Professor Claire Davis BA, MA, PhD, CEng, FIMMM, FHEA

Professor of Ferrous Metallurgy

School of Metallurgy and Materials

Professor Claire Davis

Contact details

Telephone (+44) (0) 121 414 5174

Fax (+44) (0) 121 414 7468


School of Metallurgy and Materials
University of Birmingham
B15 2TT


Claire Davis is Professor of Ferrous Metallurgy. Her research interests are on the development of microstructure during processing and the relationships between microstructure and properties (both physical and mechanical) in metals; predominantly steels. She is also interested in the non-destructive evaluation of microstructure and defects in metals using a range of NDT techniques and modelling approaches.

Claire is a member of the Rail Research UK (RRUK) Association and has received research project funding from Tata Steel, Network Rail, EPSRC, EU, Alstom, E.ON, TWI amongst others.

Claire became a National Teaching Fellow in 2001, has received numerous awards and grants for educational activities and carries out educational pedagogy and teaching developments. She undertakes public engagement activities through links to local museums, schools and the media.


  • Fellow of the Institute of Materials, Mining and Minerals
  • Fellow of the Higher Education Academy
  • CEng
  • PhD in Ferrous Metallurgy, University of Cambridge, 1994
  • MA in Natural Sciences, University of Cambridge, 1993
  • BA(Hons) in Natural Sciences, University of Cambridge, 1990


Claire Davis graduated from St Catharine’s College, University of Cambridge, with a BA (Hons) 1st class degree in 1990. She was awarded various prizes, including the Griffiths medal. Claire completed her PhD on ‘Cleavage initiation in the intercritically reheated coarse grained heat affected zone of steel’ sponsored by SERC (now EPSRC) and British Steel (now Tata Steel) from the Department of Materials and Metallurgy at the University of Cambridge in 1994, during which time she spent 2 months at Nippon Steel as part of the European Research Student Experience Scheme.

Following her PhD Claire held a SERC Research Fellowship, followed by a one year University Lectureship in the Department of Materials Science and Metallurgy, University of Cambridge. Concurrently she also held a Research Fellowship at St. Catharine’s College. In 1995 Claire moved to a lectureship position in the School of Metallurgy and Materials at the University of Birmingham. She was promoted to senior lecturer in 2000, reader in 2007 and professor in 2009.

Claire has published over 80 papers in international journals, given invited and keynote lectures and has/is supervising 28 doctoral students and 5 Masters students. She works closely with Tata Steel and has a number of sponsored students working on steel projects.

Her research interests focus on steels – understanding how the desired microstructure develops during processing; the relationships between microstructure and properties; and non-destructive evaluation of microstructure and defects. She was a founding member of Rail Research UK and has a strong interest in rail related research activites.

Claire has been a member of the EPSRC peer review college since 1998 and was a member of the EPSRC Strategic Advice Team for Public Engagement from 2002-2009. Claire was awarded a National Teaching Fellowship in 2001, a Birmingham University Teaching Fellowship in 2008 and the ExxonMobil Excellence in Teaching Award in 2008.

She gave the Isambard Brunel Lecture at the British Association Science festival in 2006, has lectured at the Royal Institution in London and has worked closely with the Ironbridge Gorge Museum Trust and ThinkTank Museums. Claire has published a number of educational pedagogy papers and presented at workshops and conferences on teaching matters.


  • Cross disciplinary Engineering 1st year undergraduate module on the ‘Properties and Applications of Materials’.
  • School of Metallurgy and Materials 2nd year undergraduate module on ‘Ferrous and Non-ferrous Materials’
  • School of Metallurgy and Materials 3rd year undergraduate module on ‘Metals Processing’
  • Final year undergraduate research project supervision.

Postgraduate supervision

Available projects:

  • Rolling contact fatigue crack initiation mechanisms in rails and wheels
  • Non-destructive testing and modelling of cracks in rails and wheels
  • Use of non-contact electromagnetic sensors to characterise metallic microstructures non-destructively
  • Predicting grain size development during TMCR processing of steels
  • Understanding plate-to-pipe property changes in steel line-pipes
  • Microstructure-property relationships in high strength steels

Current Research Fellows:

  • Xinjiang Hao
  • Gemma Nicholson
  • Jun Liu

Current PhD students:

  • Rachel Punch
  • George Roberts
  • John-Paul Tovee
  • Hamed Rowshandel
  • Frank (Lei) Zhou
  • Anwar Juna
  • Jenny Round
  • Aleksej Molokonov
  • Daniel Du

Current EngD students:

  • Ben Gibbon
  • Kena Makaya
  • John Howarth
  • Navdeep Kahlon


Example of recent research work carried out are given via the links below:

Rail steels:
• Microstructural influences on rolling contact fatigue crack initiation in rails:
• 3D characterisation of RCF cracks in rails:

Non-destructive testing:
• Materials characterisation using ultrasonic sensors:
• Non-destructive detection of cracks in rails:
• Materials characterisation using electromagnetic sensors:

Microstructure development and property relationships:
• Development of bimodal grain structures in microalloyed steels:
• Effect of bimodal grain structures on fracture properties:
• Predicting linepipe steel strength:
• Modelling HAZ and weldmetal microstructures:

Further information available by downloading the pdf document.


