Zoomposium 5: 14 July 2020

Published: 14 July 2020

Dr MOHAMMAD FOTOUHI: 'High performance and smart composite structures' Dr REBECA GONZALES-CABALEIRO: 'Is it possible to engineer biology as we do with mechanics?' Dr PRASHANT SAXENA: 'Mechanics of soft solids and structures'

Watch Zoomposia 5 (password: 7G=7@**!)


Dr Mohammad FotouhiJames Watt School of Engineering
'High performance and smart composite structures'

My research interests are in design, manufacturing and structural health monitoring of composite materials, with focus on developing novel architectures and design philosophies to make composites more structurally optimised, damage tolerant, smart and high-performance for different applications such as aerospace, wind, automotive, medical, robotics, etc. I am also interested in 3D/4D printing and new manufacturing procedures.

I would be interested in developing further collaborations with academics in these and complementary areas that may require these types of research activities.


 Dr Rebecca Gonzales-CabaleiroJames Watt School of Engineering:
'Is it possible to engineer biology as we do with mechanics?'

The deep-seated empiricism at the heart of environmental biotechnology acts to slow down its technological development, limiting its capacity to offer efficient solutions. Because the catalysers of these processes are microbial open communities defined by a great complexity and variability, it is assumed that rational approaches to engineer them are rather limited. However, I believe that there are options to direct biotechnological exploration in wiser ways. Using chemical and thermodynamics analysis and developing mathematical descriptions well-routed on fundamental physical principles, I am predicting the selective pressures that can achieve a more nuanced control of microbial activity. With it, I want to propose novel engineering designs and prove that hypothesis-driven innovation in biotechnology is possible.

I am building my own research group, which I envisage as a multidisciplinary one advancing on the integrative evolution of mathematical description, experimental data collection, method development and bioengineering design. In the process, there will be opportunities for industrial synergies, designing novel biotechnologies to reduce the cost of water treatments or to sustainable yield valuable products. Together, this engineering work will be always underpinned by exciting scientific research questions: I want to understand the emerging properties of complex microbial communities and unveil the evolutionary rules that allow microorganisms to persist and even thrive under challenging environmental conditions.


Dr Prashant SaxenaJames Watt School of Engineering
'Mechanics of soft solids and structures'

I have developed capabilities to model nonlinear deformation in solids and structures with multi-physics coupling. Structures made from "hard" materials (eg. steel) usually undergo small deformations in their lifecycle, however structures from "soft" solids (eg. rubbers, elastomers, biological cells and tissues) have the capability of undergoing large deformation demonstrating nonlinear characteristics. Extremely large deformations usually result in sudden changes in mechanical behaviour - a phenomenon commonly referred to as instability and traditionally considered a structural failure. I am currently exploring ways to exploit instabilities as design features for structures made with soft materials. I am also interested in studying how multi-physics coupling (eg. electro-mechanics, magneto-mechanics, thermo-mechanics etc.) influence material and structural behaviour.

My work is primarily mathematical and computational and I'm keen to collaborate with experimentalists. I think my work can be useful to (and benefit from) research groups in the following areas:

  • discovery of new structural materials
  • soft robotics
  • biomechanics of soft tissues
  • experimental mechanics
  • anyone interested in deformation of solids and structures

First published: 14 July 2020