The Science Partnership Office has initiated a new programme for visiting professors in the Faculty of Science, known as Aegis Professors.
‘Aegis’ is an ancient Greek term meaning protection, support or guidance. Our Aegis Professors provide guidance to students and researchers by bringing their up-to-date experience of work into academia. Through lectures, talks and mentorship, they help University colleagues ensure that teaching is relevant to current business needs, and enable them to apply their research expertise to real-world problems. They may also offer support on start-ups and entrepreneurship. Please feel free to get in touch with the Aegis Professors, or the SPO, if you think they could guide or support your work.
Aegis Professors are appointed for a three-year term on a part-time basis. In return for their valued contributions to academic life, they are given access to University facilities and staff consultation, to help them meet challenges in their own work.
If you would like more information on Aegis Professors, please contact the SPO.
Our current Aegis Professors
Dr Andrew Humphris, School of Physics
Andrew Humphris has taken up an Aegis Professorship as Honorary Professor of Nanoimaging in the School of Physics from January 2021.
Dr Humphris has been working in the field of nanoscale imaging, specifically scanning probe microscopy, since 1997. After completing his PhD at the University of Bristol, he worked as a research fellow and proleptic lecturer at the University. In 2001 he co-founded the spin-out company Infinitesima Ltd, where he is currently the Chief Technology Officer.
Infinitesima Ltd develops and manufactures high speed microscopes for in-line process control applications in the semi-conductor industry. The microscopes enable rapid nanoscale imaging and metrology, building on techniques developed at Bristol. Dr Humphris led the development of Infinitesima’s products and technologies, which are now used by all the top tier semiconductor manufacturers for the development and fabrication of current and next generation devices. Infinitesima Ltd currently employs approximately 30 staff and has active projects with other international semiconductor equipment suppliers to deliver further rapid probe microscopy solutions to the market.Based on its proven track record, the company is currently seeking further funding to develop a range of standalone products, which will enable the full capability of its nanoscale metrology and inspection technologies to be exploited.
In his position as CTO, Dr Humphris works at the leading edge of nanoscale metrology, regularly meeting with the international community of researchers, semiconductor equipment suppliers and device manufactures. He has has over 25 granted US patents and over 75 worldwide patents and scientific publications.He maintains an active relationship with academia through ongoing joint projects with academic researchers and invitations to sit on advisory panels.
During his time as Aegis Professor, Dr Humphris will use his experience and knowledge of nanoscale imaging and metrology to look for synergies and potential developments between Infinitesima Ltd and the University of Bristol. Initial areas of work include:
Seeking further applications for high-speed microscopy. There are many potential applications for the company’s novel high-speed scanning probe microscopy technology outside the semiconductor market, which are not being exploited. Dr Humphris will work with researchers in the School of Physics to explore these capabilities. This work is likely to provide areas of joint interest and identify possible ways to utilise InfinitesimaLtd’s technology and expertise to support new and ongoing areas of research, development and applications.
Creating 3D nanoscale structures.The semiconductor industry’s requirement for an increasing number of ever smaller devices on the same wafer is driving the development of increasingly complex 3D structures, using new materials and developing new device types. To enable the development and ultimate manufacturing of these structures there is a high demand for new metrology solutions. Infinitesima Ltd’s high-speed scanning probe microscopy technology can contribute to this, but the technology’s capabilities must be continually improved. Working with colleagues in the School of Physics, Dr Humphris will seek to advance the fundamental understanding of probe microscopy, or indeed identify alternative approaches to address these challenges.
John F.H. Thompson has taken up an Aegis Professorship as Honorary Professor of Sustainable Resources in the School of Earth Sciences, from January 2021.
John’s expertise is in geology and the earth’s resources, in particular the minerals industry, in which he has over 35 years’ expertise. He was VP Technology and Development and Chief Geoscientist for Teck Resources (1998-2012) and worked previously with Rio Tinto and BP Minerals. In the 1990s he directed the Mineral Deposit Research Unit (MDRU) at the University of British Columbia where he managed major collaborative research projects funded by Federal and Provincial agencies and companies. He is on the Boards of exploration and technology companies, and advisory groups for venture capital, clean technology and sustainability.From 2013-18, Dr Thompson was the World Professor of Environmental Balance for Human Sustainability at Cornell University, and he continues to have research and advisory roles at Cornell as an Adjunct Professor. He has previously visited Bristol, in December 2019, as a Benjamin Meaker Distinguished Visiting Professor. Since 2012, he has also partnered in a consulting business based in Vancouver, BC, where he provides strategic analysis and advice related to exploration, mining technology and sustainability.
In the Aegis Professor role, Dr Thompson will work with faculty and students to investigate the complex issues facing society in the exploitation of the earth’s resources. Metals can play vital roles in providing the clean energy and transportation needed for sustainable living. The future therefore depends on the discovery of appropriate sources of critical metals, responsible mining and extraction methods, and the creation of secure supply chains. Dr Thompson will seek to generate discussion and facilitate research collaboration in these areas, including:
Copper. Copper is an important infrastructure and technology element that will play a major role in the energy transition, specifically the electrification of transportation. As a result, various estimates suggest that copper demand will increase by 150-300% over current demand by 2050. Dr Thompson will facilitate additional, multidisciplinary research collaboration related to the formation of copper deposits and the application of new technologies and approaches that enhance both performance and sustainability goals.
Battery technology.Battery technology is the key to the growth of electric vehicles, but batteries require specific metals such as lithium and cobalt. This raises the challenge of restricted sources, and environmental and social issues. Researchers in the School of Earth Sciences have joined colleagues from several UK universities to develop research focused on concentrated pools or ‘brines’ of lithium in the Andes, including work with local communities. They will also investigate the potential for lithium recycling.
Environment, social and governance (ESG) factors. ESG factors are likely to impose significant constraints on the timely supply of critical metals. Work here will be multidisciplinary, incorporating earth science, social science, business and international development, and environmental studies.