Chemical Engineering


Dr Valerie Pinfield MA, PhD, CPhys, FInstP, FHEA

Photo of Dr Valerie Pinfield

Reader in Applied Ultrasonics


Valerie Pinfield studied Natural Sciences (theoretical physics) at the University of Cambridge, graduating in 1990 (MA, 1994). She worked for two years at The Welding Institute on electron beam welding, before joining the University of Leeds Food Science Department where she completed her PhD in 1996. Her research programme related to computational modelling of emulsion instability and ultrasonic propagation in scattering systems.

Having worked for nearly three years in research and development in the confectionery industry, Valerie returned to academia as a post-doctoral researcher, on a part-time basis, at Leeds University (Food Science Department) and subsequently at the University of Nottingham (Electrical Systems and Optics Division, Faculty of Engineering). She took up her post as Lecturer at Loughborough University in September 2012 and became a Senior Lecturer in 2015 and Reader in Applied Ultrasonics in 2017 becoming a Fellow of the Institute of Physics in the same year.  She served as Head of Department of Chemical Engineering from August 2017 to July 2020.

She led the EPSRC-funded research project on ultrasonic characterisation of aggregated particle suspensions in collaboration with the Universities of Leeds and Manchester. The project encompassed theoretical, computational, and experimental investigations of ultrasound propagation.

Her interests include acoustic scattering and acoustofluidics, colloidal and nanoparticle materials, and metamaterials for acoustic applications. 

Key awards:

  • Fellow of the Institute of Physics (2017-)
  • Chartered Physicist (1994-)
  • Member of the Acoustical Society of America (2016-)

Current teaching responsibilities:

  • Fluid Mechanics (second year)
  • Food Engineering Laboratory (second year)
  • Data acquisition and LabVIEW® (MSc)
  • Computational modelling of chemical processes with MATLAB® (MSc)

Outline of main research interests:

  • Ultrasonic characterisation of nano and micro particle systems
  • Analytical and semi-analytical multiple scattering models of ultrasonic propagation
  • Computational modelling of wave propagation processes
  • Hydrodynamic particle interactions
  • Acousto-fluidic particle manipulation

Grants and contracts:

  • Aug 2015-July 2018 EPSRC EP/M026302/1Ultrasonic propagation in complex media: correlated spatial distributions and multiple dispersed phases.
    A 3-institution project, led by Dr Pinfield at Loughborough in collaboration with the University of Manchester (EP/M026205/1, Prof William Parnell) and the University of Leeds (EP/M026310/1, Prof Malcolm Povey). The project is pursuing mathematical, computational and experimental investigations of aggregated or mixed-particle systems with the aim of developing new techniques for monitoring and characterising such industrially-important materials.
  • April 2014-Sept 2015 EPSRC EP/L018780/1 Advanced Ultrasonic Monitoring for Concentrated Dispersions and Nanoparticle Materials
    An investigation of hydrodynamic interactions and their effects on ultrasound characterisation of concentrated suspensions of particles, developing models and validating them experimentally.  With Project Partner Digusonic Ltd.

Forrester, D.M., Pinfield, V.J. (2018) The absorption of ultrasound in emulsions: computational modelling of thermal effects. Scientific Reports, 8(1).

Pinfield, V.J., Forrester, D.M. (2017) Multiple scattering in random dispersions of spherical scatterers: Effects of shear-acoustic interactions. Journal of the Acoustical Society of America, 141(1).

Forrester, D.M., Huang, J., Pinfield, V.J., Luppé, F. (2016) Experimental verification of nanofluid shear-wave reconversion in ultrasonic fields. Nanoscale, 8(10).

Rabani, A., Pinfield, V.J., Challis, R.E. (2016) Rate of shear of an ultrasonic oscillating rod viscosity probe. Ultrasonics, 65.

Forrester, D.M., Pinfield, V.J. (2015) Shear-mediated contributions to the effective properties of soft acoustic metamaterials including negative index. Scientific Reports, 5.

Pinfield, V.J. (2014) Thermo-elastic multiple scattering in random dispersions of spherical scatterers. Journal of the Acoustical Society of America, 136(6).

Pinfield, V.J. (2014) Advances in ultrasonic monitoring of oil-in-water emulsions. Food Hydrocolloids, 42.

Current collaboration with:

  • University of Manchester (Applied Mathematics)
  • University of Cambridge (Isaac Newton Institute)
  • University of Leeds (Food Science and Nutrition)
  • University of Bristol (Mechanical Engineering)
  • University of Le Havre 

Company links:

  • Digusonic Ltd (ultrasonic instrumentation for industrial applications)

External roles and appointments:

  • Acoustics Network UK (EPSRC-funded): Leader of Special Interest group in Numerical Methods in Acoustics
  • Secretary, Physical Acoustics Group, Institute of Physics, 2014-2017
  • External PhD examiner: University of Leeds, University College London, Brunel University
  • Member of EPSRC Associate Peer Review College
  • Reviewer for journals including Journal of the Acoustical Society of America, Wave Motion, Ultrasonics, IEEE Transactions etc.
  • Chair of Special Sessions at Acoustical Society of America conferences, 2016 and 2017