I’ve enjoyed a varied career ranging from early days in pure science (principally geology), through water resources and environmental engineering (especially groundwater engineering), on through mining environmental engineering to energy engineering. There are several persistent threads running through all of these experiences, mainly to do with quantitative geoscience, numerical modelling of fluid flow and reactive mass transfer, and the translation of high-level conceptual principles into hands-on engineering solutions, invariably for purposes which I believe are socially and environmentally benign. I owe my formal education to two universities: Newcastle University in the UK (BSc and PhD), and Oklahoma State University in the USA (MS), where I spent two very happy years as a Harkness Fellow (1984-86), taking advantage of burgeoning activities in the then-National Centre for Groundwater Research and the EPA’s RSKERL Lab in Ada. My education was extended – and continues to be – by industrial experience, with Yorkshire Water, the National Rivers Authority, Centro Yunta (La Paz, Bolivia), NIREX, Northumbrian Water, Project Dewatering Ltd, Cluff Geothermal Ltd, Five-Quarter Energy Ltd and various consultancy missions worldwide. I spent just under 20 years at Newcastle University, where I: taught water and environmental engineering; founded and led the HERO research group (which won the University the Queen’s Anniversary Prize for the first time in 2005); established what is now the Sir Joseph Swan Centre for Energy Research; founded and Directed the Newcastle Institute for Research on Sustainability; served as the University’s Public Orator; and was the UK's first-ever Pro-Vice-Chancellor for Engagement. I joined Glasgow University in August 2012.
I currently serve as Chair of the Global Scientific Committee of the Plant Earth Institute, an intermational NGO (of which I am also a Trustee) which aims to promote South-South collaboration in science-based projects that further the cause of 'scientific independence for Africa'. I am also a Trustee of Arran Community Energy, which is striving to implement renewables in a manner compatible with the important tourist industry of that beautiful Scottish island.
Researcher ID (www.researcherid.com): F-7139-2015
My current research is entirely focused in the energy sector, and besides engaging with the broad challenges of keeping the lights on and homes and businesses warm whilst decarbonising our energy systems, I focus specifically on three areas in which my particular skills and experience can be put to best use:
- Deep geothermal energy in for direct-use in non-volcanic regions. (In recent years I led the drilling and testing of the only three deep (≤ 1821m) geothermal exploration boreholes to be drilled in the UK since the 1980s)
- Volcanogenic geothermal resources (especially in developing countries) for combined heat and power, especially through enhanced Organic Rankine Cycle systems
- Ground-coupled heating and cooling systems (including ground-source heat pumps)
Responsible Use of Fossil Fuels:
- Underground coal gasification tightly coupled to carbon capture and storage
- Environmental impacts of shale gas developments; I became involved in this issue through serving on advisory panels to both the UK (2012) and Scottish Governments (2014)
- Maximising the contribution of mini- and micro-hydro to the low-carbon prosperity of rural communities in Scotland and the Global South
- Examining new materials and conversion cycles for increased scope (e.g. for renewable heat) and efficiency in hydropower applications at all scales
- Engineering the elimination of greenhouse gas emissions from large hydropower reservoirs in tropical regions
I was elected a Fellow of the Royal Academy of Engineering (FREng) in 2007.
Principal professional affiliations and qualifications: FGS, C.Geol., FNEIMME, FICE, FIChemE, C.Sci., C.Eng.
Other memberships: International Geothermal Association, Geothermal Resources Council, European Geothermal Energy Council, International Mine Water Association, International Hydropower Association
I am a fluent Spanish speaker, and hold Honorary Doctorates from:
1. School of Mines, University of Oviedo, Spain (2010)
2. Universidad Nacional de San Agustín, Arequipa, Perú (2010)
Tha Gàidhlig agam cuideachd, agus mise ag obair mar riochdaire a’ Cholaiste Saidheans is Innleadaireachd air Comataidh Ghàidhlig an Oilthigh Ghlaschu. (I also speak Gaelic, and represent the College of Science and Engineering on the Gaelic Committee of the University of Glasgow).
I currently lead the following modules:
Integrated Engineering Systems Design (ENG 4085) (stage 4 MEng - all disciplines) - an innovative group design module, originally pioneered by Royal Academy of Engineering Visiting Professor Ross Wilson.
Renewable Energy 4 (ENG 4173) - (stage 4 BEng, MEng and also MSc) - a technically-focused overview of the principal energy conversion technologies, and their pros and cons.
Geology for Civil Engineers 2 (ENG 2080) - a practical introduction to the principles and practice of engineering geology and geological engineering for Stage 2 MEng and BEng students in civil engineering.