If you made any changes in Pure these will be visible here soon.

Personal profile

Personal Statement

I joined Strathclyde in 2019 as a Chancellor’s Fellow in Energy, and hold a joint appointment as a lecturer in both Civil & Environmental Engineering and Chemical and process Engineering.  I am a geologist by background, but my research routinely bridges disciplines. Having spent time in Geoscience, Materials Science and Engineering departments, I regularly bring methods across traditional subject and area boundaries, especially at the interfaces between geology, materials science, environmental science and engineering.  

My main research interests lie in understanding the behaviour and evolution of both natural and man-made materials. More specifically it is questions about how the microstructure of a material evolves through time, and therefore changes the properties and behaviour of the larger system that underpins most of my work. To do this, I use x-ray computed tomography to see inside materials and objects and quantify their internal structures, and a range of experimental and analytical methods to observe the physical, chemical and biological changes within the sample overtime.

After a BSc (Hons) in Earth Sciences & Physics at Durham University in 2001, I volunteered at the Hawaiian Volcano Observatory before completing my PhD in Geology at the University of Glasgow (2007). I then stayed at Glasgow for a postdoctoral position, before moving to Materials Science at the University of Manchester in 2011. This position was based at the Research Complex at Harwell to work extensively at the Diamond Light Source synchrotron facility and develop new opportunities fir geological and engineering applications of x-ray tomography. In 2014 I moved to Ludwig Maximillians Universität, Munich for a Postdoctoral Fellowship applying in situ x-ray and synchrotron imaging to challenges in volcanology, and then in 2016 I was awarded a NERC Independent Research Fellowship to study multiphase flows and the rheology of complex fluids (in this case magmas) using the latest x-ray imaging methods, first at Durham University, and now at Strathclyde. 

Research Interests

I apply x-ray tomography to investigate the textures within natural and man-made materials. The method is non destructive, and can be applied to a wide range of samples and sample sizes, and can be used on samples as they are heated, cooled, compressed, stretched, twisted, stirred or inundated by a range of different fluids.

My work focusses on the latest state-of-the-art 3D and real time 4D imaging techniques. In 4D studies, the ability to inside the sample as it undergoes a change allows us to collect a "movie", where each frame is a full 3D x-ray tomography image. In my own core research, the individual 3D images of the movie are each collected in under a second. For other studies it is enough to image every few seconds, few hours, or even every few months depending on the rate and magnitude of change you wish to observe. This allows me to track the location and interactions between particles or between bubbles, to quantify fracture propagation, to capture dissolution or precipitation as it occurs, to observe fluids passing through pore throats, or corrosion, or sintering, or root growth. The opportunities are almost endless.

Current research projects include:

  • Multi-phase flows and rheology in complex and concentrated fluids (NERC-IRF)
  • Understanding pore scale controls on slope stability to improve embankment and cutting resilience to climate change (ACHILLES)
  • Diffusion and bubble growth in silicate melts
  • In situ deformation of composite materials
  • Damage zone development
  • Continuous manufactuing
  • Sustainable resource management
  • Environmental management and remediation
  • Sintering and densification processes
  • Permeability evolution in the subsurface
  • Subsurface fluid flow and fluid-rock interactions
  • Pore scale processes
  • Soil mechanics
  • The physical-chemical-biological interactions that control soil fertility


PhD projects Available for 2021 start

I am happy to accept PhD students on projects starting in 2021.  Please follow the links or contact me to find out more information about any of the projects below.  If you are interested in working in another of the areas listed above, please contact me to discuss your project ideas.



  • Pore-Scale Imaging of Cross Fault Flow in High Porosity Sandstones using High Pressure-Temperature Fluid Tomography

Please contact me for further information
No funding in place, but scholarship opportunities are still available for 2021 start.

  • Microstructural controls on the rheology of complex fluids

Please contact me for further information
No funding in place, but scholarship opportunities are still available for 2021 start.

  • From micro- to macro- understanding how pore-scale behaviours control slope stability in embankments and cuttings

Please contact me for further information
No funding in place, but scholarship opportunities are still available for 2021 start.


Current PhD Students

  • Rory Brittain University of Strathclyde, Civil & Environmental Engineering.

Geosciences towards Net Zero

  • Phil Salter University of Strathclyde, Civil & Environmental Engineering.

Geosciences towards Net Zero

  • Andrea Kozlowski University of Strathclyde, Civil & Environmental Engineering.

Nuclear Disposal

  • Izabella Otalega University of Strathclyde, Civil & Environmental Engineering.

Oil and Gas

  • Tariro Gwandu Durham University,Enineering

Soil Mechanics, Sustainability

  • Eloise Bretagne Durham University, Earth Sciences

Magmatism, Complex fluids

  • Catriona Sellick Durham University, Earth Sciences

Enhanced Oil Recovery

  • Bridie Davies University of East Anglia, Enviornmental Sciences

Volcanism, Hazard

  • Nikos Apeiranthitis University of Durham, Earth Sciences

Enhanced Oil Recovery

Expertise related to UN Sustainable Development Goals

In 2015, UN member states agreed to 17 global Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) to end poverty, protect the planet and ensure prosperity for all. This person’s work contributes towards the following SDG(s):

  • SDG 13 - Climate Action

Education/Academic qualification

Doctor of Philosophy, The zircon (U-Th)/He thermochronometer: development and application of thermochronometers in igneous provinces

Award Date: 7 Jul 2007

Bachelor of Science, Natural Sciences. Earth Science & Physics

Award Date: 30 Jun 2001


  • Energy
  • Materials science
  • In situ Imaging
  • X-ray tomography
  • Geology
  • Sub surface Engineering
  • Multiphase flows
  • Permeability


Dive into the research topics where Kate Dobson is active. These topic labels come from the works of this person. Together they form a unique fingerprint.
  • 1 Similar Profiles

Collaborations and top research areas from the last five years

Recent external collaboration on country/territory level. Dive into details by clicking on the dots or