Background and motivation
Richard completed his undergraduate masters in Chemical Engineering with Fuel Technology at the Department of Chemical and Biological Engineering (originally Chemical and Process Engineering) at The University of Sheffield in 2012.
This wasn’t perhaps the most obvious of courses to choose. With personal hobbies in practical electronics, amateur radio (and, as of lately, photography and aspiration to learn more about hands-on mechanical engineering), he could have easily taken an undergraduate course in electronics or physics. He was inspired down this route by an Open University video on plant instrumentation operation and maintenance, where multiple disciplines and their requirements, from the physical, chemical, mechanical, process, electronics, to software requirements, must all coincide and be aligned together.
Highly bespoke experimental setups coupled with novel, purpose designed instrumentation is central to modern research and key to the quality and reliability of results. His aim is to be positioned at the instrumentation nexus of these disciplines, enabling challenging and transformative research outcomes. This is now principally, but not exclusively, centred around fluid mechanics.
After two instrumentation-based summer projects, this lead to his PhD project, initially considering the area of in-line (or on-line) rheometry, supervised by William Zimmerman and Jonathan Howse in the same department. After establishing that the most obvious way to perform this was to consider the use of tapering or stepped geometries to generate a range of shear rates (see PhD thesis), it became obvious that such approaches would also be subjected to extensional flows – the cross-coupled effects of which had yet to be considered by the community. His PhD project, and now fellowship, moved to tackle this head on by developing and expanding a new technique that permits direct measurements of how extensional flows affect shear viscosity.
PDRA posts held
Between his PhD and the fellowship, Richard has held a varied assortment of PDRA posts, all at The University of Sheffield, with:
- Chris Holland, Materials Science and Engineering, 2017-2018: experimental support on studies surrounding the flow induced aggregation of silk proteins
- Jon Willmott, Electrical and Electronic Engineering, 2018-2020: infra red/optical thermography and measurement systems (interferometry)
- William Zimmerman, Chemical and Biological Engineering, 2020-2022: experimental/electronics support for plasma chemistry and microbubble mediated processes
- Steve Ebbens, Chemical and Biological Engineering, 2022: part time project developing COMSOL modelling of stirring dynamics
- Chris Holland/Materiom, Materials Science and Engineering, 2021-2022: UTM project
- Siddharth Patwardhan, Chemical and Biological Engineering, 2022-2023: investigation into and characterisation of mixing processes towards scale-up
- Undergraduate work: IET Innovation Awards 2012: Highly Commended – Emerging Technologies Category (spin coating work)
- PhD work: Clifton Wray Memorial Prize 2014: PhD prize for “Clarity and effectiveness in the design of an experimental setup”
- Progression to fellowship:
Professional society membership
- Member of the British Society of Rheology (BSR) and BSR council member
- Affiliate member of the Royal Society of Chemistry