PhD & Postgraduate Research

We offer the opportunity to undertake a PhD in Chemistry in our brand new, state-of-the-art facilities, helping our aim of carrying out advanced postgraduate research.

Studying for a research degree is a highly rewarding and challenging process. You'll work to become a leading expert in your topic area with regular contact and close individual supervision with your supervisor.

Further information regarding what a PhD in Chemistry will involve and how you can join us may be found on these pages. You should feel free to contact us with any enquiries about our research, and about the possibility of undertaking a research degree here in Lancaster. If you have a particular project in mind, please feel free to contact directly the appropriate member of staff.

Our research is broadly structured into three core discipline themes. Each theme is populated with an expanding team of research-active staff at the forefront of research in their respective fields. Our interests span many areas of both fundamental and technological interest. Perhaps most importantly, we share not only common ground in research excellence, but an inclusive and collaborative spirit, and a dedication to passing on our knowledge to a new generation of researchers.

Self-funded applications

To begin the process you will need to find a PhD Supervisor whose research interests align with your own. You will need to contact them to discuss your application.

Industry-funded applications

Launch your career in research and development with an industry-focused, three year funded PhD for graduates with a background in scientific disciplines. Each PhD is tailored to both the subject and the requirements of a specific industry.

We will require a research proposal on the area/s you are interested in joining us to study. This will be used to help us determine who will be the most suitable potential academic supervisor for your research. 

This is the starting point to find a suitable supervisor who will then if interested contact the applicant for a phone interview to discuss the proposal and intended research, meaning your proposal is not your permanent topic for your PhD studies and open to negotiation. Past guidelines have suggested the following:

  • a section that defines and characterises your selected research area;
  • a section that briefly surveys and sums up the state of the art in this area;
  • a section that identifies deficiencies in the state of the art which you would like to address in your PhD;
  • a section that outlines some possible research directions that you might pursue;
  • a list of references that you cite in the above sections.

We recommend applicants submit their research interests and the PhD Admissions Tutor can pass their application onto the most relevant and available potential supervisor. However, If you would like to search for a suitable academic supervisor(to quote in your application) then you can find a list of our academics here.

To submit an application, simply create an account on the My Applications website and then select ‘Create a new application’ from your homepage once you are logged-in.

Using your account on the My Applications website, you are able to submit applications for the programme(s) which you wish to study, upload supporting documentation and provide us with information about referees. You may apply for all our postgraduate programmes using this method.

Current Lancaster Students

If you are a current Lancaster student, or you have recently graduated from Lancaster, we can reduce the amount of information that you will need to provide as part of your application. You will need to provide only one reference and will not need to supply your Lancaster degree transcript. We will also pre-fill your personal details, ready for you to check.

If you use the My Applications website then you will be advised which documentation you need to upload or send to us. We can automatically contact your referees once you have submitted your application if you ask us to.

The supporting documentation screen will provide you with a list of required documents. These will usually include:

  • Degree certificates and transcripts of previous higher education (college/university) degrees or other courses that you have completed/for which you are currently studying.
    For transcripts in languages other than English, a certified English translation will be required.
  • A personal statement to help us understand why you wish to study your chosen degree.
  • You also need to complete a research proposal which should include the following:
    • the research area you are interested in
    • the research question(s) you are specifically interested in
    • who within Engineering appears best qualified to supervise you
    • the methods you envisage using in your studies
    • plus any other information which may be relevant
  • Two references
  • If English is not your first language, we require copies of English language test results.

You can apply at any time of the year for PhD study, but we encourage you to start at one of the predefined start dates of October, January or April. In some circumstances, July start date will be considered. An MSc by Research will usually start in October. If you wish to be considered for funding, are applying form overseas or require on-campus accommodation, we recommend you apply as early as possible.