Current large research grants include:
• EPSRC grant EP/H023429/1 ‘High temperature In-situ Monitoring of Power Station Steels using Electromagnetic Sensors – POWEREMS’ Collaborative grant with the University of Manchester. Industry partners: E.ON, Tata Steel, Alstom.
• Network Rail funded project on acoustic emission testing of rails.
• EU Framework 7 project ‘INTERAIL’ Development of a Novel Integrated Inspection System for the Accurate Evaluation of the Structural Integrity of Rail Tracks. EC Grant Agreement SCP8-GA-2009-234040 See for details.
• EU Framework 7 project ‘SAFERAIL’ Development of Novel Instrumentation for the Inspection of Railway Wheelsets. Project ref: SCP7-GA-2008-218674. See for details
• EU Framework 7 project ‘NIMO’ Development and Demonstration of a Novel Integrated Condition Monitoring System for Wind Turbines. Ref. FP7-ENERGY -2009-TREN-1 See for details

Recent (completed in last 4 years) large research grants include:
• 6 days neutron beam time on SALSA (proposal 1-02-47) ‘Influence of Residual Stresses in Rails on the Use of Alternating-Current Field Measurement to Characterise Rolling Contact Fatigue Cracks’
• EPSRC grant EP/D080207/1 ‘RRUK 2: Universities' Centre for Rail Systems Research’
• EPSRC grant EP/C34816/1 ‘Novel instrumentation for the scientific study of rail defects’
• EPSRC grant GR/S45331/01 ‘Microstructure analysis using inductance spectroscopy’
• EPSRC grant GR/S01443/01 ‘Ultrasonic texture measurements of strip (UTMOST)’

Other activities

Professional membership:

  • Fellow - Institute of Materials, Minerals and Mining
  • Fellow - Institute of Learning and Teaching (ILT)
  • Chartered Engineer
  • Member - Rail Research UK Association
  • Member - Institute of Materials, Minerals and Mining Steel Division
  • Member - International Iron and Steel Institute working group on computer aided learning (2000–2009)
  • Member - UKCME Steering Committee (2005-)
  • Member - Institute of Materials, Minerals and Mining Education Committee (1999-2005)
  • Member - MATTER (Materials Teaching Educational Resources) Steering Committee (1998-2001)
  • EPSRC College (1998-)
  • EPSRC Strategic Advisory Team for Public Engagement (2002-2009)
  • EPSRC Pupil-Researcher Initiative Steering Committee (2001-2005)


  • Best paper at World Congress on Rail Research (2008)
  • University of Birmingham Teaching Fellowship (2007)
  • ExxonMobil Excellence in Teaching award (2007)
  • Isambard Kingdom Brunel Award lecture at BA Science Festival (2006)
  • Project based learning in engineering prize for excellence (2003)
  • National Teaching Fellow (2001)


  • Editor for Journal of Ironmaking and Steelmaking
  • Reviewer for Metallurgical Transactions, Materials Science and Technology, Materials Science and Engineering, Journal of Materials Science, Mechanical Engineering and Design, Engineering Tribology, IMechE part F.
  • Guest editor for Materials Science and Technology Special Issue on Microalloyed Steels (2009)


Recent journal publications:

Rowshandel H., Papaelias M., Roberts C. and Davis C. (2011) “Development of Autonomous ACFM Rail Inspection Techniques” INSIGHT, 53, 2

Garnham J.E., Franklin F.J., Fletcher D.I. and Davis C.L. (2011) ‘Visualisation and modelling to understand rail rolling contact fatigue crack shape in three dimensions’, Proc. IMechE Part F: J. Rail and Rapid Transit, 225: 65-178

Kostryzhev A.G., Strangwood M. and Davis C.L, (2010) “Bauschinger Effect in Microalloyed Steels: Part I. Dependence on Dislocation-Particle Interaction”, Metallurgical Transactions, 41, 6: 1399-1408: 1399-1408

Yin W., Hao X.J., Peyton A.J., Strangwood M., Davis C.L., (2010) “Measurement of decarburisation of steel rods with an electromagnetic sensor using an analytical model” NDT & E International, 43, 8: 667-670

Garnham J.E., Ding R-G. and Davis C.L., (2010) ‘Ductile inclusions in rail, subject to compressive rolling-sliding contact”, WEAR, 269: 733–746

Hao X.J., Yin W., Strangwood M., Peyton A.J., Morris P.F., Davis C.L., (2010) ‘Modelling the electromagnetic response of dual-phase microstructure of steels’ NDT&E International, 43; 305-315

Papaelias M.Ph., Blakeley B., Roberts C., Davis C.L., Lugg M.C., (2010) “Further developments in high speed detection of rail rolling contact fatigue using acfm techniques” Insight, 52, 7: 358-360

Kundu A., Davis C.L. and Strangwood M., (2010) “Modelling of grain size distributions during single hit deformation of a Nb-containing steel.” Metall. Mat. Trans A, 41A, 4: 994-1002.

Peyton A.J., Yin W., Dickinson S., Davis C.L., Strangwood M., Hao X., Douglas A.J. and Morris P.F., (2010) “On-line microstructure analysis or rod by using induction spectroscopy”, Journal of Ironmaking and Steelmaking, 37, 2: 135-139

Chapters in a Book:

Garnham J.E. and Davis C.L., ‘Rail Materials’ in Wheel/Rail Interface Handbook edited by R. Lewis and U. Olofsson, published by Woodhead publishing. ISBN 978-1-84569-412-8, pp 125-171

Franklin F.J., Garnham J.E., Fletcher D.I., Davis C.L. and Kapoor A., ‘Modelling damage in rails’ in Wheel/Rail Interface Handbook edited by R. Lewis and U. Olofsson, published by Woodhead publishing. ISBN 978-1-84569-412-8, pp 311-348

Davis C.L. and Wilcock E., Chapter 4Case studies in engineering’ in ‘Effective Learning and Teaching in engineering’, Editors Caroline Baillie and Ivan Moore, Published by RoutledgeFalmer, ISBN 0-415-33489-6, pp51-71

Back to top