Research Team

Professor Andy Beale

Andy Beale is currently Professor of Inorganic Chemistry at UCL and Group Leader at the research complex at Harwell, Rutherford Appleton Laboratory and Chief Scientific Officer of Finden Ltd (incorporated in 2012). He is also a Co-I and principal academic responsible for the Harwell activities of the EPSRC sponsored UK Catalysis Hub. Current research interests concern the study of functional materials used as catalysts and in energy storage with novel chemical imaging techniques using X-ray scattering and/or spectroscopic methods, often studied under dynamic (or operando) conditions; this was recently exemplified by a publication first, on the subject of 5D X-ray diffraction imaging of a working catalytic reactor.

Andy was awarded a BSc from the University of Sussex followed by a PhD at the Royal Institution of Great Britain on the subject of in situ X-ray crystallisation studies of mixed oxide materials. He then worked as a Postdoctoral fellow, VENI research fellow and Assistant Professor in the Department of Inorganic Chemistry and Catalysis at Utrecht University in the Netherlands. Andy then returned to the UK and to UCL in 2013 as an EPSRC Early career fellow.

Andy is a former member of the STFC PSEAP advisory board member and is a current member of the EPSRC college. He is a member of the Project Management Committee for the EPSRC XMaS facility and former vice-chair of the DUBBLE-CRG programme committee in the Netherlands. He has also served on and chaired X-ray absorption and scattering PRPs at the ESRF and SLS light sources as well as acting as a regular reviewer for the beamlines at ESRF. He is also a Fellow of the Royal Society of Chemistry.

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Dr. Inés Lezcano-González
Research Associate

Dr. Inés Lezcano-González performed her PhD studies at the Institute of Chemical Technology (ITQ) in Valencia (Spain) under the guidance of Dr. Teresa Blasco. After a postdoctoral stay at Utrecht University with Prof. Bert M. Weckhuysen, she joined the department of chemistry at University College London and the UK Catalysis Hub, where she is currently working as a Research Associate in the group of Prof. Andrew M. Beale. Her research area is focused on the application of in situ and operando methods for the characterisation of solid catalysts and the study of reaction mechanisms in heterogeneous catalysis. This includes the development and application of advanced X-ray and laser techniques, involving collaborations with Diamond Light Source and the Central Laser Facility.

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Dr. Leila Negahdar
Marie-Curie Fellow at UCL Chemistry

Leila Negahdar is Marie-Curie Fellow at UCL Chemistry. Before coming to UCL in October 2019, she was research associate with Prof Richard Catlow at Cardiff University and UK Catalysis Hub. Prior to this, she was postdoctoral research associate at RWTH Aachen University in Germany (2018), and postdoctoral research fellow in department of Inorganic Chemistry and Catalysis at Utrecht University Netherlands, working with Prof Bert M. Weckhuysen (2014-2016).

She received her master’s degree in Chemical Engineering from Technical University of Dortmund in Germany and PhD degree in Chemistry from RWTH Aachen University under supervision of Prof Regina Palkovits. Her research interests include mainly reaction engineering, catalytic kinetics and mechanism and operando spectroscopy of catalytic surface reactions.

Her Marie-Curie project is about combining different operando spectroscopic techniques and reaction engineering to understand the mechanism of catalytic hydrogenation of CO2 to methanol.

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Lisa Allen
PhD Student

Lisa completed her Masters in Chemistry at Cardiff University in 2018 and after graduation, she took a year out to go travelling abroad. In 2019, she joined the Catalysis Hub as a PhD student at UCL to study supported metal oxide nanoparticle catalysts for their use in exhaust after-treatment technologies. Particularly, this project involves the use of operando techniques and synchrotron sources to characterise industrial catalysts. This project is in collaboration with Johnson Matthey and Diamond Light Source, and is supervised by Prof. Andy Beale.

Emma Campbell

Emma received her MChem degree from Cardiff University in 2015, with an industrial placement year carried out in the Metal Oxides group of Croda Ltd. and a final year project working for Dr. Jonathon Bartley on mixed metal oxides for oxidative dehydrogenation of propane, when she first became interested in catalysis. She is now studying for a PhD with UCL, based in the Beale group at the Research Complex at Harwell. Her project mainly focuses in applying in situ and operando spectroscopy to identify the hydrocarbon species that evolve as intermediates throughout the zeolite catalysed reactions: Methanol-to-Hydrocarbons (MTH) and Catalytic Fast Pyrolysis (CFP) of biomass.

Daniela Farmer

Daniela Farmer is a PhD student studying the preparation and activation of low-temperature water-gas shift catalysts; her project is sponsored by Yara International, a Norwegian agrochemical company. She graduated from the University of Manchester with an MChem (Hons) Chemistry degree in 2015.

