PROF Ian Johnston

PROF Ian Johnston


  • Geotechnical Engineering, Geothermal Energy



  • Professor Johnston obtained a Bachelor’s degree in civil engineering in 1968 and a Ph.D. in 1972 from the University of Southampton (UK). After 3 years in industry, he joined Monash University where he was a lecturer, senior lecturer and associate professor. In 1993, he was appointed Professor and Dean of Engineering at Victoria University of Technology. In February 1998, he returned to full time consulting with Coffey Geotechnics where he was a Senior Principal. He joined the University of Melbourne in May 2009 as Professor of Geotechnical Engineering.
    Although Professor Johnston’s consulting and research interests have covered a wide range of topics, he is probably best known for his work on soft, weak and weathered rock in civil and mining engineering. He has made many presentations on this general subject and others at local, national and international conferences. He has published over 120 technical papers including about 60 in refereed international journals. He has undertaken substantial consulting work on many projects in Australia and overseas both as an academic and as a consultant. He has also had considerable involvement with forensic geotechnical engineering and matters involving expert witness services for litigation and arbitration.
    From 2012 to 2016 he was a member of the Technical Review Board which has a primary function to provide independent advice to assist the Victorian Minister for Energy and Resources and industry better manage ground control associated with mining in Victoria, in order to mitigate the risks this presents to public safety, environment, public infrastructure and security of power supply.
    When he returned to a full-time academic position in 2009, Professor Johnston developed a strong interest in direct geothermal energy (or geoexchange) in which the ground relatively close to the surface is used as a source and sink for heat to heat and cool buildings. His research group developed several instrum   


Member of

  • Australia Geomechanics Society. Member 1975 - 2017
  • Engineer. Chartered 1975 - 2017
  • Institution of Engineers Australia. Fellow 1975 - 2017
  • International Association of Engineering Geologists. Member 1975 - 2017
  • International Society for Rock Mechanics. Member 1975 - 2017
  • International Society for Soil Mechanics and Geotechnical Engineering. Member 1975 - 2017
  • National Professional Engineers Register. Member 1975 - 2017


Selected publications


Additional Grant Information

  • 2010: P. Mendis, H. Malano, A. Rajabifard, I. Johnston, C. Duffield, L. Aye, A. Western, R. Crawford, B. Davidson, T. Ngo, H. Doloi, 'MUtopia - A collaborative-interdisciplinary platform for visualisation, simulation and testing innovative ideas of future sustainable urban development', Interdisciplinary Seed Grant, Melbourne Sustainable Societies Institute (MSSI) and Melbourne Energy Institute (MEI), University of Melbourne, $50K   


Education and training

  • PhD, University of Southampton 1972
  • BSc(Eng), University of Southampton 1968

Awards and honors

  • Officer of the Order of Australia, AO, 2017
  • John Jaeger Memorial Award for contributions of the highest order over a lifetime commitment to the geotechnical profession in Australia, Australian Geomechanics Society, 2012
  • E.H. Davis Memorial Lecture for distinguished recent contributions to the theory and practice of geomechanics in Australia, Australian Geomechanics Society, 1991



Available for supervision

  • Y