Materials Science

Paul Bagot

MChemPhys Edin, DPhil Oxf

For 7 years I have tutored a range of topics to undergraduates at St Catherine’s, focussed on fundamentals such as kinetics, thermodynamics, electrochemistry and also applied materials problems such as corrosion and surfaces/interfaces.

About me
After my Master in Chemical Physics degree from Edinburgh, I undertook a DPhil with the atom probe group at Oxford Materials. Following postdoctoral work on gas-surface interfaces at Heriot-Watt, I returned to Oxford in 2010 as a Departmental Lecturer, during which time I was awarded a Royal Academy of Engineering Industrial Secondment with Rolls-Royce plc. In my current role as Atom Probe Scientist, I lead operations of the Oxford Atom Probe group ( and oversee outreach with industrial and academic partners.

The Oxford Atom Probe group investigates a particularly diverse range of materials, using advanced instrumentation to characterise the atomic-scale chemistry and structure of materials used in applications such as nuclear fission/fusion, advanced engineering steels, aerospace alloys, semi-conductors, heterogeneous catalysts and even geological samples. I also have particular interest in developing new instrumentation for atom probes, and for combining insights with other complementary techniques. I work with industrial partners around the world, including Rolls-Royce plc and NNL in the UK.

Graduate teaching
I supervise a number of graduate students and postdoctoral researchers, training them to use atom probe methods to assist with their research goals.

Atom Probe Staff Scientist
Lecturer in Materials

Susannah Speller

MEng, DPhil Oxf

I have tutored Materials Science undergraduates at St Catherine’s as a College Lecturer and now a College Fellow for over 10 years.  I mainly teach topics relating to electronic properties of materials and phase transformations.  In the Department of Materials I currently lecture the first year “Electricity and Magnetism” course and a third year options course on “Superconducting Materials” as well as running an annual workshop on tutorial teaching. 

About me
I first came to the University of Oxford as an undergraduate student in Materials Science, staying on to gain a DPhil in the field of high temperature superconducting materials. I was awarded a Royal Academy of Engineering Research Fellowship in 2005 which I undertook part time in the Department of Materials until I took up a permanent academic post in 2015. I lead a research group specialising in superconducting materials and co-direct the Centre for Applied Superconductivity which was established in 2015 ( 

My research group specialises in understanding relationships between processing, microstructure and properties in a wide range of technological superconducting materials.   We have recently obtained Local Enterprise Partnership funding for a new Oxford Centre for Applied Superconductivity, with labs in both the Materials and Physics Departments, for carrying out pre-competitive research with local industrial partners including Siemens Magnet Technology, Oxford Instruments, Tokamak Energy and Element Six.  In addition to my interests in applied superconductivity, I also work on understanding the fundamental properties of novel superconductors, such as Fe-pnictides and chalcogenides, using advanced analytical electron microscopy and synchrotron-based photoemission microscopy techniques to study the local chemical, structural and electromagnetic properties of these complex materials.

Graduate teaching
I supervise graduate students and postdoctoral researchers, mainly in the area of applied superconductivity.


Fellow by Special Election in Materials
Tutor in Materials Science
Associate Professor of Materials

What is so special about studying Materials Science at St. Catherine’s College?

Duncan | 3rd year Materials Science undergraduate

"The course material is initially delivered through lectures – around 12 hours of these per week – by senior faculty members who are all active researchers and leaders in the field. This material is supported by practical classes – around 6 hours hands on per fortnight in the first two years – and each is written up in report form. In the second year there is the opportunity to learn how to produce a business plan or to study a supplementary subject or language. In the third year you have a choice of study options; and you will complete a Team Design Project as well as an extended practical project in modelling or characterisation. Finally, the 4th year is, for me, a real crowning jewel of the course in Oxford – in this year you complete an 8 month research project with a research group in the Department (or overseas) and write up a thesis – this is a great opportunity to really focus on something interesting.

Tutorials – which are arranged within your individual college – are the centre point of your learning in the first 3 years and you will have 2 or 3 per week. For each tutorial you will have to complete some task – usually a problem set, sometimes an essay or a presentation – which is handed in to the tutor one or two days in advance for it to be marked. A problem set can be pretty tough and always requires you to revisit your lecture notes and do some more reading.

In the tutorial itself you meet with your tutor for that particular subject, usually in a pair, for around 1 hour. During that time you will receive feedback on the work you submitted, learn where you have not understood material fully, ask any questions you have from the problems or wider reading, and be pushed beyond what you know with discussions right up to the leading edge of the field. This is a fantastic opportunity and is what makes Oxford learning special. You will have many tutors and each will be knowledgeable in the specific subject for which they teach you.

