Professors join Heriot-Watt to aid race towards net zero



Bicentennial professors
Prof. Clare McCabe and Prof. Peter T. Cummings

Two prominent professors have joined Heriot-Watt further bolstering the University’s commitment to lead the race towards net zero.

Professor Peter T. Cummings and Professor Clare McCabe join the School of Engineering & Physical Sciences (EPS) and are based at the Edinburgh campus. They are known for their pioneering research in molecular modelling which is vital in understanding the thermodynamic and transport properties of materials.

They were recruited under the University’s Bicentennial Leaders programme. Launched in 2021 to celebrate 200 years since Heriot-Watt’s foundation as the School of Art and Mechanics, the programme’s objective is to recruit 100 outstanding research academics to complement and strengthen existing expertise.

Welcoming them to their new roles Professor Steve McLaughlin, Deputy Principal of Research & Impact, said: “It is a great pleasure to welcome Clare and Peter to Heriot-Watt where they will further strengthen our research capability and capacity in sustainability."

Professor Peter T. Cummings was the John R. Hall Professor of Chemical Engineering at Vanderbilt University (VU) for just over 20 years. For the last nine years, he held the position of Associate Dean for Research in the VU School of Engineering.  His research interests include statistical mechanics, molecular simulation, computational materials science, computational and theoretical nanoscience, and computational biology.  

Professor Cummings said: “I am very excited to be joining Heriot-Watt University. The opportunity to collaborate with Heriot-Watt colleagues on the Net Zero initiative was a big draw for me. The molecular approach we bring to phenomena will complement the process and systems level Net Zero research for which Heriot-Watt is renowned.”

Professor Clare McCabe was the Cornelius Vanderbilt Chair in Chemical Engineering at VU. At Vanderbilt she also served as Associate Dean of the Graduate School and the founding director of the Office of Postdoctoral Affairs.  

Her research interests focus on the use of molecular modelling techniques to understand and predict the thermodynamic and transport properties of complex fluids, materials, and biological systems. 

Professor McCabe, added: “When the opportunity to come to Heriot-Watt arose, I was excited about the opportunities for interdisciplinary research. My own research involves molecular modelling applied to problems in tissue engineering, materials discovery, and the development of molecular-based models for thermophysical properties. The latter are crucial for the modelling of Net Zero processes, especially as we seek to explore novel approaches involving materials that have not yet been synthesised.”


Craig McManamon

Job title
Communications officer