Professor Paul R Fleming


  • Professor of Sports Surface and Ground Engineering

Research and expertise

I have a background in Geotechnical Engineering with over 30 years experience in associated research and practice. My industry experience is broad and includes many aspects of site engineering, field testing and site investigation. My own PhD developed a novel field testing method to measure the stiffness behaviour of highway foundations. 

Through my research I have published over 150 refereed articles and supervised 21 PhD students to completion in the general areas of geomaterial behaviour, novel (field) testing methods, soil-structure interaction, computer simulation, and more recently in polymeric material behaviour, and specialist laboratory and field testing (including with human subjects).  

My research, enterprise and consultancy themes are focussed on two primary areas: Transport Infrastructure: design, construction and performance, including specialist monitoring and field testing and methods to enhance performance evaluation of component materials and systems; and since 2002 I lead a new area of Sports Surface Science working with colleagues across related disciplines: innovations in base design, sustainable drainage, innovative pitch testing, biomechanical performance, injury risk, player perception of comfort and risk, and optimising maintenance practice and effectiveness. 

Current research activity

  • Advanced Turf Measurement for Player Safety and Performance (FIFA)
  • Traction mechanisms; measurement and modelling (PhD)
  • Predicting Impact Behaviour of Artificial Turf Systems using Numerical Modelling (PhD)
  • Innovations in Construction Quality of Trackbed Foundations (EngD, HS2)

Recently completed research projects 

  • Testing and Management Systems for Maintenance of Artificial Turf (3G) Surfaces (KTP Innovate UK/Technical Surfaces Ltd.)
  • FUTURENET: Future Resilient Transport Networks, part of the ARCC Adaption and Resilience to a Changing Climate programme (EPSRC, 3.5 years)
  • The Institute for Sports Research – Management of a cohort of PhD collaborations with Nanyang University of Technology in Singapore (6 years)
  • Novel assessment and characterisation of natural turf surfaces (EngD, EPSRC/Labosport UK Ltd., 4 years)

Recent publications

  • Fleming, PR., Watts, C., Forrester, S. (2020) A new model of third-generation artificial turf degradation, maintenance interventions and benefits, Proceedings of the Institution of Mechanical Engineers, Part P: Journal of Sports Engineering and Technology, pp.160-175, ISSN: 1754-3371. DOI: 10.1177/1754337120961602.

  • Forrester, S. and Fleming, P. (2019) Traction forces generated during studded boot‐surface interactions on third‐generation artificial turf: A novel mechanistic perspective, Engineering Reports, ISSN: 2577-8196. DOI: 10.1002/eng2.12066.
  • Twomey, DM., Petrass, LA., Fleming, PR., Lenehan, K. (2018) Abrasion injuries on artificial turf: A systematic review, J of Science and Medicine in Sport, 22(5), pp.550-556, ISSN: 1440-2440.
  • Cole, D., Forrester, S., Fleming, P. (2018) Mechanical characterisation and modelling of elastomeric shockpads, Applied Sciences (Switzerland), 8(4), DOI: 10.3390/app8040501
  • Fleming, PR., Frost, MW., Simpson, M., Everett, R., Gibbs, RJ. (2017) Drainage Behavior of Sports Pitches–A Case Study Review, itsrj, 13(1), pp.649-656, DOI: 10.2134/itsrj2016.06.0450


I contribute to learning and teaching activities in undergraduate Construction and Civil Engineering programmes through a mix of lectures, laboratories and field courses.


