We have a diverse team of materials scientists, technical specialists and operational staff to ensure businesses have all the relevant expertise to help create the trusted sustainability solutions they require.
Director | Sustainable Materials Innovation Hub
As Director of the Sustainable Materials innovation Hub, Mike has oversight of the organisation’s leadership and strategy and provides a wealth of materials science knowledge to help identify truly sustainable solutions for plastics. Michael is passionate about giving accurate, trustworthy advise to those seeking to make sustainable change and has been impartial advisor to both local and national government on research and innovation strategy for plastics. His background is in Polymer Chemistry having graduated from Mt. Allison University in Canada and going on to peruse a PhD from the University of British Columbia. In 2018 Michael moved to the Manchester having previously relocated to Edinburgh from Canada. He took up a role as Professor of Polymer Chemistry at The University of Manchester and become the Henry Royce Institute’s sustainable materials champion. This new position is a departure from the chemical traditions of his training, but recognises the increasingly important real-world applications of this science. Mike’s initial career aspirations were to become an artist and this creative expression can be seen within his scientist research when developing novel polymers for real world applications.
Business Development Manager
Dr Michelle Ledward is a Business Development Manager who splits her time working across the Henry Royce Institute and the Sustainable Materials Innovation Hub. With 27 years’ experience in R&D, regulatory, compliance and technical support in industrial chemistry, Michelle’s exceptional leadership and problem-solving skills allow her to build long-term research partnerships between the Royce and industrial partners. With a particular interest in developing innovation strategies, Michelle has managed products from the ground up. Having previously managed the R&D portfolio of a £60m company, Michelle has extensive experience in managing every aspect of the innovation process from conception, through regulation, delivery and sustainability. Michelle is keen to use her knowledge of industry to connect the capabilities of Royce and the SMI Hub with the needs of industry.
Industrial Liaison Officer
Hannah is one of two Industrial Liaison Officers for the Sustainable Materials Innovation Hub. Her role is to proactively engage interested SMEs in the Greater Manchester region to participate in projects with the SMI Hub. Hannah provides practical sustainability advice to local businesses and manages their transition to materials assessment, as well as translating innovation to a diverse audience. She works closely with the wider team to support Greater Manchester SMEs throughout their sustainability journey with the SMI Hub. Hannah has over 6 years’ experience working within business engagement and outreach across higher education, industry and the charitable sector. She is keen to use her previous experience along with her personal passion for sustainability to support local companies to make more sustainable choices for their business.
Industrial Liaison Officer
As an Industrial Liaison Officer, Adam engages interested organisations on projects for the SMI Hub, both in the provision of sustainability advice, managing the transition to materials assessment as well as translating innovation to a diverse audience. He works closely with the wider team to support Greater Manchester SMEs throughout their sustainability journey with the SMI Hub. Adam has an academic background in Chemistry and the Management of Science, Technology and Innovation in addition to over 10 years’ experience as a Senior Sustainability Consultant and Technical Director of a Climate NGO. He is interested in using all his knowledge and experience to help local businesses innovate to rapidly transition to more sustainable products and operations.
Sustainable Materials Research Fellow
As a Research Fellow within the SMI Hub, Tom works predominantly under the ‘Innovate’ strand on next generation sustainable materials. He is responsible for developing core innovations and translating them into practice through engaging in a portfolio of projects co-developed with SMEs across Greater Manchester and beyond. Tom is passionate about all aspects of polymer science and has spent more than 10 years studying and working in this area, all the way from outside-of-the-box fundamental research projects through to late-stage industry collaborations. Along this journey he has become increasingly aware of the complex challenges standing in the way of our transition to a circular economy, and has a strong desire to use his experience to further this cause. Tom’s research career began in Australia, where he completed a PhD in polymer chemistry from the University of Queensland, before moving to the UK in 2016 to take up a postdoc position at the University of Nottingham. During this time, he collaborated on projects with applications ranging from greener routes to energy storage materials, to sustainable cosmetics, and low energy electronic displays. Before transitioning to his current role, Tom joined the Shaver group at The University of Manchester as a KTP Associate in 2019, where he worked on developing more sustainable resins for use in the construction industry. Tom loves the outdoors, and tries to spend as much of his spare time as possible hiking, playing tennis, running, and bouldering.
