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UOA 25 - General Engineering and Mineral & Mining Engineering

Queen Mary, University of London

RA5a: Research environment and esteem

UoA25: General Engineering 

Research Environment

The recognised strengths of Engineering1 at Queen Mary, University of London are:

         A balanced portfolio of experimental and computational expertise supporting disciplines of aeronautical/aerospace, mechanical and medical engineering.

         A long-standing record of excellence in multidisciplinary research at the interface between Engineering and the Medicine/Life Sciences.

         A dynamic environment which continues to engage in new areas of engineering to meet the requirements of the twenty-first century.

Our strategy for the next five years is:

         To sustain and enhance research excellence within our core areas of recognised strengths  

         To identify and develop new strategic research programmes 

         To build on existing strengths in establishing ourselves as a hub for multidisciplinary research excellence both within and outside of Queen Mary

         To develop our early career academics to become the future leaders in Engineering research

In the RAE 2001 assessment, Engineering submitted under UoA30, Aeronautical, Manufacturing and Manufacturing Engineering, and received a grade 5. At that time, we had recently completed a major re-organisation, introducing Medical Engineering and strengthening Computational Fluid Dynamics, allied to our traditional strengths in turbulent mechanics, thermofluids engineering, structural and computational mechanics.

In 2001, the Department’s strategy was defined as “…to build on the initiatives and developments of the past five years while maintaining the balance between its complementary research groups”. 

This has been accomplished with significant highlights since 2001, including:

         Innovative multidisciplinary research supported by Basic Technology and Discipline Bridging Initiatives 

         Recruitment of 15 new staff including 11 early career academics to enhance existing research and develop new strategic areas

         Creation of spin-off companies, EMdot and TidalFlow Power

         Since August 2006, research awards have exceeded £3.8 million, equivalent to £86k/FTE/yr due, in part, to the establishment of new academics.

         Research Infrastructure exceeding £6 million supported by SRIF and HEFCE awards

        Published 757 journal papers and conference proceedings, many of which were joint authored, equivalent to 3.3 refereed outputs/FTE/


1 In 2007 Queen Mary established a School of Engineering and Materials Science from the Departments of Engineering and Materials. The RAE submission from the School has been divided into two; UoA 25 for General Engineering and UoA 29 for Materials.

Research Areas

The Department has evolved four specific research areas:

         Experimental and Computational Fluids (ECF)

         Medical Engineering (ME)

         Thermal Energy (TE)

         Computational Solids (CS)

Academics are principally assigned to one research group, Table 1, although there is considerably interaction between groups as detailed later.

Table 1 Primary division into Research Groups (Italics indicate early career academics)


Academics employed before 2001

Academics recruited since 2001

Cat B academics


Avital, Dorrington, Gaster, Stark, Wormleaton, Williams

Alexander M, Cater, Muller, Paine,  Vikhansky

Drikakis Luo


Bader, Greenwald, Lee, Shelton, Wang W

Chowdhury, Knight, Lu, Screen



Briggs, Crookes, Lawn, Rose

Alexander T, Lovas, Wang H, Wen D



Dabnichki, Huijberts, Munjiza, 

Duddeck, Wen P


More broadly, research takes place within a vigorous, ambitious and well-supported Science and Engineering (S&E) sector, led by a Vice Principal. In RAE 2001, 90 per cent of eligible staff were submitted and of these 46 per cent were in departments subsequently graded 5/5*. In a carefully planned and targeted research strategy, Queen Mary has invested heavily in new appointments at all academic levels, with 34% of staff appointed since 2001. 

A programme of capital investment (with substantial SRIF support) has radically improved research facilities, including residential on-campus provision for research students in the £35 million Student Village. Substantial Queen Mary funds (£1m pa) have also been invested in funding PGR studentships. The Director of the S&E Graduate School (SEGS) assists in organising PGR training and performance monitoring, and encourages a cross-disciplinary research environment with an extensive series of research-led events. Dedicated staff provide support, via our Innovation and Enterprise Office, for research grant applications. The sector has received more than £41 million in external grants since 2001, and was ranked in the top 20 in recent Guardian league tables.

Research Groups  

Table 2: Group activity since RAE 2001






Refereed journal papers





Book Chapters










Refereed conference papers





Edited books





Experimental and Computational Fluids 

Notable Achievements

         Developed world class experimental and computational facilities and expertise to support aeronautical and aerospace research.

         Established leading–edge research in electrospray techniques for a range of novel applications. 

         Acquired significant research funding exceeding £5.0 million

The group’s activities focuses on the understanding and control of a variety of fluid flow systems, which are of engineering importance and highly relevant to societal needs. Our historical pedigree was celebrated in 2007 by the 100 years Anniversary meeting of Aeronautics at Queen Mary. The current experimental activities take place principally within:

         The well-established Whitehead Aerodynamics Laboratory (15,000 m2), a ‘dry fluids’ facility, enhanced with two new major additions: an interactive aerodynamic simulator and a jet noise facility. SRIF support has also enhanced the instrumentation capabilities, e.g. with a stereo Particle Imaging Velocimetry (PIV) system and an LDA system.

         The Electrospray Laboratory, opened in 2003, with £750k of equipment funded principally by RCUK, including a mass spectrometer capable of resolving high m/z particles up to 32,000, and a Fourier Transform Infra-Red System.

Specific topics in experimental aerodynamics cover a range of low-speed to high-speed flows. Specific problems that have been addressed, supported by industry, include: Active control of boundary layers [Gaster 2, 3]; Control of Shock-Induced Separation; Rapid Acceleration of Supersonic Turbulent Boundary Layers; Transonic Cavity Flows; Application of Liquid Crystals in Transitional High Speed Flows; Stability and Transition of Incompressible Laminar Boundary Layers; Base and Wake Flows. Low speed airship design is also highlighted [Dorrington 1-4], evaluating both aerodynamic and system level design issues.

