Cardiovascular Biomechanics and Tissue Engineering
Rallia’s area of interest involves multiscale analysis of tissue remodelling in Ascending Aortic Aneurysms. The overarching aim of her project is to investigate the role of mechanical stimuli in the remodelling of the arterial wall, by integrating the biomechanical environment of the aorta with cellular mechanics for predicting the vessel wall pathophysiology.
Her research includes the development of tissue engineered 3D collagen constructs using smooth muscle cells and fibroblasts for modelling the mechanically-induced cellular responses by integrating Finite Element Analysis (on a tissue scale) with Agent-Based Modelling (on a cellular scale). Combination of in vitro and in silico approaches is expected to provide unique insight into the mechanism determining tissue functionality, in relation to the culture environment. Such a multi-scale model can be applied for modelling the aorta of patients with aortic disease with the ultimate goal of serving as a tool for predictive medicine.
Rallia Velliou graduated in the top quarter of her class with a Diploma (MEng equivalent) in Chemical Engineering from the National Technical University of Athens (NTUA). For her thesis, entitled ‘MILP optimisation for energy planning of a hospital using mathematical programming’ she developed an optimisation code for producing solutions in Multi-objective Mathematical Problems MMP. She has industrial experience in the pharmaceutical as well as the energy sector. She has also carried out research in the Fuels Technology Laboratory (NTUA), for biodiesel and bioethanol property determination.
In 2014 Rallia obtained a Master’s Degree in Chemical Engineering from Imperial College London. Her research in the Centre for Process Systems Engineering on Molecular Dynamics focused on developing a mathematical tool for predicting physical properties of organic solids used as active pharmaceutical ingredients (APIs) based on Quantum Mechanics. In September 2015 she was appointed RA in the Department of Bioengineering at Imperial College, with Dr Spyros Masouros, to conduct research on orthopaedic biomechanics in a project related to experimental and computational biomechanics (FEA and MD), soft tissue characterisation, histology and tissue imaging.
In November 2016 she joined the Department of Mechanical Engineering at UCL to perform research on cardiovascular biomechanics, combining finite element analysis and agent-based modelling with tissue engineering. Her area of interest is multiscale analysis of tissue remodelling in Ascending Aortic Aneurysms. She has published part of her research and has given oral presentations in major international conferences. In March 2019 she joined the Division of Surgery & Interventional Science to carry out experimental work using tissue engineering for modelling mechanically-induced cellular responses.
From July 2015, she has carried out software development for determining solid-solid transitions according to molecule orientation affiliated with Orion Spacecraft Mission. Among others, she has received the “Best PhD Presentation 2017” award in UCL’s PhD symposium, the “Best Research Image Award” from the UCL Mechanical Engineering Researchers’ Society, and was shortlisted in the top 21 posters across the UK for the Women Engineers Society Annual Conference in 2019. She is actively involved in the UCL WES and was elected Vice-President in 2018-19 and Outreach Director in 2019-20.