Research Training

We take care of all of our students at Lancaster University. The Faculty of Science and Technology runs a series of training sessions designed to improve your skills and abilities during your PhD. Learn more

PhD Supervisors

I have a range of available projects in Raman spectroscopy for biomolecular characterisation and single cell Raman microspectroscopy, although funding is currently not available. I welcome applications from self-funded students or from students seeking external funding.Training will be provided in Raman Spectroscopy, computational methods for analysis and chemical biology.

View Lorna's profile

Potential projects are focussed on synthetic organic photochemistry:
- New Synthetic Routes to Stereodefined Four-Membered Heterocycles
- New Synthetic Routes to Cubane Derivatives: Opportunities in Drug Discovery
- Metal-Catalysed Enantioselective [2+2] Photocycloadditions

View Susannah's profile

We have a range of projects, although funding is currently not available. We welcome applications from self-funded students or from students seeking external funding. Training will be provided in Time Resolved Fluorescence Spectroscopy, and Lifetime Imaging using Confocal Microscopy for the application in light harvesting structures.

View Lefteris's profile

I am looking to recruit postgraduate students keen to work on synthetic supramolecular chemistry research projects.

Funded PhD studentships will be advertised on the Lancaster Chemistry webpages when they are available.

Prospective students with their own funding for postgraduate research should email me directly, attaching a CV.

View Nicholas's profile

Any students with their own funding would be encouraged to apply

View Nick's profile

PhD projects include synthetic organic chemistry, catalysis and organometallic chemistry. Projects will be advertised as they become available.

View Vilius's profile

I will advertise Ph.D. research projects as funding is secured via jobs.ac.uk.
Self-funded students are warmly encouraged to contact me to discuss mutually interesting research projects.

View John's profile

There are always research opportunities in our group, although funding is currently not available. We have both fundamental and applied projects available, and welcome applications from self-funded students or from students seeking external funding. We will provide training in all relevant aspects of computational chemistry and subsequent analysis.

View Andrew's profile

We have a range of projects, although funding is currently not available. We welcome applications from self-funded students or from students seeking external funding. Training will be provided in NMR spectroscopy, computational methods for analysis and molecular biology techniques for the production of proteins.

View David's profile

To learn more about research opportunities contact Nuria at n.tapiaruiz@lancaster.ac.uk. We always welcome applications from self-funded enthusiastic students with groundbreaking ideas. **3-year fully funded PhD position to work on sodium cathode development for Na-ion batteries in collaboration with Plank Labs Ltd.** To learn more about this opportunity visit: http://www.globalecoinnovation.org/graduates/projects/plank-labs-limited/ **4-year fully funded PhD position to work on flexible all solid Zn ion batteries**

View Nuria's profile

Electrochemical energy storage and conversion -

  • New chemistries in flow batteries
  • Physical characterisation of flow battery processes
  • Electrocatalytic carbon dioxide reduction
  • Analytical electrochemistry

Applications are always welcome from MRes and PhD candidates, domestic and international, with their own funding. There is also opportunity to collaboratively apply for funding based on mutual interest. Please contact me!

Lancaster University boasts an a brand new and well provisioned multimillion pound Chemistry Department. It is also well supported by outstanding research facilities in Engineering, Physics, Environmental Science to name a few. Energy research is a particular focal point at Lancaster University with Energy Lancaster championing interdisciplinary research campus wide. This is an exciting time to become involved at Lancaster University, with vibrant, fresh and exciting research ideas central to our emerging chemistry portfolio. Visit our departmental website for more details http://www.lancaster.ac.uk/chemistry

View Kathryn's profile

Research Areas

Our chemistry research is divided into three themes. Each theme is led by a team of research-active staff, at the forefront of their fields.

Chemical Synthesis

Chemical Synthesis

Synthesis underlies all aspects of chemistry; the design, creation and study of molecules and materials are at the heart of research activity across all areas of chemistry.

Chemical Theory and Computation

Chemical Theory and Computation

The interrelated fields of Chemical Theory and Chemical Computation form the basis of the CTC research theme in Chemistry at Lancaster.

