I was born and grew up in Perth and studied at the Universities of Sydney (B.Sc., B.A. 2007) and Cambridge (Ph.D. 2011).
In 2011 I joined the School of Physics and Astronomy at Queen Mary, where I am currently Reader in the Centre for Condensed Matter and Materials Physics.
Previously, I wrote and taught the Masters’ module Phase Transitions, and the second-year module Structure and Properties of Functional Materials.
My research focuses on the relationship between the atomic structure of materials and their functional properties. I study the structural response of materials to in situ perturbations such as changes in temperature or pressure or irradiation with light. This has included materials with negative coefficients of thermal expansion (i.e., that shrink as you heat them up) and photochromic and photorefractive materials, whose colour and refractive index change as a result of light illumination.
My work is both experimental and computational. On the experimental side much of my work takes place at central facilities, including synchrotrons and neutron sources. On the computational side I use both ab initio and empirical-potential modelling, especially using the density-functional theory code CASTEP.
I am also interested in the mathematical and computational problems that often arise in structural studies. These include problems of statistical inference (does an experimental data set provide sufficient evidence to posit a subtle structural change?), group-theoretical analysis of symmetry changes at phase transitions, and challenges associated with navigating a complex, multi-dimensional phase space when establishing a structural model and refining it against either experimental or computed data.
My research is currently funded by EPSRC and the Royal Society, with previous support from an EPSRC First Grant. My research group includes students funded by EPSRC, STFC, and the Chinese Scholarships Council. Much of our work is done at central facilities, and we are grateful especially to STFC for providing beam time.
This is not an exhaustive list and I would be happy to discuss other project possibilities.