A new appointment has stimulated experimental work, involving turbulent and synthetic jets [Cater 1, 2]. This links strategically with our broader computational activity, which has been supported by grants to Avital from the EU (MEIF/CT/2005/011415) and EPSRC (GR/S46239/01). A core objective is to reveal the underlying structure and dynamic processes in regions close to the jet exhaust, associated with commercial jet engines and various combustion devices. The effect of swirling motions on jet noise forms the basis of a recent EPSRC award (EP/D046440/1), which has funded the construction of a new high-speed jet facility to examine subsonic jet flows, Mach wave radiation and synthetic jets. An activity to reduce the information content of large-scale complex flows has resulted in a multi-disciplinary award to Cater (EP/F033133/1) from the EPSRC Bridging the Gaps initiative. A related numerical investigation of high Mach number jet noise is supported by the Daphne Jackson Trust (Avital).

Our other major experimental activity is directed to the understanding and development of commercial applications of electro-hydrodynamics. Overall the vitality of the electrospray research [Alexander M 1-4; Paine 1-3; Stark 2-4], has led to 24 papers and three patents since 2005. The IPR associated with these patents forms the basis of a Queen Mary spin–out Company EMdot, with recently acquired industrial and Venture Capital investments exceeding £750k. Two broad themes underlie the electrospray research: its use for micro-electric propulsion of spacecraft [Stark 2] and in non-space applications [Alexander M 1], particularly in direct writing and surface functionalization, associated with the emerging functional materials industry

A novel laboratory model of a micro-fabricated thruster for spacecraft orbit and attitude control has been developed with funding by EPSRC and the British National Space Centre. The University of Lausanne–EPFL has recently joined a Queen Mary collaboration with Rutherford Appleton Laboratory’s (RAL) Space Technology Division and the Central Microstructures Facility (CMF). This system proposes high specific impulse propulsion units ‘on-a-chip’, ideally suitable for use on micro satellites.  These systems are also appropriate for major missions of the European Space Agency (ESA), who has recently awarded a contract to Stark to develop the capability to perform flight verification of the technology on its Proba 3 mission with potential use on large satellites requiring formation flying technology. Our long-standing interest in the field was captured in the 2004 book “Spacecraft Systems Engineering” (Stark)

Non-space application of electrospray was initiated through the Basic Technology grant, initially developed for the fabrication of tissue engineering scaffolds. Results have demonstrated the potential of spraying functionally-active proteins onto surfaces at sites specific for fibroblastic growth. The Queen Mary led consortium included the Universities of Cambridge (Robinson FRS), Oxford (Dobson Academic Director, Begbroke Science Park) and RAL (CMF), with colleagues in ME (Lee, Bader).

A new mode of electrospray [Paine 1] showed the interdependence of nozzle and liquid properties, a significant finding with a range of applications including material deposition. The paper formed the basis of a successful EPSRC 1st grant (EP/E03330X), with collaborators from materials suppliers in Korea (Inktec), USA (Nanomass), UK (Gwent Materials) and Germany (Stark HC) to print micrometre scale conductive tracks. We have demonstrated the controllable deposition of femtolitre fluid volumes on to surfaces. This approach has enormous potential to revolutionize ink-jet technology, since it offers an order of magnitude improvement in feature size, including applications such as maskless lithography, with potential exploitation through EMdot.

The recent floods in the UK, and continuing predictions related to climate change, have highlighted the importance of research in flood plane analysis. The interaction between main channel and floodplain flows is critical in determining the degree and extent of flooding [Wormleaton 1, 3].

Computational method development and flow modelling, span compressible and incompressible flow phenomena, pertinent to aeronautical, mechanical and medical engineering. The research includes steady and dynamic phenomena [Avital 3, 4; Luo; Drikakis]; aeroacoustics simulating shock waves [Avital 1-3]; combustion (Luo); free-surface and buoyant flows [Williams 4]; biofluid dynamics. The research aims to elucidate the fundamental mechanisms of complex flow phenomena associated with transition and turbulence, instabilities and shock waves combustion, and contribute to the solution of industrial fluid mechanics problems.

Computational research is conducted using state-of-the-art high performance resources. These extensive facilities support our research strategy and contribute to national opportunities and initiatives, such as the Basic Technology programme and the EPSRC Turbulence Consortium (Williams). The latter support programmes, such as the multidisciplinary activity involving human nasal aerodynamics with an ENT surgeon. 

Our longstanding impact on method development has continued [Williams 1-4; Avital 1-4; Vikhansky 4, Muller 1-4; Luo; Drikakis]. Activities include high-order methods for both compressible and incompressible flows spectral schemes for Direct Numerical Simulation (DNS), pseudo-spectral methods for aeroacoustics, implicit high-order characteristics-based schemes for shock-affected flows, multi-block and hybrid-unstructured-grid procedures for complex geometries with moving boundaries (including off-shore structures), Reynolds-averaged Navier-Stokes; Large Eddy Simulation; population balances and Direct Simulation Monte Carlo. Recently a novel lattice-Boltzmann method is under development for modelling of non-Newtonian and non-equilibrium micro-flows, which has reinvigorated our population-balance research (Vikhansky 2).

We have just been awarded a EUFP7 Project grant “FlowHead”, to harness recent advances in numerical optimisation using CFD for the automotive design process. Key partners include Renault and Volkswagen, and world leading software suppliers, CD-Adapco and ESI-Group. The award, led by Müller and Duddeck (CS), will result in approximately £650k to Queen Mary.

The software supporting our research has been mainly developed in-house. The group is internationally recognised for its turbulence modelling with our software being used by international research groups. Group academics collaborate with international institutions in Europe, the Americas (Musaifir, and Japan.

Category B Members 

Professor D. Drikakis (1999 - Sept. 2003 moved to Cranfield): research covers CFD, focused on high-order methods, multigrid and unsteady CFD for aeronautical nano engineering and bio-fluids applications.

Professor Kai H Luo (1997 - Sept. 2004 moved to Southampton): research covers turbulent flow and combustion, using direct numerical simulation, large eddy simulation and advanced modelling techniques. He received the Gaydon Award from the UK Combustion Institute, 2002. 

Future Strategies

         Establish an internationally renowned space propulsion group, to develop an alternative propulsion concept with support from ESA and BNSA. 

         Exploit electrospray technology through recent EPSRC awards and Emdot.

