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Meet some of our academics and researchers

  1. Astronomy
  2. Biology
  3. Biomedical Science
  4. Chemistry and Analytical Science
  5. Computing and IT
  6. Engineering and Design
  7. Environmental Science, Earth Sciences, and Ecosystems
  8. Mathematics and Statistics
  9. Physics
  10. Planetary and Space Sciences

In addition to teaching on Open University modules our academics are engaged in ground breaking research that benefits individuals and society. Listed below are a few of our research areas, scroll down to a research area to meet some of our academics, researchers, and PhD students.


Our astronomy research includes exoplanetary, astrophysics, observational cosmology, and astrochemistry.

Professor Stephen Serjeant  talks about his research into dark matter and warped space, he also discusses his work on '60 Second Adventures in Astronomy'.

Professor Andrew Norton explains how we find exoplanets orbiting other stars and talks about his research into binary stars. He also discusses how our students use a remote-controlled telescope in their studies.


Open University academics are researching the fascinating biological world and sharing their knowledge with our students and the millions of viewers of our OU/BBC co-productions.

Dr Vicky Taylor describes her work with Asian elephants and how the partnership with Woburn Safari Park contributes to our courses. Vicky was an academic consultant on the BBC programmes The Hunt and Life Story

Delivering treatments for conditions such as Parkinson's is extremely challenging. Professor David Male's research team, including Radka Gromnicova, is looking for ways of delivering drugs right into the brain. David was an academic consultant on the BBC programme, Catching History’s Criminals: The Forensic Story

Biomedical Science

Alzheimer’s, multiple sclerosis, heart disease – these are just some of the many conditions that the Faculty is working to understand and for which we are seeking treatments and solutions.

Professor Nacho Romero is investigating the blood-brain barrier which is key to our understanding of neurological conditions such as Alzheimer’s and multiple sclerosis.

As a Neuroscientist, Dr Claire Rostron is researching links between the brain and behaviour and attention, which could contribute to better treatments for conditions such as Parkinson’s. Claire also talks about being an Academic Adviser for the BBC/OU series Countdown to Life:The Extraordinary Making of you

Chemistry and Analytical Science

Our chemists and analytical scientists are developing new techniques for the diagnosis of medical conditions, exploring potential new drugs, and investigating new materials that could revolutionise society.

Professor Claire Turner and her team are working on breath tests for major diseases. She describes how analytical science is incorporated in OU courses

Dr James Bruce is an Organic Chemist who works with a range of companies providing solutions that that will improve lives and keep people safe.

Computing and IT

Research in Computing and IT is committed to Integrating technology effectively into our lives. We address real problems that matter to a society where computing is increasingly ubiquitous.

Computer scientist Professor Blaine Price discusses his research into cyber security and privacy, with particular reference to social media crimes. He describes a tool that will allow people to maintain their privacy whilst preparing evidence from their Facebook timeline that is 'forensically sound' and will stand up in a court of investigation.

Professor Arosha Bandara and his colleagues work in cyber security and human behaviour - investigating ways of building security and privacy into the systems that are an integral part of our everyday lives. He demonstrates the Privacy Band, a device developed at the OU to help people manage their privacy more effectively in a world that combines cyber-physical-social systems.

Engineering and Design

From advancing the understanding of the role of design and innovation in society to applying scientific knowledge for the solution of practical problems, we make use of the latest developments in information technology to enhance and enrich the learning of our students across a wide range of specialisms in Engineering and Design.

John Bouchard is Professor of materials for Energy. He has spent 30 years working in the aerospace and nuclear industries and now researches structural integrity and the process of designing against failure. Manmade components often carry residual stress that can cause failure, but apparently so does a stick of rhubarb.

Claudia Eckert, Professor of Design talks about her research into design practice over such wide ranging themes from knitwear to helicopter design. She outlines surprising similarities between both. Fitting a sleeve into a jumper is remarkably similar to changing components on a helicopter.

Environmental Science, Earth Sciences, and Ecosystems

Our environmental science research is combating the worldwide crisis of species extinction; by learning how to manage diverse eco-systems we can support biodiversity around the globe. Our Earth scientists are developing a fundamental understanding of the key natural processes that have governed the development of planet Earth and are addressing vital problems such as how we can monitor active volcanoes.

As a Plant Ecologist, Dr Julia Cooke looks at the strategies of plants to grow, reproduce and survive. Here, Julia describes the role of silica, used by plants for different purposes including defence.

Nigel Harris is a professor of Tectonics. In the video he describes his research into 'mountain building', how this impacts climate, and how it informs our earth science teaching.

Mathematics and Statistics

We foster a vibrant collaborative research culture encompassing academic staff, postdoctoral researchers and full- and part-time research students. We have an active research programme covering a wide range of topics in the mathematical sciences, with weekly seminars, and several workshops and conferences throughout the year.

Dr Andrey Umerski, in the School of Mathematics and Statistics is a theoretical physicist whose research into 'spintronics’ has impacted on each and every one of us who carries a device with a hard drive, from computers to mobile phones. Find out more about a new type of solid state memory called MRAM which will change the future for us all.

Dr Heather Whitaker, Senior Lecturer in statistics, talks about her research in medical statistics, particularly epidemiology or population health. She reveals how statistical methods can be used by epidemiologists and public health authorities to assess the safety of vaccines and prescription drugs.


Our world-leading physics research includes investigating areas such as quantum interactions, plasma physics and physics in medicine.

Dr Sam Eden is looking at the effect of radiation on fundamental biological molecules, such as the building blocks of DNA. Hear how Sam's research informs our Physics and Medical Physics courses.

Dr Silvia Bergamini discusses her research into quantum mechanics and the importance of using super-cold atoms.

Planetary and Space Sciences

The Open University is an international leading university in the field of space related research. Our academics work in research teams with post-doctoral researchers and PhD students.

Scientists are still trying to answer fundamental questions about the universe, such as how planets are formed. Hear how astrochemist Dr Helen Fraser and her multi-disciplinary team are investigating this puzzling mystery.

Filmed before she had completed her PhD at the OU, Dr Phillipa Smith talks about her research with space sensors.