Dr Beth Willneff


I am a Senior Research Fellow in the School of Design and also manage the Versatile X-Ray Spectroscopy Facility (VXSF) in the School of Chemical and Process Engineering (SCAPE).  My academic qualifications are in the sciences and were completed in the USA (BA Northwestern University), Germany (MSc Free University) and the UK (PhD University of Manchester).


  • Vesatile X-ray Spectroscopy Facility (VXSF) Manager

Research interests

My research interests are broad, revolving around materials and X-ray spectroscopy. A common theme is understanding how surfaces of materials and interfaces between materials reflect the properties of an entire object e.g. visual, chemical or mechanical. This leads me to investigate materials which are seemingly dissimilar when viewed from the perspective of their application or bulk form but which are similar at a molecular or elemental level. In the context of art and design, I am interested in how new materials can be used in contemporary practice and in establishing dialogues with artists and designers to figure out how we can harness the power of new materials to address challenges facing climate, cities, energy and food to name a few. Keywords are below.

  • materials: coating, paint, textile, additive, crystal, polymorph, pigment, surfactant, plastic
  • practices: heritage science, conservation science, surface analysis, 'gaps' (e.g pressure, material, discipline), catalysis
  • processes: crystallisation, catalysis
  • scale: nanometre, molecule, element, surface, bulk
  • analysis: X-ray spectroscopy, XPS, XANES, NEXAFS, EXAFS, synchrotron-based analytical methods, operando/in situ analysis
<h4>Research projects</h4> <p>Any research projects I'm currently working on will be listed below. Our list of all <a href="https://ahc.leeds.ac.uk/dir/research-projects">research projects</a> allows you to view and search the full list of projects in the faculty.</p>

Student education

I teach undergraduate modules in a STEAM (science, technology, engineering, arts and mathematics) context, supervise UG dissertations and PhD theses. Enquiries are welcome from people interested in research on (a) surface analysis of materials, (b) linking science to topics in art and design or heritage science, and/or (c ) on New Materialism.

Current Postgraduate Researchers

Rosi Elliott

<h4>Postgraduate research opportunities</h4> <p>We welcome enquiries from motivated and qualified applicants from all around the world who are interested in PhD study. Our <a href="https://phd.leeds.ac.uk">research opportunities</a> allow you to search for projects and scholarships.</p>