Professor Karen Holford CEng FIMechE FICE CPhys FInstP FLSW

Professor Karen Holford CEng FIMechE FICE CPhys FInstP FLSW

Karen is a Professor of Mechanical Engineering who has published 150 research works including 85 papers in peer-reviewed journals. She has played a leading role in research projects totalling over £5M. She currently supervises 3 PDRAs and 3 PhD students and has supervised to completion 20 postgraduate students.

Her primary research theme is damage assessment for structural health monitoring using acoustic emission, with a particular emphasis on improving source location accuracy. This has been applied across a range of industrial applications including bridges (commercialised under licence agreement with Physical Acoustics Ltd and included in a Highways Agency Advice note and the topic of a REF2014 Impact Case Study) and aerospace structures including landing gear (in conjunction with EPSRC and Messier-Dowty) and across a range of materials including composites (CFRP/GFRP) in conjunction with Airbus, and concrete and metals.

Karen’s career started at Rolls Royce in Bristol where she completed an undergraduate apprenticeship, reading Mechanical Engineering at UWIST. This was followed by a PhD in Acoustic Emission at UCC, sponsored by the Health and Safety ecutive. She worked as senior design engineer at AB Electronic Products Ltd. for three years. She joined Cardiff University’s School of Engineering as a lecturer in 1990, becoming Professor of Mechanical Engineering in 2006 and was appointed Director of the School of Engineering in 2010 and to her current role, Pro Vice-Chancellor, Head of College of Physical Sciences and Engineering, in 2012.  

She has continued her role as Professor of Mechanical Engineering, working in a very active laboratory (Cardiff University Structural Performance Laboratory). Karen contributes enthusiastically to external activities on a voluntary basis:  she is a founding member of the WISE in Wales committee; an advisory board member for ‘Science made Simple’ and a trustee of the Engineering Education Scheme for Wales. She is a member of the EPSRC Strategic Advisory Network (SAN) and Chair of the EPSRC Engineering Strategic Advisory Team (SAT).

In 2006 she received the Welsh Woman of the Year in Science and Technology in recognition of notable achievements in her field and in 2007 was awarded the WISE Excellence award for personal contribution to engineering and a long term commitment to supporting girls and young women in science and engineering.