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Our team

The NIRI team includes leading nonwoven fabric researchers and experienced commercial specialists providing a unique knowledge of nonwoven materials, technology, products and business. Click on a name for more information.
Prof. Stephen Russell - Technical Director
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Steve Russell NIRI
Steve is an internationally known nonwoven materials specialist with experience of fundamental and applied research in nonwoven science and technology. He manages the technical innovation and development programme within NIRI, which involves extensive collaboration with other research specialists and industry globally.
Chris Fowler - Managing Director
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Chris Fowler NIRI
Chris is Managing Director of NIRI and has held senior management positions in several multinational organisations within the healthcare sector, achieving impressive growth through the launch of new products into the UK, Europe and the USA. Chris is responsible for ensuring that NIRI's innovations, product prototypes and proof of concepts fully satisfy clients’ requests and are commercially viable.
Dr. Matthew Tipper - Business Director
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Matthew Tipper NIRI
Matthew obtained 1st Class honours and a PhD in Textile Technology from the University of Leeds. He has direct experience of the design, development and manufacture of both single-use and durable nonwoven materials. With a commercial background in manufacturing and nonwoven product development, as Business Director he is responsible for innovation, product development and project management at NIRI.
Mike Rogers - Finance Director
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Mike Rogers NIRI
Mike held several senior management roles with Lloyds TSB Corporate Banking, working closely with a wide range of businesses developing and implementing plans to improve business and financial performance. Mike is an Associate of the Chartered Institute of Bankers and has an Honours Degree in Financial Studies.
Lesley Bebb - Assistant to the Directors
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As Assistant to the Directors, Lesley organises the running of our offices - including coordinating the scheduling of diaries, travel arrangements and appointments for the NIRI team.
Manoj Rathod - Production Manager
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Manoj has a degree in Physics from Lancaster University and is responsible for managing the company’s extensive nonwovens pilot plant facility. He has over 15 years experience with textile machinery. Manoj works closely with colleagues and industrial partners on proof of concept, developmental and product prototyping projects that involve the formation, testing and evaluation of nonwoven materials and of new product ideas and processes.
Alistair Rogers - Laboratory Coordinator
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Alistair’s role in NIRI focuses on ensuring laboratory work is carried out on time and balanced effectively between projects. His work varies from producing samples ranging from dry laid webs through to spun melt structures; to carrying out various methods of testing. Alistair has a keen interest in spun melt structures, particularly melt blown technologies.
Mike Phillips - Technician
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Mike has a BSc in Chemistry and an MSc in Polymers, Colourants and Fine Materials from the University of Leeds. After graduation he joined the NIRI team to work on the Sanguis project. His research interests include functional polymers for biomedical applications.
Joanna Krzyzaniak - Technology Development Manager
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Joanna obtained an Engineering degree in Textiles in 2004 from the Technical University of Łódź, Poland, specialising in nonwoven fabrics. She is responsible for new product development and commercial scale-up of new technologies.
Dr. Andrew Hewitt - Quality Manager
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Andrew has over twenty years commercial experience in textile research and development. He holds a bachelor's degree in Chemistry and a MSc in Polymer Science from Lancaster University, and a PhD centred on hydroentangled (spunlace) nonwovens from the University of Leeds. Andrew is a member of the steering committee of the UK's nonwovens association, the Nonwovens Network, and is part of the NIRI Technologies division, as well as coordinating NIRI’s marketing, Health & Safety systems, and collaborative grant-funding activities.
Dr. Vera Chetty - Chief Technical Manager
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Vera attained a Masters Degree in Textile Engineering and PhD in Computer Simulation of Wetting and Wicking Phenomena at the Technical University of Liberec, Czech Republic. Vera has many years of experience in research and development of nonwovens and technical textiles which she gained by working for numerous research institutions in several different countries.
Vera’s main interest is in development of novel nonwoven products.
Steven Neill - Development Manager
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Steven graduated with a 1st class honours degree in Textile Technology from the University of Leeds, including a best finalist award and Textile Institute Textile Technology Examination prize. His postgraduate research centred on the UV laser surface modification of textile polymers, and he has an MBA, where he focussed on organisational creativity and innovation. Steven has over 15 years commercial experience in new product development, and his experience in innovation includes textiles, coatings and nonwovens.
Mariell Trebowicz - Technical Project Manager
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Mariell graduated with a 1st Class Honours Degree from Leeds University in Textile Manufacturing, before going on to work for one of the largest privately held textile companies in the world. During this time she gained five years manufacturing experience in automotive textiles, working on process improvement before going onto new product development.
Dr. Fadi Junaid - Technical Project Manager
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Fadi has a Bachelors degree in Textiles Engineering. After graduation, he worked for a spinning company where he was responsible for yarn quality control. He obtained an MSc in Advanced Textiles and Performance Clothing and a PhD in Textile Machinery at the University of Leeds. Prior to joining NIRI, Fadi worked on product development as a Research Assistant at the Centre for Technical Textiles of the University of Leeds.
Dr. Katarzyna Kowal - Technical Project Manager
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Katarzyna holds MSc and PhD degrees in Biomedical Engineering from the Wroclaw University of Technology and Polish Academy of Science. In her research she worked on the application of nanomaterials in antimicrobial research with the main focus on biocidal textiles. The work involved synthesis, coating technology development and broad characterisation. Katarzyna worked as a Postdoctoral Researcher in MOSAIC group at University of Limerick in Materials and Surface Science Institute in Ireland, where she led several industry-funded projects and gained extensive experience in variety of surface characterisation techniques.
Katarzyna’s main interests are new materials and innovative technologies.
Nick Edwards - Technical Project Manager
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Nick has a BSc in Medical Biochemistry and an MRes in Cardiovascular Medicine from the University of Manchester. After graduation, he moved to the University Leeds to study for his PhD in nonwovens and infection control.