         Exploit the state-of-art facilities in jet noise production for the aircraft industry

         Nurture a group to develop and utilise leading edge computational codes

Medical Engineering 

Notable Achievements

         Established world class research infrastructure and laboratory facilities

         Nurtured truly multidisciplinary group ethos

         Acquired significant research funding exceeding £3.8 million 

         Substantial refereed output in high quality journals – 116individual journal papers since 2001

         Develop international career profiles of researchers

Medical Engineering activity has evolved from Queen Mary’s long-standing commitment to Biomedical Materials, exemplified by the Interdisciplinary Research Centre (IRC), an EPSRC core funded centre (1991-2001). The Group was established in 1999, with the appointment of a Chair in Medical Engineering and three academic appointments. Since 2001, four have been promoted to Chairs, one to Reader (previously an EPSRC Advanced Fellow) and two IRC-researchers appointed as early career academics. Our expertise covers both experimental work and computational modelling.

The group adopts a wide-ranging approach to examine structure-function relationships of soft tissues, from cell and developmental biology, biomaterials [Bader 3], to biomechanics and pathology [Greenwald 1]. This is important to establish reliable design parameters for implants to repair diseased or injured tissues, with their complex hierarchical structural organisation [Bader 1, 4]. Examples include the estimation of local strain fields around cells in loaded tendon structures [Screen 3, 4], which are influenced by the integrity of small proteoglycans [Screen 2].

In orthopaedic implants we have developed novel test protocols, incorporating physiological and accelerated loading, to examine joint replacement designs [Shelton1, 4]. This approach has formed the basis of a Technology Strategy Board (TSB) award, SMART-HIP, to develop smart bioactive nanocomposite coatings for enhanced hip prostheses. The total project cost of £1.5 million supports Queen Mary (Shelton) in collaboration with Sheffield, Imperial, Tecvac and Corin. 

Tissue Engineering research focuses on the regeneration of load-bearing structures, including articular cartilage, tendon/ligaments, using multidisciplinary strategies. Progress has benefited from processing technologies associated with scaffolds [Bader 2], and via anchoring techniques, such as electrospray (see ECF), of key bioloecules. Our established model systems are exposed to biomechanical conditioning regimens to investigate the regulation of extracellular biomolecules [Lee 4; Chowdhury 3; Screen 1; Shelton2; Wang W 4]. Recently the potential of mesenchymal stem cells to differentiate into specific cell lineages have been explored using biomechanical conditioning and biochemical cues, supported by the BBSRC/EPSRC Stem Cell Initiative (BBS/B/15422). We have used live cell imaging and confocal microscopy, enhanced by Fluorescent Recovery modalities, to establish quantifiable parameters, to understand mechanotransduction signalling pathways. These involve nitric oxide [Chowdhury 1, 2, 4; Lee 2], calcium flux [Knight 2,3] and intracellular structures, associated with cytoskeletal distortion and remodelling [Knight 4]. Our expertise in Mechanobiology was recognised by an EPSRC Platform Grant (2007-12).

Other studies examine the spatial/temporal profiles of cell viability, phenotypic stability and metabolism in 3D-model systems, using FRAP to estimate molecular diffusion within constructs. Studies, using nanoscale oxygen biosensors, have identified relationships between supply/utilisation of oxygen and glucose, important in the apoptotic response of chondrocytes [Lee 1, 3; Bader 3]. This led to a 2007 Wellcome grant (080440/Z/06/Z), where environmental factors, including the generation of reactive oxygen species, will be examined. Additionally, microelectrodes have been developed to monitor spatial metabolic profiles within both constructs and tissues [Wang 1].

Queen Mary (Shelton) led a EUFP5 grant “Imbiotor” (GRDI-2000-25394), involving four universities and companies, Verigen (Germany) and Imedex (France). The research focused on the development of intelligent bioreactors, to optimise in vitro processing and conditioning of constructs using biophysical stimuli, and provide functionally competent constructs post-implantation.

Cardiovascular research examines mechanical factors, in health and disease [Greenwald 3]. This involves the measurement of arterial compliance in early life, using wave propagation [Greenwald 4], and modelling of fibre orientation and matrix protein distribution in conduit arteries [Lu 1]. Activities have expanded to investigate flow during by-pass surgery [Shelton 3], transport mechanisms across porous materials [Wang W 3] and synovial joints [Lu 2, 3], and the transport of small solutes and plasma proteins in micro-vessels, in renal tissues and skin, using a combined experimental and computational approach [Wang W 1, 2]. Our interest in pathophysiological processes associated with pressure ulcers has been captured in “Pressure Ulcer Research – Current and Future Perspectives” (Springer, 2005) by Bader and colleagues in Eindhoven. The susceptibility of compressed muscle tissues has been examined, using techniques from deformation of model systems to in vivo MR imaging to monitor real-time muscle damage [Bader 4].

Funding agencies range from the EPSRC, MRC, Wellcome Trust, to St George’s Hospital Trust along with substantial industrial funding. Our significant international collaborations, highlighted later under group esteem, have resulted in many bilateral work periods for researchers and have yielded 25 joint refereed publications. Through our collaboration with biomaterial researchers (Vadgama, Hing, Tanner and de Brujin, submitted in UoA 29), Queen Mary is a partner in the Knowledge Transfer Network (KTN) in Medical Devices.

Future Strategies

         Expand Multiscale Mechanobiology for Tissue Engineering via the Platform programme

         Exploit state-of-art facilities to control stem cell differentiation and other cell activities using bioengineering strategies

         Develop predictive models for biofluids and their interactions with biomolecules

Thermal Energy 

Notable Achievements

         Advances in theory of condensation in micro-channels

         Elucidation of response of premixed turbulent flames to acoustic excitation

         Development/commercialisation of the ‘nutating disc’ engine

         Acquired significant funding in nanofuels, condensation heat transfer and thermoacoustic systems

Since RAE 2001, the Thermofluids Engineering Group has been restructured with the research activities refocused on Energy applications. Our historical strengths in condensation heat transfer and combustion have been augmented by the creation of the Chair in Energy Systems and the appointment of four young academics in Future Energy Engineering. These complement three existing Professors (Thermofluids, Heat Transfer, Combustion), and a Reader (Heat Transfer). This strategic investment has provided a research platform resulting in innovative multi-disciplinary group activities, such as novel energy conversion systems, renewable fuels, and emissions reduction.

