Read more about VOILAb researchers and alumni

Dr Ignazio Maria Viola, Reader

Dr Ignazio Maria Viola is Reader at the School of Engineering, University of Edinburgh, and Fellow of the Royal Institution of Naval Architects. He has been awarded two Medals of Distinction and one Medal of Exceptional Merit by the Royal Institution of Naval Architects. He is Editor-in-Chief of the Journal of Sailing Technology of the Society of Naval Architects and Marine Engineers, a society of which he is member of the Council (governing body). He is also Editorial Board Member of 4 other journals: Ocean Eng, J Marit Eng, Int J Small Craft Tech, and J Mar Sc and Eng. He is the recipient of the ERC Consolidator Grant Dandidrone to explore the underlying unsteady aerodynamics of dandelion-inspired drones. He is the Principal Investigator of the EPSRC project Morphing Blades for Tidal Turbines (EP/V009443/1), the Edinburgh co-Director of the Centre for Doctoral Training (CDT) in Wind & Marine Energy Systems (EP/L016680/1) and Co-Investigator and Edinburgh Deputy Director of the new CDT in Wind & Marine Energy Systems & Structures (EP/S023801/1).  




Dr Chandan Bose, Research Associate

Chandan completed his graduation in Civil Engineering from Jadavpur University, India, in 2013, where he was the university gold medalist (first class first) of his batch. He received his master’s and Ph.D. degrees from the Department of Applied Mechanics at the Indian Institute of Technology Madras, India, in 2019. His Ph.D. research was on the dynamical analysis of the unsteady flow phenomena around a flapping wing through high-fidelity numerical simulations and wind tunnel experiments. He received the Institute Research Award (IIT Madras), V. Ramamurthy Best Thesis Award (IIT Madras), and the prestigious Indian National Academy of Engineering Innovative Project Award for his doctoral research contribution. Following his Ph.D., he did a postdoctoral stint at the University of Liege, Belgium, where he was awarded the Wallonie Bruxelles International Excellence Postdoctoral Fellowship and FNRS Postdoctoral Fellowship to work on nonlinear aeroelasticity and fluid-structure Interaction. He has been chosen as one of the outstanding reviewers of the Year 2020 by the ASME Journal of Computational and Nonlinear Dynamics. He has joined VOILAb as a research associate to work on the ERC CoG project “Dandidrone” to study the underlying fluid-structure interaction dynamics of dandelion seed propulsion and its application towards building a microdrone.


Dr Yabin Liu, Research Associate

Yabin is a researcher in the broad area of fluid dynamics, particularly around the bio-inspired design of tidal/wind turbines and aerial/underwater vehicles and vortex dynamics. He obtained his doctoral degree from the Department of Energy and Power Engineering of Tsinghua University in 2021, with both Outstanding Doctoral Thesis prize and Beijing Outstanding Graduate prize. He studied in the University of Cambridge as a visiting Ph.D. student for 1 year, sponsored by China Scholarship Council. His doctoral project was on spatial-temporal evolution and controlling methods of tip leakage vortex in turbomachinery. He has a distinguished peer-reviewed publication record, with 3 ESI Highly-Cited/Hot papers and an H-index of 15. He won many prestigious scholarships and prizes, including the Chung-Hua Wu Outstanding Graduate Prize, the highest domestic honour in this major with 9 students awarded in China in 2020. He was granted the International Postdoctral Exchange Fellowship from China Postdoctoral Council, which is awarded to 100 researchers for all disciplines. He has joined VOILAb as a research associate to work on the EPSRC Morphing Blades project. He is exploring gust mitigation through passive pitch and flexible trailing edge within analytical analysis and fluid-structure interaction simulation. 


Dr Shūji Ōtomo, Research Associate

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. While completing his PhD, Shūji has also took up the position of part-time Research Assistant within VOILAb to develop a low-order hydrodynamic model of the tidal company Tidal Flyer. 


