Contact Dr Matthew Healy

Areas of expertise

  • CBRN Focus Areas
  • Counter-IED
  • Test and Evaluation
  • Human Factors for Defence


Matthew started as an X-ray and accelerator physicist (and has been the profiled physicist in Physics World) but his remit has grown to encompass the wider issues of defence and security over two decades working with the military, the emergency services, government agencies and industry. His main technical field still encompasses nuclear and radiological weapons and security imaging, but extends across CBRN, IED’s, surveillance, materials and forensics. Aspects to which he contributes include threat, planning, procurement and cost, response, forensic science, and policy.

Consultancy activities have included leading an SME team in a national CBRN detection procurement programme, developing search and interdiction methods and technologies, decision support following the Fukushima incident, performing CBRN vulnerability assessments for UK and foreign infrastructure, performing independent requirements capture, and assessing the cost of recovering from CBRN terrorism.   

Current activities

A large part of his activity is creating bespoke short courses for defence and security clients and supervising doctoral research programs for senior professionals undertaking personal development.

Matthew continues to develop X-ray imaging techniques, and researches everything from threats to effects, technologies, costs and policies associated with radiological and nuclear weapons, as well as keeping current in wider domestic and international defence and security issues.  These activities are funded by a combination of civil and military government agencies and private sector funds.  

Matthew currently supervises or co-supervises the following PhD candidates from the defence and security sector working on the following topics, and contributes to half dozen or so other thesis committees.

  • Monte-Carlo modelling of radiation transport and interactions for imaging systems
  • The requirement and development of Audio Visual technology to support emergency response to CBRN Incidents and Hazards
  • Advanced Detection of Improvised Explosive Device Components
  • Enhancing ways of thinking and combining perspectives to gain increased insight into complex socio-technical systems.

Previous supervised PhD students have researched:

  • Radiation survey in challenging environments CBRN classification for first responders
  • Stand-off sensing of radiological and nuclear hazards within defence and security
  • Medical preparedness for a nuclear detonation in major cities
  • Optimising search for radioactive sources in the urban environment
  • Radiological emergency response, imprecision and decision making
  • Forecasting terrorist attack and countermeasure effect by historical analysis
  • Nuclear intelligence
  • Building sustainable nuclear infrastructure

Matthew supports on average 3 MSc students a year, illustrative MSc projects include

  • An inter-comparison of CBRN detection capability
  • The immediate response to a dirty bomb
  • The commanders decision making process in a radiological environment
  • Use of genetic algorithms for non-invasive search

Much of Matthew’s research supports teaching, for example:

  • Nuclear weapons policy and deterrence
  • Technologies and science of Weapons of Mass Destruction
  • Wider technologies for security and resilience

Further research is conducted under the umbrella of consultancy, which has included:

  • CBRN vulnerability studies
  • Construction of plausible vignettes
  • Developing models to guide the development of detection systems
  • Assessment and development of detection systems (not just CBRN)
  • Review of response exercises

Courses that Matthew leads or delivers on include

  • Nuclear Weapons Policy
  • CBRN Defence Science
  • Nuclear Hardness and Vulnerability
  • Bespoke practitioner CBRN courses
  • WMD in International Security and Resilience
  • Ammunition Technical Officers
  • Technology of Resilience
  • Battle Space Technology
  • Guided Weapons
  • Forensics Modular Masters Programme
  • Hazardous Forensics

Matthew is open to applications from students wishing to study research degrees. A MSc by research full time can take one year, an MPhil 2 years FT and a PhD 3 years FT 6yrs PT. The CBRN research group numbers about ten candidates including mature professionals and some Summer interns.



  • AEA technology
  • Aon
  • AWE
  • Barclays
  • BP
  • Burro Happold
  • Department of Energy and Climate Change
  • Deutschebank
  • dstl
  • European Union
  • General Dynamics
  • Intel
  • Lockheed Martin
  • MBDA
  • MoD
  • NATO
  • Nordian UK
  • Police
  • Public Health England
  • PoolRe
  • Rio Tinto
  • SSM Sweden
  • Various unnamed financial institutions, governments and militaries.


Articles In Journals

Conference Papers