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Professor David Towers

Academic profile photograph

Professor David Towers

Head of School of Engineering 
Professor of Mechanical Engineering

D dot Towers at warwick dot ac dot uk
+44 (0) 24 7652 3246

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David Towers has held the position of Head of School since 2017. He is Professor of Mechanical Engineering, with 30 years of experience within academia and industry.

Prof. Towers achieved a 1st Class BSc in Mechanical Engineering Science from Warwick, followed by a PhD in Optical Engineering. Two postdoctoral positions, including a Royal Society Fellowship position at ETH Zürich, led him to a role as Project Leader in the Applied Optics Laboratory at the Rover/BMW Group. Moving into academia in 2000, he held positions in Mechanical Engineering at both Heriot-Watt University and the University of Leeds, before returning to his alma mater in 2014 as Professor of Mechanical Engineering.

David was appointed as Head of the Warwick School of Engineering following two years as Discipline Stream Leader for Mechanical and Process Engineering. As Head of School, he led the department through a significant period of growth and change, including: the introduction of Degree Apprenticeship programmes; the achievement of Athena SWAN Silver Award; and the unique challenges posed by the COVID-19 pandemic.

Research Interests

My work is centred on performing basic and applied research in optical sensing technologies with applications across engineering, industry, the biological sciences, and clinical practice. My research is frequently multi-disciplinary and all projects involve close collaboration between the end-users and technology providers. The work covers three general areas.

  • Work in fluid mechanics targeted large scale variability in turbulent flows, volumetric measurement, and sprays / multi-phase mixing. Derivatives of particle imaging, for velocimetry, led to mosquito tracking systems that have been deployed in sub-Saharan Africa to further the understanding of mosquito behaviour and enable the design of novel interventions to reduce malaria transmission.
  • Work in structural assessment driven by the needs of industry, primarily automotive and aerospace, to optimise the design of structures. Novel instruments have been developed for deformation, vibration, surface form and internal stress measurement utilising optical interferometry. Strategies to optimise multi-wavelength interferometric measurements have been reported with impact to long range distance and surface form metrology. Instrumentation systems have been made available commercially as well as delivering £M benefits to industry in terms of enhanced designs and reduced costs.
  • Optical sensing techniques targeting applications in clinical diagnosis and live cell imaging.

Teaching Interests

  • Planar Structures and Mechanisms
  • Measurement and Instrumentation
  • Optical Engineering
  • Statics and dynamics

Selected Publications

  • Hall, Matthew L., Gleave, Katherine, Hughes, Angela, McCall, Philip J., Towers, Catherine E. and Towers, David P. (2022) The application of digital holography accurate three-dimensional localisation of mosquito-bednet interaction. Light: Advanced Manufacturing doi:10.37188/lam.2022.020
  • Hall, Matthew, McCall, Philip J., Towers, Catherine E. and Towers, David P. (2021) Improved 3D localisation of multiple small objects in close-proximity in digital holography. Applied Optics, 60 (4). A285-A295. doi:10.1364/AO.404432

  • Murray, Gregory P. D., Lissenden, Natalie, Jones, Jeff, Voloshin, Vitaly, Toe, K. Hyacinth, Sherrard-Smith, Ellie, Foster, Geraldine M., Churcher, Thomas S., Parker, Josephine E. A., Towers, Catherine E., N'Fale, Sagnon, Guelbeogo, Wamdaogo M., Ranson, Hilary, Towers, David P. and McCall, Philip J. (2019) Barrier bednets target malaria vectors and expand the range of usable insecticides. Nature Microbiology, 5 . pp. 40-47. doi:10.1038/s41564-019-0607-2

  • Parker, Josephine E. A., Angarita Jaimes, Natalia C., Gleave, Katherine, Mashauri, Fabian, Abe, Mayumi, Martine, Jackline, Towers, Catherine E., Towers, David P. and McCall, Philip J. (2017) Host-seeking activity of a Tanzanian population of Anopheles arabiensis at an insecticide treated bed net. Malaria Journal, 16 (1). 270. doi:10.1186/s12936-017-1909-6

  • Angarita-Jaimes, N. C., Parker, J. E. A., Abe, M., Mashauri, F., Martine, J., Towers, Catherine E., McCall, P. J. and Towers, David P. (2016) A novel video-tracking system to quantify the behaviour of nocturnal mosquitoes attacking human hosts in the field. Journal Royal Society Interface, 13 (117). pp. 1-14. doi:10.1098/rsif.2015.0974