Dr Stefano Gambuzza, Research Associate

Stefano joined VOILAb in December 2021, where he holds the position of Research Associate in the Fluid Mechanics of Morphing Blades, researching novel technologies for application in real-scale machines. Prior to that, he obtained his PhD from the University of Southampton, where he studied the changes in performance and wake of a model-scale wind turbine subject to free-stream turbulence, and both his Master's and Bachelor's Degree in Aerospace Engineering from the Sapienza University in Rome, where he focussed on the wakes generated by bluff-bodies such as automobiles. During his studies, he has also visited the Technical University of Delft, where he wrote his MSc thesis. Having carried out experiments during the whole of his academic life, he is familiar with techniques for direct measurement of flows such as PIV and hot-wire anemometry, and he is keen to learn more on the technical aspects of experimental fluid mechanics. His main interest is on wind energy, and how the novel research in this field can be applied to solve the problems we face today.


Jean-Baptiste R G Souppez, 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. For this study, (, he 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.


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


Callum Bruce, PhD Student

Callum received his Master’s degree in Aeronautical Engineering from the University of Glasgow in 2014. In his final year project, he studied the aerodynamic performance of racing bicycles through a program of full scale wind tunnel experiments. Following graduation Callum worked as an Aerodynamicist at Aston Martin Lagonda Ltd. and later joined Altair Engineering helping develop the commercial Discrete Element Method software, Altair EDEM. In October 2020 Callum joined VOILAb and started his PhD project studying the unsteady aerodynamics of micro drones. His project aims to build on recent work led by Viola and published in Nature ( to investigate, through bio-inspired fundamental research, a mechanism to exploit wind gusts to keep small flyers aloft.


Kuba Frankowski, PhD Student

Kuba joined VOILAb in 2021 as a PhD student through the CDT in Wind and Marine Energy Systems and Structures. He’s obtained his BSc in Physics from Swansea University in 2020 being awarded the Best Graduating BSc Student prize from his year group. He completed his MSc in Sustainable Energy and Environment at Cardiff University, where he studied conventional and alternative energy systems, engineering thermodynamics and finite-element-modelling methods. For his dissertation he studied the effects of changing tidal turbine blade geometries at different tip-speed-ratios using blade-element-momentum-theory to optimise an existing blade design and set constraints for a theoretical adaptive blade. The results aimed to indicate the degree of twist changes that the blade would have to assume to maximise torque production at different turbine rotations and stream-flow speeds. Kuba has subsequently joined VOILAb to work on the Morphing Blades project.



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. After graduation, Francesca has been Teaching Fellow at the University of Newcastle until she joined the automotive industry in 2017. She is currently Lead Data Analyst at Cummins

Selected publications

Tagliaferri, F & Viola, IM, 2017, ‘A real-time strategy-decision program for sailing yacht races’, Ocean Engineering, vol 134, pp. 129–139.

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.

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.

Tagliaferri, F, Philpott, AB, Viola, IM & Flay, RGJ, 2014, ‘On risk attitude and optimal yacht racing tactics', Ocean Engineering, vol 90, pp 149-154.

PhD Thesis: "Dynamic Yacht Strategy Optimisation,"


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.

Selected publications

Pisetta, G, LeMestre, R & Viola, IM, 2022, ‘Morphing Blades for Tidal Turbines: a Theoretical Study’, Renewable Energy, vol. 183, pp. 802-819.


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 ( 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

Viola, IM, Peterson, B, Pisetta, G, Pavar, G, Akhtar, H, Menolascina, F, Mangano, E, Dunn, K, Gabl, R, Nila, A, Molinari, E, Cummins, C, Thompson, G, Lo M, Denison, F, Digard, P, Malik, O, Dunn, MJG & Mehendale, F, 2021, ‘Face Coverings, Aerosol Dispersion and Mitigation of Virus Transmission Risk’, IEEE Open Journal of Engineering in Medicine and Biology, vol. 2, pp. 26-35.

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. 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.

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.

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.


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. Since graduated, Rowan has worked in the wind industry, first at Senvion and soon after was appointed successively as WTG Package Manager of the Moray West Wind Farm at Ocean Winds.  

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.


Dr 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.

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, vol. 86, 108686.

