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Università degli Studi di Padova

Università degli Studi di Padova
Department of Civil, Environmental and Architectural Engineering (DICEA)

Research Group Geotechnics  

The University of Padova was established in 1222, after a group of students and teachers decided to come here from Bologna. Their main concern was defending freedom of thought in study and teaching. This distinctive feature today lives on in the University motto: Universa Universis Patavina Libertas. Excellent scientists such as Andrea Vesalio, who founded modern anatomy, the astronomers and physicians Copernicus, and Galileo, engineers of the stature of Giuseppe Colombo, the “master of celestial mechanics”; mathematicians such as Tullio Levi Civita; worked in this University.

The Department of Civil, Architectural and Environmental Engineering (DICEA, http://geotechlab.dicea.unipd.it) has a long tradition in training technicians wishing to work in the field of environmental protection, hydraulics and civil architecture. It has its roots in the early years of the 18th century and counts the contributions of scientists such as Giovanni Poleni, and Simone Stratico.

The shared aims of people working in DICEA concern the following strategic fields: the territory, knowledge of computer science, and technological innovation. The territory is the subject on which the Department, at the level of research, is working on the understanding, conservation, management and requalification of the entire cultural heritage. Knowledge of computer science plays an essential role in many sectors traditionally developed by the Department's researchers. “Technological innovation” means the challenging topic of transferring the acquired scientific knowledge to applications in the sectors of civil, hydraulic, maritime, geotechnical, infrastructural constructions and transport systems engineering, and also to other sectors using similar research tools, e.g., aerospace structures, biomaterials and biomechanical structures. The Department aims to coordinate and carry out both research and consultancy work in the above disciplines.

The research group in geotechnics of DICEA develops a number of research topics including landslides and protection structures, safety of river embankments, innovative and historical foundations, site testing and site monitoring, ground improvements, soil constitutive modelling.

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Prof Paolo Simonini

Full Professor of Geotechnical Engineering

Paolo Simonini is Full Professor of Geotechnical Engineering at the University of Padua since 2005. He obtained his PhD at the University of Torino in 1987 with a thesis entitled “Shallow foundations on sand: theoretical and experimental modelling”. He was the head of the school of Civil Engineering in 2012-2015. He has several international cooperations. He has been the teacher of the course of Getechnics, Environmental Geotechnics, and Foundations for several years.

His research interests include advanced soil mechanics (soil properties by computed tomography, constitutive modelling for intermediate soils); site testing and site monitoring with innovative techniques including the use of optical fibres to monitor subsurface groundwater flows; deep foundations; environmental geotechnics.

Dr Francesca Ceccato


Francesca Ceccato graduated with honour in Civil Engineering at the University of Padua in 2011 and she obtained her PhD in 2014 with the thesis entitled “Study of large deformation geomechancal problems with the Material Point Method”. During her PhD, she spent 16 months at Deltares (NL) under the supervision of Prof P.A. Vermeer and Dr L. Beuth, learning the fundamentals of MPM. She is currently the reference person for the development of Anura3D at the University of Padua.

Her main interests are computational geomechanics, fast landslides, in-situ testing, constitutive modelling and innovative as well as historical foundations.

OCRCID-Id: 0000-0002-8624-2179
Website: www.researchgate.net/profile/francesca_ceccato
She is the key person for UNIPD in the software developer group

Dr Fabio Gabrieli


Fabio Gabrieli graduated in Environmental Engineering at University of Padova in 2005 with a thesis on the experimental and numerical analysis of triaxial tests with silty soils. Then in 2009 he discussed his PhD work on the micromechanical modelling of triggering mechanisms in granular slopes. He became a researcher at the Department of Civil Environmental and Architectural Engineering of the University of Padova since 2011.

His research works and scientific interests range from the Discrete Element Method for geotechnical problems, the micromechanics of wet granular soils and capillarity in DEM simulations, lab scale physical models for geotechnical problems, granular flows, landslide triggering in granular slopes, photogrammetric techniques and image analysis for landslide monitoring and laboratory scale geotechnical tests.

Website: http://geotechlab.dicea.unipd.it

Dr Simonetta Cola

Associate Professor

Simonetta Cola graduated in Hydraulic Engineering in 1989 at the University of Padua. She obtained her PhD in 1994 with a thesis on the behaviour of clays of the Venice lagoon. She has been employed as a researcher at the University of Padua since 2001 and she became an associate professor in 2011. She has been the teacher of the courses of geotechnical engineering, rock mechanics, ground improvement and foundations. She is the responsible of the laboratory of Geotechnics at the University of Padua.

Her scientific interests include slope stability, soil improvement, innovative techniques for slope stabilizations, ground monitoring, and laboratory testing.

Veronica Girardi

PhD student

Veronica is a PhD student at the department ICEA of the University of Padua. In 2017, she was selected for a double degree program between the University of Padua and the Université Grenoble Alpes (France). In the same year, she obtained both M.S. degrees after defending the thesis entitled “Assessing hydromechanical properties along a listric fault, using DEM modelling”. The work, co-supervised by Prof. Paolo Simonini and Prof. Frédéric Victor Donzé, was funded by the international company Total, where Veronica worked as intern for four months.
After graduation, she joined the research team of Prof. P. Simonini and Dr. Francesca Ceccato, and was introduced to the MPM to model dynamic processes of saturated granular materials.

Currently, she is working on a 2phase-Single point unsaturated formulation to model slope instability phenomena in river levees and natural slopes.
From January until June 2020, Veronica was a visiting student at Virginia Tech under the supervision of Dr. Alba Yerro, working on the development of hydraulic boundary conditions for the 2phase unsaturated formulation.