Name: Dr Gregory Offer
Age range: 30-35
Research institution: Mechanical Engineering Department, Imperial College, London
Research career length: 9 years
Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC)
Location: London, England
Brief summary of research: Investigating batteries, supercapacitors and fuel cells for low emission battery, hybrid and fuel cell vehicles
A-levels: Mathematics, Further Mathematics, Chemistry, Physics
Msci (hons) in Chemistry, Imperial College London
PhD in Chemistry, Imperial College London
Lecturer in Mechanical Engineering & Research Group Leader, EPSRC Career Acceleration Fellow, Imperial College London
ESRC/EPSRC Policy Fellowship to the Department of Energy & Climate Change (DECC), Her Majesty’s Government
Grantham Fellowship to the Select Committee for Energy & Climate Change, Houses of Parliament
Postdoctoral research associate, Department of Earth Science Engineering, Imperial College London
Student, PhD in Chemistry, Imperial College London
Management Consultant, Deloitte & Touche
Student, MSci in Chemistry, Imperial College London
What A levels did you study?
Maths, Further Maths, Chemistry and Physics.
MSci (Hons) Chemistry, PhD Chemistry
Please give us a description of your job / research, and tell us what inspired you to do what you're doing...
I work at Imperial College London where I am a lecturer in Mechanical Engineering and an EPSRC career acceleration fellow. My research is based around fuel cell, battery and supercapacitor technology, and their application, mostly in transport. From the fundamental science to integration and systems engineering. The problems I investigate tend to emerge at the interface between the science and engineering. When a problem emerges in an application, to understand it better it is often necessary to drill back down again into the science, but always in the context of the application.
I was born in Stroud, Gloucestershire, and grew up in a small village called Nailsworth for the first 18 years of my life. I wanted to be a scientist from around the age of 4 and I went to an all-boys Grammar School called Marling, where my interest in Chemistry was kindled by my A level Chemistry teacher. I then went to University at Imperial College London to study Chemistry for 4 years, after which I worked as a Management Consultant for just over a year, before I decided to go back to University and get my PhD. I then moved into Engineering because of my interest in applied research and working with industry to solve problems that have a real world impact.
How does your job or research contribute to the world we live in now?
I develop electric, fuel cell and hybrid vehicles, helping deliver a sustainable zero emission transport system for the future.
Describe your typical day...
A typical day in my job would involve meeting with members of my team, I currently have 8 PhD students and 4 Postdoctoral researchers, and also supervise around 10 undergraduate and Master’s students. This can involve helping design new experiments or models, discussing results, reviewing papers, and typically takes up 3 days of my week. The other 2 days I keep clear of meetings and either work on writing up papers, doing administration or visiting project partners.
Do you have a 'pet project'?
I am the project manager of Imperial College's undergraduate Formula Student team. This is called Imperial Racing Green. The project has been going for over 7 years, and we typically have around 100 undergraduates working on building zero/low emission fuel cell, battery or hybrid electric vehicles.
What do you love most about science / engineering or maths?
I love science because I love working out how the world works, and understanding why. The best thing about my job is the variety and number of different things that I get to do. This involves lab work & designing experiments, modelling, writing papers, attending conferences, organising symposiums, and teaching and talking about my research. I never have a boring day at work, and the choice of activities is huge.
What do you remember most from school science?
My science teacher demonstrated the thermite reaction to my class in the first year of secondary school. He made a small cone of iron oxide and aluminium in the centre of the desk on a ceramic tile surrounded by safety screens. He then set it off with a strip of burning magnesium to get it hot enough. The resulting fire was about two metres high and sprayed molten iron over the top of the safety screens such that we all had to cower in awe and delight at the other end of the lab whilst the ceramic tile got so hot that it burnt a patch in the wooden desk almost half a meter wide. It was amazing, and probably the main reason why I studied chemistry at university.
What do you think is the most significant scientific / engineering / mathematical development in the last century?
The invention of the microchip, which have revolutionised everything, enabling mobile phones, computers, the internet, and so many of the things we now take for granted.
Name one quirky / crazy fact about your job...
I don't have a normal day, as I am always doing something different, working in the lab, travelling to conferences, helping students, giving lectures and teaching. This is what I love most about my job, the variety.
Where I live...
I live in Guildford, with my wife Amy and 2 daughters. We moved here just a few years ago but already we know quite a lot of people, and go to church just down the road. I get the train and cycle to work from Waterloo, and on my way I get excellent views of the London Eye, the Houses of Parliament, and Buckingham Palace, which is pretty cool.
What do you enjoy doing in your free time?
I occasionally watch TV, of the few programmes I really like watching are Dr Who, the Simpsons, and documentaries. Other than that, I get involved in a lot of activities in my local church. I also meet up with friends regularly in the pub trying to solve all the worlds' problems. At weekends I like to go away to the countryside and go walking and camping.
Electrochemistry, Fuel Cells, Batteries, Supercapacitors, Systems Engineering
Lecturer in Mechanical Engineering
Imperial College London
In 2005 I completed the 190 mile Coast 2 Coast walk from St Bees in Cumbria, to Robin Hoods Bay in Yorkshire in thirteen days, camping along the way.