting the global net zero targets. 

His efforts in areas such as sustainability, climate change, renewable energy and the optimisation of natural resources have been recognised and awarded by the European Research Council with an Advanced ERC Grant for his project BIOGEOS (BIO-mediated GEO-material Strengthening), followed by an ERC Proof of Concept Grant (PoC) in 2020.

Upon receiving his award, Professor Laloui, said: “ For much of my career, I have endeavoured to understand and to predict the mechanics of the multiphysical interactions in natural and manmade geomaterials. I have attempted, and hopefully succeeded in making significant contributions to our understanding of the physical mechanisms of these materials and from this, how they can be applied to the critical challenges we face around sustainability, climate change and renewable energy. It is a great honour and privilege for me to receive such a prestigious award and I would like to thank Herriot-Watt University for recognising my work.” 

Earlier this year, Professor Laloui was named in the Top 1000 Scientists in the field of Engineering and Technology released by Research.com. He is a full member of the Swiss Academy of Engineering Sciences and serves as the European Vice President of the International Society of Soil Mechanics and Geotechnical Engineering.

Professor Gabriella Medero from the School of Energy, Geoscience, Infrastructure and Society at Heriot-Watt University, presented Professor Laloui with his academic award at a ceremony held in Oriam at the Edinburgh campus.

She said: “Congratulations to Professor Laloui in joining the Heriot-Watt community and in receiving an honorary degree.

“Throughout his career, Professor Laloui has delivered an enormous contribution to science, to the delivery UN sustainable development goals and in the education of future engineers around the world. His work has inspired and will continue inspiring generations to come.

“It is wonderful to see his legacy and his commitment to sustainability and innovation, being recognised by this University.”

Graduation ceremonies are being held at Heriot-Watt University between Friday 17th June and Friday, 24th June marking the academic achievement of students from the School of Social Sciences, the School of Engineering & Physical Sciences, the School of Energy, Geoscience, Infrastructure & Society, the School of Textiles & Design, and the School of Mathematical & Computer Sciences.

Graduations ceremonies at the Dubai and Malaysia campuses will be held in July.

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Craig McManamon