Department of Materials


Dr Rebecca Higginson BEng, PhD, FRMS, CSci, CEng, FIMMM, MInstP

Photo of Dr Rebecca Higginson

Head of the Department of Materials

Reader in Metallurgy and Materials Engineering


Dr Rebecca Higginson graduated from The University College Swansea in 1992 winning the British Steel Travel Award for her practical work. She went on to study for her PhD at Birmingham University on the ‘The Effect of Small Second Phase Particles on the Recrystallisation and Grain Growth in Aluminium’ sponsored by Alcan. In 1995 she became a Post Doctoral Research Associate at Sheffield University working on the thermomechanical processing of stainless steels and aluminium alloys. Whilst at Sheffield she took a part time Postgraduate Diploma in Education. In 2001 she became a Lecturer in Metallurgy at Loughborough University, promoted to Senior Lecturer in 2007, Reader in 2015 and became Head of the Department of Materials in July 2020.


  • BEng 1992
  • PhD 1995
  • FRMS 2002, CSci 2005, CEng 2005, FIMMM 2006, MInstP 2008

Key awards:

  • Awarded the IOM3 Cook/Ablett Award 2008
  • Awarded the SAGA Best Paper Award 2011

Outline of main research interests:

  • Oxide Scale Formation and Characterisation
  • Texture Development
  • Precipitation effects in steels, stainless steels and aluminium alloys
  • Strain Path
  • Microscopy including: SEM, EBSD, TEM
  • Laser material deposition

Grants and contracts:

  • Prediction of Microstructural Evolution During Long Term Thermal Ageing of Type 321 - Type 347 Weldments, EDF, 2013 - 2016
  • Inter-granular Stress Corrosion Cracking in Nickel Base Alloys, Rolls-Royce, 2015 - 2016
  • Colouring of Stainless Steel, Rimex Metals, 2013 - 2016 
  • WHISKERMIT - Manufacturing and in-service tin whisker mitigation strategies for high value electronics, EPSRC, 2011 - 2013 
  • Prediction of Microstructural Evolution during Long Term Thermal Ageing of Austenitic Steels in Both Parent and Weld Metal, EDF, 2010 - 2013 


Current teaching responsibilities:

  • MPA201 - Structure and Properties of Materials (RE)
  • MPA016 - Project (RE)
  • MPA206 - Introduction to Metal Processing (RE)
  • MPB205 - Experimental Skills (RE)
  • MPC101 - Recycling, Sustainability and Environmental Issues (RE)
  • MPC110 - Project (RE)
  • MPC113 - Design and Engineering Materials Project (RE)
  • MPD110 - Masters Project (RE)
  • MPD113 - Design and Engineering Materials Masters Project (RE)
  • MMC910 - Laser Materials Processing
  • MPC130 – Biomaterials Project
  • MPD130 - Biomaterials Masters Project


Current administrative responsibilities:

  • Head of Department
  • Chair of the Staff-Student Committee
  • Under 18s Coordinator
  • Part C and D Year tutor


Recent publications: 

~30 Journal and refereed conference papers have been published in the last 5 years including:

Goffin, NJ, Higginson, RL, Tyrer, JR (2015) The use of holographic optical elements (HOE's) to investigate the use of a flat irradiance profile in the control of heat absorption in wire-fed laser cladding, JOURNAL OF MATERIALS PROCESSING TECHNOLOGY, 220, pp.191-201.

Green, G, Higginson, R, Hogg, S, Spindler, S, Hamm, C, Najorka, J (2015) Analysis of ferrite formed in 321 grade austenitic stainless steel, MATERIALS SCIENCE AND TECHNOLOGY, 31(4), pp.418-425.

Green, G, Higginson, R, Hogg, S, Spindler, S, Hamm, C (2014) Evolution of sigma phase in 321 grade austenitic stainless steel parent and weld metal with duplex microstructure, MATERIALS SCIENCE AND TECHNOLOGY, 30(12), pp.1392-1398.

Ashworth, MA, Wilcox, GD, Higginson, RL, Heath, RJ, Liu, C (2014) An investigation into zinc diffusion and tin whisker growth for electroplated tin deposits on brass, Journal of Electronic Materials, 43(4), pp.1005-1016.

Bunyan, D, Ashworth, MA, Wilcox, GD, Higginson, RL, Heath, RJ, Liu, C (2013) Tin whisker growth from electroplated finishes - a review, Transactions of the Institute of Metal Finishing, 91(5), pp.249-259.

Gorman, DM, Higginson, RL, Thomson, RC, Du, H, McColvin, G, Fry, AT (2012) Microstructural Analysis of IN617 and IN625 Oxidised in the Presence of Steam for use in Ultra-Supercritical Power Plant, Oxidation of Metals, pp.1-14.

Jepson, MAE and Higginson, RL (2012) In situ observation of the oxidation of S32101 duplex stainless steel at 900°C, Corrosion Science, 59, pp.263-269.

Liu, J, Binner, J, Higginson, R (2012) Dry sliding wear behaviour of co-continuous ceramic foam/aluminium alloy interpenetrating composites produced by pressureless infiltration, Wear, 276–277, pp.94 - 104-94 - 104.

Johnson, K, Edmonds, HC, Higginson, RL, Harris, RA (2011) New discoveries in ultrasonic consolidation nano-structures using emerging analysis techniques, PROCEEDINGS OF THE INSTITUTION OF MECHANICAL ENGINEERS PART L-JOURNAL OF MATERIALS-DESIGN AND APPLICATIONS, 225(L4), pp.277-287.

 View central publications database



External Collaborators: 

  • EDF
  • Tata Steel
  • Rolls-Royce
  • NPL
  • The University of Sheffield
  • Outokumpu Stainless Steel Research Foundation.
  • ALSTOM Power Materials Research.
  • Solidica Inc. USA
  • RWE nPower

External roles and appointments:

  • EPSRC Peer Review Panel 2004-present;
  • Member of the Royal Microscopical Society Physical Sciences Committee formerly chair Materials Science Section 2008-2013
  • Council Member of Royal Microscopical Society 2013-2015
  • Member of the IOM3 Bulk Metal forming Committee