Dr Richard Johnston

Principal Investigator
+44 (0)1792 606576    @DrRichJohnston

For a full bio/publications/contact details visit Dr. Johnston’s Swansea University page

Dr. Richard Johnston is an Associate Professor in the Materials Research Centre, Swansea University, a 2013 British Science Association Media Fellow (based at Nature), and a 2015 Software Sustainability Institute Fellow.

Embracing a multidisciplinary approach, Richard’s research has taken him from artificial intelligence in manufacturing, through gas turbine materials (abradables, nickel superalloys, ceramic matrix composites), and on to X-ray microtomography. He leads the X-ray Imaging group at Swansea, and chairs the Swansea University Research Forum (SURF) Executive Group. He is also Co-Director of the Materials Academy and sits on the Institute of Materials Minerals and Mining Education Committee, and founder and Director of #ResearchAsArt and PI of the outreach and engagement programme Materials: Live.

Research grant capture as PI or Co-I of over £20Million since 2014, and is Co-Director of the £9M EPSRC/WG-funded Advanced Imaging of Materials (AIM) centre. Richard is an advocate of collaboration, and a champion of public engagement with research.

Postdoctoral Researchers

Dr Khalil Khan

Khalil Khan

Eng(hons) graduate from Swansea University in Materials Science and Engineering. I have worked with Defence Science Technology laboratories (part of Ministry of Defence UK) and a private medical firm RESMED in Australia. I have been completing my PhD research in corrosion for the previous 3 years (started July-2009). Since completion of PhD experimental work I have been involved with Electrochemical Lab supervision at the Swansea University based in SPECIFIC (Baglan) as well as X-Ray micro CT Scanning Facility at the Swansea University. I enjoy interacting with the corrosion group and all at Material Research Centre (Swansea).

I enjoy playing squash and badminton and have a hobby of car and home audio-video and generally tinkering with gadgets.

Dr Mark Coleman

Mark Coleman

Dr. Mark Coleman is a Swansea University graduate in Materials Science and Engineering (BEng and MRes). He specializes in many types of electron microscopy for materials characterisation, principally electron backscattered diffraction (EBSD). In collaboration with Carnegie Mellon University, Pittsburgh, USA he completed his PhD research into the grain boundary engineering of copper in 2009. Since then he has joined a multi disciplined group from Bristol, Surrey and Birmingham Universities on an EPSRC research funded project into abnormal grain growth in nanocrystalline materials. Mark has recently joined the XIChaL team (X-ray Imaging and Characterisation Laboratory) as a postdoctoral researcher and Bridging the Gaps Fellow, working with collaborators in tephrochronology and regenerative medicine.

Public Engagement

Dr Ian Mabbett

Ian Mabbett

Ian Mabbett

Ian is the Public Engagement Manager for Materials:Live. Ian also has a penchant for battery technology, and has a background in chemistry. He continues his battery research, leading a group forming part of the SPECIFIC project. He enjoys yachts and beer, and often finds himself working at the interface between the two. @Materials_Live

 Bruce Rogers

Bruce is managing the Welsh Government National Science Academy-funded outreach and engagement programme Materials: Live, which brings materials science and engineering, and more broadly STEM, to varied audiences. This includes school activity days, large science festivals and events (Big Bang, Cheltenham Science Festival, Eisteddfod), and media outputs around materials.

Dr Louise Cleobury

Louise is the Public Engagement Officer for the #ResearchAsArt project. Louise is also a Psychologist, with expertise in mindfulness and eating behaviour. She is also currently a Postdoctoral Researcher within the Traumatic Brain Injury group at Swansea University. In addition to this, she is also a Tutor on the Childhood Studies degree at Swansea University. Somehow, Louise manages to find time to sew nifty things and wrangle cats. @DrLouCleobury

Emma Nehemiah

Emma is Research Marketing and Public Engagement Officer with Rich on the #ResearchAsArt project.

Doctorate Students

Sarah Aldridge

Sarah is a PhD student, specialising in MicroCT and genetics of submerged archaeological remains. She also likes frogs!


Elizabeth Evans

Elizabeth’s PhD is to use correlative X-ray microtomography-fluorescence to investigate tephra deposits within sediment cores from lake and ocean environments. The first aim of the project is to use XRCT to characterise tephra deposits within the cores in three dimensions. The second aim is to use these data, along with XRF, to determine if the tephra has suffered reworking. Accurate location of a tephra layer in the sediment record is particularly important when correlating sediment cores across multiple locations and when using tephra as a proxy for sediment age, either relative or absolute.

A keen scientist, Elizabeth enjoys being part of a diverse and active lab at Swansea and the interdisciplinary nature of her project.
She is jointly supervised by Prof. Siwan Davies (Geography) and Dr Richard Johnston (Materials Engineering) in collaboration with Dr. habil. Sabine Wulf and the GeoForschungsZentrum (GFZ) at the Helmholtz-Zentrum, Potsdam.


Claudio D’Onofrio

Claudio is investigating the use of X-ray imaging for development of medical devices. Supervised by Dr Raoul van Loon (Engineering) and Dr Johnston, in collaboration with Haemair Ltd.

Faizan Ahmad

Faizan is based at Cardiff University, supervised by Dr Peter Theobald (Engineering) and Dr Johnston. Farzan’s work is investigating the potential of digital materials to simulate the complex tissue structure of the human heart, allowing realistic models to be created for CPR and other investigative purposes.

