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A Strathclyde University postgraduate researcher from Lewis has been named as BAE Systems’ PhD Student of the Year award for his innovative work to quieten marine vessels.

Final year PhD student Callum Stark, 26, from the university’s naval architecture, ocean and marine engineering department was chosen as the overall winner for his research work to develop quieter marine propellers.

His research paper, ‘Engineering leading-edge tubercles to reduce sub-aqua noise pollution’, looked at ways to mitigate the impact of underwater noise on marine life that relies on the acoustic environment.

Callum’s inspiration came from humpback whales whose tubercles – the raised bumps on their pectoral fins – are believed to improve the sea mammal’s manoeuvrability. Callum discovered that when applied to marine propellers, the tubercles dampen the noise they produce.

Callum, who has secured a job with BAE Systems in Barrow-in-Furness, said: “I am very happy to receive this award and to be recognised for my contribution to a key research area of interest to BAE Systems, with potential wider impacts for the sustainability of the commercial shipping sector.”

He remarked that although the PhD is largely individual research, it wouldn’t have been possible without the necessary funding from the Industrial Co-operative Awards in Science and Technology (ICASE) and Maritime Enterprise Innovation and Research (MEIR) initiatives, the support of his supervisors Dr Shi and Professor Atlar, and the research group members in ABM Hydro.

Callum added: “The support from BAE Systems was also invaluable, providing technical support and sharing ideas throughout the duration of my PhD.”

Commenting on Callum’s award-winning success, Steve Harris, Head of External Partnerships at BAE Systems, said: “Like all the PhD finalists, Callum has done some outstanding research, and we are proud to give him the award this year.

“University research is an essential part of developing new technology, so we are grateful to the EPSRC and all those we work with to make this possible.”

Professor Stephen McArthur, Associate Principal & Executive Dean of Engineering at Strathclyde, said: “I’m delighted to hear of Callum’s award in recognition of his research into such an important engineering and environmental issue within the sector.

“BAE Systems is a valued strategic partner, and it is very pleasing to know that Callum’s research has been recognised as providing a significant potential impact for them. I wish him every success with his new role in the company.”

A video on Callum’s research can be seen here