About Us

Read more about VOILAb researchers and alumni

Dr Ignazio Maria Viola, Senior Lecturer and Principal Supervisor

Dr Ignazio Maria Viola is Senior Lecturer at the Institute for Energy Systems (IES) of the School of Engineering, University of Edinburgh. His background is in yacht sail aerodynamics, where his research is internationally leading. Since 2003, he has collaborated with four America’s Cup teams and an Olympic team. He was awarded 2 Medals of Distinction (2015, 2012) and 1 Medal of Exceptional Merit (2011) by the Royal Institution of Naval Architects, an institute of which he was elected Fellow. He is Editor-in-Chief of the Journal of Sailing Technology and Associate Editor of 3 leading journals in marine technology: Ocean Eng, Intl J Small Craft Tech, J Mar Sci Eng.


Kristin Luttik, PhD Student

Kristin earned a bachelor’s degree in Aerospace Engineering at Delft University of Technology in 2010. After a year of travelling and gaining work experience as an engineering intern, she moved to Scotland to study for her Master’s degree in Sustainable Energy Systems at the University of Edinburgh; which she was awarded with distinction in 2012. Following this she spent the following years in industry, working at EPR Scotland. In 2015 she started working towards her Engineering Doctorate with IDCORE and VOILAb on the use of kites for large-scale, subsea, power generation. Her work includes creating an analytical model, and validating this using a scaled physical model of the system. Kristin submitted her PhD thesis in August 2020.


Weidong Dai, PhD Student

Weidong Dai undertook a two-plus-two program in 2010. Half of his undergraduate time was spent in Huazhong University of Technology and Science (China), with the other half spent at the University of Birmingham (UK). He was awarded Mechanical Engineering Bachelor's degrees from both universities in 2014. A year later he was awarded a Master’s degree in Advanced Aeronautical Engineering from Imperial College London. After a year at BSH Electrical Appliances as a mechanical engineer, he joined VOILAb to undertake a PhD on tidal turbine unsteady hydrodynamics. His specialist expertise includes high-performance computing and computational fluid dynamics.


Jean-Baptiste R G Souppez, part-time PhD Student

Jean-Baptiste R. G. Souppez holds the position of Senior Teaching Fellow in Mechanical Engineering and Design at Aston University, and Visiting Professor at the University of Liège. He originally graduated from the BEng (Hons) in Yacht and Powercraft Design at Southampton Solent University. He then qualified as a Traditional Wooden Boatbuilder before completing the MEngSt in Yacht Engineering at University of Auckland, where he was awarded the Yacht Engineering Scholarship for Academic Merit. He is currently undertaking part-time PhD within VOILAb on leading edge vortices and the numerical modeling of modern asymmetric spinnakers.


Daniele Certini, PhD Student

Daniele was awarded a Master’s degree in Aerospace Engineering at the University of Pisa in 2017. He performed his final year project during a six-month internship within VOILAb, where he investigated both experimentally and numerically the aerodynamics of the dandelion fruit. This study, which was published in Nature (2018; 562:414-418), received the Pegasus Award for a Special Achievement through Working Abroad for Academic Research. In September 2017, he started his PhD within VOILAb. His project aims to reveal the fluid mechanics principles that enable the extraordinary flight abilities of the Javan cucumber vine.


Shūji Ōtomo, PhD Student

Shūji attained his Bachelor’s degree in Mechanical Engineering in 2017 from Hokkaido University in Japan. His research project was to investigate the effect of turbulence on Savonius turbine. He has experimentally shown that Savonius turbine shows a better performance in turbulence subjected to Kolmogorv cascade by using hot-wire anemometry and particle image velocimetry. During his BSc, he was awarded a scholarship from Japan Student Service Organization (JASSO) for his PhD study within VOILAb. His experimental research project focuses on bio-inspired arrays of fish-like energy harvesters. His specialist expertise includes vortex flow, particle image velocimetry and impulse method.


