Professor Mary Ryan FREng appointed to new Armourers & Brasiers' Chair


An image of Professor Mary Ryan

A new academic Chair has been established in the Department of Materials.

The Chair has been established in the Department of Materials thanks to a donation from the Worshipful Company of Armourers and Brasiers to commemorate its 700th anniversary in 2022.

Following a competitive selection process, Professor Mary Ryan FREng has been appointed as the first Armourers & Brasiers’ Professor of Materials Science. This is a new professorial post that will have a significant impact on research and teaching in the Department of Materials.

The post will focus on ensuring engagement with research programmes in the Department, promoting the mission and values of the Armourers & Brasiers' Company, and championing the role of Materials Science in creating a sustainable future. 

The donation was the largest ever in the Department's history, and it establishes an endowment that will fund the Chair indefinitely, with the title passing from post-holder to post-holder in perpetuity.

A collective vision for Materials Science

Professor Ryan views the post as "a unique opportunity to forge a new relationship between the two historic Institutions". The Armourers & Brasiers' Company have held a legacy in the Materials community for over 100 years and they hold an ongoing commitment to Materials Science as a discipline. 

We share a collective vision and passion for the role of Materials Science in creating a sustainable future and we are both committed to sharing that vision and passion with the next generation. Professor Mary Ryan FREng

The role of Chair will allow for greater academic, education and outreach engagement between the institutions. Professor Ryan hopes to connect the legacy of the Armourers & Brasiers' Company with her research on sustainability, to raise the collective voice of the Materials Science community, develop new programmes with heritage organisations and inspire the next generation of material scientists. 

Professor Ryan also views the shared message of inclusivity between the Armourers & Brasiers' Company and the Department as an important factor in the partnership. She said:

"This role provides an opportunity to champion inclusivity within the partnership - the Armourers & Brasiers' Company historic mottos 'Make All Sure' and 'We are one'. I aim to draw on my work in sustainability and the key role of materials science in tackling the climate crisis and to create a dialogue around inclusivity in our community."

Make all sure. We are one.

Plans for future research

Over the next five years Professor Ryan's research will focus on two key themes where nanoscale properties of materials are key to their performance – in the Transition to Net-Zero and in Healthcare.

In Materials for the Transition to Net-Zero, her team will focus on ‘a new life for iron and copper’, investigating the use of functional magnetic materials for refrigeration and cooling, which has the potential to significantly reduce global electricity used for refrigeration. Her team will also investigate how to optimise copper for CO2 electro-reduction and how to improve the efficiency of electrochemical energy devices by building-in efficiency even as the system changes under lifetime conditions. Alongside this, Professor Ryan is championing the Transition to Zero Pollution initiative on behalf of the College.

In healthcare, Professor Ryan research focuses on the use of nanoscale materials for both disease detection and therapies, for example to deliver cargo into a cell, with a particular focus on antimicrobials and non-chemotoxic nanomaterials. 

Comments from the Armourers & Brasiers’ Company

Mike Goulette CEng, FREng, FRAeS, FIMMM Master 2019-20Mr Mike Goulette FREng, Master of the Armourers & Brasiers’ Company, said:

"We are delighted that Professor Mary Ryan has been appointed the first Armourers & Brasiers' Professor of Materials Science at Imperial College London. Professor Ryan is an outstanding research scientist and a compelling educator and advocate for Materials Science. Her portfolio of interdisciplinary research programmes illustrates the opportunities available to young people who choose to explore careers in Materials Science.

Over the last seven centuries, the Armourers & Brasiers’ Company has evolved from a collaboration of innovators and fabricators in steel to become the leading private benefactor of Materials Science in the UK. The endowment of the Armourers & Brasiers’ Chair, to mark our 700th Anniversary in 2022, is the largest single gift we have made to support our objective of making the UK the best environment for education and research in Materials Science. We look forward to working with Professor Ryan to advance this mission."


Kayleigh Brewer

Kayleigh Brewer
Department of Materials


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