Glen McHale


Accepting PhD Students

Personal profile


I became Professor of Interfacial Science & Engineering and Director of Chemical Engineering in Edinburgh in 2020 after eight years at the University of Northumbria at Newcastle where I was first Executive Dean of the Faculty of  Engineering & Environment and then Pro Vice-Chancellor (REF). Prior to that I spent twenty two years as as an academic at Nottingham Trent University where I was a Professor and Head of the Research & Graduate School (Science & Technology) in the College of Arts & Science and formerly Head of Physics & Mathematics. In my earlier career I held a Royal Society European Fellowship at the University of Paris VI (Pierre et Marie Curie) and both gained a PhD in Applied Mathematics and was awarded a BSc (Hons) First Class in Mathematical Physics by the University of Nottingham.

My research involves wetting, interfacial science and engineering and is undertaken as part of the Institute for Multiscale Thermofluids. It has attracted many funding awards including over twenty RCUK/EPSRC grants, mainly as Principal Investigator, and including both an EPSRC Platform Grant (awarded only to world-leading groups) and an EPSRC Centre for Doctoral Training. I have published over 200 refereed journal papers, which are cited ca. 1200 times annually (Google Scholar), and have been awarded seven patents. I am a Fellow of the Royal Society for Arts, Manufactures & Commerce (FRSA), a Fellow of the Higher Education Academic (FHEA), a Fellow of the Institute of Physics (F.Inst.P), a Senior Member of the Institute of Electrical & Electronic Engineers (SMIEE) and a member of the International Society of Bionic Engineering (MISBE).  I am a member of the EPSRC Peer Review College and lead a UK Fluids Network Special Interest Group. I have previously been a Board Member of the Award Winning BIM Academy Enterprises Ltd, an Editorial Board member of Advances in Colloid & Interface Science, a UK Management Committee representative on COST Actions, and I was a member of sub-panel 13 for "Electrical and Electronic Engineering, Metallurgy and Materials" for the UK Research Excellence Framework (REF2014).


  • Mathematical Physics BSc (Hons) First Class (University of Nottingham, 1983)
  • Applied Mathematics PhD (University of Nottingham, 1986)
  • Fellow of the Royal Society of the Arts (FRSA, 2017)
  • Chartered Physicist (CPhys) and Fellow Institute of Physics (FInstP, 2002)
  • Fellow (FHEA) Higher Education Academy (HEA, 2007)
  • Senior Member Institute of Electrical & Electronic Engineers (SMIEEE, 2002)
  • Member of the International Society of Bionic Engineering (MISBE, 2019)


  • Year 3 Chemical Engineering Laboratories
  • Year 4 Chemical Engineering Study Project
  • Year 5 MEng Research Project

Research Interests

Areas of research include smart and advanced materials, functional surfaces, static and dynamic wetting of surfaces (theory and experiment) and acoustic waves (fundamentals and sensor applications. These are encompassed within three broad categories,

  • Interfacial Science and Engineering
  • Smart Materials and Surfaces
  • Wetting and Dewetting

Applications include heat and mass transfer, evaporation and condensation, friction and drag reduction, and fluid dynamics and microfluidic systems.

Current Research Interests

Research Themes:

  • Nature-Inspired Surface Engineering: Natural surfaces, such as the Lotus Leaf and Nepenthes Pitcher plant, and natural systems such as galling aphids, are used as inspiration for self-cleaning, phase change (evaporation and condensation) systems, anti-fouling and anti-icing/de-icing;
  • Wetting, Dewetting and Fluids: Video-microscopy and flow systems are used to study the interaction and evolution of liquids on surfaces. These surfaces have different geometries (planar, fiber, etc), can be smooth or patterned and can be smart and functional surfaces;
  • Superhydrophobic, Superwetting and Slippery Surfaces: Lithography, electrodeposition and etching to sculpture surfaces at the nano- and micro-level is used to obtain extreme water repellency, imbibition beyond that which chemistry alone can deliver or superslippery lubricant impregnated surfaces (SLIPS) which reduce friction and drag increasing efficiency and minimising energy loss;
  • Electrowetting, Dielectrowetting and Liquid Optics: Liquid surfaces are shaped and droplets are controlled using electrostatic forces to create programmable diffraction gratings and lenses;
  • Acoustic and Surface Acoustic Wave Sensors: High frequency vibrations of quartz crystal microbalances (QCMs) and surface acoustic wave devices (SAWs) are used to probe liquid properties, and the solid-liquid and solid-vapour interfaces with selectivity achieved via surface coatings.