The research of the Group is divided into five activities: small-scale combined heat and power (CHP), micro- and nano-scale heat transfer, novel engine configurations and fuels, developments in wind and tidal power and energy-efficient pulsatile ventricular assist devices.

A key issue in developing local generation and heat utilisation systems is the design of small-scale gas turbines and heat exchangers. We have provided a solution to the significant problem of thermo-acoustics, which limits the adoption of lean-burn technology in industrial gas turbines. This programme, initially supported by Powergen and EUFP5, is now collaborating with the Technical University of Munich, receiving support from Siemens Industrial Turbomachinery and EPSRC (EP/D001579/1) [Lawn 1]. Related experiments on the fundamentals of premixed turbulent combustion, with Sandia National Laboratories [Lawn 2, 3], has enhanced our expertise in thermo-acoustics [Lawn 4]. Research has been developed on combustion and emissions prediction in gas turbines and on unsteady flow processes in turbo-machines [Alexander T 3, 1], and an early career academic (Alexander M in ECF), is extending the use of electro-spray technology to combustion in micro-combustors.

Queen Mary (Lawn and Alexander T), collaborating with Manchester, Nottingham and Imperial, was recently awarded an EPSRC Energy in International Development programme grant (EP/E04462X/1, totalling £1.8M). Expertise in thermo-acoustics, design and heat transfer will be applied to a single unit, to facilitate cooking, electricity generation and refrigeration functions for remote communities. Expertise in both turbo-machinery and internal combustion engines, enables us to examine the performance of complete micro-CHP systems for small facility installations.

Queen Mary has an established international reputation in condensation heat transfer [Rose 1, 3]. Recent focus has involved condensation on and inside tubes with microfins and inside microchannels [Rose 2; Wang 1-3; Briggs 1-4]. Experimental techniques, complemented by theoretical studies, supported by 5 EPSRC grants since 2001, have produced important advances [Rose 4; Wang H 4; Briggs 1-4]. Related activities involve condensation from the exhaust stream of a fuel cell-powered motor vehicle with 5 year support from Modine Manufacturing Company. An EPSRC grant (EP/D500133/1) was awarded for research in boiling and condensation in microchannels, with collaboration between 5 UK universities and 5 companies from USA, Germany and the UK (total sum exceeding £1million). Our expertise has been supplemented by two early career academics [Wang H 1, 4; Wen D 1-4]. Wen D has recently been awarded an EPSRC grant EP/E065449/1 to investigate nanofluidic heat transfer intensification under flow boiling conditions for advanced MEMS applications.

Novel conversion devices and fuels are being pursued. Interest in combustion and emissions with standard and alternative fuels in engines is well established [Crookes 1, 2, 4]. The combustion of biogas, biodiesel and dimethyl ether derived from biomass is being examined in collaboration with Volvo [Crookes 3]. Research at Glasgow for NASA and the U.S Army on a novel engine concept, the nutating disc engine, has been transferred to Queen Mary [Alexander T 2], with commercial development in the USA. This research will be extended to embrace the combustion of standard and alternative renewable fuels, including biodiesels and hydrogen [Alexander T 3, Crookes 1-4, Lovas 1-4]. Our interest in novel nanoparticulate fuels (Wen D, Alexander T, Crookes, Lawn), has support from a 2007 EPSRC Feasibility Study grant (EP/F027281/1).

Models for the efficient computation of species in combustion and emissions are being developed. This research has been strengthened by new academics, employing computational techniques to address the high-temperature chemistry leading to engine emissions [Lovas 1, 2, 4], and the prediction of particle agglomeration (Vikhansky in ECF). The former has led to cross-disciplinary work on atmospheric chemistry [Lovas 3]. An automatic model reduction procedure for chemical mechanisms, developed by Lovas, has now been implemented into commercial software (DiganARS LLC, USA

The application of the surface-curvature driven turbine blade design method (developed by Alexander T) in combination with existing research on wind-turbine materials (submitted in UoA 29) will provide the basis for future research. 

Interdisciplinary work is addressing problems associated with heart disease. In particular, new designs of energy-optimized pulsatile ventricular assist devices are being developed [Alexander 4, US patent]. This activity provides a strong link with academics in the ME group (Wang W, Lu, Greenwald).

Future Strategies

         Develop research excellence in nanofluids and nanofuels

         Modelling of emissions in chemical reactions, particularly in internal combustion engines 

         Exploit novel energy conversion systems and processes, focused on developing countries



Computational Solids 

Notable Achievements

         International leaders in Discrete Element Methods (DEM), Combined Finite-discrete Element method and Boundary Element Method (BEM).

         Developers of fundamental solutions in BEM and DEM Methods 

         Substantial refereed output in publishing three books, 129 refereed papers / conference proceedings and 28 keynote lectures

The overall research aims are to elucidate the fundamental mechanisms of complex unsolved phenomena and translate these into computational methods for industrial problems. Research covers the development of methodologies, with applications in mechanical, aeronautical and medical engineering sectors.

Our international reputation has emerged from pioneering development of solutions to complex phenomena associated with fracture and fragmentation processes [Munjiza 1, 3; Wen P 1, 3; Aliabadi], and incorporating them into computational methods used by industry. We have made contributions to the finite element method, DEM and their combinations [Munjiza 1-4], and BEM in fracture mechanics [Wen P 1-4]. A key issue has been to support these methods with in-house software development and continual updating of hardware. Other applications are in contact mechanics, structural dynamics, non-linear mechanics, optimisation, coupled field problems, and composite materials. This has resulted in several key textbooks, including “Fourier – BEM – Generalization of Boundary Elements by Fourier Transform” (Springer 2002, Duddeck). 

