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Net Zero Futures Conference 2024 – Speakers

The Net Zero Futures Conference 2024 will bring together an array of senior academic, industry and funding bodies representatives, and early career researchers from industry and academia who will provide participants with a wealth of insights into driving impactful research and creating new career development pathways.

Speaker Profiles

Dr. Chris Jackson

Director of Sustainable Geoscience
Jacobs

Chris Jackson is Director of Sustainable Geoscience at the engineering consultancy Jacobs and Visiting Professor of Basin Analysis at Imperial College London. Chris works in the general area of sedimentary basin analysis. When not studying the subsurface of the Earth, Chris gives geoscience lectures to the public and in schools, having appeared on several, Earth Science-focused, television productions and podcasts. Chris is engaged in efforts to improve equality, diversity, and inclusivity in Higher Education.

Dr. Lois Milner-Elkharouf

Senior Project Manager
Arup

Lois works across a number of hydrogen-related projects, specialising in repurposing the natural gas network to carry hydrogen. Motivated by combatting global warming through the development of the hydrogen economy, Lois has a PhD related to fuel cell technologies and hydrogen storage materials, and strong networks across the hydrogen and fuel cell communities. 

Dr. Mike Colechin

Founder and CEO
Cultivate; Heuristic Games

Dr Mike Colechin is the founder and owner of Cultivate, an organisation that consults in academia, firms, and not-for-profits, driving innovation forward and engage project stakeholders in creative ways.  He is also a co-founder of Heuristic, a joint venture to design and run workshops based around ‘serious games’ that engage business, government and academic audiences in unique learning experiences.

As a Chartered Mechanical Engineer with wide experience of innovation in the transport and energy sectors, Mike is deeply engaged in low carbon energy innovation in the UK.  He has been the chair of UKRI’s Scientific Advisory Committee on Energy and Decarbonisation, and he still sits on a range of advisory boards.  He is also a member of UKRI’s Peer Review College, often chairing review panels for the Research Councils and he is Honorary Professor of Low Carbon Energy, University of Nottingham.

Dr. Kathryn North

Associate Pro Vice-Chancellor for Climate Change and Net Zero
Loughborough University

Kathryn is Director of C-DICE and Associate Pro Vice-Chancellor for Climate Change and Net Zero at Loughborough University.  She has held the positions of Head of Researcher Development at Loughborough, Head of Skills for the Energy Research Accelerator (ERA) and she leads the skills programme for HyDEX, a £5m programme to develop a hydrogen economy in the midlands. Kathryn’s background is in Biology; she gained her PhD at Lancaster University in 2004 and was a Postdoctoral Researcher at the John Innes Centre in Norwich, prior to joining Loughborough in 2007 as researcher development manager.  Through C-DICE, Kathryn is driving a step-change in postdoctoral development, providing opportunities for researchers to develop their careers, for research and innovation to achieve Net-Zero, and for industry.

Dr. Inès Tunga

Renewable Energy Practice Manager
Energy Systems Catapult

Inès, the Renewable Energy Practice Manager at Energy Systems Catapult, holds an Engineering Doctorate in Offshore Renewable Energy. Her expertise spans wind, wave, tidal, and solar technologies, and she has skills in electrical machines, materials, hydrodynamics, manufacturing, and marine operations.

Driving Net Zero Transition (local/regional/international)
At the Catapult, she collaborates with governments, industry, and academia on Net Zero transition projects, including DESNZ NZIP, UKRI Global Innovative Programmes, Interreg, and Horizon Europe initiatives

Advocate for Diversity and Inclusion
Committed to diversity and inclusion, Inès serves on the Women In Engineering Society Early Career Board, promoting fairness and supporting early-career women engineers. As an EDI, Social Value advocate, and Mental Health First Aider, she aims to to foster an inclusive environment in the energy sector.