Physical and Analytical Chemistry

Physical and Analytical Chemistry

Characterisation and measurement of the properties of atoms, molecules, solids, materials and biological systems are at the heart of our physical and analytical chemistry (PAC) research here at Lancaster.

Current Opportunities

Funded Opportunities

Details of our funded PhD studentships are given below. You are strongly encouraged to contact the prospective supervisor before making an application. Chemistry graduates can also register for a funded industry-focused PhD with a £15,000 stipend. For more information, see here.

  • Industry-funded PhD: Development of point of care testing of critical and chronic health conditions
    • In the healthcare sector, rapid results matter for effective and efficient diagnosis.  The aim of this project is to get accurate and economical test results on the patient’s site or in doctor’s clinic from a single drop of blood in a minute. Point of care testing (POCT) will be developed to facilitate localised healthcare monitoring for patients with critical or chronic conditions that require regular measurements from body fluid sources.

    Many patients have to make regular journeys to care centres, such as hospitals, for tests to be carried out.  This is very demanding of time, resources and has a very significant impact on the carbon footprint associated with vehicular transportation. This project aims to address this through the provision of local, or at home testing at the point of care. eBiogen aims to provide a portfolio of critical care point of care testing through collaboration with Lancaster University.

    Applicants should have a first or 2.1 Degree in chemistry or biochemistry.

    Industry Partner

    This PhD project is supervised by Lancaster University, and eBiogen.  eBiogen Limited is a technology-based start-up focusing on the development of point-of-care testing devices for blood. Currently, blood samples are usually sent to remote path labs, requiring transportation, delays, large sample volumes and cost.

    eBiogen is working on technologies which circumvent many of these problems - the advantages include portability (a credit card sized device compared to a bench top device); rapid, accurate and timely results (results are available in under a minute); multiple tests on one device; low costs and small sample volume (50ul compared to 3ml currently); ease of use and low maintenance.

    The company is working with Lancaster University Faculty of Health & Medicine and the Department of Chemistry to develop these test technologies.

  • ‘Big Picture’ explorations of the chemistry of future battery technologies: Fully Funded PhD studentship (3 year) in Chemistry Department
    • In Brief:

      • Topic: ‘Big Picture’ explorations of the chemistry of future battery technologies
      • Closing Date: May 31st, for October 1st start
      • Eligibility: UK and EU Students
      • Funding: Annual tax-free stipend of £14,296 (which will increment yearly)
      • Hours: Full Time

      The Leverhulme Centre for Material Social Futures

      Lancaster University’s Leverhulme Doctoral Training Centre in Material Social Futures is a major new strategic collaborative partnership between two of the university’s recently formed research Institutes – the Institute for Social Futures and the Material Science Institute. Based in the Chemistry Department you will be part of a growing team of PhDs who will examine how to create more sustainable and socially beneficial futures, and who will be trained to engage in diverse aspects of materials discovery and the analysis of social and economic structures to achieve these ends. In short, the goal of PhDs in Material Social Futures will be to help produce futures that people want and the world needs.

      Lancaster University is one of the top 10 universities in the UK. The Chemistry Department was ranked 10th in the UK for world-leading research in the most recent research excellence framework exercise (REF2014).  The project will benefit from full access to the state-of-the-art facilities of Lancaster’s Materials Science Institute (http://www.lancaster.ac.uk/materials-science-institute/) and in Chemistry (http://www.lancaster.ac.uk/chemistry/).

      We are committed to the Athena SWAN Charter, which recognises and celebrates good employment practice undertaken to address gender equality in higher education and research.”

      Background

      We live in a world where energy demand continues to expand. Individuals and institutions do not just use more, they consume it in ever more diverse ways; and whilst there might be a willingness to be more sensitive to sustainability energy solutions, the increase in demand outstrips the pace with which new, more sustainable sources can be developed. This is particularly the case with battery technologies. Here, it is not just replacing traditional Li-ion designs with more energy efficient and less costly manufacturing solutions that is being sought, but trying to map the relationship between new battery design and the energy requirements of different technological contexts of use. In the case of computer systems particularly, there is potentially intimate relationship between innovative battery design and innovation in software architecture and hardware. The two need to go hand in hand.  

