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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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Lesley Bebb NIRI
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 Rathod NIRI
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 Rogers NIRI
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 Phillips NIRI
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.
Dr. Vera Chetty - Chief Technical Manager
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Vera Chetty NIRI
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 Neill NIRI
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.
Dr. Fadi Junaid - Senior Innovation Engineer
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Fadi Junaid NIRI
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 - Senior Innovation Engineer
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Kasia Kowal NIRI
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.
Dr. Hamidreza Arouni - Innovation Engineer
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Hamidreza obtained a Bachelors and a Masters degree, both in Textile Engineering, at Amirkabir University of Technology, Tehran, Iran. His Bachelors degree centred on textile technology and fibre science and in his Masters focused on textile product development and needs assessment. After four years of gaining experience in industry, Hamidreza came to the University of Leeds to study for a PhD with the Nonwovens Research Group (NRG).
Hamidreza's main interest is the development of nonwoven structures for filtration applications.
Estelle Guillemois - Innovation Engineer
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Estelle Guillemois NIRI
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. 
Dr. Alexander Koukoulas – Director of Strategic Partnerships NIRI USA
Dr. Alexander Koukoulas NIRI
Dr Alex Koukoulas is leading the expansion and is the main contact for customers within the US. Alex is an expert in chemical sciences and engineering, pulp and paper and bioenergy and has a proven track record in technology development, new product development, research and technology management and operations. He joined NIRI from Herty Advanced Materials Development Center, a world-class demonstration and production facility for advanced materials and composites, where he was President and CEO.
Dr. Ross Ward - New Business Development Manager
Ross Ward NIRI
Ross obtained a MSc and an EPSRC iCASE funded PhD from the University of Leeds and a BSc(Hons) in Sports Technology from Loughborough University. His PhD was focused on developing novel materials for military Chemical, Biological, Radiological, Nuclear and High Yield Explosive (CBRNe) protective clothing and was sponsored by the Defence Science and Technology Laboratory (DSTL).
Ross has also gained experience as an Innovation Consultant, working with the UK Fire and Police Services and his main interests are defence, security and medical innovation.
With over 6 years’ experience, managing grant, consultancy and collaboration projects, Ross is responsible for new business development.