NUS Logo - back to NUS homepageDepartment of Civil Engineering

PHOON Kok Kwang


Distinguished Professor & Head of Department

1-page bio (PDF 92 KB)


Department of Civil & Environmental Engineering
National University of Singapore

Blk E1A, #07-03, 1 Engineering Drive 2
Singapore 117576
Tel: (65) 6516 6783

Fax: (65) 6779-1635


International Journal of Georisk (Taylor & Francis)

Centre for Soft Ground Engineering

Geotechnical Safety Network


Photo: 神农架,湖北,中国 (courtesy of 张浮平, Wuhan University)


KK Phoon is Distinguished Professor and Head of the Department of Civil & Environmental Engineering, National University of Singapore. His main research interest is to develop more cost effective risk management methods for geotechnical engineering. Reliability-based design can be viewed as a simplified form of risk-based design where different consequences of failure are implicitly covered by the adoption of different target reliability indices. Explicit risk management methodologies are required for large geotechnical systems where soil and loading conditions are too varied to be conveniently slotted into a few reliability classes. His research has garnered more than 1200 cites (h-index 19) in ISI, 2000 cites (h-index 23) in Scopus, 3500 cites (h-index 29) in Google.  His 1999 Canadian Geotechnical Journal paper on characterization of geotechnical variability is the second most cited paper.  His 2003 ASCE paper on multiple resistance load factor (MRFD) design garnered the Norman Medal in 2005, the highest and most prestigious technical paper award bestowed by the American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE).


KK Phoon is the founding editor-in-chief of Georisk.  He edited 2 books: Reliability-Based Design in Geotechnical Engineering (Spon Press, 2008) and Risk and Reliability in Geotechnical Engineering (CRC Press, 2014). He was elected Fellow of ASCE in 2008, Fellow of the Institution of Engineers Singapore (IES) in 2009, and Fellow of Academy of Engineering Singapore in 2012. He has delivered more than 100 presentations in 23 countries 67 cities around the world, including the inaugural S.L. Lee Lecture (2013) and 11th J.E. Jennings Memorial Lecture (2013).

Education/professional qualifications
  • Professional Engineer (PEng), Singapore
  • ASEAN Chartered Professional Engineer
  • Fellow, Academy of Engineering Singapore
  • Fellow, American Society of Civil Engineers
  • Fellow, Institution of Engineers Singapore
  • PhD, Cornell University, Ithaca, New York (USA)

  • Professor, National University of Singapore

  • Senior tutor, Lecturer, Assistant Professor/tenured, Associate Professor, National University of Singapore

  Honours & Awards
  • Distinguished Professor, National University of Singapore, 2013
  • Outstanding Geotechnical Engineer, Geotechnical Society of Singapore, 2012
  • Academy of Engineering Singapore, 2012
  • Annual Teaching Excellence Award (2009/2010, 2010/2011)
  • Engineering Educator Award (2010/2011, 2011/2012)
  • Provost's Chair Professor, National University of Singapore, 2011-2013
  • Kwang-Hua (光华) Chair Professor, Tongji University, China, 2010
  • Outstanding Researcher Award, National University of Singapore, 2010
  • Hogentogler Award, American Society for Testing and Materials (ASTM), 2007
  • Norman Medal, American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE), 2005

Professional Activities

  Recent conferences
  • International Advisory Committee, International Symposium on Reliability of Engineering Systems (ISRES2015), Hangzhou, China, 15-17 October 2015.
  • Scientific Committee, 12th International Conference on Applications of Statistics and Probability in Civil Engineering, Vancouver, Canada, 12-15 July 2015.
  • International Scientific Committee, International Symposium on Reliability Engineering and Risk Management (ISRERM’2014), Taipei, Taiwan, 20-24 May 2014.
  • International Advisory Committee, Second International Conference on Information Technology in Geo-Engineering (ICITG 2014), Durham, UK, 21-22 July 2014.
  • International Advisory Committee, DFI-EFFC International Conference on Piling & Deep Foundations - Global perspective on sustainable execution of deep foundation works, Stockholm, Sweden, 21-23 May 2014
  • International Scientific Committee, Second International Conference on Vulnerability and Risk Analysis and Management (ICVRAM2014) & Sixth International Symposium on Uncertainty Modelling and Analysis (ISUMA2014), University of Liverpool, UK, 29 June – 2 July 2014.
  • International Advisory Committee, 14th International Conference of IACMAG (International Association for Computer Methods and Advances in Geomechanics, 21-25 September 2014, Kyoto, Japan.

