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Dr John Harkness BSc PhD

Senior Research Fellow

Dr John Harkness's photo

Dr John Harkness is a Senior Research Fellow at the University of Southampton. His specializes in numerical modelling and, in particular, discrete element modelling with current emphasis on the mechanical behaviour of railway ballast and of the vehicle/track railway system. He has a keen interest in the development of efficient simulation techniques and has developed software and numerical models for the simulation of realistic particles in the fields of railway ballast, locked sands and dry-stone walls. He has worked on research projects funded mainly by the UK’s EPSRC, Network Rail and the European Union.

John graduated from Bath University in Engineering with French in 1989 and obtained his PhD in Control Engineering at the University of Bristol in 1995. After obtaining his PhD, he worked as a consultant and was involved in a variety of projects including numerical modelling of aeroplane, airship, submarine dynamics and control, and vehicle/bridge interaction. He joined the University of Southampton in 2000.

Research interests

John is involved in the following areas of research:

  • Discrete-element modelling and development of a potential particle code for the modelling of non-spherical particles. The method has been used for the modelling of the interaction between railway sleepers and ballast, the behaviour of dry-stone walls and locked sands.
  • Contact mechanics: the normal and tangential elastoplastic behaviour of contacting rough particles. Combining numerical modelling with the results of experimental studies, the models have been used in discrete-element simulations to study, for example, the effects of cyclic loading on railway ballast.
  • The effects of particle shape, angularity and roughness on the mechanical behaviour of granular media.
  • Finite element modelling of train/track interaction and the relationship of track stiffness and irregularities with permanent settlement.
  • Rail stress management: modelling of rail buckling and the identification of risks associated with variations in stress-free temperature and track condition and construction.

Research group

Infrastructure Group

Research project(s)

Track 21 - Railway Track for the 21st Century

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Dr John Harkness
Engineering, University of Southampton, Southampton Boldrewood Innovation Campus, Burgess Road, Southampton, SO16 7QF

Room Number : 178/3021

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