Through so much intimate teaching you build really strong relationships with your tutors and learn a huge amount directly from their expertise. At St. Catherine’s this extends to a really closely knit group of students and tutors in Materials Science which is something we are all very pleased to be part of. Materials Science students at St. Catherine’s come from all over the world – currently including the UK, Portugal, Holland, Singapore, Malaysia, and China – and many different backgrounds. We come from state schools, independent school, and international schools – here that background does not matter.

St. Catherine’s Materials undergraduates are involved in the wider student community in many different ways and, in 2012-13, include: vice-president of the Engineering Society, president of the Portuguese Society, treasurer of the Materials Society (also founded from St. Catherine’s), and president of the Octopush (underwater hockey) club. Many students are also involved in college sports and other activities.

Materials Science undergraduates at St. Catherine’s consistently perform very well, which we are very proud of. In 2012, the following University awards all went to students from St. Catherine’s: best performance in Part I and Part II combined; best performance in Part I; best performance in MEM; best performance in the Preliminary Examinations; and best 3rd year team design project."

Patrick Grant

BEng Nott, MA, DPhil Oxf, FREng


I give courses in Casting, Powder Processing and Engineering Alloys in the Department of Materials.

About me

I received a BEng in Metallurgy and Materials Science from Nottingham University in 1987 and a DPhil in Materials from Oxford University in 1991. After holding a Royal Society University Research Fellowship and then Lectureship in the Department of Materials, Oxford University, I became Vesuvius Professor of Materials in 2004, when I joined St Catz. I am a Chartered Engineer (CEng), a Fellow of the Institute of Materials, Minerals and Mining (FIMMM) and I was elected to the Royal Academy of Engineering in 2010 (FREng).

I was one of the founding academics of the Begbroke Science Park at Oxford University, now a major regional and international hub for innovation and close industry-university collaboration. I am currently the Deputy Head of the Maths, Physical and Life Science Division.

I was a member of 2008 Research Assessment Exercise panel for Metallurgy and Materials and am an advisor to EPSRC on the Manufacturing the Future theme and a member of the EPSRC Strategic Advisor Network. I am a consultant to a FTSE 100 UK aerospace company and a major French materials company, and I am a non-executive director of a UK-based academic publishing company.


My research takes place at the interface between advanced materials and manufacturing. Particular applications include electrodes for energy storage and advanced metallics for power generation. Many of my research projects are concerned with solidification behaviour in complex alloys, and/or the use of liquid metal, ceramic or polymer droplet and powder sprays to create unusual materials. My group works closely with industry and has many specialised synthesis and fabrication facilities, most of which are based at Oxford University's Begbroke Science Park.

Graduate Supervision

My research group typically contains eight doctoral students under my supervision, and in total, 26 doctoral and 15 masters students have graduated from the group.

Vesuvius Professor of Materials

Richard Todd

MA Camb, MA status, DPhil Oxf


I have been teaching in Oxford for 18 years.  The main subjects I cover in tutorials concern the links between materials processing, microstructure and mechanical properties. I give lecture courses in the Department of Materials on Engineering Ceramics (3rd year), Fracture and Fatigue (2nd year) and Creep and Superplasticity (2nd year). I also run a workshop for research students on how to write and publish scientific papers.

About me

I studied Natural Science at Cambridge and after a few years in the electronics industry came to Oxford to do a Doctorate in superplastic metals. After 5 years of a permanent position at Manchester University, I returned to Oxford to take up my present post in 1999.

I received the Pfeil Award of the Institute of Materials 2001 for published work in ceramics and the Verulam Medal and Prize of the Institute of Materials, Minerals and Mining 2012 in recognition of distinguished contributions to ceramics.  I am a Fellow of the European Ceramic Society - ECERS (2013) and Senior Editor of the Journal of the European Ceramic Society (2011- present).


My research concerns the mechanical properties and processing of ceramics and metals. Current interests include ceramic – carbon nanotube composites and ceramics with microstructures inspired by natural materials such as bone and seashells, mechanical testing and stress measurement in ceramics at the microscale so that the properties of the individual building blocks of materials can be understood, the impact performance of ceramics for use as armour for personnel and vehicles, polycrystalline diamond for the ultimate hard cutting tool, new methods of making ceramics such as "flash sintering" and “cold sintering” for energy saving and greener production, probing of internal stress and structure using neutrons and synchrotron radiation, improved metal forming for automobiles and mechanisms of superplastic deformation.

Graduate teaching

I supervise graduate students and postdoctoral researchers in the above areas of research interest.

Goldsmiths' Fellow and Tutor in Material Sciences
Professor of Materials

Materials Science

Why Catz?

  • The College has a strong tradition in Materials Science, with one of the larger undergraduate intakes as well as a healthy number of graduate students. Alumni include at least 9 senior academics in Materials Science at Oxford University, Cambridge University and Imperial College alone, plus Mark Miodownik, author of Stuff Matters and star of many TV science programmes.


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