Meet our people!

Principal Investigator

Stavroula Balabani

Stavroula Balabani obtained a Chemical Engineering degree from the National Technical University of Athens (NTUA, Greece) and a PhD from King’s College London where she started her academic career. She joined UCL in 2011 where she leads an experimental fluid mechanics group active in researching into complex flow phenomena, and which invariably involve complex fluids. Stavroula has expertise in flow characterisation and in particular the application of laser based diagnostics to study transport phenomena, both at the macroscale and microscale, and with applications ranging from process engineering to haemodynamics. Her current research interests evolve around energy, healthcare and manufacturing and in particular the study of fluid structure interaction, microscale technologies for energy recovery and diagnostics, cardiovascular and complex suspension flows. She has received funding from EPSRC, EU, Innovate UK and charities and her research has appeared in prestigious fluid mechanics journals. Stavroula is a member of the EPSRC College, a Fellow of IChemE and an Associate Editor for ASME Journal of Engineering and Science in Medical Diagnostics and Therapy/

Research Fellows

James Sweeney

James obtained his BEng(Chem)(Hons) and PhD from the University of Newcastle, Australia. His PhD involved using ionic liquids (ILs) as boundary layer lubricants, with a focus on elucidating the relationship between the physicochemical properties of several ILs and their nanoscale friction responses. Several facets of this topic were probed including the influence on nanoscale friction of: IL molecular structure, polymer and n-alkanol additives, and electric potential applied to a conductive solid surface lubricated by an IL and sliding relative to a contacting surface. His work primarily involved atomic force microscopy (AFM).

In 2017/18, James pursued another significant interest of his – design and optimisation of renewable energy technologies and systems – undertaking further study to obtain a Postgraduate Diploma in this area from Northumbria University, UK. He then worked as a design engineer in the solar photovoltaic industry for over two years.

James joined UCL as a postdoctoral research associate in March  2021 to work with Profs Balabani and Tiwari, investigating particle suspension stability and non-Newtonian rheological behaviour for oral healthcare applications. His work involves AFM, rheological measurements, and various other experimental fluid dynamics techniques.

Qianhui Li

Qianhui Li obtained her BEng from Dalian University of Technology (China) in 2014, MSc from Shanghai Jiao Tong University (China) in 2017 and PhD in Aeronautical Engineering from City, University of London in 2020. Her PhD, funded by the German Research Foundation (DFG), focussed on cardiovascular flows and vortex dynamics studies, using experimental advances including PIV, laser induced fluorescence (LIF) and micro-pillar wall shear stress sensors. She worked as a research associate at City, University of London after her PhD, pursuing her research on novel unsteady conjugate cooling mechanisms funded by EPSRC.

Qianhui joined UCL as a research fellow in September 2021 to work with Profs Balabani and Diaz, investigating biofluid mechanics of aortic dissections. Based on the British Heart Foundation New Horizons Project VIRTUOSO, her research will focus on developing in vitro tools to quantify hemodynamic markers, making use of the unique state-of-the-art experimental facility housed at Wellcome /EPSRC Centre for Interventional and Surgical Sciences (WEISS) for personalized physiological flows, flow diagnostics and 3D printed phantoms.

Arnub Guha

Arnab is a mechanical engineer by background and specialises in applying engineering and physical science principles to solve problems related to sensing and vibration. He completed his bachelor’s degree in mechanical engineering with honours from Indian Institute of Engineering Science and Technology (IIEST), Shibpur in 2012. Subsequently, in 2014, he obtained a Master of Science (MSc) degree in mechanical engineering from University of Alberta in Canada. He received his PhD in the field of acoustic biosensors from Loughborough University (LU) in UK in 2018. He was the recipient of Wolfson School Indian International Excellence Studentship for his doctoral studies at LU. During his PhD, he developed a novel method for determination of resonance frequency and dissipation for acoustic resonators using a fixed frequency drive and applied it for detection of a wide range of biomolecules.

Following his PhD, Arnab worked as a Postdoctoral Research Associate in Dynamics and Healthcare Engineering laboratories in LU for 11 months, working on vibration reduction in automotive powertrains and microfluidics based  acoustic platforms for bacterial sensing. He also held  positions as Technical/ Research Manager in a national accredited metrology laboratory in Kolkata and the  Indian Institute of Technology Guwahati (IITG), respectively , before  joining UCL Mechanical engineering in September 2021 to work with Profs Manish Tiwari and Stavroula Balabani on developing microfluidics based point-of-care biosensors for detection of acute kidney transplant rejection. He will be primarily detecting urinary chemokines which serve as the biomarkers for acute rejection. Clinical work related to his project will be performed at Royal Free Hospital in London, led by kidney transplant surgeon, Mr. Reza Motallebzadeh and his team.

Research Students

Antonios Stathoulopoulos (primary supervisor)

Antonios graduated in 2018 from the University of Patras’s Department of Chemical Engineering (Greece). His diploma thesis focused on the area of wastewater treatment and using innovative technology to reduce the amount of non-degradable substances in water recipients.

