Bath University PhD student Frances Baxter has won a prestigious new training award from The Royal Academy of Engineering. She will receive a £5,000 grant for personal development projects as part of her research work on developing new bone replacement materials.

Frances did a Masters degree in Mechanical Engineering with French at Bath. Her PhD research involves studying a range of ceramics with varying electrical properties that might be used as grafts to repair defects in bones. Mimicking natural bone is complex as it has some ‘piezoelectric’ properties – crystals within the bone generate a voltage when the bone is under stress, this effect may help to trigger bone growth.

The Academy’s award, one of five given this year for the first time, will enable Frances to broaden her experience by attending international conferences, including the Orthopaedic Research Society conference in Hawaii in October. She also hopes to spend time abroad working with collaborators in Lausanne and Pittsburgh and plans to learn Spanish this summer on a two-week immersion course in Spain – she is already fluent in French. She also finds time to play violin in the Bath Symphony Orchestra and to sing in the University Gospel Choir.

“Frances has shown great versatility in the development of her practical skills and ability to work as part of a team,” says her research supervisor Dr Irene Turner. “She has the drive and enthusiasm to make the most of this award, which will help her to realise her vision of learning from the best international researchers in her field.”

“The award will provide some fantastic opportunities for me as a research student,” says Frances. It will allow me to enhance my project through collaborations which would not have been possible without this funding. I am very excited about the possibilities that are now available to me.”

"The winners of the Royal Academy of Engineering Research Student Development Fellowships are a highly innovative group of young researchers studying important topics such as medicine, energy, security and sport,” says Professor Peter Deasley FREng, Lead Assessor for the awards. “The Fellowships will enable them to initiate technical collaborations with overseas universities and industry and broarden their perspectives by learning languages and developing their individual skills, both technical and cultural."

Notes for editors

  1. The Research Student Development Fellowships have been set up to add value to the research-oriented education of PhD and EngD students, in fields related to electrotechnology, who submit the best personal development plans at the start of their second year of study. After completing their doctoral studies they are eligible to apply for a further £5,000 prize provided they go on to pursue a career in either academic or industrial engineering research in the UK.
  2. Founded in 1976, The Royal Academy of Engineering promotes the engineering and technological welfare of the country. Our fellowship – comprising the UK’s most eminent engineers – provides the leadership and expertise for our activities, which focus on the relationships between engineering, technology, and the quality of life. As a national academy, we provide independent and impartial advice to Government; work to secure the next generation of engineers; and provide a voice for Britain’s engineering community.

For more information please contact

Jane Sutton at The Royal Academy of Engineering
Tony Trueman at the University of Bath tel. 01225 384220