Prior to joining the NIRI team, Nick worked as a Research Assistant at the University of Leeds and in Medical Marketing for McCann. His research interests include biochemistry, microbiology, infection control and their combinations with nonwoven materials.
Ross Ward - Project Manager
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Ross is a graduate of Loughborough University, where he attained a BSc (Hons) in Sports Technology. While at Loughborough, he completed an internship with Adidas and the Sports Technology Research Group. Upon graduation, Ross moved to New Zealand where he was employed as a Project Coordinator for Telecom NZ during a period of infrastructure rebuild after the 2011 earthquakes and in preparation for the Rugby World Cup. He then completed a MSc in Advanced Textiles and Performance Clothing at the University of Leeds. Ross has also gained experience as a Personal Protective Equipment Consultant, working with the Police Service.
Dr. Henry Spurr - Development Chemist
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Henry graduated from the University of Leeds with a 1st class Masters in Chemistry (MChem). Subsequently, he completed his PhD at the University of Leeds, developing methods for the extraction and characterisation of chemicals from algae for high value applications.
Henry is an organic and analytical chemist with over 6 years’ experience working on interdisciplinary and collaborative research projects in the chemicals industry. He is currently responsible for chemistry aspects of product development at NIRI.
Estelle Guillemois - Technical Project Coordinator
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Estelle graduated from ITECH, an Engineering School in France, as a Master Engineer in Textiles. With a number of internships in fields of textiles as diverse as tyre reinforcement and luxury apparel, Estelle has experience in both materials characterisation and scientific approach. Estelle specialises in nonwoven applications in agriculture and healthcare. 
Sophie Novella - Technical Project Coordinator
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Sophie holds an MSc in General Engineering with a specialisation in Textile Materials at HEI (Hautes Etudes d’Ingénieur) in Lille, France. While studying Sophie gained international experience in product development, having worked for adidas as well as on technical projects through several internships for the aircraft industry in Zodiac Aerospace.
Eefke van Eden - Technical Project Coordinator
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Eefke studied in Enschede, the Netherlands at the Saxion University of Applied Sciences, focussing on Textile Management and Engineering with a specialisation in Technical Product Management and was awarded with a 1st Class Bachelor in Engineering. Eefke then successfully completed an MSc in Advanced Textiles at the University of Leeds with a distinction. Prior to joining NIRI, Eefke worked in the R&D departments of two major Dutch textile companies.

Eefke specialises in filtration technologies and high performance nonwoven applications.
Laura Solomon - Technical Project Coordinator
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Laura holds an MSc in Advanced Textiles from the University of Leeds where her research focussed on the development of temperature responsive electrospun fibres. Prior to her MSc, Laura gained 4 years experience working in the fashion and textile industry as a Fabric Buyer for a well-known garment and fabric supplier, and also holds a bachelor's degree specialising in printed textiles.

Laura's main interest is in new materials and innovations in textile product development.
Caitlin Knowles - Intern
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Currently completing her Materials Engineering undergraduate degree at McGill University in Montreal, Canada, Caitlin is thrilled to join NIRI as an intern. Her background is in analysis and characterisation, as well as materials for aerospace applications.