  • Parker, J.E.A. Angarita-Jaimes, N. Abe, M. Towers, C.E. Towers, D.P. McCall, P.J. (2015) Rapid localised lethal mode of action of insecticide-treated bednets revealed by infra-red video tracking of Anopheles gambiae, Sci. Rep. 5, 13392; doi: 10.1038/srep13392.
  • Falaggis, K. Towers, D.P. Towers, C.E. (2014) Algebraic solution for Phase Unwrapping Problems in Multi-wavelength Interferometry, Applied Optics 53 (17), pp.3737-3747.
  • Zhang, Z.H. Towers, D.P. Towers, C.E. (2012) Robust colour and shape measurement of full colour artefacts by RGB fringe projection. Optical Engineering 51 (2), DOI:10.1117/1.OE.51.2.021109. (Invited)
  • Angarita-Jaimes, D.A. Towers, C.E. Towers, D.P. (2012) Three-Component Multi-phase Velocimetry measurements on a GDI spray using optically efficient fluorescent tracers. Experiments in Fluids 52 (4), pp. 949-962. (Invited)
  • Towers, C.E. Towers, D.P. Jones, J.D.C. (2003) Optimum Frequency Selection in Multi-Frequency Interferometry. Optics Letters, 28 (11), pp. 887-889.

Projects and Grants

  • UoW AI for Mosquito: Trajectory Understanding and Disease Mitigation, 2022; Principal Investigator: Prof. David Towers, Co-Investigator: Dr Catherine Towers. To develop AI tools to identify changes in behaviour of mosquitoes and thereby develop improved devices to mitigate the transmission of tropical diseases.
  • MRC: Indoor maps of mosquito flight and resting habits, 2019-2022
  • Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation: Developing entomological indicators to assess the public health value of next generation LLIN, 2019-2023

Previous Projects

  • Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, Accelerating time to market of new vector control tools by strengthening the Phase I evaluation, $2M, 2017-2020, Ref. OPP1159078 Principal Investigator: Philip McCall, Co-Investigators: Hilary Ranson, David Towers, Cathy Towers

  • MRC MR/M011941/1, Peri-domestic behaviour of African malaria vectors and the impact of insecticides, 2015-2018;
    Investigators: Dr Philip McCall (PI, Liverpool School of Tropical Medicine), Prof David Towers, Dr Catherine Towers (University of Warwick),
    Dr Fabian Mashauri (National Institute for Medical Research, NIMR, Mwanza, Tanzania).
  • MRC MR/K015613/1, Super resolution imaging of protein dynamics and functions in physiology and disease, 2013-2017; Investigators: Prof Michelle Peckham (PI), Prof Dave Towers. To develop new tools for super-resolution microscopy offering new combinations of temporal and spatial resolution.
  • FP7 Africa-Health, £325k to Leeds, 2011-2016 project reference Health-F3-2011-265660, ‘AvecNET’ Leeds; Principal Investigator: Prof Dave Towers, Co-investigator: Dr Catherine Towers Overall Programme Lead: Dr Hilary Ranson, Dr Philip McCall, Liverpool School of Tropical Medicine. To investigate optical techniques and quantitative data analysis to understand mosquito behaviour in sub-Saharan dwellings in order to design more effective controls of malaria transmission.
  • MRC Tropical Infectious Disease Consortium, 2014-2016 – Confidence in Concept (CiC) award: Novel bednet designs to improve insecticide-treated net efficacy and combat insecticide resistance. Investigators: Dr Philip McCall (PI, Liverpool School of Tropical Medicine),
    Prof David Towers, Dr Catherine Towers (University of Warwick).
  • EPSRC Bridging the Gap, £22.5k, 2012; Investigators: Prof Dave Towers, Dr Catherine Towers, Prof Paul Millner, Prof David Jayne (newly appointed NIHR Professor, Leeds Institute for Molecular Medicine). To investigate the use of nanoparticles with diffuse optical sensors for increased sensitivity to cancer. A collaboration between engineering, biological science and medicine.
  • EPSRC EP/G032483, £122k, Proof of Concept project, 2011-2012, Optical Diagnostics for Over-Active Bladder; Joint Principal Investigators: Dr Catherine Towers, Prof Dave Towers. To develop fibre based sensors for diagnosis of over-active bladder in vivo.
  • EPSRC EP/G032483, £4.8M, 2009-2014 Innovation and Knowledge Centre in Regenerative Therapies and Devices; Principal Investigator: Prof John Fisher, 36 Co-investigators. To accelerate the development and early adoption of therapies and devices into clinical practice.