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National Research Facility for Infrastructure Sensing

Interdisciplinary Centre for infrastructure sensors and instrumentation

Our NRFIS Team engage with industry and the academic research community to foster collaborations and offer direct access to the leading edge facilities and academic research groups within the Civil Engineering Building.


Leadership and Governance

Professor Giulia Viggiani

Giulia Viggiani is a Professor of Infrastructure Geotechnics, in the Geotechnical and Environmental Research Group of the Department of Engineering. Professor Viggiani joined the Department of Engineering at Cambridge University in 2017. Before this, she was Full Professor of Geotechnics at the Università di Roma “Tor Vergata” where she was Head of the Board of Studies in Civil and Environmental Engineering. She has been MTS Visiting Professor of Geomechanics at the University of Minnesota, and Academic Visitor at Imperial College (JLE-Link Project), and at the Max Planck Institute, Leipzig. She is a Fellow of Corpus Christi College.


NRFIS Academic Lead and UKCRIC Management Board representative for Cambridge



Professor Simon Guest

Simon Guest is a Professor of Structural Mechanics, in the Structures Group of the Department of Engineering at the University of Cambridge. His teaching is in structural mechanics, and his research straddles the border between traditional structural mechanics, and the study of mechanisms. He is also a fellow of Trinity Hall.


Head of Civil Engineering and PI on the EPSRC UKCRIC grant





NRFIS Management Team

Our team are a direct point of contact to the research facilities available at NRFIS. Please contact them if you are interested in collaborating on infrastructure research or would like to use our facilities.


Dr Pieter Desnerck

NRFIS Senior Technical Manager

Dr Pieter Desnerck is the Senior Technical Manager of the Civil Engineering division of the Department of Engineering at the University of Cambridge and of the UKCRIC National Research Facility for Infrastructure Sensing. Pieter obtained his PhD at Ghent University (Belgium) performing research on Self-Compacting Concrete and the Assessment of Existing Concrete Structures. He worked as (Post)-Doctoral Researcher at the Universite de Sherbrooke (Canada), Missouri University of Science and Technology (USA) and University of Cambridge (UK). From 2017 to 2018, he was a Lecturer in Civil Engineering at Brunel University London (UK). In 2018, he rejoined the University of Cambridge to strengthen the NRFIS management team.

Dr Desnerck's expertise is in concrete structures, academic lab management, experimental design, measurement techniques and research methodologies. 


Shelley Arora-Tailby

NRFIS Senior Project Manager

Shelley Arora-Tailby is the Senior Project Manager working at the UKCRIC National Research Facility for Infrastructure Sensing. She works closely with the NRFIS Academic Lead and Senior Technical Manager on strategic planning and delivery of the NRFIS vision. She is responsible for coordinating the practical delivery of activities within NRFIS for academic-industry engagement. This includes NRFIS events, outreach activities, knowledge exchange and communications.






Executive Board

Dr Giovanna Biscontin

Dr Giovanna Biscontin is a University Lecturer in Geotechnical Engineering in the Department of Engineering.

Dr. Biscontin’s work focuses on characterizing and modeling the response of soils, especially when subjected to cyclic loading, such as earthquakes. Her interests are also related to offshore deposits and soft marine clays in particular. She was awarded the CAREER Award from the US National Science Foundation in 2004 on “Characterizing and Modeling of Marine Clays for Submarine Slope Stability”.  Her experimental research has been related primarily to simple shear testing and especially the effects of anisotropy and multi-directional loading.

NRFIS Executive Board member for Geomechanics



Dr Ioannis Brilakis

Dr Ioannis Brilakis is a Laing O'Rourke Reader in Construction Engineering and the Director of the Construction Information Technology Laboratory at the Division of Civil Engineering of the Department of Engineering at the University of Cambridge.

Dr Brilakis' research interests lie broadly in the field of construction engineering with a focus on construction automation and information technologies. This includes generating and updating building and infrastructure digital twins; sensing and data collection for civil infrastructure development; infrastructure computer vision and pattern recognition technologies for construction site multimedia data analysis, classification, retrieval, and processing; knowledge extraction and management; intelligent automation of design and construction tasks.

NRFIS Executive Board member for Construction Engineering and IT


Dr Cedric Kechavarzi

Dr Cedric Kechavarzi is the Training & Knowledge Transfer Manager for the Centre for Smart Infrastructure and Construction (CSIC) in the Department of Engineering.

Cedric started his role in CSIC in January 2013. Prior to this, Cedric was a Lecturer in Environmental Soil Physics and Course Director of the MSc in Environmental Engineering at Cranfield University.

His main focus is the design and delivery of customised training programmes for industry as well as the development and publication of technical guidance documents in order to foster knowledge transfer. His current research interests are in the standardisation and development of robust distributed fibre optic strain sensing systems.

NRFIS Executive Board member for Smart Infrastructure and Sensors



Dr John Orr

Dr John Orr is an EPSRC Early Career Fellow and University Lecturer in Concrete Structures in the Department of Engineering. His teaching and research are related to sustainable construction, with emphasis placed on concrete, and structural optimisation.

John has a strong research interest in all aspects of flexible formwork, including its potential to significantly reduce concrete consumption through optimised design processes, and its inherent architectural appeal. His work takes a holistic approach to the unique optimisation, design and construction requirements of these innovative concrete structures.

NRFIS Executive Board member for Structures





Technician Team

All research undertaken at the UKCRIC NRFIS is supported by our team of highly skilled and experienced technicians.


Martin Touhey

Chief Technician






David Layfield

Senior Technician







Peter Knott

Senior Technician


Lorna Roberts










Diana Thomas-McEwan







Philip McLaren