skip to primary navigationskip to content

Dr Giovanna Biscontin

Dr Giovanna Biscontin

University Lecturer

Giovanna Biscontin is accepting applications for PhD students.

Giovanna Biscontin is available for consultancy.

Schofield Centre
High Cross
Madingley Road

Cambridge CB3 0EL
Office Phone: +44 (0)1223 768044


Giovanna Biscontin earned her bachelor’s degree in geotechnical engineering from the University of Padova (Italy) in 1997 and both her MS (1998) and PhD (2002) in geotechnical engineering from the University of California, Berkeley (USA). She was an academic at Texas A&M University from 2002 until joining the Department of Engineering at Cambridge University in September 2013. 

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. These results lead to constitutive and numerical modeling of soil response for the study of the seismic triggering of submarine landslides to evaluate the effect of gentle slopes on the response to shaking. Giovanna was the principal investigator on the project “In Situ Determination of Soil Modulus and Damping as a Function of Level of Strain”, sponsored by NSF and in collaboration with Drs. Roesset (TAMU) and Stokoe (The University of Texas at Austin). This work included numerical modeling of field experiments to evaluate shear modulus nonlinearity directly from field measurements. Her work also includes constitutive modeling of the compressive response of Venice Lagoon soils, seafloor-riser interaction, correlations between strength and geophysical properties, design of mechanically stabilized earth walls, as well as probabilistic methods applied to geotechnical engineering. More recently, Dr. Biscontin has extended her research into discrete element modeling as a way to gain insight on granular material response to multi-directional cyclic loading. She is currently heading a project on design of foundations for offshore wind towers, sponsored by the National Science Foundation.

Dr. Biscontin is also a dedicated instructor. She has been the recipient of numerous teaching awards, including the American Society of Civil Engineering 2006 ExCEEd New Faculty Excellence in Teaching Award.



  • Theoretical Analysis, Centrifuge Modeling, Numerical Modeling