Dr Leah-Nani Alconcel PhD, FHEA, MRAeS

Dr Leah-Nani Alconcel

School of Metallurgy and Materials
Associate Professor
UG Admissions Tutor

Contact details

School of Metallurgy & Materials
University of Birmingham
B15 2TT

Dr Alconcel is a spacecraft engineer and lecturer in the School of Metallurgy and Materials. She leads the MSc programme in Space Engineering.

She has research interests in payload instrument development and calibration, space situational awareness from space-based platforms, data management for space, and pedagogical methods for inclusive STEMM teaching.

Dr Alconcel has won public engagement and research grants from the Royal Academy of Engineering and UK Space Agency.


  • PhD – University of California, San Diego
  • MSc – University of California, San Diego
  • BSc – University of Southern California
  • Member of the Royal Aeronautical Society
  • Fellow of Advance HE


Why study a STEM degree?:

Dr Alconcel has over 16 years of experience working as an engineer and manager on planetary exploration missions throughout the solar system including the Cassini mission to Saturn, JUICE mission to the Jovian system, and the Cluster multi-spacecraft mission investigating the Earth’s magnetosphere. She has worked on the full life cycle of space missions, from concept and design through to build, launch, operations and end-of-life.

Dr Alconcel has long-standing interests in both photography and public engagement in science and engineering. She has developed funded engagement projects for the Royal Academy of Engineering (Ingenious Award, 2021-22) and the UK Space Agency (Space for All, 2022-23). She is passionate about inclusivity in STEMM teaching, and particularly in aerospace and space engineering. She actively strives to recruit and retain a diverse student cohort to the School’s courses.


MSc in Space Engineering

Dr Alconcel teaches space-focused material for the UG Aerospace programme and the PG Space Engineering masters programme. She leads the following modules:

  • Space Mission Analysis and Design
  • Spacecraft Systems Engineering and Design
  • CubeSat Design
She also supervises individual research projects.

Postgraduate supervision

Current PhD student

Gruffudd Jones, “Space-based Inverse Synthetic Aperture Radar (ISAR)”, 2022-2025


  • Equitable access to space data, “Air Pollution Citizen Science - Africa (APoCSA)”, Co-I, 2023
  • Space magnetometer data calibration and archiving, ESA Cluster mission – Fluxgate magnetometer (FGM) archive engineer (2006-present)
  • Space-based dataset management and archiving
  • Design, development, and operation of space payload instruments

Other activities

Funded policy work

  • Midlands Space Cluster Development group – University of Birmingham PI (2023-25)
  • Space Academic Network Fellow (2021-22), case study highlight (pdf)

Voluntary work

  • Midlands Innovation Space Group member (2023 onward)
  • Women in Aerospace – Europe (WIA-Europe) working group member (2021 onward), white paper author “Visibility of Female Experts
  • Space Universities Network (SUN UK) working group member
  • Royal Aeronautical Society ALTA mentor for women in the UK aerospace sector


Recent publications


Bousiotis, D, Alconcel, LS, Beddows, D, Harrison, R & Pope, F 2023, 'Monitoring and Apportioning Sources of Indoor Air Quality Using Low-Cost Particulate Matter Sensors', Environment International, vol. 174, 107907. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.envint.2023.107907

Drabek-Maunder, E, Greaves, J, Fraser, HJ, Clements, DL & Alconcel, LN 2017, 'Ground-based detection of a cloud of methanol from Enceladus: when is a biomarker not a biomarker?', International Journal of Astrobiology, pp. 1-8. https://doi.org/10.1017/S1473550417000428

Alconcel, LNS, Fox, P, Brown, P, Oddy, TM, Lucek, EL & Carr, CM 2014, 'An initial investigation of the long-term trends in the fluxgate magnetometer (FGM) calibration parameters on the four Cluster spacecraft', Geoscientific Instrumentation, Methods and Data Systems, vol. 3, no. 2, pp. 95-109. https://doi.org/10.5194/gi-3-95-2014

Noell, AC, Alconcel, LS, Robichaud, DJ, Okumura, M & Sander, SP 2010, 'Near-infrared kinetic spectroscopy of the HO2and C 2H5O2 self-reactions and cross reactions', Journal of Physical Chemistry A, vol. 114, no. 26, pp. 6983-6995. https://doi.org/10.1021/jp912129j

Mollner, AK, Nair, GP, Alconcel, LS, Okumura, M & Sander, SP 2004, 'Measuring the yield of CIS-CIS HOONO in the reaction OH + NO 2 as a function of pressure', ACS National Meeting Book of Abstracts, vol. 228, no. 2, pp. PHYS-518.