Laura North

Laura North

Laura North

Laura has recently begun a PhD investigating internal architectures within nature via X-ray microtomography. The aim is to consider the function of natural structures non-destructively, using 3-dimensional data to optimise the engineering and design of structures at varying length scales. Evolutionary optimisation, biomimetics, and bioinspiration leading to improved engineering. @Loobags87

Dan Moyle

Dan Moyle

Dan Moyle

Daniel obtained his undergraduate degree in BEng Materials Science from Swansea University. Daniel was inspired by the vast amounts of engineering and Materials science that goes into the aero engine, so decided to continue his research in materials used within the gas turbine.
Dan is currently reading for his PhD in Materials Science at Swansea. His research is sponsored by EPSRC/Rolls-Royce plc. Dan’s PhD title is “Mechanical behaviour of abradable systems”. The aim of this research project is to study numerous mechanical characterisation technologies to further understand how abradable coatings behave. This data will also feed into a model that has been constructed to help predict abradable material life times in service.
Outside the lab Dan enjoys playing rugby for his local club, skiing, surfing, traveling, cycling and watching films.
Dan is also an enthusiastic STEMNET and Materials Live ambassador and is eager to demonstrate to non-material scientists how essential material science is. To contact Daniel, please e-mail or @DanMoyle8

Sam Gardner

Sam Gardner

Sam Gardner

Sam completed his BEng (Hons) in Aerospace Engineering at Swansea University in 2011. After completing a 3rd year project on Oxide/Oxide CMCs Sam was inspired to continue his research into materials.
Sam is currently studying for an EngD in materials at Swansea University sponsored by EPSRC/Rolls-Royce plc. The aim of this EngD is to develop optimum forming and heat treatment routes for selected casing and bolting alloys. In particular, ring rolling of Nickel-based superalloys.
In his spare time Sam likes to travel and socialise, and also represents the university at hockey.

Simon Garner

Simon graduated with a BSc in Physics at Swansea University in 2011 and is currently studying for a PhD investigating laser ultrasonics and their application to additive manufacturing. This research is in partnership with TWI/EPSRC.

Masters Students

Alex Macadam

Alex is using X-ray imaging to elucidate the effects of ocean acidification on the sensory system of fish.

Christian Griffiths

Chris is currently undertaking an MRes via the STRIP programme, working with the company Harris Pye. Chris is investigating the development of in-situ imaging methods for characterising magnetite corrosion in boiler materials.

Callum Smith

Callum recently completed an MSc in Materials Science at Swansea University. He was investigating and characterisation engineering materials, in particular creep behaviour.

Interns/Research Assistants

James Russell

James is in his fourth and final year of a BEng in Materials Science and Engineering with a Year in North America at Swansea University. During his year abroad he studied at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute and got to travel all around America. He is hoping to continue his study in the field of Materials Engineering after completing his BEng and be accepted on to complete an MRes. James completed an EPSRC-funded internship in X-Ray microtomography in the lab, and has since gone onto study corrosion pit morphology of zinc alloys with X-Rays, white light, and conventional optical microscopy.

In his spare time James like to play guitar, skating and hanging out with friends.

Undergraduate Researchers

Becky Franklin

Becky is using X-ray microtomography to image the hidden internal structures of mummified animals and humans, in collaboration with the Egypt Centre, Swansea University.

Matt Day

Matt is researching novel structures found in nature using X-ray microtomography and considering sports engineering applications for the structures.

Johanese Wong

Joe is investigating densification of abradable coatings post-blade-interaction via X-ray microtomography.

Jack Christie

Jack, in collaboration with the Egypt Centre at Swansea University is using X-ray microtomography to visualise the hidden internal skeletons within mummified animals (and possibly human remains). The study will likely focus on mummified snakes from around 3000 years ago, but may involve other artefacts. The aim is to identify the species and how it was killed from the 3D X-ray renders. This project was developed from a project working with a reptile expert for a BBC programme, airing in 2014. Some of the artefacts may be 3D printed from the X-ray data to aid identification and for engagement purposes.

Edwin Wong

4D visualisation is an exciting development in X-ray microtomography. The fourth dimension refers to ‘time’. Edwin is using X-ray microtomography to visualise in 3 dimensions a static system/material. 3D printing is being used to design and produce an apparatus to alter the load applied to the material within the X-ray chamber, followed by sequential X-ray scans. Advanced visualisation software will be used to render the individual scans, and to stitch and interpolate between the scans, resulting in a 3D visualisation of material deformation over time.

Tom Lapington

Tom is investigating structures in nature – determining their form and function. Why does an animal have a specific internal bone of shell structure? And how can evolutionary optimisation of structures be used to society’s advantage? Using X-ray microtomography, Tom is investigating this hidden internal world, and looking to develop engineering structures inspired by those in nature. The project may involve 3D printing of structures if the project develops far enough.

Luis Escott

Luis, in collaboration with Rolls-Royce plc. is investigating the behaviour of abradable coatings using mechanical testing, X-ray microtomography, and optical and electron microscopy. Abradable coatings are thermally-sprayed materials used to improve the efficiency of gas turbines.

Henry Illsley

Henry Illsley

Henry Illsley

Henry is investigating the high-temperature compressive behaviour of aerospace Nickel superalloys, and also attempting to develop a methodology for visualising creep damage via lab-based X-ray microtomography.

Paul Fitzgerald

Paul is working on a project with Rolls-Royce plc., investigating fracture behaviour and mechanical properties of novel thermal spray abradable coating systems.

Josh McMahon

Josh has recently graduated with a BEng in Materials Science and Engineering. He worked on a collaborative research project with Egyptology, investigating the fracture mechanisms in replica ritual clay cobra figurines.

Robert Kettle

Robert was working on a collaborative project, bringing materials scientists, sports scientists, mathematicians, and computer scientists together. The project was investigating the visualisation of sports data in collaboration with the Welsh Rugby Union.


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