James Watt Chair, Professor of Engineering Science, University of Glasgow

I joined the School of Engineering at the University of Glasgow as James Watt Chair, Professor of Engineering Science in October 2014. My previous posts were Director, Advanced Space Concept Laboratory and Director, Scottish Centre of Excellence in Satellite Applications at the University of Strathclyde, where I retain a Visiting Research Professorship. As a Physicist turned Engineer I have long enjoyed the interaction between these two vibrant fields. I am a Fellow of the Royal Society of Edinburgh and the Royal Academy of Engineering and was made MBE in June 2014 for services to Space Research, Science and Technology.

Much of my work has centred on mathematical modelling of families of highly-perturbed spacecraft orbits, most recently funded by an Advanced Investigator Grant from the European Research Council. However, my research interests also cover the broad application of mathematical modelling to a range of problems in Engineering Science including:

Astrodynamics: Dynamics and control of highly perturbed spacecraft orbits, including families of non-Keplerian orbits and mission applications for solar sail spacecraft

Swarming systems: Artificial potential field methods to mediate interactions in swarms of autonomous agents, using mathematical proof for system verification

Smart structures: Connecting unstable equilibria in actively controlled smart structures for low-energy geometric reconfiguration, enhanced energy harvesting using stochastic resonance

Macro-engineering: Large-scale, long-term ventures in Engineering Science for applications including climate engineering, near Earth asteroid capture strategies and in-situ asteroid materials processing

I’m also keenly interested in the long-term societal impacts of Engineering Science and write on Energy, Innovation and Environment issues for the print and on-line media. These public engagement activities also reflect my firm belief in the socially and environmentally progressive nature of Engineering Science, ideas which I explored in depth through the 2013 Royal Society of Edinburgh Kelvin Prize lecture on Energy, Entropy and the Human Enterprise.


  • –present
    James Watt Chair, Professor of Engineering Science, University of Glasgow


  • 1992 
    University of Glasgow, PhD/Physics and Astronomy