I graduated with a BSc (Hons) in Physics from the University of Leeds in 1984. My Doctoral studies were also at Leeds, in the Department of Ceramics, concerned with the Properties and Structure of Magnesia-Phosphate Cement. Subsequently, I was involved in post-doctoral research on electroceramics, working as a Research Assistant to Dr Tony Moulson.
I was appointed to the position of Lecturer in Materials Science (Ceramics) at the University of Manchester in 1989. At Manchester, I have taught a wide range of courses including atomic physics and bonding (year 1), processing and structure of ceramics (year 2), thermodynamics of phase equilibria (year 2), and functional materials (years 3 and 4). My administrative roles have included organisation of final year projects, Year 3 tutor, Quality Enhancement Officer for the School of Materials, and Examinations Officer for both undergraduate and taught postgraduate programmes. Presently, I have the role of Deputy Sponsor for the School of Materials to the Manchester Engineering Campus Development (MECD), which is a large-scale project to build a vibrant consolidated campus for the four Engineering Schools within the University of Manchester.
My research at Manchester has focused on the structure, properties and applications of ferroelectric ceramics. I have studied the nonlinear dielectric and piezoelectric properties of such materials, using these as a means to understand the underlying polarisation and electromechanical coupling mechanisms. In recent years, I have employed a combination of ‘in-situ’ x-ray and neutron diffraction methods to quantify the intrinsic (lattice strain) and extrinsic (domain switching) contributions to electric field-induced strain. The coupling between these two mechanisms via inter-granular residual stress has been identified as a key feature of their behaviour. Current research projects are concerned with lead-free piezoelectric ceramics, high temperature ferroelectrics, energy storage dielectrics and the use of digital image correlation methods for ferroelectric materials characterisation.