Five Imperial academics elected Fellows of the Royal Academy of Engineering

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Photo of the entrance to the Panama Canal. There is a bridge over the large, wide entrance.

Entrance to the Panama Canal

Imperial Professors Julian Bommer, John Dear, Stepan Lucyszyn, Bikash Pal, and Daryl Williams are now Fellows of the Royal Academy of Engineering.

The newly-elected members join 104 Imperial Fellows across 12 departments, bringing the total number of Imperial Fellows to 109.

Becoming a Fellow of the Royal Academy of Engineering is one of the highest honours that engineers can receive in the UK. The five Imperial researchers are among 73 leading figures in the field of engineering and technology to join the Academy’s Fellowship in 2023, in recognition of their exceptional contribution to the profession.

Professor Nigel Brandon, Dean of the Faculty of Engineering, said: “It is fabulous to see five of our leading researchers recognised in this way for their contribution to the advancement of knowledge and understanding in their various engineering fields. Professors Bommer, Dear, Lucyszyn, Pal, and Williams are dedicated researchers – both within their teams and across their profession. Their fellowship of the Royal Academy of Engineering is well deserved. I offer each of them my personal congratulations on this great honour and achievement.”

Professor Julian Bommer

Professor Julian BommerProfessor Julian Bommer is a Senior Research Investigator in the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering. He spent 17 years on the full-time academic staff in Imperial’s Faculty of Engineering, serving as Professor of Earthquake Risk Assessment for five years from 2006. As Director of Engineering Studies, he launched a new four-year MEng curriculum in Civil Engineering in 2008.

His work began in the field of predicting earthquake ground-motions and analysing the influence of different features of earthquake shaking on buildings. His research has been strongly influenced by his participation in seismic hazard studies for critical infrastructure projects around the world, including dams, nuclear power plants, and the expansion of the Panama Canal.

Professor Bommer pioneered the ‘backbone’ approach for building ground-motion prediction models, which are now commonly used in site-specific seismic hazard assessments, and has extensively researched induced seismicity caused by activities related to energy technologies. His first engagement in this field was for an enhanced geothermal project in Central America, for which he and his team designed and implemented a ‘traffic light system’ (TLS), based on real-time monitoring of induced earthquakes and a series of mitigating measures to respond to increasing earthquake activity. Such TLSs now constitute standard practice for control on induced seismicity related to fluid injections.

He is a Fellow of the Institution of Civil Engineers.

Professor Bommer said: “I am deeply honoured to receive this recognition for my work on natural and induced earthquake risk, and I am excited to become part of the Royal Academy of Engineering and the great work it does in promoting engineering solutions to the challenges faced by society.”

Professor John Dear

Professor John Dear standing in front of his labProfessor John Dear is Professor of Mechanical Engineering and has been an academic for 35 years in the Mechanics of Materials team at Imperial's Department of Mechanical Engineering. During that time, he has supervised 66 PhD researchers.

Professor Dear leads in developing and applying innovative mapping techniques to applications including high-speed impact of composite structures for aircraft, structural health monitoring of critical engineering components for power stations, and blast resistance of laminated glass structures for landmark buildings such as the City of London's 52 Lime Street, (known as The Scalpel), and 100 Bishopsgate.

His research has led to well-validated models capable of predicting the different micro-mechanisms of failure in these structures. The type of mapping he developed, called speckle strain mapping, has been applied to components for the Ministry of Defence and blast resistant structures for the US Navy. His work helps us understand how composite materials and structures can fail under extreme conditions

He is Head of the Composites, Adhesives and Soft Solids (CASS) Group at Imperial and Associate Editor of the International Journal of Lightweight Materials and Manufacture.  

Professor Dear said: “I am very pleased to receive this prestigious honour, of a Fellowship from the Royal Academy of Engineering, and I very much appreciate the help and support I have received over the years, from my friends and colleagues, at Imperial College London and all around the world.

“There has been a lot of interest recently in the structural integrity of materials for aerospace, marine, vehicle transport and building construction. The work my team and I do is designed to pick up any issues with materials at the design and pilot stage - before their failure becomes critical. The award highlights the significance and relevance of our work.”

Professor Stepan Lucyszyn

Professor Stepan LucyszynProfessor Stepan Lucyszyn is Professor of Millimetre-wave Systems in the Department of Electrical and Electronic Engineering. Before qualifying as a chartered engineer and beginning his academic career, he briefly worked in industry, as a satellite systems engineer for maritime and military communications.  