      This project

      It is in light of this connection that this project aims to develop new cathode materials for Li-ion batteries that not utilise only sustainable and ethically sourced elements but whose design takes into account the diverse energy demands that different computational architectures and systems create. Accordingly, while the project’s primary goal will be to explore materials that are cobalt free yet offer equivalent performance to existing battery materials (based on the nickel, manganese, cobalt (NMC) model),  the project will also entail working closely with a team of researchers in computer science (and other disciplines) who are seeking to see how demand for energy can be shaped by other, ‘bigger picture’ considerations. High power density is readily achieved via cobalt free lithium iron phosphate chemistry, for example, but portable computer devices require enhanced energy density instead, i.e. high capacity and longer power duration. Hence, the development of battery technologies might factor these considerations into their iterative development.

      The materials synthesis and fundamental electrochemistry of new sustainable metal-ion batteries will be studied using existing state-of-the-art equipment available in the Chemistry Department. In addition, the student will participate in various collaborative activities with other PhDs in the Material Social Futures training centre and will be assisted by ‘corresponding’ supervisors in the School of Computing and Communication.

      Further Details

      • Cover full payment of academic fees (at the standard RCUK rate);
      • A Maintenance Stipend (£14,777 pa);
      • Access to a Research Training Support Grant (RTSG) for reimbursement of research-related expenses including – but not limited to – conference attendance, training courses and equipment of at least £800 pa. Additional research costs (such as entailed in lab work) will be supported as appropriate;
      • Access to a range of training and development provided by the Material Social Futures PhD Programme, the Chemistry Department, the Faculty of Science and Technology, the Institute for Social Futures and Lancaster University;
      • The Material Social Futures PhD programme will offer internships (including international placements) in the second and or third year of training.

      Requirements

      Candidates should have or expect a 2:1 class degree (or equivalent) in Chemistry, Engineering or a closely related discipline. Applicants should have an interest in energy storage technologies. Synthetic skills and knowledge of diffraction, electrochemical, microscopic and spectroscopic techniques are desired.  Previous hands-on experience in the synthesis and characterisation of battery materials will be particularly valued.

      Application details

      Please apply online via the University Postgraduate Admissions Portal at http://www.lancaster.ac.uk/study/postgraduate/how-to-apply-for-postgraduate-study/ with:

      • A CV (2 pages maximum)
      • Cover letter
      • University grade transcripts (where available)

    • Contact Us

      We very much welcome informal queries about this opportunity, which should be directed to Dr. Nuria Tapia-Ruiz (n.tapiaruiz@lancaster.ac.uk) and/or Dr. Kathryn Toghill (k.toghill@lancaster.ac.uk).

     

     

  • Fully-funded PhD: understanding and predicting battery degradation Lancaster University | The Faraday Institution| BMW Battery Technology Supervisor: Prof. Harry Hoster, Director of Energy Lancaster
    • Cell models to quantify, predict, and understand battery degradation

      A fully funded 3.5 year PhD studentship in Physical Chemistry is available under the supervision of Professor Harry Hoster in the Department of Chemistry at Lancaster University, commencing autumn 2018 or earlier. You will be part of the newly launched “Multi-Scale Modelling” project (lead by Imperial College) within the UK Faraday Institution and you will also work with the battery R&D team at BMW headquarters in Munich.

      The battery is the most expensive component of an electric vehicle. And the question how soon a battery will have to be replaced is an economically crucial one. Battery technology is improving rapidly, which is positive, but this also demands lifetime predictions for periods of > 5 years for products that are on the market for only < 2 years. Predictions must thus rely on limited experimental observations in combination with battery degradation models.a

      Embedded in Lancaster’s Energy Storage Group and the wider Multi-Scale Modelling consortium, you will develop a cell model to describe history-dependent degradation (resulting, e.g., in capacity fading). “History” will include fast-charging of battery cells in varied time patterns. The batteries and details of the research questions will come from the BMW battery research laboratories in Munich.

