Department of Engineering / Profiles / Prof. Ann Dowling

Department of Engineering

Prof. Ann Dowling OM DBE FRS FREng


Ann Dowling

Emeritus Staff

Academic Division: Energy, Fluid Mechanics and Turbomachinery

Research group: Fluid Mechanics


Research interests

Professor Dowling's research aims to enable society to have power and transport without environmental damage or excessive noise. There are two main themes, one associated with efficient, low-emission combustion, and the second with understanding, modelling and reducing the noise from cars, helicopters, fixed-wing aircraft and domestic appliances such as vacuum cleaners and fans.

The drive for low emissions is causing aero and industrial gas turbine combustors to operate on the verge of instability. Ann Dowling's research is aimed at understanding this phenomenon and involves theoretical modelling, computations and experiments. Her team develop techniques predict the onset, frequency and limit cycle amplitudes of the self-excited oscillations that are the result of the instabilities. Both passive and active means of control are investigated, and various successful approaches have been demonstrated.

Ann Dowling's research on aircraft noise is concentrating particularly on jet noise, a major noise source at take-off. Her group is developing models to predict the noise and investigate and optimise various mitigation techniques. They are also investigating combustion noise, which is of increasing importance in the external noise from aircraft. Techniques are being developed to reduce noise in a wide range of applications.

Strategic themes

Energy, transport and urban infrastructure

System-level design and optimisation of new transport solutions that balance environmental, economic and social factors. Founding member of the Energy Efficient Cities Initiative (EECi).

Manufacturing, design and materials

Ann Dowling has research collaborations with a number of companies. She led the University Gas Turbine Partnership, a collaboration between Rolls-Royce and the University of Cambridge, from 2001-14.

Other positions

  • Non-executive director BP plc
  • Non-executive Board Member, BIS (Department of Business, Innovation and Skills)


Ann Dowling is President of the Royal Academy of Engineering.

She was Head of the Department of Engineering 2009-14 and has held visiting posts at MIT (Jerome C Hunsaker Visiting Professor, 1999) and at Caltech (Moore Distinguished Scholar 2001).  

Ann is a Fellow of the Royal Society, Royal Academy of Engineering and is a Foreign Member of the US National Academy of Engineering and of the French Academy of Sciences. She is an Honorary Fellow of the Institution of Mechanical Engineers and the Institution of Engineering Designers and a Fellow of the Royal Aeronautical Society and of the Institute of Acoustics. Ann has an Honorary Doctorates from Oxford University, Imperial College London, Trinity College Dublin, the University of Kent, the University of Leeds, Queen’s University Belfast, London South Bank University, Heriot-Watt University and KTH Royal Institute of Technology, Stockholm. 

Ann has served on a number industry and government advisory committees and chaired the Royal Society/Royal Academy of Engineering study on nanotechnology. She is a non-executive director of BP plc, chair of their Remuneration and Technical Advisory Committees and a member of their Safety, Ethics and Environment Assurance Committee. She is also a non-executive member of the board of the UK government's Department of Business, Innovation and Skills (BIS). She was Chair of Main Panel B: Physical Sciences, Engineering and Mathematics in the Research Excellence Framework (REF2014). In 2015 she chaired a review for BIS on business-university research collaborations.

Ann was appointed CBE for services to Mechanical Engineering in 2002, DBE for services to Science in 2007, and was appointed to the Order of Merit by the Queen in December 2015.