In 2010, he was awarded the DSc degree (higher doctorate) by Imperial for his contributions to millimetre-wave and terahertz electronics. In 2012, he co-founded the cross-disciplinary Centre for Terahertz Science and Engineering at Imperial and was its Co-Director until 2019.

In 2014, with Lord (Paul Rudd) Drayson, he co-founded the Imperial spin-out company Drayson Wireless Ltd. (later Drayson Technologies Ltd), being a co-inventor in two patent families associated with radiative and inductive wireless power transfer.

In 2022, Professor Lucyszyn and his team won Junkosha's Technology Innovator of the Year Award for their work on 3D printing, in the Microwave and Millimetre Wave category.

Professor Lucyszyn has also held Fellowships at the Institute of Physics, the Institution of Electrical Engineers (now part of the Institution of Engineering and Technology), the Electromagnetics Academy and the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers.

He said: "I am delighted that my broad spectrum of work in microwave engineering has been recognised by the Royal Academy of Engineering and look forward to contributing to the Fellowship."

Professor Bikash Pal

Professor Bikash PalProfessor Bikash Pal is Professor of Power Systems in Imperial’s Department of Electrical and Electronic Engineering. He pioneers research in power system stability, control, and computation and currently leads a six-university UK-China research consortium in Sustainable Energy Networks called ROSES. 

Professor Pal is internationally known for innovations and engineering achievements contributing to the stability and control of power networks with renewable generation. His research, analysis and solutions have been adopted by Siemens, GE Grid Solutions, and others.

In collaboration with Siemens R&D he developed an advanced module for a distribution management system solution that has been commissioned in distribution control centres in Columbia, Bosnia, Norway and Azerbaijan, serving 15 million customers in these countries.      

Professor Pal also founded and directed the MSc taught course in Future Power Networks at Imperial College London, and has held visiting professorships in Denmark, Germany and China.

He said: “I am very pleased that our research on wind farm stabilisation and power network state estimation has helped the electric power industry to develop tools and products which are in use in energy control centres in several countries. I am very grateful to my students and collaborators, as I am to the Academy, for this national honour for an engineer.”

Professor Daryl Williams

Professor Daryl WilliamsProfessor Daryl Williams is Professor of Particle Science in Imperial’s Department of Chemical Engineering and Director of the Discovery Space. He is internationally recognised for his expertise in particle engineering, and is the founder and Managing Director of Surface Measurement Systems. As academic lead for Imperial's Carbon Capture Pilot Plant he pioneers hands-on engineering teaching, outreach and research on climate change mitigation.

Working with leading global industrial partners, his research interests include the surface and bulk characterisation of complex particulate solids, as well as their manufacture, formulation and performance. His work also focuses on developing new instrumentation for characterising materials.

Professor Williams invented a new family of scientific methods for rapidly determining the moisture sensitivity of powders called Dynamic Vapour Sorption which has been globally commercialised by Surface Measurement Systems. These methods are now used by every major pharmaceutical company in the world and in more than 1,000 universities and research laboratories. The methods he devised have been incorporated into global standards, transforming industrial and research practice in the pharmaceutical, food, personal care and particulates industries.

During the COVID-19 pandemic, in a practical example of the vital role particle science plays in our everyday lives, he assisted the BBC Morning Live team by leading a study on the varying effectiveness of different facemasks in containing the spread of airborne breath droplets.

Professor Williams said: “Particle engineering has provided a fascinating backdrop to my career in research, commercialisation, and innovation, because it underpins everything from food production to carbon capture and pharmaceutical materials. I am absolutely delighted that my work in this area has been recognised by the Royal Academy of Engineering.”

The new Fellows were elected at the Royal Academy of Engineering AGM on 19 September, and will be formally admitted to the Academy at a special ceremony in London on 28 November. In joining the Fellowship, they will lend their unique capabilities to achieving the Academy’s overarching strategic goal to harness the power of engineering to create a sustainable society and an inclusive economy for all.

Professor Sir Jim McDonald FREng FRSE, President of the Royal Academy of Engineering, said:

“Engineering is everywhere, but nowhere the same, and our new Fellows represent the great breadth and diversity of engineers who are striving to address some of the world’s most complex challenges – benefiting society and the economy in the process. From next generation power networks and water systems to quantum computing and artificial intelligence, our new Fellows are shaping the future.

“We live in an era of rapid change across our communities, our country, and of course our planet. Today we welcome to our Fellowship an inspiring group of people who are harnessing their creativity, courage and commitment to drive positive change in the world around us and we look forward to their contribution to our work.”

See the press release of this article


Caroline Brogan

Caroline Brogan
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