      You will start with an experimental study, combining the rather young “High Precision Charge Counting”b (HPC) as a fast assessment method on the one hand with varied longer term charge/ discharge patterns on the other.c The latter will rely on BMW’s input about known and expected user behaviour. In combination, those two data sets will give a quantitative idea of how well the fast HPC method is able to predict outcomes of longer-term degradation experiments.

      You will also do “post mortem” analyses of fresh and aged cells,d analysing chemical composition and structure of the electrodes at varied stages of ageing. This will reveal the internal processes behind the externally observable degradation.

      Six months into the project, you will start developing a computational cell model. In the spirit of the Multi-Scale Modelling approach, that cell model will in turn combine the advantages of computationally fast “continuum models”e and physically more accurate, yet much slower “atomistic models”.f This will ensure that empirical observations (e.g., capacity fade) can be traced back and linked to the underlying physical and chemical processes.

      In summary, you will work at the three-way interface of experiments, computational modelling, and technological impact. You will gather experience and international contacts which will pave the way for any further career path you may choose.

      Informal e-mail enquiries to Prof Harry Hoster prior to submitting an application are encouraged (h.hoster@lancaster.ac.uk). Applications should be made via Lancaster University’s online application system.  Applications will be considered in the order that they are received and the position may be filled when a suitable candidate has been identified.

      The studentship will cover fees at the UK/EU rate plus the standard maintenance stipend (£14,777 for 2018/19).

      Lancaster University is The Times and Sunday Times University of the Year 2018. Lancaster is ranked 6th in The Times and Sunday Times Good University Guide 2018, and is also named the Best Campus University and Best University in the North West of England. 

      The Department of Chemistry at Lancaster University provides a research environment that strongly supports the individual needs of each student, promoting a healthy work-life balance. We are committed to the Athena Swan Charter, which recognises and celebrates good employment practice undertaken to address gender equality in higher education and research. Our commitment to these principles is reflected in our recent receipt of an Athena Swan Bronze Award.

      1. Pelletier, Samuel, et al.: "Battery degradation and behaviour for electric vehicles: Review and numerical analyses of several models." Transportation Research Part B: Methodological 103 (2017): 158-187.
      2. Dahn, Burns, Stevens: “Importance of Coulombic Efficiency Measurements in R&D Efforts to Obtain Long-Lived Li-Ion Batteries”, Interface 25 (2016) 75.
      3. P. Keil and A. Jossen, “Impact of Dynamic Driving Loads and Regenerative Braking on the Aging of Lithium-Ion Batteries in Electric Vehicles”, Journal of The Electrochemical Society 164 (2017) A3081
      4. Waldmann et al.:”Post-Mortem Analysis of Aged Lithium-Ion Batteries: Disassembly Methodology and Physico-Chemical Analysis Techniques”, J. Electrochem. Soc. 163 (2016) A2149
      5. Bizeray, Adrien M. et al. “Resolving a Discrepancy in Diffusion Potentials, with a Case Study for Li-ion Batteries”, J. Electrochem. Soc. 163 (2016): E223-E229
      6. Mercer, Michael et al., “The influence of point defects on the entropy profiles of Lithium Ion Battery cathodes: a lattice-gas Monte Carlo study”, Electrochim. Acta 241 (2017): 141-152
  • Design and application of novel synthetic and catalytic methods to access unmapped chemical space

    Supervisor

    Professor Joe Sweeney

    Description

    A fully funded 3.5 year PhD studentship in synthetic and catalytic chemistry is available under the supervision of Professor Joe Sweeney in the Department of Chemistry, Lancaster University, commencing Autumn 2018.

