Prestigious Royal Society award for Coventry University professor

University news

Friday 13 March 2015

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An academic at Coventry University has won a coveted award from the UK’s national academy of science.

Professor Alban Pothérat from the University’s Applied Mathematics Research Centre (AMRC), an expert in fluid mechanics (the study of fluid flows) is one of the latest recipients of the Royal Society Wolfson Research Merit Award

Jointly funded by grant-making charity The Wolfson Foundation and the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills (BIS), the award provides universities with additional support to attract top scientific talent from overseas and enable them to retain respected UK scientists of outstanding achievement and potential.

Hotly contested by universities across the country with applications scrutinised by an expert judging panel, the award is granted on the basis of the applicant’s research record and promise; their contribution to the furtherance of research in their field; the quality of facilities at their university; and their commitment to teaching, learning and spreading of research outputs within their institution and beyond. 

Alban, one of only 19 new recipients, was awarded for his theoretical and experimental work on turbulent flows under the influence of magnetic fields and background rotation in geophysical and engineering problems.  He has a long and internationally established track record in this field. Alongside his regular publications in leading scientific journals, he has forged solid international partnerships and attracted a number of prestigious grants in pursuit of his research.

Alban and his international team of collaborators are based both in Coventry and Grenoble, France. They are now conducting experiments on turbulence and convection in some of the strongest magnetic fields in the world, at the Grenoble High Magnetic Fields Laboratory, in collaboration with three partner laboratories (LNCMI, CRETA and SIMAP) from France’s National Centre for Scientific Research and the Indian Institute of Science in Bangalore. 

Understanding such fundamental phenomena will lead to new ways of extracting heat from nuclear fusion reactors and will help make clearer the mechanisms that sustain the magnetic field of the Earth. Alban Pothérat

Professor Alban Pothérat said: 

I am deeply honoured to receive this prestigious award from the Royal Society. Beyond the recognition it carries for my work and that of my collaborators, the award testifies of the importance of research in fundamental areas such as turbulence in magnetic fields, and more generally, in all areas where curiosity decides to take us, whether fundamental or applied.

Turbulence in magnetic fields exemplifies how investigating fascinating scientific questions can lead to a better understanding of natural phenomena - the dynamics of the earth core for example - but also drives crucial technological developments such as the design of heat exchangers in nuclear reactors. 

I very much hope that the award will contribute to attracting further talents to our team, especially post-graduate students.

Professor John Latham, vice-chancellor of Coventry University said:

I would like to congratulate Alban on what is a fantastic achievement in winning the highly prized and prestigious Royal Society Wolfson Merit Award.

Alban’s success is testimony to the fantastic work that he is undertaking in his field and also reflects very well on Coventry University as we look to strengthen our research activity and grow our research capability.

We are committed to delivering world leading research which will have a significant impact on a global, national and local stage and the excellence and commitment of staff members like Alban will undoubtedly contribute to the success of our strategy.

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