Professor Richard Johnston

Professor, Materials Science and Engineering

Telephone number

+44 (0) 1792 606576

Email address

Welsh language proficiency

Basic Welsh Speaker
Academic Office - A204
Second Floor
Engineering East
Bay Campus
Available For Postgraduate Supervision


Richard Johnston is a Professor in the Materials Research Centre, Swansea University, a 2013 British Science Association Media Fellow (based at Nature), and a 2015 Software Sustainability Institute Fellow.

Embracing a multidisciplinary approach, Richard's research has taken him from artificial intelligence in manufacturing, through gas turbine materials (abradables, nickel superalloys, ceramic matrix composites), and on to X-ray microtomography. He leads the X-ray Imaging group at Swansea, and chairs the Swansea University Research Forum (SURF) Executive Group. He is also Co-Director of the Materials Academy and sits on the Institute of Materials Minerals and Mining Education Committee, in addition to devising the #ResearchAsArt Awards and PI of the outreach and engagement programme Materials: Live.

Research grant capture as PI or Co-I of over £20Million since 2014, and is Co-Director of the £9M EPSRC/WG-funded Advanced Imaging of Materials (AIM) centre. Richard is an advocate of collaboration, and a champion of public engagement with research.

Richard has written for Nature, Scientific American, The Guardian, Huffington Post, and has worked on TV documentaries with the BBC (Rhys Jones’ Wildlife Patrol) and Horizon (Animal Mummies).

For more information visit Dr Johnston’s research group website.


Areas Of Expertise

  • X-ray microtomography
  • Aerospace materials
  • Characterisation
  • Bioinspiration

Career Highlights


Research at the JohnstonLab in Swansea University typically covers a number of diverse fields, but is primarily focussed on characterisation of structures using X-Ray Microtomography. The group has experience investigating many varied materials, from plant and biological specimens, to dense superalloys.

We have a focus on biomimetics and bioinspiration. Using X-Ray CT to investigate the hidden internal worlds of nature, and thinking about how and why these structures formed. We then look for challenging engineering applications that could benefit from the inspiration gained from these natural architectures. Utilising 3D-printing, we can create rapid replicas or prototypes of previously hidden structures found via X-ray CT, demonstrated on an everyday object.

The group also researches aerospace materials, focussing on the destructive and non-destructive characterisation of abradable coatings, ceramic-matrix-composites, and nickel-based superalloys among others. Corrosion studies of zinc and steel alloys are also ongoing.

Also, the group has expertise in applying artificial intelligence to a number of areas including manufacturing, process optimisation, creep of metals, and sports performance.

Specific strengths in X-ray computed tomography have resulted in collaborations with glaciology, tephrochronology, regenerative medicine, Egyptology, corrosion scientists, and many others.

RJ Xray Image 1 RJ Xray Image 2

The underlying ethos behind work at JohnstonLab is that we are passionate about interdisciplinary and collaborative research; and the excitement and energy that working with researchers from very different fields can provide.

Award Highlights