  • Modules: Interdisciplinary Collaborative Design, Residential Field Course, Materials Engineering, Geotechnics, Ground Engineering, Geotechnical Engineering
  • Supervision of Final Year Research Projects
  • Multidisciplinary Collaborative Team Design Project


  • Supervision of MSc/MRes Projects


Current projects 

  • Establishment of Requirements For Global Category Dry Hockey Turfs (FIH) 2021
  • (UK) Code of Practice for the Design and Specification of Synthetic Sports Pitch Bases (SAPCA)
  • Design guidance for sustainable drainage of artificial turf sports pitches (Sport England)

Recently completed projects

  • Low-cost portable sports pitch base improvement system for developing countries
  • Performance infill - cyclic behaviour & durability

Short courses 

  • LWD Operative Training – Highway Foundation Testing to IAN73/09 (Industry)
  • Permeable paving foundation design and testing (Industry)
  • Bridging the gap between human loading and mechanical test methods - SportSURF Network seminar - (Industry & Academia)


  • Evaluation of Innovative Recycled Prefabricated Base Products
  • Manual on Artificial Turf, Sport & Recreation Victoria, Australia
  • Performance Specification for Highway Design, N6 in Ireland



I graduated from Leeds University in 1986 with an honours degree in Mining Engineering. I joined Southampton University as a Research Assistant on a 2-year contract investigating the quality of highway reinstatements and developed new in-situ density testing and surface profiling apparatus. I then joined Geotechnics Ltd. of Coventry in 1988 as a ‘Teaching Company Associate’, researching and developing a new portable field tester for assessing the stiffness of highway foundations in-situ. I was also in the role of a graduate geotechnical engineer from 1988-1992, focussed on ground investigations and field monitoring for a variety of client organisations and geotechnical schemes. 

In 1992 I joined Loughborough University as a lecturer in geotechnics and continued my links with Geotechnics Ltd. and other stakeholders working toward the publication of new guidance for the performance-related design of highways in the UK, and associated specialist field testing and interpretation. I was awarded my PhD in 1999 on the ‘Impact Assessment of Road Foundations’. My current personal title is ‘Reader in Ground Engineering’. I have instigated and collaborated on many industry-funded research programmes, including Teaching Company Schemes, Engineering Doctorates and Knowledge Transfer Partnerships, across a broad range of real-world problems in geotechnical engineering and sports facility infrastructure.  I have carried out many leadership roles in the School of Architecture, Building and Civil Engineering, including Programme Director for Civil Engineering, Director of Undergraduate Studies, Academic Group Leader for 9 academics, and I am currently the Associate Dean for Teaching.

Professional affiliations

  • Member of the Chartered Institution of Highways and Transportation
  • Member of the Institution of Civil Engineers
  • Senior Fellow of the Higher Education Academy


  • 2016-17 – Loughborough Academic Awards: Winner of ’Student Engagement’ award
  • Fleming P.R., Forrester S., McLaren N.J., 2015. Understanding the effects of decompaction maintenance on the infill state and play performance of third-generation artificial grass pitches. Proceedings of the Institution of Mechanical Engineers, Part P: Journal of Sports Engineering and Technology. doi: 10.1177/1754337114566480. (SNIP 1.15). (Award-winning paper, JSET 2015) 
  • Dijkstra T., Dixon N., Crosby C., Frost M., Gunn D., Fleming P., Wilks J., 2014. Forecasting infrastructure resilience to climate change, Proceedings of the ICE - Transport, Volume 167, Issue 5, October, doi: 10.1680/tran.13.00089, ISSN: 0965-092X (Award-winning paper, ICE 2015, Rees Jeffreys)

External activities

  • Editorial Board for Sports Engineering (SAGE)
  • Editorial Board for Sports Engineering & Technology (Part P – IMechE)
  • Technical Committee, Sport and Play Construction Association (SAPCA) 
  • AFS20 Geotechnical Instrumentation and Modelling, Transportation Research Board, Washington, USA.
  • Visiting Senior Research Fellow, Federation University, Australia 
  • External Examiner, MSc in Tunnelling & Underground Construction, University of Warwick

Key collaborators

My research and enterprise activities are conducted with a range of academic and stakeholder partners, including:

  • FIFA, the international governing body of Association Football
    FIH, the international governing body of field hockey and indoor field hockey
  • Technical Surfaces Ltd. 
  • Federation University, Australia
  • Sport England
  • Grounds Management Association (formerly the IOG)
  • Highways Agency
  • High Speed 2
  • Network Rail

·       FIFA, the international governing body of Association Fotball

·       FIH, international governing body of field hockey and indoor field hockey