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- Professor of Materials & Society
- Dept of Mechanical Engineering
- Faculty of Engineering Science
Prof Miodownik is a materials engineer. He received his Ph.D in turbine jet engine alloys from Oxford University in 1996. Before joining UCL in Feb 2012 he worked in engineering research institutions in the USA, Ireland, and in the UK. He was included in the The Times 2010 list of the top 100 most influential people in science. He is a Chartered Engineer and in 2014 he was elected a Fellow of the Royal Academy of Engineering.
Prof Miodownik regularly gives popular talks on engineering and materials to tv, radio, festival, and school audiences. He gave the 2010 Royal Institution Christmas Lectures and presented a three part BBC4 series on materials science called How it Works in Spring 2012. He writes for The Guardian and The Times, and he is a regular presenter of engineering TV programmes the BBC. In 2013 he was awarded the Rooke Medal by the Royal Academy of Engineering. His book Stuff Matters was published in June 2013 and won the Royal Society Winton Prize and the US National Academies Keck Futures Prize. In 2016 he was awarded the American Association for the Advancement of Science Prize for Public Engagement with Science.
Prof Miodownik has an international reputation as a materials scientist and engineer. His research include animate matter, smart materials, and novel manufacturing methods. The work is being carried out in collaboration with industry, hospitals and charities, funded through research grants from the BBSRC, EPSRC, NESTA, AHRC, the Leverhulme Trust and others. He has published two books and more than a hundred research publications in a wide selection of journals eg. PNAS, Cell, PLOS, Proc. Roy. Soc.
For more than ten years he has championed materials research that links the arts and humanities to materials science. This culminated in the establishment of the UCL Institute of Making where he is Director and runs the research programme (www.instituteofmaking.org.uk). The institute is a multidisciplinary research club for those interested in the made world: from makers of molecules to makers of buildings, synthetic skin to spacecraft, soup to clothes, furniture to cities. Crucially it brings together researchers across the spectrum of disciplines from the humanities, to architecture and design, to medicine and engineering. The institute includes our world renowned Materials Library, as well as a MakeSpace with enough technology to allow almost any engineering prototype to be built. One of our recent projects was to investigate the taste of materials through the production and testing of a set of spoons of different materials. The research team included an artist, a designer, a psychologist, a physicist, a jeweller, and a materials scientist. The impact of this work was wide ranging from research papers in international journals, to consultancy for large food manufacturers, to the collaboration with a Michelin Star restaurant to create a menu for the spoons, to public events, to huge media interest. The project embodies the spirit of the Institute of Making, that a multidisciplinarity approach to engineering can yield unexpected innovation that publicly celebrates engineering.
In 2004 Prof Miodownik was awarded a HEFCE Teaching Excellence Award voted for by engineering students. In 2006, he was shortlisted for the Royal Academy of Engineering Innovation in Engineering Education Prize. In 2006 he was awarded a National Teaching Fellowship in Engineering by the UK’s Higher Education Academy. He has given more than a hundred invited seminars in other educational institutions, both in the UK (eg. Oxford University, Royal College of Art) and internationally (eg. Lisboa Instituto Gulbenkian de Ciencia, Prague Design Museum). He has published several invited articles on his approach to teaching in journals such as Nature Materials and Materials Today.