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Professor Claire Davis

Professor Claire Davis is the Tata Steel Professor of thermo-mechanical processing. Her research interests are on the development of microstructure during processing and the relationships between microstructure and properties (both physical and mechanical) in steels. She is also interested in the non-destructive evaluation of microstructure and defects in metals using a range of NDT techniques and modelling approaches.

How my career unfolded

I studied for a BA in Natural Sciences at Cambridge University, during which time I undertook a summer placement at British Steel. Following my undergraduate degree I did my PhD, also at Cambridge University, in the Department of Materials Science and Metallurgy. My PhD was sponsored by British Steel, as an industrial CASE award, and was on cleavage crack initiation in the heat affected zone of welded steels. During my PhD I spent two months in the R&D centre of Nippon Steel in Futtsu, Japan. I then held an SERC (Science and Engineering Research Council) Fellowship and a St Catharines College, Cambridge, Research Fellow position to continue working on welds in steels before taking a one year lectureship in the Department of Materials Science and Metallurgy, Cambridge.

At this point I moved to the School of Metallurgy and Materials at the University of Birmingham where I took a British Steel sponsored lectureship. I stayed with the University of Birmingham as lecturer, senior lecturer, reader and then professor of ferrous metallurgy before moving to WMG, the University of Warwick, to be the Tata Steel Chair of Thermo-mechanical Processing in the Autumn 2014. Having worked with British Steel, Corus and then Tata Steel over many years, the opportunity to be part of the developing Steel Processing team at WMG was an exciting prospect, particularly with the co-location of the Tata Steel R&D facility as this moves to Warwick.

Having worked so closely with Tata Steel (and previously with Corus and British Steel) I am very pleased to strengthen those collaborations further. Not only that but I get work with other experts in steel processing and surfaces as I join Professor Sridhar Seetharaman and Professor Barbara Shollock in WMG. The establishment of a dedicated group for steel research in one of the UK’s top universities is an irresistible combination, and when this is combined with the Tata Steel UK R&D team moving to Warwick as well, then we have world leading combination for steel research.

Sense of achievement

I am passionate about the sustainability of engineering in the UK, particularly metallurgy and materials science, and obviously with a focus on steel. I am also passionate about working with students and trying to instill a questioning approach to research. I love the work that I do and get a real sense of achievement when aspects of my research have an impact, either due to implementation or providing inspiration to others.