The group has instigated the combined finite-discrete element method, which is now used worldwide including the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory (, Sandia (, Los Alamos National Laboratory ( and MIT (jrw@MIT.EDU) [Munjiza 1]. In this context the group is credited with development of fundamental solutions, such as Non-Binary Search [Munjiza 2]. This has enabled systems comprising millions of particles to be analysed on a PC, described in a seminal textbook “The Combined Finite Discrete Element Method”, (Wiley 2004), almost entirely based on the group’s research [Munjiza 1]. The combined finite-discrete element method, covering fracture, fragmentation, packing, impacts and blasts, is aimed at solving problems involving large-scale discontinuities comparable to the physical problem. In collaboration with Imperial, support from a 5 year EPSRC grant (GR/S42705/01) has facilitated the availability in an Open source format to UK researchers. 

Our research in non-linear control, non-linear dynamical systems and, in particular, synchronisation of chaotic systems is also internationally recognised. Non-linear dynamics investigates the control of sub-harmonic and chaotic motions [Huijberts 1, 3, 4]. Methods are being developed to analyse mechanical systems under vibration, with applications in transport [Huijberts 2], manufacturing and communication systems. We are also developing novel identification and control paradigms by merging model-based and AI-based techniques. 

Integrating computational with experimental techniques has resulted in collaborations with the automobile industry, including an examination of structural reliability and crashworthiness [Duddeck 3] and optimised topology of car bodies, the latter being funded by BMW [Duddeck 4]. A major 12 partner EUFP6 project “SEAT” including Queen Mary (Dabnichki) was recently awarded to utilise smart technologies for air travel, with emphasis on seating, passenger comfort and environmental control. Other applications include biomechanics and sports engineering [Dabnichki 1-4], which have generated close associations with the UK Sport Institute, the British Olympic Association and the British Bobsleigh Association [Dabnichki 3]. We have produced smart structures for bobsleighs, with improved safety, durability and integrity, and a novel approach to analyse propulsive forces during swimming utilising a robotic arm.

We collaborate with numerous institutions in Europe, USA, South America and Japan and have obtained funding from Industry, RCUKs and Europe. Additionally, in conjunction with Richmond Pharmacology, a KTP was awarded for automated computerised modelling of patients during phase 1/2 clinical trials (Dabnichki). 

Category B Members 

Professor Ferri Aliabadi (9/1995- 9/2004 moved to Imperial): research incorporates the BEM as applied to fracture and fatigue, contact mechanics, nonlinear mechanics and other related solid mechanics. He works closely with UK/European aircraft industries, has authored textbooks and edits two international journals.

Future Strategies

         Further develop and exploit structural optimisation research for transport

         Expand computational discontinua methods to nanoscale problems

Evidence of Vitality

Since RAE 2001, there has been a coherent, strategic plan leading to change in terms of the Department’s size, personnel and research objectives. In the last 15 months, the strategic appointments have been productive with three first EPSRC grants (Paine, Wen D and Wen P), as well as a major award to the Energy Group (Lawn and Alexander T). Furthermore there have been CASE awards from companies, including Airbus UK, Highview Enterprises, Leica Microsystems and TSL, and both a KTP and TSB award. Other significant awards include the EPSRC Platform Grant for Mechanobiology in Tissue Engineering (Lee, Bader and Knight), three EPSRC responsive mode grants and an EUFP7 grant. Since August 2006, we have secured new awards exceeding £3.8 million.

The establishment of the School has strengthened existing collaborations between Engineering and Materials forming a critical mass with multi-skill expertise. Bioengineering research has traditionally been collaborative. Additionally, the formation of an Energy Research Centre, combines Engineering activities (thermal energy) with Materials (hydrogen storage and fuel cells). Other alliances include combining computational methods with advanced experimental techniques to predict material behaviour at various length scales. Nanomaterial research is also strongly linked with the recently established Queen Mary company, Nanoforce Technology (detailed in UoA29), with support from the DTI and the London Development Agency (LDA) totaling £3.2m. It provides opportunities to establish industrial collaborations, and flexibility in entering consortia with SMEs.

Queen Mary is ideally located within the East London regeneration zone, in preparation for the 2012 Olympics and Paralympics. We are working closely with the appropriate agencies and Queen Mary Departments, such as Sports Medicine, to increase our research portfolio to engage with the Games and their legacy. Our existing research activities coupled to MEng/BSc undergraduate programmes, including Sports Engineering, will provide further engagement with the Games.


Enhancement to Research Infrastructure

Since 2001, JREI investment has been committed in support of computational activity involving both solids and fluids. Subsequently, the Department has benefited considerably from Queen Mary supported SRIF II and III rounds. Overall since 2001, state-of the art equipment exceeding £6 million has been purchased to underpin activities and stimulate innovation in research.

Experimental aerodynamics facilities supported by high and low speed wind tunnels (see ECF) have recently been supplemented with an interactive aerodynamics simulator (principally funded by HEFCE) and a jet noise facility with enhanced instrumentation capabilities (supported by EPSRC and SRIF). Thermal Engineering facilities include heat transfer and condensation rigs, IC-engine test beds and combustion rigs. The Department has also invested heavily in the provision of state-of-the-art machine shop facilities for the manufacture of precision equipment for experimental research. Medical Engineering facilities include laboratories for tissue/cell engineering, sports and rehabilitation biomechanics and experimental biofluids. Additionally, laboratory suites have been created dedicated to electrospray and, in 2007, Stem Cell Bioengineering, the latter made possible with £250k from a Royal Society/Wolfson Laboratory Refurbishment Grant complemented by £900k SRIF funding, including equipment enabling the manipulation and analysis of cells under controlled environments and mechanical stimulation, a Fluorescence-activated cell-sorting system and a confocal multiphoton Fluorescence Life-Time Imaging upgrade.

Our computational research expertise is supported by an extensive infrastructure of computational facilities. Departmental computing facilities comprise powerful workstations and a 20 processor SGI shared memory system.  These are connected by a fast gigabit network to a central Queen Mary high performance computing cluster which currently has 440 computer nodes (1440 processor cores, 1.6 Tbyte of RAM), 160 Tbyte of local storage and 22 Tbyte of RAID storage.  Both the processors and RAID storage will be further up-graded in 2008 using £0.5M of SRIF-III funding.

