Dan researches silk with his colleagues at the Department of Engineering Science and the Department of Zoology at Oxford. He carries out experiments to determine the stiffness and strength of silk fibres at high rates of stretch. At high stretch rates, materials can behave quite differently compared to when under static loads. The effect of deformation rate on a material can offer a significant insight into the underlying structure-property relationship - so why not try it with silk, often heralded as nature's wonder-material of the future.


I was previously a graduate student, and briefly a postdoc, in the Fracture and Shock Physics group, Cavendish Laboratory, University of Cambridge, where I also read Natural Sciences as an undergraduate. My PhD supervisor was Dr Bill Proud. My thesis was on the "mechanical properties of energetic composites", or "bashing up explosives" in more crass terms. During this time I was lucky enough to get to attend conferences in Hawaii, Pardubice in the Czech Republic, Florida, Nashville and Uxbridge.

Presently I am employed on a fascinating interdisciplinary research endeavour, pursued jointly by groups at the Department of Engineering Science and Department of Zoology. The aim of the project, funded by the Leverhulme Trust, is to observe the way in which the silks of spiders and silkworms behave when subjected to rapid straining. The goal is to understand the impact-response in terms of the underlying microstructure of silk. My colleagues on this project are Dr Clive Siviour, Professor David Porter, Dr Chris Holland and Beth Mortimer.

During Term, I assist with the teaching of Engineering Science at Oriel College, by tutoring first and second year students on parts of the structural, material and mechanical papers (P3 / A3).

Current Projects

Research Interests