    The project will be focused on the design and delivery of new methods in catalysis, with the ultimate aim of using the methodology in the synthesis of functional molecules: the study will span a broad range of research areas, including medicinal and materials chemistry: synthetic targets will include functional natural products, drug-like molecules and chemical probes, novel dyes and imaging agents. The various work packages will be focused upon the design of new/improved catalytic and synthetic methods for use in the solution of academic and industrial problems; collaboration with industry and academic end-users will be a key feature of the PhD programme.

    During the course of the project, you will be trained in general and advanced methods for synthesis and catalysis, including where necessary preparation and handling of air- and moisture-sensitive compounds. Analytical training will be focused on the characterization of new compounds, intermediates and materials using a range of techniques including NMR (solution and solid-state) and IR spectroscopy, X-ray crystallography, mass spectrometry and gel-permeation chromatography.

    Applicants should hold, or expect to receive, a 1st class or good 2:1 UK Masters-level degree (or equivalent) in Chemistry or a closely related subject, and should possess a strong interest in synthetic chemistry, catalysis. The successful candidate will, in addition to these interests, demonstrate skills in experimental synthetic chemistry at a level commensurate with the graduate degree programme.  Enthusiasm to work in a laboratory environment, a keenness to learn (by tuition and independently), a collaborative attitude and possession of excellent written and oral communication skills are essential for the role.

    Informal e-mail enquiries to Professor Joe Sweeney prior to submitting an application are encouraged. Applications should be made via Lancaster University’s online application system.  Applications will be considered in the order that they are received and the position may be filled when a suitable candidate has been identified.

    The studentship will cover fees at the UK/EU rate plus the standard maintenance stipend (£14,553 for 2018/19).

    The Department of Chemistry at Lancaster University provides a research environment that strongly supports the individual needs of each student, promoting a healthy work-life balance. We are committed to the Athena Swan Charter, which recognises and celebrates good employment practice undertaken to address gender equality in higher education and research. Our commitment to these principles is reflected in our recent receipt of an Athena Swan Bronze Award.

     

Self-Funded Opportunities

The Chemistry Department currently has several self-funded postgraduate opportunities.

  • Interlocked Molecules as Receptors of Challenging Ionic Guests

    A PhD project for self-funded students in synthetic supramolecular chemistry is available under the supervision of Dr Nicholas Evans at the Department of Chemistry, Lancaster University.

    The binding and sensing of ionic species are important for a range of biomedical, environmental and industrial reasons. However, the study of ionic recognition to date has largely focused on the binding and sensing of relatively simple targets such as metal cations and achiral inorganic anions. The preparation of receptor molecules, capable of the recognition of more challenging targets, such as ion pairs or chiral polyatomic anions, presents an exciting challenge to the supramolecular chemist.

    The project being advertised here will involve the design, synthesis and study of novel rotaxanes or catenanes that will act as selective hosts of such challenging ionic guest targets. The project will involve rationally designed synthesis to construct the rotaxanes and analytical experiments to determine their ion binding affinities. The student will receive training and gain expertise in both of these areas of practical scientific investigation.

    Enthusiasm to work in a laboratory environment, the ability to learn (by tuition and independently) and possession of excellent written and oral communication skills are essential.

    Applicants should hold, or expect to receive, a 1st class or good 2:1 UK Masters-level degree (or equivalent) in Chemistry. They must possess synthetic and analytical chemistry skills that would be expected of a graduate with a 1st class or good 2:1 UK Masters-level degree in Chemistry. If the applicant’s first language is not English, an IELTS score of 6.5 (or equivalent) is also required. Applications should be made via Lancaster University’s online application system. Informal email enquiries prior to making an application are encouraged.

    For further information on the research of Dr Nicholas Evans, see here.

    The Chemistry Department operates a research student mentor programme. One of our current student mentors will be available to answer any of your questions about life and studying in our Department throughout the application stage and during your research degree at Lancaster.

    The Chemistry Department particularly welcomes applications from women. We are committed to flexible working on an individual basis, we welcome and embrace diversity, and are committed to the Athena SWAN principles.

    The Department is the holder of the Athena Swan Bronze Award.

