The Faculty of Engineering & Design has restructured its research centres to better reflect the institution’s strategic priorities of providing research solutions to major challenges in the fields of sustainability, digitisation, and health and wellbeing.

Six new or strategically realigned centres and one new institute will exist in the Faculty’s new research architecture, with centres focusing on research in areas including sustainable energy, bioengineering, climate adaptation and mobility.

Dean of the Faculty of Engineering & Design, Professor Tim Ibell, said: “The greatest challenges facing humanity cannot possibly be solved through single-discipline research. We need to be covered in Velcro to attract collaborators across boundaries if we are to achieve globally-leading research with impact. This is what these new Research Centres are trying to achieve. They are based in, and funded by, the Faculty of Engineering and Design, but their doors are wide open for all comers. The world needs this approach.”

The new centres/institutes, their respective missions, research themes/topics and lead staff are:

The Centre for Bioengineering & Biomedical Technologies (CBio)

Improving health and wellbeing through world-leading bioengineering research.

Research themes/topics:

  • Biomedical engineering: biosensors; lab-on-chip; organ-on-chip; tissue engineering; implantable and wearable devices

  • Bioprocess engineering: cell manufacturing; bioenergy; bio-based food

  • Biomechanical engineering: orthopaedic biomechanics; biofluidics

  • Environmental health engineering: bioremediation; soil and water monitoring

  • Bionics: prosthetics and orthotics; neural interfaces

Director: Prof Pedro Estrela; Deputy Directors: Prof Mirella Di Lorenzo, Dr Hannah Leese, Dr Ben Metcalfe

The Centre for Climate Adaptation & Environment Research (CAER)

Carrying out multi-disciplinary research into interactions between the atmosphere and other parts of the Earth system, developing strategies for adapting to climate-driven effects, and developing technologies to mitigate climate change through decarbonisation and carbon sequestration.

Research themes:

  • Sustainable natural resources, food and water security, and public health

  • Water management, coastal protection, ecosystem restoration, and nature-based infrastructure

  • Resilient buildings and resilient energy, transport and urban infrastructure

Director: Prof Kevin Paine; Deputy Directors: Dr Lee Bryant, Dr Corwin Wright

The Centre for Digital, Manufacturing & Design (dMaDe)

Mission-oriented innovation for design and manufacturing

Research themes:

  • Cradle-to-cradle design and manufacturing

  • Productivity through knowledge and information management

  • Right-first-time additive manufactured parts

  • Sustainable food production through cellular agriculture

Director: Prof Linda Newnes; Deputy Directors: Dr Bernardo Castro Dominguez, Dr Paul Shepherd

The Centre for Integrated Materials, Processes & Structures (IMPS)

Developing the novel materials, innovative structures and sustainable processes needed to solve major environmental, societal and technical challenges.

Research themes:

  • Decarbonisation of transport

  • Health and wellbeing

  • Microplastics

  • Sustainable construction materials

  • Materials for the past and future

Director: Prof Tina Düren; Deputy Directors: Dr Matthew Cole, Dr Alexander Lunt

The Centre for Regenerative Design & Engineering for a Net Positive World (RENEW)

Providing global research leadership in regenerative design and engineering.

Research themes:

  • Place making: low-carbon and low-energy building design; urban design; conservation and heritage; history and theory of architecture

  • Water & chemical: flooding; safe and sustainable water management; chemical, biochemical and photocatalytic reactions and reactors

  • Materials and composites: low-cost, bio-inspired and ecologically responsive materials; structural dynamics

Director: Prof Sukumar Natarajan; Deputy Directors: Dr Juliana Calabria-Holley, Dr Emma Emanuelsson Patterson

The Centre for Sustainable Energy Systems (SES)

Connecting, enhancing and expanding research in energy networks, bio-based energy, offshore renewables, life-cycle assessments and more.

Research themes:

  • Life-cycle assessment

  • Energy systems modelling

  • Renewables

  • Industrial decarbonisation

Director: Prof Marcelle McManus; Deputy Directors: Prof Furong Li, Dr Anna Young, Dr Sanjay Nagarajan

The Institute for Propulsion & Mobility (IPM), linked to IAAPS

Conducting research impacting and contributing to clean, sustainable and equitable transport of people and goods aligned to delivering Engineering Net Zero.

Research themes:

  • Propulsion (Electric propulsion, Battery systems, superconductivity, thermal propulsion)

  • Mobility (Vehicle technology, Autobomous vehicles. Mobility as a service, Transport policy)

  • Digital technologies (Systems engineering, modelling techniques)

Director: Prof Richard Burke; Deputy Directors: Prof Carl Sangan, Dr Xiaoze Pei, Prof Sam Akehurst

Overseen by Prof Ibell and managed by Professors Davide Mattia and Chris Bowen, the restructure was prompted by a desire to put research challenges in the three priority areas of sustainability, digital and health and wellbeing at the heart of the centres’ work, while encouraging ambitious and exciting research and cross-disciplinary working. Each of the faculty’s 160 academics will have a direct association with one of the centres, with freedom for cross-collaborative working.

Prof Davide Mattia , Deputy Dean of the Faculty, said: “The new Centres are the result of a highly participative process, with all academic, research and technical staff and PhDs working together to create diverse, inclusive and ambitious research communities.

“As the scale of challenges increases, from addressing the effects of the climate emergency to the emergence of AI to the electrification of society, so does the complexity of our responses, requiring ideas from multiple disciplines and perspectives. We believe our new Centres are best placed to tackle these global challenges and we look forward to welcoming additional members from across the University and beyond.”

At a launch event last week, each Centre Director presented their centre’s vision and explained how their activities will address global environmental, economic and social research grand challenges. They also detailed how colleagues can join and engage with their research activities and future grant applications.