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Steel bolted connections subjected to cyclic and monotonic loads

Steel moment frames are structural systems heavily used in different types of buildings around the world. In this type of structures, the beams and columns are joined by moment connections; therefore, the connections play an important role in determining the seismic behavior of the structure, allowing the structure to reach the required level of ductility without structural damage. Similarly, incremental drift in structures is affected by the flexibility and rotation of the connections. In order to improve the seismic behavior of steel structures it is important to limit excessive rotations and ensure a ductile failure mechanism.The present project is focused on the cyclic behavior of steel connections. The project involved the study of steel connections through laboratory tests and advanced numerical analyzes using the Finite Element software Abaqus. The present project aims to develop an improved and robust 3D detailed numerical approach capable of accurately replicating the behavior of bolted connections subjected to both monotonic and cyclic loads. The research project will include a consistent set of local and global laboratory tests to study the monotonic and cyclical behavior of selected connections and to calibrate advanced numerical models.


S. Di Benedetto, A.B. Francavilla, M. Latour, G. Ferrante Cavallaro, V. Piluso, G. Rizzano Seismic behavior of moment-resisting frames with conventional and innovative connections Symmetry, 12 (12) (2020), p. 2091V. Gašić, A. Arsić, N. Zrnić Strength of extended stiffened end-plate bolted joints: experimental and numerical analysis Structures., 33 (2021), pp. 77-89M. Nawar, A. Elshafey, K. Kandil, B. Eltaly Effect of biaxial bending moment on the behavior of steel extended end-plate connection Eng. Struct., 239 (2021), Article 112348



How to apply

If you are interested in applying for the above PhD topic please follow the steps below:

  1. Contact the supervisor by email or phone to discuss your interest and find out if you woold be suitable. Supervisor details can be found on this topic page. The supervisor will guide you in developing the topic-specific research proposal, which will form part of your application.
  2. Click on the 'Apply here' button on this page and you will be taken to the relevant PhD course page, where you can apply using an online application.
  3. Complete the online application indicating your selected supervisor and include the research proposal for the topic you have selected.

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This is a self funded topic

Brunel offers a number of funding options to research students that help cover the cost of their tuition fees, contribute to living expenses or both. See more information here: The UK Government is also offering Doctoral Student Loans for eligible students, and there is some funding available through the Research Councils. Many of our international students benefit from funding provided by their governments or employers. Brunel alumni enjoy tuition fee discounts of 15%.

Meet the Supervisor(s)

Elisa Bertolesi - Elisa Bertolesi is Lecturer in Structural Engineering at the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering at Brunel University London (UK). Dr Bertolesi obtained her PhD (with Honours) in Architecture, Built Environment & Construction Engineering at the Polytechnic University of Milan (Italy). The PhD Thesis obtained international recognition when it was awarded the Postgraduate Project Prize by the prestigious International Masonry Society (London, UK). Dr. Bertolesi participated in seven projects that obtained funding in open competition from the European Commission, BBVA Foundation and the Spanish State Research Agency. Her work in these projects included structural monitoring by means of optical sensors and full-scale experimental testing and advanced numerical modelling of masonry and steel structures and structures subjected to extreme events. Since 2018, Dr. Bertolesi has been collaborating with the spin-off company CALSENS ( and the Building Resilient Group ( at the Polytechnic University of Valencia (Spain). Dr. Bertolesi is a Fellow of the Higher Education Academy, UK (FHEA) and member of the Institution of Civil Engineers (UK), CEng, MICE. Dr. Bertolesi is a full College member of the EPSRC. Her academic profile is characterised by a high degree of international activity. To date Dr Bertolesi has published more than 35 papers in high-impact journals (h-index 20 - Scopus: In addition, Dr Bertolesi is a peer reviewer for 17 high impact factor journals and collaborates with the editorial board of the Journal of Composites for Construction (ASCE), Scientific Reports (Springer Nature) and Early Career Board Member of Building and Environment (Elsevier) . The most important recognition of her scientific achievements was her appointment as Managing Editor of the prestigious first-quartile JCR-indexed Journal Construction and Building Materials. Dr Bertolesi participated as Guest Editor for the collection "Numerical Modelling Trends for Historical Masonry Structures", published by Frontiers in Built Environment (Computational Methods in Structural Engineering).