Professor John Fothergill

Honorary Visiting Professor

Professor John C Fothergill
Professor John Fothergill

Electrical Power Engineering Research Group

BSc, MSc, PhD, CEng, FIEEE, FIEE, FInstP

Curriculum Vitae

A CV is available here: Curriculum vitae

Career Summary and Research Interests

John Fothergill was born in Malta in 1953. He was educated at Slough Grammar School, where he won prizes for Mathematics and for Music. He received a BSc (Hons) in Electronic Engineering, an MSc (Distinction) in Electrical Materials and Devices and a PhD on the Electronic Properties of Biopolymers from the University College of North Wales, Bangor. From 1979 to 1984 he was a Senior Research Engineer with Standard Telecommunications Laboratory (STL), Harlow, where his principal research area was in power cables. In 1984 he moved to the University of Leicester where he became a Lecturer in Engineering.  In 2000 he was awarded a Professorship (Personal Chair) of Engineering. In 2001 he became Dean of Science and in 2003, Pro-Vice-Chancellor. He became the Head of Department of Engineering in August 2008. He is a Fellow of the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers and the Institution of Electrical Engineers. His election to FIEEE was “for contributions to reliability methodology in the aging processes of electrical insulation systems”. He chaired the Dielectrics Group of the Institute of Physics until 2010 and he is chairs the International Committee of the IEEE International Conference on Solid Dielectrics. He has been elected to Fellowship of the Institute of Physics "in recognition for his personal contribution to the advancement of physics as a discipline and a profession."

John has published more than 120 refereed papers in the areas of electrical engineering and bio-medical engineering, co-authored an American Standard (IEEE Guide for the Statistical Analysis of Electrical Insulation Breakdown Data), and written several book chapters on electrical insulation and on engineering education. He received a Higher Education Academy Engineering Subject Centre Teaching Award in 2005. He has co-authored the well regarded book on Electrical Degradation and Breakdown in Polymers, which has received more that 200 citations (Google Scholar). All his research work has been to do with the dielectric properties of materials, that is, how materials respond to an electric field. The understanding gained in this area has enabled him to make significant contributions to the area of high voltage insulation. In particular, he has furthered the understanding of electrical breakdown, degradation and ageing processes and the methods used for assessing reliability of such insulating systems. He has developed techniques to measure “space charge” in dielectrics, including the fastestever system for inspecting transients. Space charge can cause high field regions that lead to premature breakdown but it can also be used as an indicator for the prognosis of insulator “health”. With Professor Keith Nelson, in pioneering work, he has characterised insulating materials filled with nano-particles. He has led a major EU project on the use of high-voltage DC systems in the European super-grid; this included the development of a theoretical foundation and tools for the technical appraisal of such systems, but also a methodology and associated software to assess the potential economic and environmental benefits and impacts of such systems. Because of the wide applicability of dielectric theory, he has also enabled research through collaboration with groups in other areas.

Examples include bio-chemical and biophysical sensing using optical fibre sensors, dust collection through the development of electrostatic precipitators and the stimulation of muscles to enable MS and stroke patients to walk. Recently he has also published on the use of e-learning and learning technologies in engineering higher education. He has supervised approximately 20 PhDs and has attracted approximately £3 million in research grants, mainly on peerreviewed EPSRC and EC projects (in most cases supported by industry) and mostly as principal investigator. He has acted as a consultant to many industries, other universities and le centre national de la recherche scientifique (CNRS) in France.

Past Projects

Fothergill, J.C. et al, co-ordinator of the EU Framework 5 grant on “Benefits of HVDC Links in the European Power Electrical System and Improved HVDC Technology (HVDC)”, €1,694,434 = £1.16 million, 1/1/2003 - 30/6/2006

Fothergill, J.C. and Dissado, The Development of Nanocomposite Dielectric Structures, A joint proposal under the NSF/EPSRC request for cooperative activities in materials research between US and European investigators, EPSRC contribution £85055 + €30,000 (=£20,500) from Schneider Electric, Jan 2004
(Details online at

Fothergill, J. C. "Nanocomposites", Schneider Electric, €30,000, 2005 – 2007

Partner in the HEA Informal Mobile Podcasting and Learning Adaptation (IMPALA) project, May 2006/07, £38,835

Fothergill, J. C. "Loss Mechanisms in XLPE model cables", Borealis AB Sweden, Research Studentship £34,800 in conjunction with ORS award to support PhD student (Tong LIU)

Co-investigator in EU FP7 project, “Modelling of Interface Evolution in Advanced Welding (Mintweld)” Seventh Framework Programme, Theme 4: Nanosciences, Nanotechnologies, Materials and New Production Technologies – (€4.8M) 2009 - 2012

Fothergill, J.C. and Dodd, S.J., Knowledge Transfer Partnership (KTP) “to develop the capability of the company to characterise and assess insulating materials and key components for low-loss High Voltage DC (HVDC) electrical transmission” with Alstom Grid UK, £141,608 (Jan 2011 – Dec 2012)


Publications are available on the Leicester Research Archive

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