Areas of expertise

  • Counter-IED
  • Defence manufacturing
  • Test and Evaluation
  • Explosives and Munitions


Professor Akhavan has a BSc (Hons) in chemistry, and an MPhil and PhD in polymer chemistry from Southampton University. She was a Research Fellow in surface enhanced Raman spectroscopy at Southampton University and a Senior engineer at Pirelli General in polymeric optical fibres for short distance communication before joining Cranfield University in 1987.

Professor Akhavan is a Fellow of the Royal Society of Chemistry and a Fellow of the Institute of Explosives Engineers. In 2018 she was selected as an independent member on the Defence Science Expert Committee as the UK expert in energetics, explosives and weapon technologies for a six-year term.

In 2016 Prof Akhavan established the Abel Building, a new state-of-the-art chemistry facility and centre of excellence for research and development in energetic materials. She has also been the inspiration behind the Centre of Excellence in Energetic Materials, working with the MoD and other agencies to deliver this new UK national capability.

Research opportunities

Her research interests are in synthesis and manufacture of high explosives.

Current activities

Professor Akhavan is the Head of the Centre for Defence Chemistry and works across teaching, research and consultancy in explosives, propellants and pyrotechnics. She was the Course Director of the Explosives Ordnance Engineering MSc and leads a team of researchers in developing:

Energetic polymers

Home-made explosives

Insensitive high explosives

Ageing of explosives

Novel explosives


Hazard and performance Testing of explosives


  • Atomic Weapons Establishment
  • Defence Ordnance, Munitions and Explosives (OME) Safety Regulator (DOSR)
  • Defence and Security Accelerator (MOD)
  • Defence Ordnance Safety Group
  • Defence Equipment and Support (MOD)
  • Defence Intelligence (MOD)
  • Defence Science and Technology Group
  • Defence Science and Technology Laboratory
  • Department for Science, Innovation, and Technology
  • Department for Transport
  • Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council
  • European Space Agency
  • Royal Air Force
  • Chemring Group PLC
  • Government Office for Science
  • Centre for Applied Science and Technology (Home Office)
  • Home Office
  • Jaguar Land Rover Ltd
  • MBDA UK Ltd
  • Lockheed Martin Corporation
  • Roxel (MBDA)
  • Ministry of Defence
  • BAE Systems PLC
  • QinetiQ Group PLC
  • Roke Manor Research Limited
  • Airbus SE
  • UK Space Agency
  • US Department of Defense
  • Weapons Sector Research Framework


Articles In Journals

Conference Papers