Dr Jonathan Aylen

Honorary Senior Research Fellow

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Research interests

Jonathan’s current research focuses on four very diverse interdisciplinary areas: the management of R&D, the history of technology, wildfires and climate change.

He has won two “best paper” prizes - receiving the Williams Award of the Institute of Materials, Minerals and Mining in 2007 for published work on time series forecasting with Kevin Albertson and an €1,000 award from Promote, the Centre for Management of Innovation in Process Industry in Luleå, Sweden for a paper on “Stretch” subsequently published in R&D Management in 2013.

A recent book on wide strip mill technology, Ribbon of Fire written with an Italian colleague, is about technology transfer from the USA to Europe. He retains his engineering interest in rolling technology and is a former member of the Bulk Metal Forming Committee, a technical committee of the Technology and Materials Science Division of IOM3. He advised the steel company, Corus (now Tata), for 18 years on forecasting, foresight, investment in new technology and knowledge management issues. He was a keynote speaker for international conferences on Mill Performance (2014) and on Rolls (2015). He gave the Burns Lecture to the Defence Electronics History Society in 2019.

His work on wildfires concentrates on the likelihood and consequences of fires. He has just completed a NERC funded project on Wildfire Threat led by Julia McMorrow (Geography, Manchester) working with the Forestry Commission to analyse the risk, spread and impact of wildfire. His research on wildfire work has helped inform policy and practice towards fire risk. Two jointly authored papers on wildfire appeared in the Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society B, June 2016.

His latest work on weather and climate with Gina Cavan and Kevin Albertson was published in Climatic Change, following earlier published work in Climate Research and the Journal of Environmental Management.

His research on history looks at Cold War technology and at how the world went digital in areas such as missile guidance, process plant control and railway management. He published papers in 2015 and 2016 on the technology of nuclear weapon design which contradict received wisdom on the issue.  

He is currently working with the National Railway Museum in York on computerisation of British Railways, focussing on their TOPS system.  This follows earlier research on the history of process control computers in steel, chemicals and defence.


Research and projects

No current projects are available for public display