I enjoy the challenge of trying to find the best way to explain new concepts to people as well as passing on my enthusiasm for the subject.
How would you summarise your research to undergraduate students?
I study mechanics in a rather broad sense and, in particular,its application to real-world problems, from the motion of micro-organisms in fluids to the behaviour large-scale solid structures. I'm particularly interested in the complexity that can arise when two (or more) different objects or substances interact.
I like to have tangible physical problems to think about and much of my work relies on physical experiments conducted within the Manchester Centre for Nonlinear Dynamics, directed by Anne Juel (School of Physics & Astronomy).I like to write computer programs to solve these complex problems and the resulting code is included in our group's scientific computing library oomph-lib, which is developed and maintained jointly with Matthias Heil.
How would you summarise your research to postgraduate students?
I am an applied mathematician working in (continuum) mechanics and scientific computing. Typically I use numerical methods to solve differential equation models of physical and biological systems, for example modelling the reopening of collapsed lungs or buckling of complex elastic structures. These systems are often non-linear and can exhibit complex behaviour, which can be effectively understood using dynamical systems theory. I like to work with other scientists and I believe that a combined collaborative approach is the best way to solve problems.
What do you think makes the School distinctive?
The focus on inter- and intra-disciplinary research and the friendly atmosphere. The School has experts in a broad range of mathematical subject areas, which means that you can usually find somebody to ask for help.
What do you enjoy most about teaching?
I enjoy the challenge of trying to find the best way to explain new concepts to people as well as passing on my enthusiasm for the subject. It's very satisfying to see students' eyes light up when they understand something, particularly if it's a concept that they've been struggling with.
I have supervised a lot of undergraduate projects and really enjoy the process of helping a student gain confidence and independence. By the end of the project , the student is the expert and has to start teaching me.
How do you make your teaching up-to-date, innovative and inspirational?
I try to find as many real-world examples as possible to demonstrate how the concepts and techniques that I'm trying to get across are used outside the classroom. It's always fun to try and work topical events and recent research problems into lectures to keep them fresh.
How long have you been at the School? What keeps you there?
I've been here since 2000 and like the work environment in the School and the natural environment in the surrounding countryside.