Sustainable Materials Research Fellow
As a Research Fellow within the SMI Hub, Guilhem works predominantly under the ‘Innovate’ strand on next generation sustainable materials. He is responsible for developing core innovations and translating them into practice through engaging in a portfolio of projects co-developed with SMEs across Greater Manchester and beyond. Guilhem has a strong background in organic chemistry but developed an interest in materials early on in his scientific career, which eventually guided him to a doctoral program focused on sustainable plastics at the University of Minnesota in the United States. During this time, Guilhem refined his synthetic polymer skills and gained new expertise in the biodegradation and recycling of plastics. After completing his Ph.D. in 2019, he branched out from his chemistry roots and took on a post doc position in the Center for Molecular Engineering at Argonne National Lab in Chicago, where he designed systems to understand the physical origins of anti-biofouling behaviour for polymer-coated surfaces. Though research was going well in Chicago, Guilhem could not pass up the opportunity to work in the SMI Hub and apply his knowledge to real-world ‘sustainable plastic’ scenarios. He therefore decided, in the middle of a global pandemic, to embark on a journey to the UK and contribute all he can to this valiant effort. Through these exciting collaborations with SMEs, Guilhem is keen to design cutting-edge translational research and hone his ability to view (and solve) problems from a systems-level perspective.
As the SMI Hub Experimental Officer, Chloe is responsible for experimental techniques associated with the synthesis, processing, characterisation, and testing of polymer-based materials. Since completing her PhD, Chloe has been facilitating materials research at The University of Manchester. Chloe started her career working in the cleanrooms of the National Graphene Institute before moving to work in the thermal analysis and polymer chemistry laboratories in the Department of Materials. Chloe is excited to use her experience and knowledge to deliver projects that help industrial partners make more sustainable processes and products.
Robbie is the Sustainable Material Innovation Hub’s technician and so primarily works on the “Advice” and “Assess” strands. In doing so he assists the Hub by working with partner SMEs to find the optimal plastics solution to suit their sustainability needs. Working closely with the rest of the team, Robbie provides access to a wealth of polymer characterisation and synthesis techniques. Having graduated from Aston University with a BSc (Hons) in Applied Chemistry in 2020, Robbie is eager to further deepen his practical knowledge and leverage this towards facilitating the SMI Hub’s vision of a more sustainable plastic future.
Katrina is the Project Administrator for the SMI Hub having previously worked at the Sustainable Consumption Institute at The University of Manchester. Katrina has over 30 years’ experience of working in administration in various fields and joined The University of Manchester in 2012.
As the SMI Hub Project Manager, Jill is responsible for overseeing the quality and timely delivery of the ERDF programme of activities. Jill has over 10 years’ experience in Project Management and Administration at The University of Manchester, most recently managing the EPSRC funded RE3 – Rethinking Resources and Recycling Project, which brought together multiple academic researchers and industrial partners to identify opportunities, challenges and key solutions to eliminating plastic waste. Jill is passionate about supporting people in their everyday lives to reduce their current use of plastics through recycling. Together with the SMI Hub team, Jill facilitates the successful delivery of the SMI Hub and its goal to support SMEs in Greater Manchester to develop more sustainable approaches to plastics use.
Digital Communications Manager
Mia is the Digital Communications Manager for the Henry Royce Institute and the SMI Hub. Since joining Royce in 2018, Mia has progressed within the communications team and promotes the Institute services and vision to its many external stakeholders. Mia is the brand guardian for Royce and the SMI Hub and has oversite of the Institute’s digital outputs. She has worked in the communications sector for over 5 years’ and brings extensive experience in digital content creation, marketing and events organisation across healthcare, tech, and advanced materials sectors.
Senior Lecturer in Circular Economy and Life Cycle Sustainability Assessment
Dr Alejandro Gallego Schmid works as a Senior Lecturer (Associate Professor) in Circular Economy and Life Cycle Sustainability Assessment at the Department of Mechanical Aerospace and Civil Engineering at the University of Manchester. He is part of Tyndall Manchester - an interdisciplinary team working on relevant research on climate change sustainability, where he works identifying sustainable solutions for industrial, agricultural, construction, water and energy systems on a life cycle and circular economy basis, taking into account economic, environmental and social aspects. Alejandro holds a BSc (Hons) in Environmental Science, a MEng in Environmental Engineering and obtained his PhD in Chemical and Environmental Engineering with First Class (Honours) cum laude. His current research is focused on: i) the role of circular economy to tackle climate change; ii) the implementation of circular economy in renewable sources of energy; iii) circular economy and the informal waste sector in the Global South; and iv) the nexus between circular economy and digitalization. Currently, Alejandro is the University of Manchester Principal Investigator on the EPSRC £1.1M "Environmental impacts of digital services for health and wellbeing in the home". Alejandro also leads the Royal Academy of Engineering project "Assessing the informal waste sector contribution to Nepal circularity transition". He is also working on a range of other funded projects including: the Supergen Energy Network Hub's "Whole system analysis impact of thermal energy storage technologies in future UK energy networks" and a collaboration with industry partners to understand the life cycle environmental impacts of smart connected packaging tags. He has had also a major role on several other projects like the "Designing Sustainable Supply Chains" project sponsored by a major retailer and a European Union H2020 project quantifying the environmental sustainability of solar reactors in the cement industry. He has been part of the scientific committee and session chair in several national and international conferences (e.g. IX International Conference of Life Cycle Assessment in Latin America). Alejandro has been a visiting fellow at the Universities of Girona and Almeria (Spain), is an Associate Member of The Institution of Chemical Engineers (IChemE), Fellow of The Higher Education Academy (FHEA), an Associate Member of The United Nations Life Cycle Assessment Initiative, Editor of two Special Issues in Resources, Conservation and Recycling, Co-founder of the LCA for Circular Economy Plastics network, Elected Member of the IChemE Energy Centre Leadership Forum and Leader of the Sustainable Communities and Infrastructure theme group of the Manchester African Research Network at the University of Manchester.
