Technical Support Team



Alex Ciupa - Technical Support Supervisor

Alex Ciupa graduated from the University of Bath in 2013 with a PhD exploring Chalcone Derivatives in Cancer Research and Tissue Engineering. Alex then joined the Department of Chemical Engineering technical team primarily responsible for the teaching and analytical research facilities until early 2017 when he joined the Materials Innovation Factory. Alex specialises in chromatography, spectroscopy and particle sizing techniques.

Juan Carlos Fernandez Toribio - Technical Support Supervisor

Juan Carlos graduated with a PhD in the Technical University of Madrid in January 2019. During his research career he has been involved in the characterization of complex hierarchical materials based on nanostructures. For this purpose, he specialized in spectroscopy and x-ray diffraction techniques with special emphasis in low-angle x-ray scattering. In this regard, He joined the Materials Innovation Factory in 2019 as a Technical Supervisor of the SAXS line.


Steven Robinson - Technical Support Supervisor

Steven Robinson graduated from the University of Sheffield in 2011 with a PhD on the Lithiation-Substitution of Benzylamines and Piperazines. Steven then moved to industry working at AM Technology, overseeing the creation of a small research laboratory to facilitate studies on customers’ processes. Steven joined the Materials Innovation Factory team in October 2014 to aid in the purchasing process of equipment. Now, Steven’s focus is MALDI-ToF MS and it’s applications as well as provisioning the NMR service.

Glyn Connolly - Technical Support Officer

Glyn Connolly graduated from Newcastle University in Medicinal Chemistry followed by 12 years as a chemistry technician at University of Wales, Bangor supporting the NMR and ICP services. He then moved to industry in 2006 with LGC in the spectroscopy group involved in contract analysis primarily in NMR and FTIR.

After time spent in SGS as a team supervisor, he moved in 2012 to RedX Pharma, a drug discovery company as a senior scientist and NMR specialist for 5 years then PQ Silicas as a Senior Analyst in a mentoring role.

Glyn is a Chartered Chemist and a former committee member in the RSC North West Analytical Division.

Within the Materials Innovation Factory, Glyn is the technical lead for NMR, ICPMS and thermal analysis.

Declan Grabe- Technical Support Officer

Declan Grabe graduated from University College Cork in 1981 with a BSc general degree in Chemistry, Biochemistry & Microbiology. Declan spent many years working in industry, both in QC and Research type roles.This included mainly analytical & purification chromatographic type work in Environmental, Pharmaceutical, Food  & Agrochemical industries.

Declan joined the Materials Innovation Factory team in December 2019, with the main focus being on techniques such as UPLC, SFC along with hyphenated Mass Spectrometry.

Krzysztof Pawlak - Technical Support Officer

Krzysztof Pawlak graduated from the Poznan University of Technology in 2012 with a PhD on β-carotene excited-state deactivation in ionic liquids. He then worked as a postdoctoral researcher at Biological Research Centre of Hungarian Academy of Science where he continues to work on spectral properties of photosynthetic complexes. In a similar position, Krzysztof continues his research at the Max-Planck Institute for Chemical Energy Conversion. Over this time, he gained substantial knowledge of different advance molecular spectroscopy techniques.

Krzysztof joined the Materials Innovation Factory team in January 2020 as a specialist in spectroscopy methods. He is the technical lead for UV-VIS, FTIR, FLS, IR and Raman microscopy.


mike-egan MIF

Mike Egan - Technical Support Supervisor

Mike is a Chartered Engineer and graduated with a PhD from the University of Liverpool’s department of Engineering in 2007; after which, he moved to Chemistry to manage the operation of the Ultra Mixing and Processing Facility (UMPF). Mike joined the Materials Innovation Factory team in June 2015 and is driving development of the Formulation Engine, automated robotic platform.

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Katie Farrance - Technical Support Supervisor

Katie Farrance studied at the University of Warwick, graduating in 2016, with a PhD on the synthesis of water soluble polymers for the stabilisation of enzymes and the synthesis of nanoreactors for aqueous catalysis. Katie started at the University of Liverpool in 2015 working within the MicroBioRefinery. Katie Joined the Materials Innovation Factory in December 2016 as technical support supervisor. Katie focuses in chromatography, particle characterisation and automation platforms.

Leo Gould - Technical Support Officer

Leo graduated with a BEng in Chemical Engineering from Swansea University in 2015 and has since completed work for an advanced materials manufacturer in 2015/16, analysing and improving their process utility usage. He was then a project engineer for a chemical analyser systems manufacturer in 2016/17 and worked as a technician at the University of Chester in 2017/18. He is an associate member of the Institute of Chemical Engineers and a certified Lean Six Sigma practitioner.