Alconcel, LS & Continetti, RE 2002, 'Dissociation dynamics and stability of cyclopentoxy and cyclopentoxide', Chemical Physics Letters, vol. 366, no. 5-6, pp. 642-649. https://doi.org/10.1016/S0009-2614(02)01633-0

Alconcel, LS, Deyerl, HJ, DeClue, M & Continetti, RE 2001, 'Dissociation dynamics and stability of cyclic alkoxy radicals and alkoxide anions', Journal of the American Chemical Society, vol. 123, no. 13, pp. 3125-3132. https://doi.org/10.1021/ja0042581

Li, R, Alconcel, LNS & Continetti, RE 2001, 'Dissociative photodetachment of SO2┬ĚSO2-: Evidence for the S-O bound dimer', Chemical Physics Letters, vol. 336, no. 1-2, pp. 81-87. https://doi.org/10.1016/S0009-2614(01)00033-1

Conference contribution

Bousiotis, D, Alconcel, L-N, Harrison, RM, Beddows, DCS & Pope, F 2023, Monitoring and apportioning sources of outdoor and indoor air quality using low-cost particulate matter sensors. in EGU General Assembly 2023., EGU23-1011, European Geosciences Union, EGU General Assembly 2023, Vienna, Austria, 24/04/23. https://doi.org/10.5194/egusphere-egu23-1011

Alconcel, L-N, Oddy, T, Brown, P & Carr, C 2023, Sense-checking the calibration of the Cluster FGM magnetometer spin-axis offsets using mirror mode waves in the magnetosheath. in EGU General Assembly 2023., EGU23-10104, European Geosciences Union, EGU General Assembly 2023, Vienna, Austria, 24/04/23. https://doi.org/10.5194/egusphere-egu23-10104

Alconcel, LS, Oddy, T, Brown , P & Carr, C 2022, An extended investigation of the long-term trends in the fluxgate magnetometer (FGM) calibration parameters on the four Cluster spacecraft. in EGU General Assembly 2022., EGU22-1527, European Geosciences Union, EGU General Assembly 2022, Vienna, Austria, 23/05/22. https://doi.org/10.5194/egusphere-egu22-1527, 2022

Alconcel, LS, Fox, P, Colgan, C, Brown , P, Carr, C & Oddy, T 2016, Magnetometer Data for the Ages: Achieving complete FGM instrument coverage of the multi-spacecraft Cluster mission (2000 to 2015+). in EGU General Assembly 2016., EPSC2016-1798, European Geosciences Union.

Alconcel, LS, Fox, P, Kellock, S, Brown , P, Lucek, E, Carr, C & Dougherty, M 2013, Managing spacecraft measurements over a decade: The calibration and archiving of Cassini and Cluster magnetometer data. in American Geophysical Union, Fall Meeting 2013., IN13A-1549, American Geophysical Union.

Gloag, JM, Lucek, EA, Alconcel, LN, Balogh, A, Brown, P, Carr, CM, Dunford, CN, Oddy, T & Soucek, J 2010, FGM data products in the CAA. in H Laakso, M Taylor & CP Escoubet (eds), Astrophysics and Space Science Proceedings. 202469 edn, Astrophysics and Space Science Proceedings, no. 202469, vol. 0, Springer Science and Business Media B.V., pp. 109-128, 15th Workshop on Cluster Active Archive, 2008, Tenerife, Canary Islands, Spain, 9/03/08. https://doi.org/10.1007/978-90-481-3499-1_7

Noell, AC, Alconcel, LS, Robichaud, DJ, Okumura, M & Sander, SP 2008, Near-IR kinetic spectroscopy (IRKS) of the HO2 and C2H5O2 self and cross reactions. in American Chemical Society - 235th National Meeting, Abstracts of Scientific Papers. ACS National Meeting Book of Abstracts, 235th National Meeting of the American Chemical Society, ACS 2008, New Orleans, LA, United States, 6/04/08.

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