Senior Lecturer in Fashion Marketing Management
Dr Claudia E Henninger is a Senior Lecturer in Fashion Marketing Management, with a research interest and passion in sustainability, the circular economy, and more specifically collaborative consumption, in the context of the fashion industry. Claudia’s background is within the social science, more specially, business, management, and European Studies. She completed her PhD at the University of Sheffield and since joining The University of Manchester in 2015 has also taken up a position as Chair of the Academy of Marketing’s SIG Sustainability and Executive Board Member of the Sustainable Fashion Consumption Network. Claudia is passionate about sustainability within the fashion and textile industry and very interested in developing interdisciplinary research opportunities that tackle the issues of our time.
Senior Lecturer in Biomaterials
Dr. Jonny Blaker is Senior Lecturer in Biomaterials at The University of Manchester (promoted 2018) and Adjunct Professor (Professor II) at The University of Oslo, Department of Biomaterials (since 2019). Prior to joining The University of Manchester as Lecturer in 2014 he was Research Fellow in the Department of Chemical Engineering, Imperial College London, in the Polymer Composites and Engineering (PaCE) group working with Alexander Bismarck developing bioinspired hierarchical composites, sustainable biobased composites, and bioactive composites for medical use. Before joining PaCE he completed a one-year Medical Research Council funded ‘discipline-hopping’ PDRA position in Kings College London and then University College London. He obtained his PhD in 2007 from the Department of Materials, Imperial College London under the supervision of Aldo Boccaccini. He completed his MSc in Composite Materials, Department of Aeronautics, Imperial College London in 2002. He has a professional background as a Design Engineer, Dyson Ltd (1999-2001), and a BEng from Brunel University. He established his Bioactive Materials Group in 2014. Principal research areas are i) hierarchical composite materials and fibres as scaffolds for regenerative medicine, and ii) advanced materials derived from synthetic biology/2D nanocomposite materials. He has a background in the development of bio-based materials, including (nano)cellulose, silk, gelatin, alginate and chitosan - their derivatisation and processing into composites and fibres via disruptive fibre spinning technologies.
Senior Lecturer in Polymer Chemistry
Dr. Lee A. Fielding is a Senior Lecturer in Polymer Chemistry in the Department of Materials at The University of Manchester. He obtained an MChem in Chemistry from The University of Sheffield in 2008, and a PhD on the synthesis, characterization and applications of colloidal nanocomposite particles in 2012. Within the Department of Materials he is currently the Director of Postgraduate Taught Studies for Materials Science and Engineering, Subject lead for Polymers and Composites and Programme Co-ordinator for the MSc in Polymer Materials Science and Engineering (PMSE). He is a committee member of the Joint Colloids Group, Recent Appointees in Polymer Science and Chair of the Early Career Colloid Network. His research group is based the Sustainable Materials Innovation Hub and the focus of his research involves the design, synthesis and applications of polymers and polymer colloids, e.g., for sustainable waterborne protective coatings.
Lecturer in Sociology
Dr Helen Holmes is an interdisciplinary social scientist with expertise in the sociology of consumption, materiality and diverse economies, particularly circular economy. Having completed a Geography BA at Durham University in 2002, she went on to carve out a career in marketing working for Yell PLC and The Co-operative Bank. In 2005 Helen gained an MA in Human Geography Research at Sheffield University, and remained at Sheffield for the next nine years, undertaking an ESRC funded PhD exploring hair, hairdressing and the practices of women’s haircare (supervised by Prof Nicky Gregson), followed by two post-doctoral positions investigating interdisciplinary collaborations between material science and social science. Holmes joined Manchester in 2015 as a Hallsworth Fellow based at the Sustainable Consumption Institute (SCI), undertaking a project exploring contemporary forms of thrift. Following this she became a research fellow of the SCI in 2018, followed by appointment as Lecturer of Sociology in 2020. Helen is also a member of the Morgan Centre for Research into Everyday Lives, Co-editor-in-Chief of the Sage journal Sociology, and a member of the University Research Ethics Committee (UREC 5).
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