Researchers also utilise the Nationally provided HPCx which comprises 160 IBM POWER5 eServer nodes, i.e. 2560 processors, delivering 15.36 TeraFlop/s peak, or 12.9 TeraFlops/s sustained (as rated in the Top500 list). The system is equipped with 5.12 TByte of memory and 72 TByte of disk.  Computational time is provided through the EPSRC grant (EP/D044073/1) to the UK Turbulence Consortium.

Training and Facilities for Research Students

Research studentships are provided from conventional sources, International agencies and a Queen Mary Consortium (EMPhysis) incorporating the Engineering, Materials and Physics Departments. SEGS, through the Education and Staff Development Department, offers a range of transferable skills courses that are open to all research students. Additionally, our Department provides a specialised skills training for first year students. We organize an Annual Student conference to which all second/third year researchers are expected to participate with a poster/oral presentation. The students are expected to present their research in at least one international conference. In addition to experiences in the excellent Queen Mary facilities, students are encouraged to complement their training in laboratories at appropriate collaborative Institutions. Students benefit from activities associated with workshops, ideas factories/sandpits, which are organised within the auspices of the Queen Mary Institutional Discipline Bridging Initiative led by Engineering. The PhD profile is summarised in Table 3.



Table 3: Postgraduate Student profile/group


Registered PhDs

Academic Years

Completed PhDs


















































Interdisciplinary and Collaborative Research

Queen Mary has a longstanding record of excellence involving collaboration at the interface between Engineering and the Medicine/Life Sciences. The IRC in Biomedical Materials set the standard for integrated multidisciplinary activities and was judged outstanding in its overall assessment, 2004 (EPSRC GR/L39919/01). 

A major development is the multidisciplinary activity which spans traditional research groupings with focus on the innovative application of electrospray technology. The Basic Technology award totalling £3.6 million (EPSRC GR/R87703), led by Stark, was made by RCUK in their first call, 2001. This research (detailed under ECF), has utilised electrospray technology to accurately locate individual biomolecules on surfaces within scaffolds suitable for tissue engineering. Further opportunities include the pioneering work associated with the production of 3-D materials. The IPR from this is now being exploited in part through the spin-off company EMdot.

A further commitment to multidisciplinary research was demonstrated by the 2006 Queen Mary-wide Interdisciplinary Discipline Bridging Initiative Award from the MRC/EPSRC (77947). This links Bioengineering activities, such as multiscale mechanobiology, biomolecular manipulation and modelling to research activities in the School of Medicine and Dentistry, for example, regenerative medicine and medical imaging.

Arrangements for supporting collaborations

A key strategy for sustaining our vision to play leadership roles in selected research areas includes the fostering of international partnerships and visits. The Department supports international collaborations, including joint research laboratories e.g. Southern Medical University, and grants with China, Japan, and others in EU programmes as listed under research groups. 

The HEIF Innovation China UK programme, launched in 2007 and led from Queen Mary, provides a unique collaboration involving five UK and over twenty Chinese HEIs. It brings together academic and business partners, funding proof-of-concept research, and commercialising joint IP. Examples highlighted at the launch include Space Technology and Bioengineering.

Our high-profile reputation means that several academics have international appointments, engage in international policy work and play a lead role in a number of national activities. Examples are listed under individual esteem. 

We support a vibrant international community of research and sabbatical visitors.  These include both young researchers (e.g. Marie Curie fellows) and eminent international researchers. For example in 2007, Professors Micci, Zheng and Sladek have spent extended sabbaticals at Queen Mary. We encourage the hosting of international conferences, examples listed under esteem, with the Queen Mary conference office providing dedicated support and housing. 

Arrangements for supporting relationships with users and commercialisation

The Department has productive dialogue with over 45 major industrial organisations and is continually seeking to increase research collaboration and direct funding from industry. Major companies include Airbus, Boeing, BAe, BMW, DePuy, Modine Manufacturing, Qinetiq, Siemens, Smith and Nephew, Surrey Satellite Technology, while SMEs include Genzyme, Corin, Rockfield Software and Tecvac. 

Our Industry Advisory Board comprising 30 members, which has recently expanded to include Materials partners, and provides strategic steer.  Its members engage with staff and students at the annual industry day, showcasing our research.  

HEIF2 funds awarded to Engineering and Materials, 2004, were used to launch a research and consultancy based company, Expert Engineering, under the guidance of Dr Jim Shaikh. This company linked academics to SMEs, to provide access of cutting edge technologies.  

The LDA, with a focus on cultural and creative industries, provides our Department with a London Technology Network Fellows (Dabnichki). Through the IRC, we have been academic partners in the KTN in Medical Devices.

Commercialisation is supported by dedicated staff in the HEIF funded Innovation and Enterprise Unit. Additionally, Queen Mary launched a £5million partnership with the IP group, 2006, to provide specialist support and investment for spinouts and licensing.

Other UoAs

Many collaborations exist with other Queen Mary Departments, particularly Materials (UoA29). Shared papers, grants and PhDs have been reported under the lead academics.

Staffing Policy 

Academic excellence dictates recruitment policy. Both early career and senior appointments have been targeted in strategic research areas. Additionally, investment has been made for young academics of high promise with the creation of Academic Fellowships. These policies have resulted in a vibrant addition of staff, distributed across research groups (Table 1). Teaching loads are reduced for newly appointed staff. They are provided with dedicated space and technical resources to create an effective research environment rapidly. Departmental policy favours early academic staff in both the allocation of research studentships and support from the annual equipment budget. A mentoring scheme is well established where a designated senior academic from a different Research Group provides guidance. The Research Committee provides incentives and facilitates, through best practice, the submission of research grants. Extended sabbaticals have been granted to several academics (e.g. Lawn, Huijberts, Wang W)

Since RAE 2001, staffing changes include:

         12 internal promotions 

         2 senior appointments 

         12 appointments as lecturers/academic fellows 

         3 Professorships awarded by other HEIs 

We have vitality in the demographics of the academic profile, with a high proportion of academics under 40 years old. Both gender and ethnic mix are well represented.  

Research Income

Our research portfolio is wide reaching as listed in individual research groupings. External grant/contract income for research exceeds £12.9 million, as summarized in Table 4, with expenditure exceeding £5.8 million. 

