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Christine Spencer   MEng, PhD, GMICE

Dr Christine Spencer



Tutor in Applied Environmental Geology

School of Earth and Environmental Sciences

Main Building, Room 3.16, Park Place, Cardiff, CF10 3AT


I am currently a Tutor in Applied Environmental Geology and researcher in biogeotechnics. For the past six years my research has focussed on biocementation, as a means of improving properties of geomaterials. My areas of expertise include soil mechanics, geomicrobiology and geochemistry.










My Ph.D. research aimed to further progress towards the development of a biocemented sand material with self-healing capability, to improve the sustainability and resilience of geotechnical infrastructure. I experimentally investigated the kinetics of carbonate mineral formation within sand columns bioaugmented with Sporosarcina ureae or Sporosarcina pasteurii, and explored the use of carrier materials (additives) for the immobilisation and supply of nutrients and precursor chemicals for self-healing via MICP. I measured substrate conversion, and hence the efficiency of the biocementation treatments, using nesslerisation and either ICP-OES (Cardiff University) or Ion Chromatography (Arizona State University). I have utilised scanning electron microscopy, X-ray diffraction and energy-dispersive X-ray spectroscopy for mineralogical analysis and microstructural characterisation of calcium carbonate precipitate. Calcium carbonate precipitate was quantified primarily by using a Calcimeter. I measured the strength of biocemented sand columns using the unconfined compression test.

As an MEng student I completed an individual research project on ‘laboratory measurement of strength of weak clay samples’. The aim of this research had been to develop a robust, simple and reliable method of determining the undrained shear strength of very soft clays. I designed and developed miniature T-bar and cone penetrometer devices and conducted small scale laboratory tests using Speswhite Kaolin and Bentonite clays. These experiments measured the resistance to penetration of the penetrometers in clay samples of varying moisture content. I compared results from the penetrometer tests and standard fall cone tests to establish bearing capacity factors, to enable strength estimation of samples in relation to moisture contents.


I teach on the following units:


  • Advanced Environmental Geology (Year 3), Module Lead for 2023/24.

  • Environmental Geoscience Dissertation (Year 3), Supervision. 


  • Engineering properties of geo-materials and the principles of geotechnical engineering and design (MSc), Module Lead for 2023/24.

  • Project Planning, Design and Delivery for Applied Environmental Geology (MSc), Laboratory testing and fieldwork support.

  • The Initial Conceptual Ground Model (ICM), fieldwork suppork. 

  • Dissertation AEG (MSc), Co-supervision. 


I completed doctoral studies in biogeotechnical engineering at Cardiff University in 2021, culminating in a thesis titled, 'Enhancing Biocement Through Incorporation of Additives'. My PhD was awarded in January 2022. 

Prior to my PhD, I worked in professional services roles at the University of Bristol between 2014 and 2017. I worked as a Project Coordinator for a widening participation research project and subsequently managed SME internships and alumni mentoring schemes in my role as Internships and Work Experience Consultant. 

I graduated from The University of Bristol in 2014 with an MEng (Hons) in Civil Engineering. Between the third and fourth years of my MEng studies I worked within the Infrastructure Midlands team of Arup, based in Nottingham, for a year in industry placement. 

I was a mature student upon commencing my MEng studies. I previously worked in local government and higher education based roles; including employment within the Department for Education, National College for Teaching and Leadership and Nottingham Trent University. 


Professional memberships

Graduate member of the Institution of Civil Engineers. 

Associate member of Applied Microbiology International. 

Committees and reviewing

Member of the Applied Microbiology International Climate Action Advisory Group. 

Reviewer for Springer Nature. 


  • Civil geotechnical engineering
  • Soil mechanics
  • Biogeotechnics