His interest in the field of Biomechanics and Nanotechnology led him to join UCL’s Department of Mechanical Engineering in 2019 to study for his PhD. His current project focuses on the rapid detection of bacteria and biomarkers in bodily fluids by using point of care diagnostics. He specialises in serious infections such as sepsis and urinary tract infections (UTIs).

Theofilos Boulafentis (primary supervisor)

Theofilos Boulafentis obtained  a BEng in Mechanical Engineering and a MSc in Aeronautical Engineering in 2018 from the University of Patras, Greece. After a brief period in industry, he joined UCL Mechanical Engineering  as a PhD student. Thefolilos  is funded by the EPSRC DTP porgramme on Fundamental Engineering and  he conducts experimental research on  elastoinertia instabilities and more specifically on Elasto-Inertial Turbulence induced by viscoelastic polymeric fluids in Taylor Couette flows.

Federica Ninno (secondary supervisor, jointly supervised with prof Diaz)

I graduated in Biomedical Engineering in 2020 at Politecnico di Milano (Italy) and my research interest is on restenosis development in patient-specific diseased femoral arteries. I use simulation models and CFD tools to quantify specific haemodynamics indexes that are considered as indicators of restenosis and would not be measurable otherwise. I am part of i4health CDT at University College London and my research project, developed in collaboration with Royal Free Hospital and Politecnico di Milano, has the final aim of fusing clinical and haemodynamics information and use AI techniques to classify patients according to their risk of developing restenosis.

Anestis Koulogiannis (primary supervisor , jointly supervised with Prof Angeli)

Anestis started his studies in 2015 in the Department of Civil Engineering of the National Technical University of Athens (NTUA). In 2018 he was selected to participate in the double degree programme between NTUA and École des Ponts ParisTech so he continued his studies in Paris where he obtained his Diplôme d’Ingénieur as well as a Master of Research in Materials Science and Engineering.

His interest in engineering applications in healthcare led him to join UCL in 2021 to study for his PhD in a joint project between the departments of Mechanical and Chemical Engineering. His research focuses on utrasound induced flows and transport phenomena in confined dentine models and is linked to the EPSRC grant SONATA.

Mengqi Li  

Mengqi Li obtained his bachelor’s degree in engineering mechanics from Central South University of Forestry and Technology (CSUFT, China). He joined Beijing University of Technology (BJUT, China)  in 2015  to pursue his postgraduate and doctoral studies in focusing on fluid mechanics. Inspired by Prof. Balabani’s research on flow fields inside microdroplets, his doctoral research topic focuses on the flow microenvironment inside droplets. In addition to the flow fields inside droplets, Mengqi Li’s research also involves droplet capture, bubble dynamic under ultrasound, heart valves, particle separation, compound emulsion droplet in capillary and microchannels. He specializes in fluidic experiments, using PIV/Micro-PIV  methods and small wind tunnel experiments.

Menqgi  has been sponsored by the China Scholarship Council (CSC) to join  UCL as a visiting researcher for one year.

Louis Giraldin (Secondary supervisor)

I work on patient specific numerical tools for aortic dissection in collaboration with Barts Hospital. I use both medical data and CFD tools to assess metrics and data that are interesting for the surgeons but also non accessible though medical data acquisition.

Catriona Stokes (secondary supervisor)

Mai Thanh (secondary supervisor)


Past members

Gaia Franzetti

Gaia obtained her MEng in Biomedical Engineering – Biomechanics and Biomaterials – from Politecnico di Milano (Italy) in December 2015. She joined the Department of Mechanical Engineering of University College London as a BHF funded PhD student in March 2016. Her research aimed  at developing personalised in vitro experiments  to understand the haemodynamics of aortic dissection and  aid the development of in silico approaches for  clinical support. She succesfully completed her thesis in summer 2020 and  in Jan 2021 moved to Exceutive Insights  as a Healthcare consultant.

Anastasia Papadopoulou

Anastasia  obtained her 5-year Degree in Chemical Engineering with distinction from the Aristotle University of Thessaloniki (Greece) in 2015. She joined the Department of Mechanical Engineering at UCL in September 2016 for her PhD studies. Her research project focused on  the rheological properties of oral healthcare product formulations and in particular the behaviour of non-aqueous suspesnions of silica particles. She succefsully completed her thesis in November 2020 and moved to GSK.

Andreas Passos

Andreas studied Applied Mathematics and Physics at National Technical University of Athens (NTUA, Greece, 2011). His interest in Physics led him to expand his knowledge in Nanotechnology and Microsystems through a two year MSc programme (2013). His work on microfluidics and surface treatment inspired him to pursue a PhD in the field. He joined the Doctoral Training programme on Medical Device Innovation at UCL in 2014  to work on microscale blood flows. He completed his thesis in 2020 and now works as a PDRA with our close collaborator Dr Kaliviotis in CUT ( Cyprus).