Gabriele Pisetta, PhD Student

Gabriele earned a Master degree in Aeronautical Engineering in 2016 at the Politecnico di Milano. In October 2016, Gabriele joined the CDT Wind & Marine Energy Systems led by the University of Strathclyde (Glasgow) and the University of Edinburgh. In October 2017, he started his PhD project within VOILAb on gust alleviation by morphing blades for wind and tidal turbines. The aim of the project is to develop a novel intelligent blade that through a high-frequency morphing will cancel fatigue loads and enhance energy harvested. His specialist expertise includes impulse method and low order models.


Geethanjali Pavar, PhD Student

Anjali earned a masters in Computer Science from Imperial College London, followed by a masters in Environmental Change and Management from the University of Oxford. She later converted to engineering through a masters in Advanced Mechanical Engineering from Cranfield University, before joining the CDT in Wind and Marine Energy Systems, led jointly by the University of Strathclyde and the University of Edinburgh. In 2019, she started her PhD with VOILAb and is studying the interaction between vortex gusts and wings. The aim of her project is to improve understanding of the underlying physics through a combination of analytical modelling and experimental work.



Dr Francesca Tagliaferri

Dr Francesca Tagliaferri

Dr Francesca Tagliaferri received her PhD within VOILAb in 2015, where she carried out a project on yacht racing strategy. She has a background in mathematics and her research interests are routing algorithms, time series forecasting and risk modeling.

Selected publications

Tagliaferri, F & Viola, IM, 2017, ‘A real-time strategy-decision program for sailing yacht races’, Ocean Engineering, vol 134, pp. 129–139. www.dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.oceaneng.2017.02.026

Tagliaferri, F, Hayes, BP, Viola, IM & Djokic SZ, 2016, ‘Wind modelling with nested Markov chains’, Journal of Wind Engineering & Industrial Aerodynamics, vol 157, pp. 118-124. www.dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.jweia.2016.08.009

Tagliaferri, F, Viola, IM & Flay RGJ, 2015, ‘Wind direction forecasting with artificial neural networks and support vector machines’, Ocean Engineering, vol 97, no. 15, pp. 65–73. www.dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.oceaneng.2014.12.026

Tagliaferri, F, Philpott, AB, Viola, IM & Flay, RGJ, 2014, ‘On risk attitude and optimal yacht racing tactics', Ocean Engineering, vol 90, pp 149-154. www.dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.oceaneng.2014.07.020


Robin Le Mestre

Robin Le Mestre

Robin has been a VOILAb visiting student for 10 months from October 2016, while undertaking a Master of Mechanical Engineering at the Ecole Normale Supérieure of Cachan, France. The aim of his project was to enhance the understanding of flexible hydrofoils via numerical simulation and experimentation.


Dr Cathal Cummins

Dr Cathal Cummins

Cathal is Assistant Professor at Heriot Watt University, and former VOILAb’s Postdoctoral Research Associate. He obtained his BSc in Mathematical Physics from University College Dublin in 2009, an MSc in Mathematical Modelling in 2011 and a PhD in Applied Mathematics in 2014. He is the first author of the VOILAb’s Nature paper (2018; 562:414-418) that reveals the separated vortex ring underlying the flight of the dandelion seed. The article featured in the main press outlets of more than 30 countries, including BBC, The New York Times, and is ranked in the top 1% of all articles of a similar age in any journal for online attentions (https://edin.ac/2w8r4DN). Cummins received several prestigious awards, including the University College Dublin’s Conway Medal in Mathematical Physics. His MSc research was the front cover feature of the American Journal of Physics and was covered by BBC, MSNBC, and the Discovery Channel; whilst his PhD thesis featured as a Research Highlight by the American Institute of Physics.