Table 4: New research awards/group


New Awards (£k) Academic Years

















































* until November 2007 

Esteem Indicators 

Many of our academics are invited to present keynote/invited lectures (~100 presentations and three short courses) at national and international meetings. We are actively involved in organising/chairing sessions at international conferences. Academics act on the Editorial Boards of over 20 international journals There is wide participation in the EPSRC/BBSRC funding process, with a significant number of EPSRC College members active on panels. Many members of the Department act as external examiners for PhDs for UK and International Universities. We have 12 early career academics, indicated in italics, whose esteem is being developed.

Knowledge transfer, through long standing industry partnerships, commercialisation, and impact on practice, is a vital part of our activity, and described in detail in the research groups section above, with individual contributions flagged below.

Experimental and Computational Fluids

Examples of Group Esteem

         Established industrial support including Airbus, Boeing Aerospace, BAe Systems and Qinetiq.

         Queen Mary spin-out company, EMdot, with recently acquired investments exceeding £750k, established supported by three patents related to electrospray. 

         Develop international careers of CFD researchers to reach professorial rank at Queen Mary (Williams) and other prestigious universities (Luo, Drikakis).

         Major collaboration with Surrey Satellite Technology, a manufacturing leader in small satellites using high specific impulse units based on micro-electric propulsion. These systems are appropriate for major missions of the European Space Agency.

         International collaborations in Space research involve Yale (de la Mora), MIT (Martinez-Sanchez) and Penn State (Micci).

         The turbulence modelling research with in-house software developments is used by international research groups. 

         Dissemination through the media of public issues, such as those associated with deforestation (Dorrington).

         Engagement with flood channel facilities, which has societal implications related to recent natural disasters and climate change. 

Individual Esteem 

Alexander M

UK patent “Femtolitre Dispersive Technology” (0524979.2), 2006

Filed 2 patents (application number 0709517.7, 0710879.8), 2007

Co-founder of Emdot, 2007



EU-awarded Marie Curie Fellow 

PI of several grants

Invited lecture in Internoise, Brazil, 2005



Member of American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics

Member of Royal Aeronautical Society

Awarded 1st EPSRC grant, 2005



Subject of film entitled ”The White Diamond” by an internationally-renowned director documenting the development of small airships for monitoring the canopy of rainforests, 2005

Designed and flew airship over the tropical forest in Guyana, 2004

Technical expert on the LZ129 rigid airship, 2007


Gaster FRS

Fellow of the American Physical Society

Fellow of the Nehru Institute, Bangalore, India 

UK patent “Establishment of laminar boundary layer flow on aerofoil body” (0625612.7), 2006

Director of Gaster Consultants.

Collaborations with Qinetiq and Boeing Aerospace, 2001-04



Consultant on numerical methods, CERFACS, Toulouse, France

3 invited lectures at international meetings

EUFP7 lead co-ordinator "FlowHead"



UK patent “Femtolitre Dispersive Technology” (0524979.2), 2006

Co-founder of Emdot, 2007

Awarded 1st EPSRC grant, 2007



Advisory Board of BNSC Space Technology 

Member of International Academy of Astronautics Committee; Space Hazard and Debris

Guest Professor, Beihang University (BUAA), 2007

Luigi Napolitano Literature Award, International Academy of Astronautics, for book ‘’Spacecraft Systems Engineering”, 2004

Co-founder of Emdot, 2007

Technical auditor for Qinetiq’s Space Vehicle Division

Member/Chairman of RAeS Space Committee

Featured on Channel 4 news, 2004, discussing the Xprize award and “Connect” Radio 4, 2007, discussing applications of electrospray.

Member RAeS Professional Standards Board

Fellow of Royal Aeronautical and Royal Astronomical Societies



9 single authored papers out of 20 peer reviewed since 2002.



Member of EPSRC funded UK-Japan seminar on flow and sedimentation in two-stage channels

Collaboration with universities on experimental data on the UK Flood Channel facility 

Invited lecture at the Disaster Prevention Institute, Sapporo, Japan.



Fellow of Institution of Mathematics and its Applications

Consultant to Anglian Water Authority

Leader of Consortium involving Direct Numerical Simulation and LES

Medical Engineering

Examples of Group Esteem

  • Long-standing Industrial support from health-care companies including Smith and Nephew, DePuy, Teer Coatings Finsbury, Corin, Tecvac, Genzyme, TWI and Tissue Sciences Laboratories.
  • Award of EPSRC Platform Grant in Mechanobiology
  • Significant collaborations with prestigious world institutions. Activities include: 

-         Mechanical modelling at sub-cellular level (Technion University, Israel),

-         Experimental cell mechanics (Tohoku University, Japan)

-         Functional scaffolds (Colorado University, USA) 

-         Theoretical metabolomic profiling and pressure ulcer research (Eindhoven University, The Netherlands), 

-         Wear testing (Kyushu University, Japan and Loma Linda University, USA) 

-         Space bioengineering (BUAA, China). 

         Launched a Joint Research Centre in Bioengineering and Materials with Southern Medical University, Ghangzhou, China, 2006.

         Queen Mary spin-out company, Apatech Ltd, established, 2001, from IRC-related research; ranked 13th fasting growing technology company in The Sunday Times, 2007. 

         Public dissemination of research through the media and governmental bodies (Bader, Greenwald, Knight, Lee)

Individual Esteem


Part-time Professor, Eindhoven University of Technology, The Netherlands, 2001-

Doctor of Science, University of Liverpool, 2003

Elected to World Council of Biomechanics, 2006

Awarded best presentation in Medical Engineering by the IMechE, 2002 

Presented 20 invited/keynote lectures at International conferences

Editorial Board member for 5 international journals, including Osteoarthritis and Cartilage

Awarded Japanese Ministry Scholarship, “Biomechanics at Micro- and Nano-Scale Levels, 2006

Member International Working Group on Cellular Engineering, 2004

Advisor to Science Foundation, Ireland and Swedish Research Council on bioengineering research 

Featured on “Leading Edge”, Radio 4 discussing pathogenesis of pressure ulcers, 2003



Postdoctoral fellow on Wellcome grant, 2004-06

Member of Orthopaedic Research Society, 2001-



Elected Vice-President of the International Society of Pathophysiology, 2006

Featured on “More or Less”, Radio 4, discussing arterial stiffness measurements, 2006

Featured on “Staying Alive”, Carlton TV, discussing ageing of arteries, 2001

Visiting Professor, University of Khon Kaen, Thailand



EPSRC Advanced Research Fellowship, 2000-06

Consultant Oxford Biomaterials Ltd.

