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Dr Gareth Neighbour

Profile summary

Professional biography

Gareth joined the Open University in 2019 and became Head of School in August 2021. Previously he joined BCU as Professor and Head of School of Engineering and the Built Environment in October 2016 from Oxford Brookes where he was a Professor and also the Head of Mechanical Engineering and Mathematical Sciences. He joined Brookes in 2011 from Hull where he had formed the Materials and Process Performance Group and was Deputy Dean of the Faculty of Science responsible for Learning and Teaching. Previously he led the internationally recognised Bath Nuclear Materials Group. To date, he has provided independent research and advice to the nuclear and other heavy industries including EDF Energy, the regulator and also the IAEA in Vienna and has a substantial research income to date and advised other universities on educational and strategic matters. He has been instrumental in major projects such as the creation of UTC Swindon, the creation of the IAEA Database on Irradiated Graphite Properties and the formulation of nationwide programmes and standards for foundation degrees in Chemical & Process industries.  Prior to his academic career, during 1992-1996, Gareth worked for UKAEA (trading as AEA Technology) at their Windscale plant where, amongst other things, he managed the integration of various engineering systems. A significant proportion of Gareth's research is interdisciplinary in nature, but often involves 'big data' and levels of complexity as well as the integration of different disciplines and perspectives. However, his core interest is carbon materials including in the energy sector although his curiosity ranges from integrated management systems to fracture mechanics and fundamental structure-property relationships of engineering materials. Currently, the main thrust of his activity is the effectiveness of UK gas-cooled nuclear reactor core designs, particularly materials performance and the functionality of core components to support life extension using various modelling and analytical techniques. Other research interests include nuclear energy and graphite technology in general, post-irradiation evaluation of nuclear materials (inc. fuels), carbon deposition, mechanical properties of porous materials, redundancy in design, BPEO and HAZOP studies.  He has an interest in the wider aspects of carbon such as using game theory to describe strategy selection for environmental risk and carbon emissions reduction in the green supply chain broadening to systems theory & waste materials treatment related to design theory and the effect of risk assessment methodology has on environmental and societal decision-making. He is passionate about employer-facing education and has extensive experience in programme development and supporting apprenticeship development including various grants from HEFCE.  He has given plenary lectures to climate change conferences on the ‘remarkable story of carbon’.  He is currently the Senior Editor of the high-impact internationally renowned journal Carbon and a past Chair of the British Carbon Group.  He has also been a consultant to EDF Energy for over twenty years helping to assure the technical safety of the nuclear graphite cores as Chair of the Independent Graphite Validation Group and predecessor committees.

Research interests

  • Carbon materials
  • Modelling of materials performance
  • Modelling of materials flow in manufacturing
  • Environmental & engineering management
  • Design philosophy and methodologies
  • Pedagogy (Employer facing education)

Teaching interests

  • Engineering
  • Systems
  • Environment
  • Management

Impact and engagement

  • Programme Chair - Carbon 2022 - the world conference on carbon.  This is a long established conference that rotates between Europe, the Americas and Asia/Australia. The theme of this conference was 'carbon for a cleaner future'. The conference was last in the UK in 2006 (Aberdeen) and in 2022 it returned to Imperial College. The conference attracts leading scientists from across the globe working in all manner of carbon materials from buckyballs to industrial anodes.
  • Director, Trustee & Governor of UTC Swindon (2012-2016) - Chaired Design User's Group in the build process and led on the educational planning.

External collaborations

  • Editor / Editorial Board - Academia Environmental Sciences and Sustainability, (2024- )
  • Associate Editor - Frontiers in Environmental Science (speciality section - Big Data, AI, and the Environment) (IF 5.411)
  • Visiting Professor of Engineering and the Built Environment - BCU (2019 - 2022)
  • Senior Editor - Carbon (Elsevier - from 2014) - Impact Factor 11.307 (2021)
  • Chair - Independent Graphite Validation Group (and predecessor body from 2009) - EDF Energy
  • External Examiner at UWE and the University of Northampton (2019 - 2023)
  • ​Past Chair - British Carbon Group


Externally funded projects

Independent Graphite Validation Group
RoleStart dateEnd dateFunding source
Lead01 May 201931 Dec 2020EDF Energy

Gareth is involved in supporting the peer review of data and methods associated with nuclear graphite cores, as a member and Chair of the Independent Graphite Validation Group. The primary purpose of the Group is to provide independent peer review and advice to the Chief Graphite Engineer and is related to meeting the technical and safety aims of EDF Energy. The Group operates through Business meetings, Plenary Meetings and Working Group Meetings, with the group meeting in its entirety each quarter. Funding is provided by EDF and covers Gareth’s time and expenses


