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The Unit has invested significantly in the development of its early-career researchers community and the cohort has grown significantly over the current REF period. Take a look at the showcase below to find out more about some of our early-career researchers and their work. 


Juna SathianDr Juna Sathian, Senior Lecturer

I joined Northumbria University in 2019 after completing a research associate position at Imperial College London in the area of Laser Physics. My current research is focused on laser technology/building diode-pumped alexandrite ring lasers for LIDAR application and quantum technology, room-temperature maser technology using diamond nitrogen-vacancy colour centres, luminescent concentrator light technology for high brightness applications/brightness enhanced solid-state light sources. My research also focuses on developing advanced photonic technologies for medical applications, especially sensing, disease prevention and risk monitoring. I am currently developing photonics-based diagnostic imaging, monitoring, and light delivery techniques as a part of the Horizon Europe Programme and UKRI-RED Purposeful Health Growth Accelerator fund. My work on masers (for example Nature 555 (2018)) is also being developed in collaboration with CNRS under a Royal Society award.


Devendra TiwariDr Devendra Tiwari, Senior Vice-Chancellor’s Fellow

Trained in the chemistry and physics of crystalline semiconductors, my current research interest lies in understanding the emergence of defect-tolerance. The charge-transport and light-absorption in a defect-tolerant semiconductor remain uncompromised despite the presence of defects or disorders. I use a combination of experimental fabrication and measurements along with atomistic modelling to design such semiconductors for low-cost and high-efficiency solar energy conversion and storage applications such as photovoltaics and solar water-splitting. I have also developed novel methodologies to process thin-films and complete solar-cells using low-capita and high-throughput solution-based techniques, implementing a variety of unconventional inorganic semiconductors, to enable facile and low-cost integration of solar-cells in buildings, automotive, etc. Recently, I have been awarded a research enablement grant from the Royal Society of Chemistry and a major collaborative research grant from the EPSRC worth over £600,000 (Total £1.93 Million). Read more about this project.

View Devendra’s publications on Google Scholar

Follow Devendra on Twitter


Madeleine CombrinckDr Madeleine Combrinck, Senior Lecturer

I am a chartered mechanical engineer who specialises in applications of modelling and simulation to real life problems and have an history of conducting industrial research in the aerospace and defence sector. I developed a new framework for aerodynamic characterisation of objects in arbitrary motion which is being applied in the automotive sector. Since moving to Northumbria University in 2017, I have developed an interest in renewable energy projects and am currently working on the modelling of anaerobic digestors and organic Rankine cycles.

I am a member of the Institution of Mechanical Engineers and a Fellow of the Higher Education Academy. My career started in 2001 in the South African Navy and I obtained a Bachelor of Engineering at Stellenbosch University through a Naval bursary. The National Research Foundation of South Africa awarded me a scholarship in 2007 to complete a Master of Science in Mechanical Engineering with specialisation in computational fluid dynamics. I was was head-hunted by the Armaments Corporation of South Africa (Armscor) in 2009 to work as a specialist engineer in a research and development unit. During this time, I completed a Doctorate in Engineering with specialisation in computational fluid mechanics.


Hazel PontonHazel Ponton, Senior Lecturer

I joined Northumbria’s Construction Project Management team in 2011, after a 10-year career as a Construction Manager. My industry experience included working as part of a team on various construction projects in the North East of England, including two large hospital projects, a university building, and a Hilton hotel.

I started studying for a part-time PhD in 2016 examining the social interactions that take place during project team meetings. I am particularly focused on social cohesion and intragroup conflict and how these social phenomena impact a team’s ability to solve problems and make decisions. I hope to complete my PhD by summer 2022.


Craig WarrenDr Craig Warren, Senior Lecturer

I joined Northumbria University from the University of Edinburgh in 2017 as a Senior Vice Chancellor’s Fellow. I was recently promoted to Senior Lecturer and am Programme Leader for Civil Engineering.

I carry out fundamental and applied research on sensing technologies for infrastructure and geophysical applications and have a specific interest in computational modelling and optimisation of electromagnetic sensing systems. I am an expert on Ground Penetrating Radar (GPR) and lead developer of open source software gprMax – the de facto tool for electromagnetic subsurface modelling. gprMax is used across the world by academics and industry for a diverse range of applications from locating buried utilities, modelling 5G antenna arrays, to investigating massive ground ice in the Arctic, and simulating the subsurface of Mars and the Moon.

I am a Chartered Engineer (CEng) and have worked on industrially-focused projects with the Defence Science and Technology Laboratory (Dstl) (UK) and Google Fiber (USA). I also conduct pedagogical research to improve engineering education and the student learning experience.


Carolina CostaDr Carolina Costa, Senior Lecturer

I am a mechanical engineer who joined Northumbria as a Marie Curie Research Fellow in 2016 to investigate phase change materials as latent heat thermal energy storages. I received a PhD in 2014 at Mondragon University (Basque Country, Spain) for my work in regenerative heat transfer in Stirling Engines for micro-cogeneration. I have several years experience as a senior research/product engineer in an industrial R&D Centre and in the automotive industry. My research interests lie in renewables energy, energy conversion systems, heat transfer problems and latent heat thermal energy storage for different applications.


Dr Marc Etherington, Senior Vice-Chancellor’s Fellow

I am an experimental physicist, and my research focuses on the spectroscopic characterisation of organic compounds that have applications for lighting, display, energy generation and storage. I am particularly interested in characterising how these materials undergo colour changes under mechanical stress and heating. This requires a significant cross-disciplinary approach, which includes chemistry and materials science. Working at the interface between disciplines, I am developing a diverse set of projects with collaborators in fields as disparate as chemistry and history.

My recent work at Northumbria is Fluorotonix, a project that captures the photonic properties of tonic water through a detailed studied on quinine and related compounds. In 2021, I was awarded a Royal Society of Chemistry Research Fund to continue my work on Fluorotonix and a recording of a recent seminar on this topic can be found below. Through rigorous spectroscopic study of organic molecules my long-term goal is to establish an interdisciplinary group that is able to find new photonic materials or uncover those that are currently hiding in plain sight.

I am also working with the Royal Society Archives to make publicly available, online, hundreds of transcriptions from Sir John Herschel, as part of the Epsilon project; this is a virtual space allowing users to navigate the history of scientific discoveries through a repository of nineteenth century letters.


Marc Etherington NECEM Seminar from Justina Heslop on Vimeo.

Follow Marc on Twitter

View Marc's publications on Google Scholar

View Marc's website


Photo of Muhammad ShahzadDr Muhammad Shahzad

I joined Northumbria’s Mechanical and Construction Engineering Department in 2019, after a 5-year career as a senior research scientist at King Abdullah University of Science & Technology, Saudi Arabia. My current research is focused on water treatment processes development, solar thermal energy storage, non-MVC cooling and adsorption cycles. I developed a standard primary energy framework for multi-purpose plants performance evaluation and a universal isotherm model to capture adsorption uptake and energy distribution of all IUPAC classifications. My research also focuses on advanced hybrid cooling and water treatment systems development and led to two spin-off companies, MEDAD Technologies and KCOOL Ltd. As a successful entrepreneur (six patents as inventor), I was interviewed by New York Times and Arab News and received many international awards for my innovative water treatment and cooling cycles including:

I am a Fellow of the Higher Education Academy, editorial board member of SN Applied Science journal, regional coordinator and mentor for the International Desalination Association Young Leader Program (IDA-YLP). I am also a member of the International Desalination Association (IDA) and The International Water Association (IWA).

View Shahzad’s publications on Google Scholar

Follow Shahzad on LinkedIn





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