ESR11 Project

Optimisation Techniques for Geophysical Assessment of Rail Support Structures


Emina’s background

minkaMy name is Emina Balic and I am currently working as a Marie Curie Early Stage Researcher at School of Civil, Structural and Environmental Engineering at University College Dublin in Dublin with collaboration of Slovenian National Building and Civil Engineering Institute from Slovenia within the project Sustainable Pavement and Railway Initial Training Network. At the same time I am doing my PhD in the field of Geophysical Assessment in Railway Substructure.

In Nov 2010 I was awarded with Bachelor Degree in Civil Engineering as Engineer of Civil Engineering at University of Sarajevo, Faculty of Civil Engineering. My master studies I also pursued at University of Sarajevo, Faculty of Civil Engineering at the Department for Structure from period 2010 to 2012 and was awarded with Master Degree as Graduate Engineer in Civil Engineering, with objective in structure, in Sept 2012. During the period from 2012 to 2014, I gained industry experience as an Expert Assistant in the field of geotechnical engineering in transport infrastructure, mainly highways and roads.

After my industry experience, I decided to go step further, to move into field of research in transportation infrastructure. I have been awarded with position as a Marie Curie Early Stage Researcher in the field of sustainable railways and got a chance to write a doctoral thesis in Ireland and be awarded with a PhD degree.

Project Description


This project will develop geophysical techniques to assess the reliability of railway substructure, including stability of slopes. Geophysical techniques will include Ground Penetrating Radar (GPR) and Multi-channel Analysis of Surface Waves (MASW), which will be combined using biologically inspired optimization techniques. Tools such as grammatical evolution will allow us to embed domain knowledge (such that obtained from GPR) when inverting complex MASW profiles, leading to more accurate results and more reliable assessments. It will improve the opportunities to monitor behavior of various railways sections which can be used to validate geophysical models.

The project will investigate the sustainability of rail support structures. The main objectives are:

  1. Improve the assessment practices for railway embankments by combining GPR and MASW techniques;
  2. To use biologically inspired optimization techniques to efficiently combine distinct data sources;
  3. To validate predicted results against real world case studies.


The project will be developed through planned international collaborations between UCD in Ireland and ZAG in Slovenia. UCD will provide expertise in development of analysis tools for inverting complex MASW profiles, as well as expertise in grammatical evolution. The secondment in Slovenia will help to gain expertise in geophysical techniques.

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