Selected Publications:

  1. McHale, G., & Hardt, S. Flow and Drop Transport Along Liquid-Infused Surfaces. J. Fluid. Mech. 54 , 83-104 (2022).
  2. Semprebon, C., Sadullah, M.S., McHale, G., & Kusumaatmaja, H. Apparent Contact Angle of Drops on Liquid Infused Surfaces: Geometric Interpretation. Soft Matter (2021)
  3. McHale, G., Ledesma-Aguilar, R. & Wells, G. G. Interfacial Strategies for Smart Slippery Surfaces. J. Bionic Eng. 17, 633–643 (2020).
  4. Armstrong, S., McHale, G., Ledesma-Aguilar, R. & Wells, G. G. Pinning-Free Evaporation of Sessile Droplets of Water from Solid Surfaces. Langmuir 35, 2989–2996 (2019).
  5. Li, J. et al. Topological Liquid Diode. Sci. Adv. 3, eaao3530 (2017).
  6. McHale, G. Wetting Properties of Surfaces and Drag Reduction. in Non-wettable Surfaces: Theory, Preparation and Applications (eds. Ras, R. & Marmur, A.) 253–279 (Royal Society of Chemistry, 2017).
  7.  Wells, G. G., Ledesma-Aguilar, R., McHale, G. & Sefiane, K. A Sublimation Heat Engine. Nat. Commun. 6, 6390 (2015).
  8. McHale, G., Brown, C. V. & Sampara, N. Voltage-induced Spreading and Superspreading of Liquids. Nat. Commun. 4, 1605 (2013).

Current/Recent Research Funding:

  1. EP/T025158/1 Wetting of Auxetic Metamaterials (P)
  2. EP/S023836/1 EPSRC Centre for Doctoral Training in Renewable Energy Northeast Universities (ReNU) (P)
  3. EP/R036837/1 Dynamic Dewetting: Designing and Breaking Novel Morphologies of Liquid Films (P)
  4. EP/P005896/1 New Engineering Concepts from Phase Transitions: A Leidenfrost Engine (P)
  5. EP/P018998/1 Thin Film Acoustic Wave Platform for Conformable and Mechanically Flexible Biosensors (C)
  6. EP/L026899/1  Lubricating Channel and Tube Flows - Fluid Sheathing using Textured Walls (P)
  7. EP/K014803/1 Dielectrowetting: Controlling Oleo- and Hydrophilicity and Shaping Liquid Surfaces (P)
  8. EP/I016414/1  Smart Materials - Designing for Functionality (P)
  9. EP/H000704/1 Particle based superhydrophobic surfaces: Lab models-to-field sample behaviour (P)
  10. EP/G057265/1 Engineering of surfaces for drag reduction in water with validation using computational and experimental methods (P)


Positions available

Enquiries are welcome from potential PhD students

Visiting and Research Positions

  • Member of the EPSRC Peer Review College
  • International Conference Advisory Boards: Nature Inspired Surface Engineering (NISE), Electrowetting Workshop Series, Droplets Conference Series.
  • Member of the Advisory Board for the Key Lab in Bionic Engineering, Jilin University, China
  • REF2014 Sub-Panel Member UoA13 Electrical and Electronic Engineering, Metallurgy and Materials

Administrative Roles

Director of Discipline - Chemical Engineering

Education/Academic qualification

Applied Mathematics, Doctor of Philosophy (PhD), University of Nottingham

1 Sept 198331 Jul 1986

Award Date: 31 Jul 1986

Mathematical Physics, Bachelor of Science, University of Nottingham

1 Sept 198031 Jul 1983

Award Date: 31 Jul 1983


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