Catherine Noakes OBE

Professor of Environmental Engineering for Buildings, University of Leeds

Professor Catherine Noakes OBE is a chartered mechanical engineer, with a background in fluid dynamics. Her teaching and research expertise is in building physics and environmental engineering and she leads research into ventilation, indoor air quality and infection control in the built environment. Her internationally recognised group carry out experimental and modelling based studies, in particular to explore the transport of airborne pathogens, the influence of indoor airflows and effectiveness of engineering approaches to controlling airborne disease transmission.

Cath has a BEng (class 1) in Mathematical Engineering (1996) and a PhD  “Slot Exit Flow Phenomena in Industrial Slide-Fed Coating Systems” (2000) both from School of Mechanical Engineering, University of Leeds. From 2000-2002 she worked as a KTP associate on a project to optimise industrial drying of coated products. Cath joined the School of Civil Engineering in 2002 as a postdoctoral researcher modelling air disinfection systems. She was appointed as a lecturer in 2007 and then promoted to Reader in 2010 and Chair in 2014.

Cath was Director of the Pathogen Control Engineering (PACE) research institute 2010-2014, and Director of Research and Innovation for the School of Civil Engineering 2014-2020. She is currently Deputy Director of Leeds Institute for Fluid Dynamics and Co-Director for the EPSRC Centre for Doctoral Training in Fluid Dynamics. She was Faculty of Engineering Athena Swan Lead 2014-2017 and led a successful Silver Athena Swan submission covering all five schools in the Faculty. Cath was chair of the University Women at Leeds network 2013-2017, and is a member of the University Gender Oversight group supporting gender equality actions at an institution level. Cath has recieved a number of awards and professional recognition:

  • 2018 – Academy of Fellows, International Society for Indoor Air Quality (ISIAQ)
  • 2016 – University of Leeds, Women of Acheivement Award
  • 2014 – Recipient of IMechE Construction and Building Services Division Prize
  • 2014 – Fellow of Institution of Mechanical Engineers (FIMechE)
  • 2013 – Fellow of Institute of Healthcare Engineering and Estates Management (FIHEEM)

Cath’s research interests lie in environmental fluid flow problems, with a strong focus on indoor air quality and investigating the transmission and control of airborne infection in healthcare environments. Recent studies have involved a range of techniques including experimental assessment of bioaerosol dispersion in indoor environments, CFD analysis to model the spread of airborne pathogens and the effectiveness of control devices, and the development of epidemic models that incorporate the influence of the physical environment and the behaviour of people. Cath’s interests in indoor air quality, include the role of ventilation in controlling exposure to pollutants, relationships to urban air flows and outdoor air quality, natural and mechanical ventilation design,  and the influence of poor air quality on human health and wellbeing.

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