Faculty Directory
James Hambleton

Assistant Professor of Civil and Environmental Engineering

Louis Berger Junior Professor


2145 Sheridan Road
Tech A122
Evanston, IL 60208-3109

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Civil and Environmental Engineering

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Doctor of Philosophy in Civil Engineering (Geomechanics), University of Minnesota, Minneapolis, USA, June 2010

Master of Science in Civil Engineering (Geomechanics), University of Minnesota, Minneapolis, USA, December 2006

Bachelor of Civil Engineering (Structural Engineering), University of Minnesota, USA, August 2005


Originally from rural Wisconsin, Dr. Hambleton was educated at the University of Minnesota, where he completed B.C.E., M.S., and Ph.D. degrees in Civil Engineering. His involvement in research started at a young age with an appointment as an Undergraduate Research Assistant in the Department of Mechanical Engineering at the University of Minnesota. Between his undergraduate and graduate studies, he also completed an internship at Barr Engineering Company in Minneapolis. After being awarded his Ph.D. in 2010, he joined the Centre for Geotechnical and Materials Modelling at The University of Newcastle, Australia, first as a Post-doctoral Research Associate (Lecturer) and then as a Research Academic (Senior Lecturer). In the latter role, he was a key member and collaborator within the ARC Centre of Excellence for Geotechnical Science and Engineering (CGSE), a joint initiative between The University of Newcastle, The University of Western Australia, the University of Wollongong, and various industry partners. He joined the Faculty in the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering at Northwestern University in October 2016.

Research Interests

My main research interests are in computational plasticity, geotechnical analysis, contact mechanics, soil-machine interaction, and the analysis of problems involving unsteady plastic flow. I have broad interests ranging from fundamental research (e.g., mechanics of geomaterials) to applications (e.g., foundation design and in situ testing). A major focal point of my work over the coming years is to advance the understanding of how soils are moved and shaped through interaction with man-made objects and machinery. The overarching goal of these activities is to develop rigorous, mechanics-based models for predicting soil deformation and the corresponding force requirements or reactions. From a theoretical perspective, problems involving soil-machine interaction pose a tremendous challenge due to the confluence of unsteady plastic flow, potentially three-dimensional deformation, contact interaction, material instabilities, and rate effects from inertial forces and hydromechanical coupling (for saturated or partially saturated soils). This work endeavors to discover new modelling paradigms to help establish accurate, robust, and efficient computational methods. From a practical viewpoint, the scale of operations involving soil-machine interaction across the face of the Earth is difficult to fathom. For housing excavations, mineral production, and road building alone, each individual moves several tons of earth each year when distributed evenly across the world’s population. Breakthroughs in understanding will therefore have profound long-term effects with respect to reducing costs and production times, as well as mitigating consumption and pollution.

Significant Recognition

  • 2015, Australian Research Council (ARC) Discovery Early Career Researcher Award
  • 2014, New Faces of Civil Engineering Honoree, American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE)
  • 2014, Excellent Paper Award, International Association for Computer Methods and Advances in Geomechanics
  • 2010, Neville G. W. Cook Award for Innovative Research in Geomechanics
  • 2005, Simon and Claire Benson Award for Outstanding Undergraduate Achievement

Significant Professional Service

  • 2016, National Committee Member, Australian Geomechanics Society
  • 2014 - 2016, Elected Member, Faculty Board, Faculty of Engineering and Built Environment, The University of Newcastle
  • 2014 - 2015, Chair, Australian Geomechanics Society Newcastle Chapter
  • 2010 - 2013, Young Geotechnical Professional Representative, Australian Geomechanics Society Newcastle Chapter
  • 2007 - 2009, Committee Member, Classroom Advisory Subcommittee, University Senate, University of Minnesota

