Rachel Thomson is a Professor of Materials Engineering and a Fellow of the Institute of Materials, Minerals and Mining.
Rachel read Natural Sciences at Newnham College, Cambridge University followed by a PhD in Materials. She then held the position of Research Fellow in both Materials and Darwin College at Cambridge, before moving to a lectureship in the Department of Materials at Loughborough University in 1995, where she was promoted to a Personal Chair in 2002.
At Loughborough, Rachel was Director of the Materials Research School from 2006-2013. In this role, Rachel was a keen enabler of cross-campus collaboration, supporter of early career researchers, and was integral to the development of the equipment sharing software, Kit-Catalogue. She became Head of the Department of Materials in 2011, becoming Dean of the School of Aeronautical, Automotive, Chemical and Materials Engineering in 2014, and from September 2016 was appointed Pro Vice-Chancellor (Teaching).
Rachel’s research is concerned with the behaviour of metallic alloys for high temperature power generation, encompassing both materials modelling and advanced experimental characterisation, for which she has been awarded significant grants in excess of £23M. She is currently the Principal Investigator of the EPSRC funded Flex-E-Plant consortium concerned with the flexible operation of future conventional power plant. She holds patents for and has been involved in the design of steels, nickel alloys and coating systems which can enhance the efficiency of power plant operation. Rachel has received various awards, including the Rosenhain Medal, and the Energy Science Medal in 2015.
Rachel is also committed to engineering education, from the conception and implementation of new undergraduate degree programmes in Automotive Materials, and more recently Biomaterials and Bioengineering, through to her successful supervision of 34 research students to completion. She is the Academic Lead on the development of STEMLab, a £17M investment in a new laboratory building at Loughborough opening in 2017 containing 3,500m2 of modern, energy efficient, co-located and shared science and engineering teaching laboratories.
As Pro Vice Chancellor (Teaching), Professor Thomson is responsible for providing strategic and operational leadership for the University’s teaching and learning. She also has a leading role in the management of the wider Student Experience, in conjunction with Loughborough Students’ Union.