Technical expertise and Collaboration
As an expert in renewable energy grid integration and energy transition, Inès collaborates across sectors and with regulatory bodies. Her current focus includes investigating large Variable Renewable Energy integration into future energy systems, energy storage roles, and flexibility in the GB system.

Dr. Ahmad El-kharouf

Senior Engineer for Low Carbon and Hydrogen Infrastructure
GHD

Ahmad has over 10 years of experience in developing and delivering, hydrogen, hydrogen-based fuels and fuel cell projects. He has strong links with the hydrogen and fuel cells community in the UK and Europe. He worked on several R&D and infrastructure projects on the production of hydrogen and hydrogen-based fuels and their use in transport and industrial applications.

He has a PhD from the University of Birmingham in the development of PEM fuel cells and have worked as a postdoc and CDT manager at the Centre for Fuel Cell and Hydrogen Research at the University of Birmingham. There, he led the development of light weight and compact fuel cells for transport applications.

Ahmad has then moved to industry as an engineering consultant to support the development of infrastructure for hydrogen in the UK, this included projects on hydrogen for aviation, maritime, rail and road transport applications.  

Dr. Humera Ansari

Vice-Chancellor Independent Research Fellow
Loughborough University

Humera Ansari is a Vice-Chancellor Independent Research Fellow in the Department of Chemical Engineering at Loughborough University. Her research is focused on characterising novel porous adsorbents in the context of carbon capture and storage. Prior to this, she completed her PhD at Imperial College London, and she also has experience working in the energy and renewables industries as a process engineer.

Dr. Yirui Jiang

Research Fellow
Cranfield University

Dr. Yirui Jiang is an expert focused on leveraging cutting-edge AI technologies across diverse sectors to drive sustainable development. Through collaborative industrial projects, she guides companies through digital transformation, enabling them to meet sustainability goals. Beyond academia, she actively promotes digital literacy and environmental awareness through public outreach, bridging technological advancements and societal needs. 

Dr. Dan Evans

Lecturer in Soil Formation
Cranfield University

Dr Dan Evans is a Lecturer in Soil Formation at Cranfield University, and a recipient of one of the University’s 75th Anniversary Research Fellowships. He leads both fundamental and applied research on soil formation and the parent materials from which soil is formed.

Dan is the Early Career Scientist representative for the European Geoscience Union, representing Early Career Scientists from more than 20 geoscience disciplines across the Union. Previously, he was former ECS Representative for the Union’s Soil System Science division, the National ECS Officer for the British Society of Soil Science, and he co-founded Cranfield University’s Early Career Researcher network. He’s an Associate Editor for the European Journal of Soil Science, chairs the journal’s first ECR Editorial Board, and is Course Director for the UK’s first Soil Science Apprenticeship.

A keen science communicator, he has been invited to speak at a TEDx conference, the UK Climate Emergency Network, and the Science Futures stage at Glastonbury Festival. His research has featured across international media outlets including The Conversation, Our World in Data, the US Agribusiness Report, BBC Radio 4’s Farming Today, Sky News, and Farmer’s Weekly.

Dr. Tom Dolan

Senior Research Fellow
UKCRIC

Holistic, ecologically minded, systems thinking researcher, with a penchant for asking awkward questions. Simultaneously a Senior Research Fellow for UKCRIC and Postgraduate Fellow for C-DICE, Tom’s research is focused on:

  • The Climate Emergency as a Wicked Problem of problems comprising 3 deeply interdependent wicked problems i) achieving global net zero by 2050, ii) enhancing systemic and societal resilience to the disruptive impacts of at least 1.50C and iii) enhancing global sustainability.
  • the potential role that infrastructure system transformation can play as globally replicable leverage points at the heart of a transformative climate emergency strategy.
  • the importance of outcome-orient infrastructure governance frameworks and decision-making processes closely aligned with current social priorities.
  • the societal and economic value of establishing a Net Resilience Gain culture across the infrastructure industry

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