The Carbon and Carbon Trends Journals in the era of Artificial Intelligence (AI) and assisted technologies (2023-05)
Ewels, Chris; Meunier, Vincent; Gareth, Neighbour; Lauren, Ashby and Mauricio, Terrones
Carbon, 208 (pp. 452-453)

“Pandora's box” regarding hydropower: Carbon‐intensive reflection (2023-01)
Zhao, Rui; Shi, Kai; Neighbour, Gareth and Liu, Chunqiong
Integrated Environmental Assessment and Management, 19(1) (pp. 284-286)

Automatic code compliance with multi-dimensional data fitting in a BIM context (2018-10)
Patlakas, P.; Livingstone, A.; Hairstans, R. and Neighbour, G.
Advanced Engineering Informatics, 38 (pp. 216-231)

Strategies for ideal indoor environments towards low/zero carbon buildings through a biomimetic approach (2017-09-21)
Cuce, Erdem; Nachan, Zaid; Cuce, Pinar Mert; Sher, Farooq and Neighbour, Gareth
International Journal of Ambient Energy, 40(1) (pp. 86-95)

Case studies of environmental visualization (2017-09-21)
Patlakas, Panagiotis; Koronaios, Georgios; Raslan, Rokia; Neighbour, Gareth and Altan, Hasim
Energies, 10(10) (p 1459)

Using game theory to describe strategy selection for environmental risk and carbon emissions reduction in the green supply chain (2012-11)
Zhao, Rui; Neighbour, Gareth; Han, Jiaojie; McGuire, Michael and Deutz, Pauline
Journal of Loss Prevention in the Process Industries, 25(6) (pp. 927-936)

A software based simulation for cleaner production: a game between manufacturers and government (2012-09-24)
Zhao, Rui; Neighbour, Gareth; McGuire, Michael and Deutz, Pauline
Journal of Loss Prevention in the Process Industries, 26(1) (pp. 59-67)

Determining the future for irradiated graphite disposal (2000-06-01)
Neighbour, G. B.; Wickham, A. J. and Hacker, P. J.
Nuclear Energy, 39(3) (pp. 179-186)

The trouble with mentors (1994-02)
Neighbour, Gareth B.
Physics World, 7(2) (p 19)

Ph D or “loadsamoney”? (1993)
Neighbour, Gareth B.
Physics World, 6(5) (p 72)

Acoustic emission responses from cyclic loading of a nuclear graphite (1992)
Neighbour, Gareth B.; McEnaney, Brian and Phillips, Mike
Carbon, 30(3) (pp. 359-363)

Non-power applications - new missions for nuclear energy to be delivered safely and securely (2020-08-04)
Nuttall, William and Neighbour, Gareth
In: Nian, Victor ed. Advanced Security and Safeguarding in the Nuclear Power Industry: State of the Art and Future Challenges (pp. 29-47)
ISBN : 978-0-12-818256-7 | Publisher : Academic Press | Published : London, UK

Plant life management (PLiM) practices for gas-cooled, graphite-moderated nuclear reactors: UK experience (2010)
Neighbour, G. B.
In: Tipping, Philip G. ed. Understanding and Mitigating Ageing in Nuclear Power Plants - Materials and Operational Aspects of Plant Life Management (PLiM). Woodhead Publishing series in Energy (pp. 838-875)
ISBN : 9781845695118 | Publisher : Woodhead Publishing | Published : Cambridge

Thoughts and Reflections on the Use of Magnesium (2017-09-01)
Neighbour, Gareth B and Oraifige, I
Neighbour, Gareth and Oraifige, Ilias eds.
ISBN : 978-1904839903 | Publisher : Birmingham City University | Published : Birmingham

Modelling and measuring reactor core graphite properties and performance (2012-12-12)
Neighbour, Gareth B
Neighbour, Gareth ed.
Special Publication
ISBN : 978-1-84973-517-9 | Publisher : Royal Society of Chemistry | Published : London

Creating an Integrated Curriculum for a STEM Discipline (2016-03-17)
Higgison, Douglas and Neighbour, Gareth B
In : Conference Proceeding. New Perspectives in Scienze Education (17-18 Mar 2016, Florence) (pp. 20-26)

Microstructural Processes Leading To Fracture In Nuclear Graphites. (1993-06-01)
Neighbour, Gareth Bryan
PhD thesis University of Bath