  Teaching areas
  • Foundation Engineering
  • Reliability and Decision Analysis
  • Analytical & Numerical Methods in Foundation Engineering
  • Pile Foundations

  Research Interest
  • Reliability-based analysis and design
  • Statistical characterisation of geomaterials
  • Iterative solution of large linear systems
  • Numerical limit analysis


  Recent Publications
  • Ching, J. Y. & Phoon, K. K., “Multivariate Distribution For Undrained Shear Strengths Under Various Test Procedures”, Canadian Geotechnical Journal, 50(9), Sep 2013, 907-923.
  • Santoso, A., Phoon, K. K. & Tan, T. S., “Estimating Strength of Stabilized Dredged Fill using Multivariate Normal Model”, Journal of Geotechnical and Geoenvironmental Engineering, ASCE, 139(11), Nov 2013, 194-1953.
  • Zhang, R., Santoso, A., Tan, T. S. & Phoon, K. K., “Strength of High Water Content Marine Clay Stabilized by Low Amount of Cement”, Journal of Geotechnical and Geoenvironmental Engineering, ASCE, 139(12), Dec 2013, 2170-2181.
  • Ching, J. Y., Phoon, K. K. & Chen, C. H., “Modeling Piezocone Cone Penetration (CPTU) Parameters of Clays as a Multivariate Normal Distribution”, Canadian Geotechnical Journal 51(1), Jan 2014, 77-91.
  • Ching, J. Y., Phoon, K. K. & Kao, P. H., “Probability Model for Overall Shear Strength of Spatially Variable Soils Under Uniform Stress States”, Journal of Engineering Mechanics, ASCE, 140(3), Mar 2014, 487-501.
  • Tang, C., Toh, K. C. & Phoon, K. K., “Axisymmetric Lower Bound Limit Analysis Using Finite Elements and Second-order Cone Programming”, Journal of Engineering Mechanics, ASCE, 140(2), Feb 2014, 268-278.
  • Ching, J. Y., Phoon, K. K. & Yu, J. W., “Linking Site Investigation Efforts to Final Design Savings with Simplified Reliability-based Design Methods”, Journal of Geotechnical and Geoenvironmental Engineering, ASCE, 140(3), Mar 2014, 04013032.
  • Zhang, D. M., Huang, H. W., Phoon, K. K. & Hu, Q. F., “A Modified Solution of Radial Subgrade Modulus for a Circular Tunnel in Elastic Ground”, Soils and Foundations, 54(2), Apr 2014, 225-232.
  • Ching, J. Y. & Phoon, K. K., “Transformations and Correlations Among Some Clay Parameters – The Global Database”, Canadian Geotechnical Journal, 51(6), Jun 2014, 663-685.
  • Ching, J. Y. & Phoon, K. K., “Correlations Among Some Clay Parameters – the Multivariate Distribution”, Canadian Geotechnical Journal, 51(6), Jun 2014, 686-704.

Selected editorial/authored works

  1. Phoon K. K. & Ching, J. Y. (Editors), Risk and Reliability in Geotechnical Engineering,Taylor & Francis, 2014 (book)

  2. Phoon, K. K., Special Issue in Honour of Professor Wilson Tang, Structural Safety, 2014 (Special Journal Issue)

  3. Phoon K. K. & Goh, S. H. (Guest Editors), Special Issue on “Information Technology for Geotechnical Engineering”, Journal of Geotechnical and Geological Engineering, 2013 (Special Journal Issue)

  4. Phoon K. K. & Ching, J. Y. (Guest Editors), Special Issue on “Advances in Reliability-Based Design in Geotechnics”, Journal of GeoEngineering, 2010  (Special Journal Issue)

  5. Withiam, J. L., Phoon, K. K., Hussein, M. H., Foundation Engineering in the Face of Uncertainty, Geotechnical Special Publications 229, ASCE, Reston, 2013. (GSP)

  6. Phoon, K. K., Beer, M., Quek, S. T. & Pang, S. D. (Editors), Proceedings, Fifth Asian-Pacific Symposium on Structural Reliability and its Applications, Research Publishing, 2012, 780 p. (ISBN-13: 978-981-07-2218-0 / ISBN-10: 981-07-2218-4)

  7. Phoon, K. K., Goh, S. H., Shen, R. F. & Zhu H. H. (Editors), Proceedings, International Symposium on Advances in Ground Technology and Geo-Information, Research Publishing, 2012, 612 p. (ISBN-13: 978-981-07-0188-8 / ISBN-10: 981-07-0188-8)

  8. Juang, C. H., Phoon, K. K., Puppala, A. J., Green, R.A. & Fenton, G. A., Georisk 2011 - Geotechnical Risk Assessment and Management, Geotechnical Special Publications 224, ASCE, Reston, 2011. (GSP)

  9. Phoon K. K. (Editor), Reliability-Based Design in Geotechnical Engineering: Computations and Applications, Taylor & Francis, 2008,  544 p. (ISBN 978-0-415-39630-1) (book)

  10. Phoon, K. K., Fenton, G. A., Glynn, E. F., Juang, C. H., Griffiths, D. V., Wolff, T. F. & Zhang, L. M. (Editors), Probabilistic Applications in Geotechnical Engineering, Geotechnical Special Publications 170, ASCE, Reston, 2007. (GSP)


Updated 1 July 2014