Selected Publications

Cummins, C, Ajayi, OJ, Mehendale, FV, Gabl, R & Viola, IM, 2020, ‘The dispersion of spherical droplets in source-sink flow and their relevance to the COVID-19 pandemic’, Physics of Fluids, vol. 32, no. 8, 08330201-08330213. https://doi.org/10.1063/5.0021427. Paper published as part of the special topic on Flow and the Virus. Selected as Featured Article

Cummins, C, Saele, M, Macence, A, Certini, D, Matropaolo, E, Viola, IM & Nakayama, N, 2018, ‘A separated vortex ring underlies the flight of the dandelion’, Nature, vol 562, pp. 414–418. https://doi.org/10.1038/s41586-018-0604-2

Seale, M, Cummins, C, Viola, IM, Mastropaolo, E & Nakayama, N, 2018, ‘Design principles of hair-like structures as biological machines’, Journal of the Royal Society Interface, vol 15, no. 142, 20180206. http://dx.doi.org/10.1098/rsif.2018.0206

Cummins, C, Viola, IM, Mastropaolo E, and Nakayama, N, 2017, ‘The effect of permeability on the flow past permeable disks at low Reynolds numbers’, Physics of Fluids, vol 29, pp. 097103. www.dx.doi.org/10.1063/1.5001342


Rowan Eveline Muir

Rowan Eveline Muir

Rowan undertook an MSc by Research within VOILAb looking at the leading edge vortex as seen in bird and insect flight. In part because it’s fascinating, but also as a potential bio-inspired design optimisation for lift generation in low Reynolds aerodynamics.

Selected Publications

Muir, R, Arredondo-Galeana, A & Viola, IM, 2017, ‘The leading-edge vortex of swift-wing shaped delta wings’, Royal Society Open Science, vol 4, no 8, pp. 170077. www.dx.doi.org/10.1098/rsos.170077


Tamás István Józsa

Tamás István Józsa

Tamás is Postdoctoral Research Fellow at the University of Oxford and former VOILAb’s PhD student. He was awarded his PhD in 2018, where he investigated skin friction reduction potential of compliant coatings using high-fidelity CFD techniques.

Selected Publications

Jozsa, TI, Balaras, E, Kashtalyan, M, Borthwick, AGL & Viola, IM, 2019, ‘Active and passive in-plane wall fluctuations in turbulent channel flows’, Journal of Fluid Mechanics, vol. 866, pp. 689-720. https://doi.org/10.1017/jfm.2019.145

Jozsa, TI, Balaras, E, Kashtalyan, M, Borthwick, AGL & Viola, IM, 2020, ‘On the friction drag reduction mechanism of streamwise wall fluctuations’, International Journal of Heat and Fluid Flow, in press.


Gabriel Thomas Scarlett

Gabriel Thomas Scarlett

Gabriel is former PhD student within VOILAb, where he quantified the unsteady loads on tidal turbine blades through analytical models.

Selected Publications

Scarlett, TG & Viola IM, 2019, ‘Unsteady hydrodynamics of tidal turbine blades’, Renewable Energy, vol. 146, pp. 843-855. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.renene.2019.06.153

Scarlett, GT, Sellar, B, van den Bremer, T & Viola, IM, 2019, Unsteady hydrodynamics of a full-scale tidal turbine operating in large wave conditions, Renewable Energy, vol. 143, pp. 199-213. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.renene.2019.04.123


Dr Abel Arredondo-Galeana, Postdoctoral Research Fellow

After few years in industry as a wireline field engineer, Abel undertook a master’s degree in Sustainable Energy Systems at the University of Edinburgh (Hons 2014). Successively, he was funded by CoNaCyT to undertake a PhD on yacht sail aerodynamics within VOILAb. He was the first to detect experimentally the leading edge vortex on a yacht sail. After his PhD, he was a Postdoctoral Research Fellow within VOILAb, where he worked on the fluid dynamics of morphing blades to mitigate unsteady loadings on wind and tidal turbines. His specialist expertise includes vortex flow, particle image velocimetry and impulse method. He is currently Research Fellow at Strathclyde University.

Selected Publications

Arredondo-Galeana, A & Viola, IM, 2018, ‘The leading-edge vortex of yacht sails’, Ocean Engineering, vol 159, pp. 552-562. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.oceaneng.2018.02.029.

see also https://www.onepetro.org/journal-paper/SNAME-JST-2019-03 and https://doi.org/10.1098/rsos.170077