EPSRC College member

Advisor on new Bioscience Education Centre at the Royal London Hospital, specifically for London schoolchildren

PI on one BBSRC response mode and one EPSRC Public Awareness grant



Awarded Negma Lerads international prize for research in Cartilage and Chondrocyte Mechanobiology, 2005

PI on Platform Grant “Multiscale Mechanobiology for Tissue Engineering”, 2007-12

PI of Queen Mary Discipline Bridging Award and 4 UK responsive mode grants

Principal organizer of UK Tissue and Cell Engineering Society, 2005

Member of UK-India Stem Cell Workshop, 2005

Member of UK Advisory body guiding scientific policy; specifically involved in regulation of stem cell research and therapeutic cloning. 



Fellowship from US National Committee on Biomechanics, 2005



Awarded Fylde Electronic Prize for best paper in Strain, 2004

Two invited international lectures, 2005, 2007



Member of Royal Academy of Engineering Committee. Published “Educating Engineers for the 21st Century”, 2007

Healthcare Industries Task Force, 2004

EUFP5 lead co-ordinator “Imbiotor”

Member of KTN Management Committee for Medical Devices

Expert witness at FDA Committee, 2007


Wang W 

Visiting Professorship, Keio University, Japan

Council Member of European Alliance of Medical and Biological Engineering and Sciences, 2003

Director of International Space Bioengineering Institute, Beijing University, China

Member of EPSRC Network on Physiological Flow Modelling

Director of Joint Research Centre in Bioengineering and Materials, Southern Medical University, China, 2006

Thermal Energy

Examples of Group Esteem

         Queen Mary spin-out company, Tidal Flow, developing turbine generators (Lawn)

         International collaborations with prestigious organisations including Universities of Munich, Germany and Kyushu, Japan, and Sandia National Laboratories, USA

         Consultants/advisors to industrial companies including Siemens Industrial, Powergen (E.On), Volvo, Modine Manufacturing USA 

         Editor and Board members of several journals (Rose, Lawn)

         Fellows of a range of learned Institutions

         USAcommercialisation of the ‘nutating disc’ engine (Alexander T).

         Implemented into commercial software of an automatic model reduction (DiganARS LLC, USA) (Lovas)

Individual Esteem

Alexander T 

US patent (6,632,169) “Optimised pulsatile-flow ventricular assist device and total ”artificial heart”, 2003

Editorial Board member Journal of Algorithms and Computational Technology

Chairman of Cycle Innovations committee, International Gas Turbine Institute

Co-Investigator of EPSRC Consortium award “SCORE”, 2007



Member of UK Heat Transfer Committee

Associate Editor of International Journal of Heat and Mass Transfer

Associate Editor of International Communications of Heat and Mass Transfer



Fellow of the Energy Institute

Visiting Professorship, Xián Jiatong University, China

DTI Awards Assessor




Sugden Prize awarded by the Combustion Institute, 2006

Royal Academy Global Research Award, 2004

Fellow of Institutes of Mechanical Engineering and Chemical Engineering 

Consultant to Siemens Industrial Turbomachinery

Chairman of British Section of Combustion Energy 

Chairman of TidalFlow, 2006

Chair of UK Propulsion Committee

Editor of Journal of Power and Energy, 2006

Collaboration with Powergen (E.On), 2001-05



Expert member of European Economic Interest Group, Pyramos.

Member of Combustion Institute’s UK and Scandinavian sections



Fellow of Institute of Mechanical Engineering

Consultant Modine Manufacturing Company, USA

Member of UK Heat Transfer Committee

Elected President of Heat Transfer Society, 2007-08

UK Editor of Experimental Heat Transfer

UK Editor of International Journal of Heat and Mass Transfer

UK Editor of International Communications of Heat and Mass Transfer


Wang H

Japanese Society of Mechanical Engineers Medal for outstanding paper, 2002


Wen DS

Fellow of Institute of Nanotechnology

Director of Ghizhou-CSCST Clean Energy Centre, 2007.

Visiting Professorship, Guizhou University, China

Awarded 1st grant and one response mode grant from the EPSRC since 2006

Computational Solids

Examples of Group Esteem

         Established collaborations with industrial companies as diverse as Airbus, Kistler, Richmond Pharmacology and BAE Systems. 

         Specific collaborations with transport industry, for safety and comfort of travellers e.g. BMW, Renault (Duddeck)

         Advisor to UK Sporting industry and Olympic Advisory bodies (Dabnichki)

         Development of computation methods for solving large-scale discontinuity problems, with availability in an open source format




Individual Esteem 


Visiting Professor, University of Vienna, Austria

Member of Winter Sports working group under auspices of British Olympic Association

London Technology Network Fellow (DTI sponsored)

EPSRC College member

Partner in EUFP6 Project “Seat”



Fellow of German Society of Engineers (VDI)

Organiser of EUROMECH Colloquium “Efficient Methods for Robust Design and Optimisation”, 2007

Collaborations with automobile industry

Habilitation of Technical University of Munich



Fellow of Institution of Mathematics and its Applications

Awarded NCACI control theory paper prize, 2004

Associate editor of control journal, Automatica

Subject editor for the International Journal of Robust and Nonlinear Control



Advisor to Sandi and Los Alamos National Laboratories USA

Inventor the Combined finite element method and author of seminal 2004 textbook

Presented 10 invited/keynote/plenary lectures at International conferences 

Published 2 invited papers in Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society

Developed with Rockfield Software, the numerical code ELFEN, the market leader for FEM-DEM.

Elected chairman of Organising Committee for DEM-5 in London, 2010


Wen P

Consultant Airbus

Visiting Professorship, Harbin University of Engineering, China

Editorial Board member of Computational Mechanics