Selected Publications

    1. Shi Z, Hambleton JP, Buscarnera G. (2019). Bounding surface elasto-viscoplasticity: A general constitutive framework for rate-dependent geomaterials. Journal of Engineering Mechanics, 145(3), 04019002.
    2. Zhao L, Gaudin C, O’Loughlin CD, Hambleton JP, Cassidy MJ, Herduin M. (2019). Suction caisson capacity in sand under inclined loading. Journal of Geotechnical and Geoenvironmental Engineering, 145(2), 04018107.
    3. Munoz JJ, Hambleton JP, Sloan SW. (2018). R-adaptivity in limit analysis. In O. Barrera, A. Cocks & A. Ponter (Eds.), Advances in Direct Methods for Materials and Structures (pp. 73-84). New York: Springer.
    4. Jin Z, Li W, Jin C, Hambleton JP, Cusatis G. (2018). Anisotropic elastic, strength, and fracture properties of Marcellus shale. International Journal of Rock Mechanics and Mining Sciences, 109, 124-137.
    5. Hambleton JP, Stanier SA. (2017). Predicting wheel forces using bearing capacity theory for general planar loads. International Journal of Vehicle Performance, 3(1), 71-88.
    6. Stanier SA, Dijkstra J, Leśniewska D, Hambleton JP, White DJ, Muir Wood D. (2016). Vermiculate artefacts in image analysis of granular materials. Computers and Geotechnics, 72, 100-113.
    7. Hambleton JP, Sloan SW. (2016). A simplified kinematic method for 3D limit analysis. Applied Mechanics and Materials, 846, 342-347.
    8. Suchowerska AM, Carter JP, Hambleton JP. (2016). Geomechanics of subsidence above single and multi-seam coal mining. Journal of Rock Mechanics and Geotechnical Engineering, 8(3), 304-313.
    9. Yu SB, Hambleton JP, Sloan SW. (2015). Undrained uplift capacity of deeply embedded strip anchors in non-uniform soil. Computers and Geotechnics, 70, 41-49.
    10. Hambleton JP, Stanier SA, White DJ, Sloan SW. (2014). Modelling ploughing and cutting processes in soils. Australian Geomechanics, 49(4), 147-156.
    11. Hambleton JP, Stanier SA, Gaudin C, Todeshkejoei K. (2014). Analysis of installation forces for helical piles in clay. Australian Geomechanics, 49(4), 73-79.
    12. Gaudin C, O’Loughlin CD, Randolph MF, Cassidy MJ, Wang D, Tian Y, Hambleton JP, Merifield RS (2014). Advances in offshore and onshore anchoring solutions. Australian Geomechanics, 49(4), 59-71.
    13. Yu SB, Hambleton JP, Sloan SW. (2014). Analysis of inclined strip anchors in sand based on the block set mechanism. Applied Mechanics and Materials, 553, 422-427.
    14. Hambleton JP, Sloan SW. (2013). A perturbation method for optimization of rigid block mechanisms in the kinematic method of limit analysis. Computers and Geotechnics, 48, 260-271.
    15. Hambleton JP, Buzzi O, Giacomini A, Spadari M, Sloan SW. (2013). Perforation of flexible rockfall barriers by normal block impact. Rock Mechanics and Rock Engineering, 46(3), 515-526.
    16. Hambleton JP, Drescher A. (2012). Approximate model for blunt objects indenting cohesive-frictional materials. International Journal for Numerical and Analytical Methods in Geomechanics, 36(3), 249-271.
    17. Spadari M, Giacomini A, Buzzi O, Hambleton JP. (2012). Prediction of the bullet effect for rockfall barriers: a scaling approach. Rock Mechanics and Rock Engineering, 45(2), 131-144.
    18. Abbo AJ, Lyamin AV, Sloan SW, Hambleton, JP. (2011). A C2 continuous approximation to the Mohr–Coulomb yield surface. International Journal of Solids and Structures, 48(21), 3001-3010.
    19. Hambleton JP, Drescher A. (2009). On modeling a rolling wheel in the presence of plastic deformation as a three- or two-dimensional process. International Journal of Mechanical Sciences, 51(11-12), 846-855.
    20. Hambleton JP, Drescher A. (2009). Modeling wheel-induced rutting in soils: Rolling. Journal of Terramechanics, 46(2), 35-47.
    21. Hambleton JP, Drescher A. (2008). Modeling wheel-induced rutting in soils: Indentation. Journal of Terramechanics, 45(6), 201-211.

    J1.       145(2), 04018107.