Sarah-Jane Tonks

Aura Centre for Doctoral Training

Work with industry, drive innovation, develop a sustainable future.

Cohort 5


My background is in Mechanical Engineering, which I studied at BEng and MSc. My BEng project explored how a helicopter blade’s lift and drag is affected by changes in cone angle resulting from changes in material stiffness through experimentation in a small-scale wind tunnel. My MSc dissertation focused on validating a method of stress and strain analysis on turbocharger turbine wheels via simulation.

I have spent ten years in industry working a variety of roles, including engineering project management, automotive sector turbocharger turbine wheel design and analysis, and most recently, as a thermofluids engineer, conducting thermodynamic and hydraulic CFD analysis on liquid-cooling solutions for hyperscale datacentre infrastructure.

Research Interests:

My research interests are varied, the broad areas of focus are currently on topics including: 

• Offshore wind turbine failure modes

• Impact of sand adhesion and abrasion on turbine blade life and aerodynamic performance, 

• How damage due to sand differs to water-related or UV-related damage

• CFD methodologies

• Designing test-scale wind turbines and blades that align to full-size field examples 

• Understanding how sand-related damage affects overall blade life and in turn its impact on offshore wind maintenance schedules

Why you applied for the Aura CDT:

I applied to Aura CDT because I was intrigued by the project title – I was looking for an opportunity that would enable me to further develop of CFD simulation skills while also allowing for an opportunity to conduct physical experiments in a wind tunnel, and looking further into it I really liked the idea of working in a cross-disciplinary cohort which would give me additional insights into different aspects of the industry.

Research project:

Effect of Blade Surface Contamination on Wind Turbine Energy Production

Get in touch:


For an informal discussion, call +44 (0) 1482 463331
or contact