PhD thesis: :Drag Reduction by Passive In-Plane Wall Motions in Turbulent Wall-Bounded Flows,"


Dr 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. He is currently Numerical Modeller at Mocean Energy.

Selected Publications

Scarlett, TG & Viola IM, 2019, ‘Unsteady hydrodynamics of tidal turbine blades’, Renewable Energy, vol. 146, pp. 843-855.

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.

PhD thesis: Unsteady Hydrodynamics of Tidal Turbine Blades,"


Dr Abel Arredondo-Galeana

Dr Abel Arredondo-Galeana

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, Kiprakis, A & Viola, IM, 2022 ‘A low cost oscillating membrane for underwater applications at low Reynolds numbers’, Journal of Marine Science and Engineering, vol. 10, no. 1, 77.

Viola, IM, Arredondo-Galeana, A & Pisetta, G, 2021, ‘The Force Generation Mechanism of Lifting Surfaces with Flow Separation’, Ocean Engineering, vol. 239, 109749.

Arredondo-Galeana, A, Young, AM, Smyth, ASM & Viola, IM, 2021, ‘Unsteady load mitigation through a passive trailing-edge flap,’ Journal of Fluids and Structures, vol. 106, no. 103352.

Souppez, J-BRG, Arredondo-Galeana, A & Viola, IM, 2019. 'Recent advances in numerical and experimental downwind sail aerodynamics', Journal of Sailing Technology, vol. 4, no. 1, pp. 45-65.

Arredondo-Galeana, A & Viola, IM, 2018, ‘The leading-edge vortex of yacht sails’, Ocean Engineering - Special Issue: Innovation in High Performance Sailing Yachts - INNOVSAIL, vol 159, pp. 552-562.

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.

PhD thesis: "A Study of the Vortex Flows of Downwind Sails,"


Dr Kristin Luttik

Kristin Luttik


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 (EngD) 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 the fall 2020 and was awarded her EngD in 2021. She is currently Technical Operation Engineer at Eversource ( in the USA.  

PhD thesis: "Instream Generation Using Tethered Kites in the Carousel Configuration," http://



Dr Weidong Dai

Weidong Dai


Weidong 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. Weidong was awardedd the PhD in 2021 and is now working at The Innovation Center for New Energy Technologies, CTG Science and Technology Research Institute, China Three Gorges Corporation.  

PhD thesis: "Numerical Modelling of Passively Pitching Blades for In-Stream Tidal Turbines,"


Dr Gabriele Pisetta

Gabriele Pisetta

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 was 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. Gabriele graduated in 2022.

Selected Publications

Pisetta, G, LeMestre, R & Viola, IM, 2022, ‘Morphing Blades for Tidal Turbines: a Theoretical Study’, Renewable Energy, vol. 183, pp. 802-819.

Viola, IM, Arredondo-Galeana, A & Pisetta, G, 2021, ‘The Force Generation Mechanism of Lifting Surfaces with Flow Separation’, Ocean Engineering, vol. 239, 109749.

Smith, AJ, Pisetta, G & Viola, IM, 2021, ‘The Scales of the Leading-Edge Separation Bubble,’ Physics of Fluids, vol. 33, no. 4, 045101.

Viola, IM, Peterson, B, Pisetta, G, Pavar, G, Akhtar, H, Menolascina, F, Mangano, E, Dunn, K, Gabl, R, Nila, A, Molinari, E, Cummins, C, Thompson, G, Lo M, Denison, F, Digard, P, Malik, O, Dunn, MJG & Mehendale, F, 2021, ‘Face Coverings, Aerosol Dispersion and Mitigation of Virus Transmission Risk’, IEEE Open Journal of Engineering in Medicine and Biology, vol. 2, pp. 26-35.

Bandiera L, Pavar G, Pisetta G, Ōtomo S, Mangano E, Seckl JR, Digard, P, Molinari, E, Menolascina, F & Viola, IM, 2020. ‘Face Coverings and Respiratory Tract Droplet Dispersion’, Royal Society Open Science, vol. 7, pp. 201663.