Arthur Wilkinson

Favourite Thing: Making new materials and then breaking them to see how they perform.



UMIST 1981-1990


BSc, PhD

Work History:

Clearex Plastics, Dow Chemicals

Current Job:

Senior Lecturer in Polymer and Composites Processing


The University of Manchester

Me and my work

Teaching and research on polymers and composites.

I’m a lecturer in polymer science at the University of Manchester, working in a composites research centre.  I teach polymer science and technology and my research is now mainly in polymer composites – with reinforcements ranging from carbon fibres to nanoparticles.

My Typical Day

Currently a mixture of marking exams/administration and research on polymers and composites.

No such thing as a typical day, which is why my job is interesting.  At the moment marking of exams is most important but otherwise I could be, for example, visiting a company, talking to research students, reading drafts of papers or PhD theses, meeting with other researchers or visitors, writing papers, teaching or attending a conference.

What I'd do with the money

Have fun spreading the word about the wonderful world of materials.

I’d like to use the money to help our outreach activities; these include short courses for school teachers and for students, events at science and engineering fairs, as well as design competitions for schools.  Our latest must-have item to play with, sorry – I meant demonstrate the wonders of materials, is the 3-D printing pen! (see

My Interview

How would you describe yourself in 3 words?

experienced, rotund, enthusiastic

Who is your favourite singer or band?

Joy Division

What's your favourite food?


What is the most fun thing you've done?

Probably waterskiing – I was rubbish, but still….

What did you want to be after you left school?

employed (it was the late 1970’s)

Were you ever in trouble at school?

Yes; occupational hazard as a school kid

What was your favourite subject at school?


What's the best thing you've done as a scientist?


What or who inspired you to become a scientist?

At first – employment, then I became hooked by polymers.

If you weren't a scientist, what would you be?

Dread to think

If you had 3 wishes for yourself what would they be? - be honest!

From the above it looks like- a less rotund waterskier who used to be in Joy Division

Tell us a joke.

I never believe atoms – they make up everything!

Other stuff

Work photos:

    Because we make composites with polymers and carbon fibre they are very strong, and need big machines to break them.  The machine standing on the floor is Gigi, but the giant machine sitting in a pit in the floor is JLo, which can apply 250 tonnes to our composites.