Professor John Summerscales
An academic from the University of Plymouth has been chosen to receive a prestigious accolade in recognition of his significant contributions to composites engineering.
Professor John Summerscales has been declared the 2023 winner of the Institute of Materials, Minerals and Mining (IOM3) Leslie Holliday Prize.
The prize is presented in recognition of significant or technological contribution relating to any type of composite material, and is open to industrialists, research and technology organisations and academics.
John, Professor of Composites Engineering in the University’s School of Engineering, Computing and Mathematics, has been working in the polymers and composites field for 50 years. He said: 
“It is a huge honour and surprise to receive this award, and I am hugely grateful to those who nominated me, and to the IOM3 for selecting me from among the notable nominees. With advances in technology and the demand for more energy-efficient transport and for renewable energy in the context of net zero, composites engineering has never been more important. The innovations we continue to deliver here in Plymouth – both in terms of our research and teaching – have huge potential to make a real and lasting difference across a number of society’s more critical and emerging industries.”
John initially studied chemistry and polymer science, then did a Master’s degree in the molecular science of materials, and first came to Plymouth in the late 1970s to complete a PhD examining the properties of fibre-reinforced plastics.
He then worked with the Ministry of Defence, before returning to the University in 1987 as a founder member of the Advanced Composites Manufacturing Centre (ACMC).
In 1990, he became pathway leader for the composites option of the BEng (Hons) Mechanical Engineering course, which has since been offered to civil and structural engineering students, marine technology students, and mechanical engineering students at one of the University’s partners, Yeovil College.
The composites degree pathway is the only one of its kind in the UK, and John has also taught composites to BEng (Hons) Marine Technology students.
John's research has been funded by UK and European bodies, and has included the use of fibre-reinforced composites in the marine sector and the development and assessment of sustainable composites.
He has also written five books, published more than 100 journal papers, supervised 15 PhD and 5 MPhil students to completion, and has presented at more than 150 conferences all over the world.
He was inaugural Chair of the British Composites Society committee for Education, Professional Development and Recognition, is currently Secretary to the IOM3 Composites Leadership Team, and is a member of the IOM3 CLT Skills Development Group and the Society for the Advancement of Materials and Process Engineering (SAMPE) United Kingdom and Ireland (UKIC) committee.
He is a Chartered Engineer, Chartered Environmentalist and Chartered Scientist, in addition to being a Fellow of IOM3 and a Fellow of the British Institute of Non-Destructive Testing.

Our expertise in composites engineering

The University of Plymouth has conducted research into composite materials and structures since 1967.
This work is now led by the MAterials and STructures (MAST) Research Group, complemented by knowledge transfer and continuing professional development provision, with ongoing projects in fields including manufacturing, marine composites, medical implants and smart materials.
Visual concept of the Babbage Building