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 Alexander Safar

Alexander Safar

Research student, School of Mathematics

M/2.42, 21-23 Senghennydd Road, Cathays, Cardiff, CF24 4AG

I am a research student at Cardiff University studying nonlinear elasticity. This position, like my previous employment, is a cross between mathematics, engineering and computer science. My future plans involve research into design, manufacture and optimisation of microstructures for engineering and biomedical applications.


My PhD research is based in the Mathematics department where I apply nonlinear elasticity theory to cellular or lattice structures. In particular we have investigated:

  • shearing of fibre reinforced cell walls
  • cell-cell debonding in cellular materials
  • stretch-dominated open- and closed-cell materials at macroscopic scale
  • self-similar and hierarchical cellular architectures

I also assist with research in the Engineering department here in Cardiff, with physical testing and hyperelastic model fitting.

In my personal work, I design hierarchical lattices which hope to be investigated further with the knowledge gained from the PhD research. I integrate self-similar bending-dominated lattices as cell walls within macroscopic stretch-dominated lattices. Watch a 2min introductory video to this project here.

Academic Awards

  • Best PresenterSIAM National Student Chapter Conference, Galway (May 2017)
  • Second PlaceSIAM-IMA Three Minute Thesis, Cardiff (May 2017)
  • Competition WinnerSpark Business Innovation Ideas, Cardiff (April 2017)
  • Mike Crisfield Prize: best presenter amongst all Post-graduate Research Students and Post-doctoral Researchers | 25th UKACM Computational Mechanics, Birmingham (April 2017)
  • Poster PrizeSIAM UKIE, Strathclyde (Jan 2017)

Conferences & Workshops

Workshop Leader:

'Patterns in the world around us' The Romsey School, Southampton (Jul 2017)

I took four different mathematics classes over the day for yr 8-10s. The talks I gave aimed to entertain, give an insight into higher learning STEM subjects and the beauty in the things we use every day. We talked about the cellular structures of the objects around us, explored their properties, talked about geometries and tesselations. Then we moved onto 3D printing interesting geometries, biomimicry and finally fractals and the golden ratio. We also did some exercises including The Chaos Game, finding nth terms (and fractals) in Pascal's Triangle and also creating paper tetrakaidadecahedrons, or truncated octahedron, to show a perfect stacking in 3D space.

SIAM-IMA Student Chapter 'Full STEAM Ahead'Cardiff University (June 2017)

I designed and led a 3D printing workshop where students had the opportunity to design and print their own 3D fidget spinners using the freely available browser-based software ‘Onshape’. There was a prize for the best designs, submitted on the day and printed later by our colleagues in Engineering. Each student also received a 3D printed ‘gyro’ keyring memento of the event to take away with them.

Science Cafe 'Why does the apple fall apart?'Porters, Cardiff (June 2017)

A public engagement presentation to show the wider community more on the subject that I am passionate about - cellular structures in engineering and nature. Full talk can be found here.

Contributed Talk:

6th SIAM National Student ConferenceGalway (May 2017)

SIAM-IMA Three Minute Thesis Competition | Cardiff (May 2017)

25th UKACM Computational Mechanics | Birmingham (Apr 2017)

Applied Mathematics Seminar SeriesCardiff (Nov 2016)

SIAM-IMA Seminar SeriesCardiff (Mar 2016)

Contributed Poster:

6th SIAM National Student ConferenceGalway (May 2017)

SIAM UKIE Annual MeetingStrathclyde (Jan 2017)

New Trends in Nonlinear PDEsCardiff (Jun 2016)

5th SIAM National Student ConferenceCardiff (May 2016)

Conference Proceeding Publications:

Wyatt, H. Safar, A. Evans, S. and Mihai, LA. 2017. The elastic behaviour of soft cellular structures under large tensile loading. Presented at: 7th International Conference on Mechanics of Biomaterials and Tissues, Hawaii, USA, 10-14 December 2017.

Safar, A. Wyatt, H. and Mihai, LA. 2017. Debonding of cellular structures under shear deformation. Presented at: SIAM UKIE Section – National Student Chapter Conference 2017, NUI Galway, 26 May 2017. Pg. 20-21

Safar, A. Wyatt, H. and Mihai, LA. 2017. Debonding of cellular structures under shear deformation. Presented at: 25th Conference of the UK Association for Computational Mechanics, University of Birmingham, Birmingham, UK, 11-13 April 2017. Pg. 296-299


HBM nCode - Software Engineer (Jul 2012 – Dec 2013, Jun 2014 - Jan 2015)

HBM nCode create software for managing timerseries data (vibration, temperature, pressure) for engineering analysis, which is best known for (but not limited to) FEA for detecting fatigue and predicting cycles to failure.

As a software engineer on the nCode Automation product I predominantly worked in data management and processing solutions. In an Agile development environment I experienced the full design lifecycle, from analysis of initial customer requirements to testing solutions for scalability and future proofing. In my most notable project I was subproject manager for creating new functionality in Automation for detecting anomalies in newly collected data, based on 'envelopes' of previous data. This involved writing statistical processes on timeseries data in Python, creating migration tools using Java and SQL (XML outputs) and modifying Automation's functionality and user interface. I was also the system administrator for the Global Powder Metallurgy Database.

The University of Sheffield - Undergraduate (Sep 2009 - Jul 2012)

BSc Mathematics (Hons) – 1st class degree

Administrative Duties

SIAM-IMA Student Chapter Vice President (2017/8)

Snowsports Club Beginners Captain (2017/8)

Snowsports Club Freestyle Captain (2016/7)

SIAM-IMA Student Chapter Treasurer (2015/7)


Elastic analysis of cellular structures

Under the hyper elasticity regime we consider discrete cells in a body of tissue and study cell-cell debonding under shear deformation. The model is based on the ripening and dehydration of some fruits and root vegetable cells (such as apples and potatoes) and therefore the models include intercellular pressure from the cell cytoplasm. We aim for our study to have physical plausibility, mathematical tractability and computational feasibility.


Dr Angela Mihai

Reader in Applied Mathematics

Tim Phillips photograph

Professor Tim Phillips

Head of School, Mathematics