Alumnus profile #4 – Dr Fred Witham

fred_rrpicDr Fred Witham

Aerothermal Combustion Engineer, Rolls-Royce

PhD title “The degassing of basaltic magma chambers”


1) The Twitter Challenge: Describe your PhD in 140 characters
Using measurements of volcanic gas emissions and observable surface phenomena to evaluate sub-surface magmatic movements and processes.

2) Where are you now? What are you doing?

I am an Aerothermal Combustion Engineer, at Rolls-Royce in Bristol. I am working to improve existing and develop new methods of fuel injection in gas turbines.

villarica lookdownthere
Volcanoes are gassy…

3) Why did you decide to leave academia?
I always thought I would like to spend some time doing industrial research, and this was a great opportunity that came up just as my previous post-doc was finishing. I relish the applied nature of my current work, but would certainly not rule out a return to academia in the future.

4) What is the most useful thing you learnt in your PhD?
How to develop quantitative analytical models of physical processes, and test them through experiment.

Climbing to the summit of Volcan Villarrica, Chile.

5) Is there any advice you wish you had taken?
I was frequently told to apply my work to more examples, and in more detail. You learn more from where your theory breaks down than from where it works.

6) Your best PhD travel perk
Climbing to the summit of Volcan Villarrica, Chile, to see the lava sloshing about inside the crater. Then snowboarding back down a pristine, and deserted, mountainscape.

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About Charly Stamper

I’m an ex-experimental petrologist.
I used to make pretend volcanoes; now I work in renewable energy

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