Amanda Taylor - Technical Support Officer

Amanda joined the Materials innovation factory in May 2019, with a first class honours degree in Applied biomedical sciences from John Moores University.She has years of experience within the core and analytical biochemistry department principally at the Royal Liverpool Broadgreen University Hospital Trust, and is studying towards her Masters in Biomedical sciences. Amanda currently supports the MIF automation team.


David Whetnall - Technical Support Officer

David Whetnall graduated with a BSc in Chemistry from Durham University in 2007 and has 10 years’ experience in Formulation Science. His background is in product development with an emphasis on characterisation and product stability, having spent 6 years at Unilever as part of their global product design team. He has expertise in a variety of characterisation techniques, including rheology, colloidal stability and particle size distribution analysis. David joined the Materials Innovation Factory team in November 2017, specializing in automated formulation and measurement.

Data Management

Paul Sweeney - IT Systems Manager

Paul Sweeney is a Microsoft Certified Professional and Member of the British Computer Society, with over 18 years experience of IT in both the public and private sector. He is PRINCE2 and ITIL qualified and has a proven track record of planning and delivering successful IT projects as well as managing service delivery.

Prior to this, he graduated with a BSc. in Pharmacology from the University of Liverpool in 1992 and spent 10 years as a development chemist in the continuous inkjet printing industry. Paul joined the Materials Innovation Factory team as IT Systems Manager in December 2018.



Keith Arnold - Technical Support Supervisor

Keith Arnold has many years’ experience in scanning electron microscopy and technical management in an industrial laboratory. His first degree is in Chemistry. He left industry in 2012 to become a PhD student in the school of Engineering at the University of Liverpool where he studied the high temperature oxidation behaviour of a range of nickel-base superalloys consolidated by additive and conventional manufacture. He graduated in July 2017. He undertook post-doctoral research in the electron microscopy centre at the University of Liverpool (NiCaL) prior to joining the MIF team in October 2017.

Owen Gallagher - Technical Support Officer

Owen has many years’ experience in the field of materials science, initially within the measurement science unit at Unilever, and later as a senior scientist at Intertek. During this time, he completed a BSc (Hons) Computer Science focusing on VR & Haptics.

His expertise includes a variety of characterisation techniques, specialising in EM methods. Owen joined the Materials Innovation Factory in January 2020

Business Support Team

Ben Slater - Business Development Manager

Ben received his Ph.D. in supramolecular chemistry at Nottingham in 2012 followed by PDRA positions working with porous materials, MRI contrast agents, brewing science and chemistry automation. He managed UoL’s £1.07 M EPSRC IAA from 2017, supporting 42 collaborative projects with a total £1.2 M industry match, and developed a wide industry network before moving to the MIF in 2019 as Business Development Manager. He manages Royce interactions with the MIF Open Access Lab, covering corporates, SMEs and start-ups, and is Strategic Lead for Liverpool’s ongoing EPSRC IAA activity. He has specific interests in entrepreneurship and commercialisation of digital, automation, and advanced materials projects, and been awarded numerous grants and awards for developing open source projects.


Becky Evans - Office Manager & Management PA

Becky Evans has many years’ experience in office management and senior administration in the public sector, most recently working within the Family Court system.  Becky studied for a BSc in Social Policy and Criminology with the Open University, gaining a First Class Honours degree in 2011.  Becky went on to undertake post graduate studies in Management and Development at Birmingham University. Becky joined the MIF in June 2017 to take up the post of Office Manager and PA to the Managing Director. 


Jayne Bright - Receptionist

Jayne joined the MIF team as MIF Receptionist in May 2017.  Jayne previously worked for a Laboratory Service in the private sector specialising in global assay and inspection.  Jayne has many years’ experience of administrative and reception work. 


Nicola Terry - Finance Manager

Nicola Terry graduated from Liverpool John Moores University in 2011 with a degree in Accounting and Finance. In September 2014 she completed her exams to become a Chartered Management Accountant (CIMA). Nicola joined the Materials Innovation Factory in February 2017 in the role of Finance Manager.

Nicole Totzke - Finance Administrator

Nicole has several years experience of managing University finances whilst working at University of Edinburgh. Nicole joined the Materials Innovation Factory in July 2019 and is currently studying towards her AAT qualification. She provides support for MIF Finance Manager and Admin Team.