Shigang Zhang

Shigang obtained a 4-year degree in Electrical Engineering with distinction from Nanjing University of Science and Technology (NUST,China) and a MSc in Engineering with Innovation and Entrepreneurship programme from UCL Mechanical Engineering in 2015 . and He joined the department as a PhD student in January 2016 working on microscale transport phenomena and in particular in inducing vortex shedding in microrfconfined flows in order  to enhance mixing and heat transfer. He succefsully completed his thesis in   2020 and moved back to China to seek a position in industry.

Tom Lacassagne

Tom graduated from the University of Lyon in 2015 with an MSc in mechanical engineering and fluid mechanics from the University of Lyon (UdL). Following this, Tom joined the Laboratory of Fluid Mechanics and Acoustics on a grant from the French ministry of research, and obtained his PhD from University of Lyon in 2018. He then worked as a teaching and research assistant for INSA Lyon and the LMFA before joining UCL in 2019.

Tom’s research focuses on using and developing optical methods, for example Particle Image or Tracking Velocimetry, Laser Induced Fluorescence, and Molecular Tagging Velocimetry). This is with the aim to study complex and multiphase flows relevant to environmental, industrial, or biological applications. His PhD focused on oscillating grid turbulence in non-Newtonian media and its influence on gas dissolution and mass transfer at gas-liquid interface. At UCL, Tom worked on teh CORAL project looking at polymeric and particle suspensions  Tayor Couette flows. Tom moved back to France in September 2020 to tak up a  lectureship position at IMT Lille Douai.

Mirko Bonfanti

Mirko obtained his BSc (cum laude) in Biomedical Engineering in September 2010 from Politecnico di Milano (Italy). He continued his studies in Biomedical Engineering, with a focus in Biomechanics and Biomaterials, at Politecnico di Milano where he received his MSc (cum laude) in April 2013.  Mirko  joined the Department of Mechanical Engineering of University College London as PhD student and Marie Curie Trainee within the European Training Network VPH-CaSE ( in 2015 to work on the development of patient-specific computational models of Aortic Dissections to support the clinical decision-making process. He succesfuly defended his thesis in November 2019 and continued working as a WEISS and  MUSE  researcher  on aortic dissection and AVM computaional modelling in close collaboration witg Gaia. Mirko left the group  to work for Oxford Heartbeat.

Neil Cagney

Neil Cagney left our group in April 2019 to join the School of Engineering and Materials Science at Queen Mary University of London  as a lecturer. Neil completed his undergraduate in Mechanical Engineering at Trinity College Dublin in 2009, before joining our group to study for a PhD studying fluid-structure interaction and vortex-induced vibrations. He completed his thesis in 2013 and continued to apply his fluid dynamics experience to  areas such as processing of renewable biofuels ( Innovate UK project), mantle convection in the Department of Earth Sciences at UCL and more recently to our EPSRC project on complex fluids with application to oral healthcare products.

Thore Bucking

Thore’s  PhD was part of the UCL Medical Imaging Centre for Doctoral Training (CDT), which he joined in 2014 after receiving a MSci in Physics from Imperial College London. After completing his Master’s project in nuclear physics, Thore was looking for a field with a more direct impact to society. He chose to join the CDT because of the broad spectrum of opportunities the programme is able to offer. Of special interest to Thore was the aspect of developing new imaging modalities, combining engineering, coding, and analysis. Thore’s PhD project was interdepartmental (Medical Physics and Mechanical Engineering), and aiming to combine two blood flow imaging methods: photoacoustic flowmetry and micro particle image velocimetry. Thore  succefsully defended his thesis in May 2019 and  moved to industry R&D.


Within UCL

Prof  Vanessa Diaz, Multiscale Cardiovascular Engineering (MUSE), UCL Mechanical Engineering. 

Prof Shervanthi Homer-Vanniasinkam, Professor of Surgery and Engineering, UCL Mechanical Engineering.

Prof Manish Tiwari, Nanoengineering Systems Lab, UCL Mechanical Engineering

Prof Panagiota Angeli, THAMES, UCL Chemical Engineering

Dr Luca Mazzei, UCL Chemical Engineering

Prof Helen WIlson, UCL Mathematics

Dr Wenhui Song, UCL Division of Surgery.

Outside UCL

Dr Efstathios Kaliviotis, Biorheology Lab, Department of Mechanical Engineering and Materials Science and Engineering, Cyprus University of Technology.

Dr Mike Allen, Plymouth Marine Laboratory, PML, (See also: Meet the researcher in Scientia)

Prof Renatto Cotta, Dr Carolina Naveira Cotta, Federal University of Rio de Janeiro

Dr Malebogo Ngoepe University of Cape Town.

Dr Shaohua Ma, Centre for Precision Medicine and Healthcare, Tsinghua-Berkeley Shenzhen Institute, China.


Prof Janice Tsui, Prof George Hamilton, Mr Chung  Lim,  Royal Free Hospital (RFH);

Prof Aung OO, Barts Hospital

Mr Reza Motallebzadeh, RFH

Carlos Pavesio, Rupesh Agarwal, Ranjan  Rajendram, Moorfields Eye Hospital

Obi Agu, UCLH