Prof. Giacomini, who received her PhD in 2003 from the University of Parma, is committed to innovating, promoting and improving safety in mining and civil environments.

She has been working in Rock Mechanics and Civil Engineering for more than 12 years and, in 2007, joined the University of Newcastle as a research academic.  

As the principal researcher of an Australian Research Council Linkage Project, Giacomini helped develop new designs for barriers to protect valuable infrastructure, such as roads and railways, from rockfall hazards.

“Rockfall hazards pose unacceptable risks to lives and infrastructure all around the world and the phenomenon needs to be carefully assessed and very rigorously managed,” Giacomini said.

Her research has resulted in the design of new low-energy rockfall barriers that are now used extensively along major corridors in Australia.

The work has been essential in stabilising major highways and railways and cliff faces along Australia’s highly populated coastline.

While Giacomini's research developed locally to understand the intricacies of the Australian environment, it is universal in scope and is being applied worldwide.

Her work has also significantly improved safety within the Australian mining industry, where rockfalls threaten human lives, the portal structures for underground entry, and damage to machinery.

Giacomini was one of two early-career scientists this year awarded the John Booker Medal, which recognises outstanding research in engineering mechanics that addresses problems in the static and dynamic response of physical systems within engineering and applied mathematics disciplines.

The other recipient was Professor Changbin Yu, from the Australian National University and Westlake University in China, for his work with drones in China.

The honorific awards were presented at the Academy’s annual celebration of science, Science at the Shine Dome, in Canberra on May 30, 2019.

After receiving her medal, Prof. Giacomini visited the Embassy of Italy in Canberra, where she spoke directly on her pioneering research.

Watch a video about her research on the hazards of rockfalls online.