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Jacqueline Akhavan BSc (1979); MPhil (1982); PhD (1984), 1984

Professor of Explosives Chemistry and Head of Centre for Defence Chemistry

Jacqueline Akhavan's Photo

I always wanted to go into academia and become a lecturer, however, the best advice my PhD supervisor gave me was to get a job in industry and then move back into academia. I therefore went to work for Pirelli General in Eastleigh in R&D on polymeric optical fibres and made my move back into academia after three years.

I always wanted to go into academia and become a lecturer, however, the best advice my PhD supervisor gave me was to get a job in industry and then move back into academia.

I joined Cranfield University as a lecturer in polymers and physical chemistry. It was at this time that I started to learn about pyrotechnics by working on a research contract for standard fireworks. I then went on sabbatical to Akron University in Ohio where I worked on high energy rocket propellant sponsored by Norton Thiokol for the space programme. On returning to Cranfield University I was promoted to senior lecturer and took over the running of an MSc in explosives and ordnance engineering. I then concentrated on setting up my research team in synthesis and formulations of polymer bonded explosives.

Over the years I have worked on research contracts and consultancies for companies such as NATO, QinetiQ, MoD, dstl, Home Office, AWE, Africa Explosives Company, Leonardo da Vinci EU programme, Chemring, Wallops, BAESystems and MBDA and was the Dean of undergraduate studies.

In 2007 I was awarded a personal chair in explosive chemistry and became the Head of the Centre for Defence Chemistry.

Looking back, certain events did play a major role in progressing my career for instance studying for a PhD in polymers was very useful for my research in explosives, working in industry helped me move back into academia, taking a sabbatical helped me to get a senior lectureship, writing a book for the Royal Society of Chemistry on explosives raised my profile, and continuing to do research and publishing papers contributed to the award of a personal chair.

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