Professor Lord Robert Mair

Emeritus Fellow
University Positions
Emeritus Sir Kirby Laing Professor of Civil Engineering,
former Head of Civil and Environmental Engineering,
currently Director of Research, Department of Engineering.

Robert Mair is a former Master of the College. He was Senior Vice-President of the Royal Academy of Engineering and President of the Institution of Civil Engineers.

Academic interests

Professor Mair is Head of the Centre for Smart Infrastructure and Construction (CSIC) in the Department of Engineering. He leads an active research group, lectures extensively around the world, and is consultant to a number of public authorities. He is a specialist in geotechnical engineering, which is the application of the sciences of soil and rock mechanics, engineering geology and other related disciplines to civil engineering design and construction, and to the preservation of the environment. 

Awards and prizes

Professor Mair was elected a Fellow of the Royal Academy of Engineering in 1992 and a Fellow of the Royal Society in 2007.

He was awarded the Gold Medal of the Institution of Civil Engineers in 2004 and the CBE in the 2010 New Year’s Honours.

He was elected as a Foreign Member of the United States National Academy of Engineering (NAE) in 2019.


Professor Robert Mair was Master of Jesus College from 2001 to 2011. He is Emeritus Sir Kirby Laing Professor of Civil Engineering, former Head of Civil and Environmental Engineering, and is currently Director of Research.

He read Engineering at Clare College, Cambridge and subsequently obtained a PhD in 1979. Prior to his appointment to a Chair at Cambridge in 1998, he had spent 25 years in industry, throughout which time he maintained and developed close links with the academic world.

He is one of the founding Directors of the Geotechnical Consulting Group, an international consulting company with offices in London and Hong Kong, started in 1983.

Throughout his career he has advised on numerous civil engineering projects worldwide, specialising in underground construction – his principal research interest.

He introduced the novel technique of compensation grouting in the UK for controlling settlement of structures during tunnel construction. This was widely used on the Jubilee Line Extension Project in London for the protection of many historic buildings, including the Big Ben Clock Tower at the Palace of Westminster, and is now being applied in other cities around the world. 

He is married with two children, both of whom recently graduated from university.

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