Gillian Finnerty


I’ve spent the last four years studying for my Masters degree in Physics and Astrophysics at the University of Sheffield. I am hoping to become an ESA astronaut in the future, so in this sense I am interested in how biofuel and living in a sustainable manner can potentially increase the longevity and efficiency of long duration space missions.

Research Interests

I’m interested in investigating new methods of producing energy from Biomass, and increasing the efficiency and practicality of using established methods. In particular I am hoping to help resolve the problems facing the use of algae for biofuel, and minimising the air pollution due to wood-burning stoves. I may look into the role that the mycelium fungus could play in the rapid production of biomass.

Why I chose the CDT in Bioenergy

I knew from the start that a CDT centre was the best way to do approach a PhD. I especially like that I have the flexibility to do a few different projects before choosing a main one, as I have a few areas of interest that I’d like to explore further. The industrial placement and optional modules are also a great component of the CDT. It’s nice to know there’s a whole support network just for the bioenergy CDT and plenty of opportunities to learn more about what I’m interested in, along with several likeminded course mates. The brand new facilities in the new Energy Building makes Leeds University really stand out as one of the best institutions in this up and coming discipline.

I decided to shift my focus from astrophysics to bioenergy, to tackle the biggest problem facing our generation today; anthropogenic climate change. I think bioenergy is the area which has the most unexplored potential, with the widest range of applications. I wish to spend my time researching which of the numerous biomass resources are the most environmentally friendly and sustainable to use and minimise the problems associated with them.