Professor Kevin Roberts

Profile

 

  • Education and Qualifications: He graduated in 1974 with BSc (Hons) in Applied Physics from Portsmouth Polytechnic gaining his PhD there also in 1978. He was awarded his DSc in 2004 from the University of Strathclyde in Glasgow.
  • Academic posts: Since 2000, he has been Brotherton Professor of Chemical Engineering at the University of Leeds. He previously held academic positions in Physical Chemistry (PDRA at Strathclyde from 1977 to 1981, Royal Society Fellowship at RWTH Aachen in Germany from 1982 to 1983 and Lecturer/Senior Lecturer/Reader posts at Strathclyde from 1984 to 1995), and in Chemical Engineering (EPSRC Senior Fellowship at Strathclyde and Heriot-Watt (1991-1996) and chairs held at Heriot-Watt (1995-2000) and currently Leeds). 
  • Secondment: Joint appointment at CCLRC Daresbury Laboratory (1987-1990), Visiting Professor at Technical University of Delft (1994-1995), Royal Academy of Engineering Industrial Fellow at AstraZeneca Pharmaceuticals (2003-2004).
  • Research interests and activities: These centre on molecular- and intermolecular (synthon)- scale crystallisation science and engineering. This work encompasses both fundamental and applied aspects with the latter being directed towards the needs of the pharmaceuticals, specialities, fine chemicals, and nutritional products sectors. Particular focus areas include: solid-state chemistry of molecular crystals; nano-scale engineering using molecular and synthonic modelling techniques; use of synchrotron radiation techniques to probe crystallisation interfaces in-situ; the development and use of process analytical techniques (PAT) for understanding, monitoring and controlling crystallisation processes; and industrial crystallisation processes and their scale-up from laboratory to manufacturing; application of Quality by Design (QbD) methodologies for advanced product formulation.
  • Research outcomes: Supervised and developed > 100 early career researchers, supervised 59 PhD programmes, of which 13 are still in progress, published 241 papers in journals, 100 papers in conference proceedings, 6 monographs, 5 edited special issue journal volumes and 21 others attracting > 2,200 career citations (H-index 25).
  • Knowledge transfer: Presented 123 invited conference papers (47% international) including 11 plenary/keynotes lectures, 362 contributed papers (70% international), 64 invited seminars (40% international) given to academic institutions, 99 invited seminars (47% international) given to industry, consultancy and expert witness work delivered to 28 companies, international exchanges through taking part in 33 extended research visits together with hosting >20 visiting scientists.

Research interests

The key themes associated with my research involve the following topic areas:

  • Crystallisation fundamentals through multi-scale molecular modelling (molecule, dimers, clusters, nano-crystals, surface chemistry and interfacial behaviour, structure and polymorphism), morphological prediction and characterisation.
  • Experimental crystallisation science including solvent selection, solubility and PKa speciation assessment, nucleation kinetics via temperature-programmed and isothermal methods, crystal growth rate assessment as a function of supersaturation, seed preparation and seeding strategy development.
  • Chemical process R&D notably the inter-relationship between synthesis impurities and product form quality attributes (perfection, purity, morphology and polymorphic form).
  • Process analytical technology (PAT) for crystallisation monitoring using ultrasonics, ATR FTIR, UVviz, NIR and slurry XRD techniques including chemometrics together with the development of closed-loop control of crystallisers using PAT techniques.
  • Synchrotron radiation techniques for characterising the structure, perfection, morphology and interfacial properties of macro- and micro-crystals and changes to them associated with the impact of processing conditions.
  • Crystallisation engineering including process modelling (heat transfer, hydrodynamics and process balances) including CFD together with crystallisation scale-up from laboratory to manufacturing scale.

Qualifications

  • B.Sc.
  • Ph.D.
  • D.Sc.

Professional memberships

  • Fellow of the Royal Society of Chemistry (FRSC)
  • Fellow of the Institution of Chemical Engineers (FIChemE)
  • Fellow of the Institute of Physics (FInstP)
  • Member of the Society of Chemical Industry (SCI)
  • Member of the British Association for Crystal Growth (BACG)

Research groups and institutes

  • Complex Systems and Processes
  • Institute of Process Research and Development

Publications:

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