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James Richard Hammerton
PhD Student

James Richard Hammerton is a current member of the Beale group studying his Ph.D. into the in situ studies of piston deposit formation. He completed his undergraduate degree at Newcastle University earning an MChem. During this time he worked with Dr. John Errington on the reduction of Polyoxometalates and also spent 9 months with Professor Rory Waterman and the University of Vermont working on homogenous photocatalysis.

Jay Pritchard

Jay Pritchard is a PhD student studying the chemistry of Fischer-Tropsch catalysts by in situ XRD-CT. He graduated from the University of St Andrews in 2014 with an MChem, and his research interests are focused on Fischer-Tropsch catalysis, and in situ / operando synchrotron techniques.

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Chengwu Qiu
PhD Student

Chengwu Qiu is a PhD student studying the chemistry of Fischer-Tropsch catalysis by in situ/ operando X-PEEM and GISAXS/GIXD. He graduated from University of Chinese Academy of Sciences in 2015 with a master degree of Chemical Engineering and Technology. His PhD project are focused on fundamentally understanding cobalt nanoparticles’ behaviours  during Fischer-Tropsch reaction by using synchrotron based techniques.

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Urvashi Vyas
PhD Student

Urvashi Vyas is now starting her research career with Dr Andrew Beale, at University College London (UCL). She is currently working on a high-pressure flow reactor for the operando surface X-ray Scattering Analysis. Here she will assist in establishing relationships between structure and activity by using a variety of heterogeneous catalysts, specifically behind industrial processes like the Fischer-Tropsch reaction. She will be working at the Research Complex at Harwell (RCaH) collaborating with a group of scientists. She previously studied her undergraduate degree at University of Greenwich London. Here she studied her Masters of Chemistry and she specialized in Organic Chemistry. Her research interest at the time was behind chemical synthesis of novel alkaloids. The specific alkaloid she was interested in was Galanthindole and 6-hydroxy-galanthindole. However, now she is taking a dive into an Inorganic Chemistry style project.

Sofia Mediavilla-Madrigal PhD Student

Sofia graduated in 2020 with a MEng in Chemical Engineering from Imperial College London. During her studies she spent a year abroad at the National University of Singapore, where she first became interested in chemical catalysis. She is now a member of Beale group pursuing her PhD in Chemistry with Cardiff University under the supervision of Prof. Andy Beale, Prof. Stuart Taylor and Prof. Graham Hutchings. Her project mainly focuses on the characterisation of novel trimetallic catalysts for CO2 activation using electron microscopy and X-ray methods under in-situ and operando conditions. This project is in collaboration with experts from internationally leading research centres for catalysis including the UK (CIC and UK Catalysis Hub at Harwell), the Netherlands (MCEC, Utrecht) and Germany (FHI, Berlin).

Danial Farooq PhD Student

Danial Farooq is a PhD student in the Beale group investigating the use of scattering-contrast computer tomography techniques to study Fischer-Tropsch catalyst to produce fuel from domestic waste. The project is hosted by UCL at the Catalysis Hub based in the Harwell Research Complex with collaboration of industry partners, BP and Johnson Matthey. In 2020, Danial completed his master’s in engineering science at the University of Oxford with specialisation in chemical engineering modules. His master’s thesis involved the modelling of an integrated hydrothermal liquefaction plant which could convert organic waste feedstock into sustainable aviation fuel. He has further research experience performing mass and energy balance, techno-economic assessments, and environmental assessments on different waste management systems as a research intern at the University of Oxford. During the summer of 2019, he gained experience as research intern at the university of Nizwa, Oman, investigating the bioremediation of diesel oil. Furthermore, he also completed specialised modules in entrepreneurship and innovation at the Said Business School

Sebastian Stockenhuber

Sebastian Stockenhuber is a PhD student studying under Prof. Andrew Beale and Prof. Gopinathan Sankar at UCL. His project is based around investigation of the failure of industrial Cu/ZnO/Al2O3 catalysts in Low Temperature Water Gas Shift reactors and determining the role of water in its deactivation. The industrial sponsor for the project is Yara International ASA, a Norwegian-based company specializing in agricultural products, and will involve collaboration with the UCL campus in Bloomsbury, London and the Catalysis Hub in the Harwell Research Campus. Sebastian completed his Bachelor of Chemical Engineering (Honours) / Bachelor of Science (Chemistry) in 2020 at the University of Newcastle, Australia. His thesis was based on the thermal decomposition kinetics of Perfluorooctanoic acid and Perfluorooctanesulfonic acid in affected soil at the Royal Airforce base at Williamtown, Australia, with a view on scale-up to the industrial level.

Sining Chen Phd Student

Sining Chen joined Beale Group in 2020 and now is a PhD student majoring in Chemistry at UCL under the supervision of Prof. Andrew Beale. She got her Bachelor’s degree (Environmental Science) and Master’s degree (Environmental Science and Engineering) at Beijing Forestry University, China. Her project is to explore the structure-activity relationship of Ni supported catalysts during the process of CO2 methanation.