Paul is an authority in the field of structural mechanics for composite materials, a pioneer in the emerging field of morphing composite structures, and an expert in the structural mechanics of buckling and postbuckling of optimised composite structures. He has also contributed to the development of a novel manufacturing technology for composites (Continuous Tow Shearing).
He exploits the stiffness tailoring capability of composite structures and applies this knowledge to the design of aircraft, rocket structures, high performance yachts and wind turbine blades to name just a few application areas. He studies the interactions between (mostly) mechanical properties of materials and structural geometry and models their effect on the overall performance of structures that move. Such structures place a premium on being lightweight and being efficient or ‘slippy’ in the medium they move, whether it is air or water! Using such principles, he has designed helicopter blades with in-built material anisotropy to reduce vibrations in the rotor blades of the EH101 (Merlin) helicopter, created buckling formulae for lightweight anisotropic aircraft and space structures as used by Airbus, Boeing and NASA and devised highly efficient mathematical models for slender structures that have been adopted by commercial LUSAS finite element software. In a search using Scopus, he is the No.1 author in the world on both topics of morphing composites and buckling of composites (since 2000).
Paul is the Bernal Chair of Composite Materials and their Structures at the University of Limerick; SFI Research Professor; Professor of Lightweight Structures at the University of Bristol; Director of Advanced Composites Centre for Innovation and Science (ACCIS) Centre for Doctoral Training; Director of the Vestas Wind Systems Preferred Partnership in Composites; Director of the Offshore Renewable Energy (ORE) Catapult’s Wind Blade Research Hub and a current Royal Society Wolfson Merit Award holder. He serves the Royal Aeronautical Society’s Materials and Structures panel and is an associate editor of the AIAA Journal whilst also serving the editorial board of Composite Structures. He was awarded an EPSRC Advanced Research Fellowship (2002-2007), won best paper awards from the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics (AIAA) (2015) and American Society of Mechanical Engineers (ASME) (2015).
Further back he was awarded the Federation of European Materials Society’s Lecturer’s award (2004) and the Institute of Materials Royal Charter Prize (1987) for best overall performance in the UK for an undergraduate materials-related degree. Paul was Engineering Faculty Research Director at University of Bristol (2010-14) when he re-organised departmental research to the faculty level creating parallel streams of teaching (by department) and research (research groups). Such a structure retained the traditional strengths of departmental activity whilst fostering new collaborations across disciplines. He led the successful Research Exercise Framework (REF2014) for the Engineering Faculty with Bristol ranking at least top 5 or top 3 by the most pertinent metrics.
As part of this submission, his impact case study submission on “structural mechanics” received special commendation for its high quality from the General Engineering REF panel. He has supervised 34 PhD students to completion, attracted in excess of €50m of research funding including some €3m from industry. His PhD students now hold 8 faculty positions and others work for household-name industries including Airbus, Rolls-Royce, Mclaren, Thales, Blue Origin and Arup. He has defined the properties required for an aircraft skin material to facilitate morphing, which led to the most cited paper over all time in The Aeronautical Journal of the Royal Aeronautical Society. He has authored more than 140 referred journal articles and 130 conference proceedings.
CL Thill, J Etches, I Bond, K Potter, P Weaver
The aeronautical journal 112 (1129), 117-139
Concepts for morphing airfoil sections using bi-stable laminated composite structures
CG Diaconu, PM Weaver, F Mattioni
Thin-Walled Structures 46 (6), 689-701
Green composites: A review of material attributes and complementary applications
MPM Dicker, PF Duckworth, AB Baker, G Francois, MK Hazzard, …
Composites part A: applied science and manufacturing 56, 280-289