  • The Catalytic Enantioselective Construction of All-Carbon Quaternary Centres

    Our research programme spans the broad area of synthetic organic chemistry and focuses on the development of new and efficient synthetic methodologies for the catalytic construction of novel molecular building blocks in an enantioselective manner. We are particularly interested in the development of new palladium-catalysed decarboxylative C–C bond formation processes as a means of generating structurally complex sp3-rich molecules to facilitate the drug discovery efforts in the pharmaceutical industry. The proposed PhD project will focus specifically on the catalytic enantioselective alkenylation of carbonyl compounds as a means of generating highly congested sp3 all-carbon quaternary stereogenic centres in an asymmetric fashion.

    It is well established that compounds lacking in structural complexity (sp2-rich) have a poorer track record of being developed into commercial pharmaceuticals than those which possess a more varied 3-D shape (sp3-rich). Towards this end, we have developed the first chemo- and regioselective palladium-catalysed decarboxylative alkenylation of 1,3-dicarbonyls with oxygen (Org. Lett. 2013, 15, 3778), nitrogen (J. Org. Chem., 2016, submitted) and carbon (Org. Lett. 2015, 17, 3926) nucleophiles. This process generates two new bonds and congested quaternary all-carbon centres in a single step. Owing to the efficiency of this approach, this PhD project will explore the use of chiral ligands for palladium to couple 1,3-dicarbonyl compounds with a range of nucleophiles and install these chiral centres in an enantioselective fashion. The development of this methodology will allow us to access extensive classes of novel chiral building blocks as crucial intermediates for drug discovery.

    Enantioselective catalysis is a world-leading area of research in organic chemistry and the Department of Chemistry at Lancaster boasts state-of-the-art NMR, mass spectrometry and HPLC facilities to undertake this work. As such, you will be provided with excellent practical skills in synthetic chemistry as well as an in-depth knowledge of organic chemistry. If you are passionate about organic synthesis and are interested in working in our laboratory, do apply via the Lancaster Postgraduate Admissions website or e-mail me if you require further information.

  • The Enantioselective Synthesis of Novel Spirocyclic 3D Fragments

    Our research programme spans the broad area of synthetic organic chemistry and focuses on the development of new and efficient synthetic methodologies for the catalytic construction of novel molecular building blocks in an enantioselective manner. We are particularly interested in the development of new palladium-catalysed decarboxylative C–C bond formation processes as a means of generating structurally complex sp3-rich molecules to facilitate the drug discovery efforts in the pharmaceutical industry. The proposed PhD project will focus on the development of new methods for the synthesis of sp3-rich, structurally complex molecular building blocks as fragments for drug discovery.

    Fragment-based drug discovery is a mainstream approach for identifying small, less lipophilic molecules as starting points in drug discovery programmes. A fragment library populated with small, polar molecules, which are high in saturation (sp3-rich), can enable orientation-dependent growth and extension of fragments into pockets of an active site that might otherwise be inaccessible to planar aromatic fragments. Unfortunately, synthetic chemistry methodologies are biased towards the synthesis of aromatic compounds, which tend to be lipophilic, whereas sp3-rich and chiral molecules are under-represented. There is, therefore, high demand for small, polar, chiral, sp3-rich fragments, and reliable methodologies for their synthesis. As such, the aims of this PhD project will be two-fold: (a) to explore the enantioselective catalytic allylic alkylation reaction of 4-membered heterocycles; (b) to functionalise the resulting enantioenriched building blocks into a library of chiral and structurally complex 3-dimensional spirocyclic fragments for drug discovery.

    Enantioselective catalysis is a world-leading area of research in organic chemistry and the Department of Chemistry at Lancaster boasts state-of-the-art NMR, mass spectrometry and HPLC facilities to undertake this work. As such, you will be provided with excellent practical skills in synthetic chemistry as well as an in-depth knowledge of organic chemistry. If you are passionate about organic synthesis and are interested in working in our laboratory, do apply via the Lancaster Postgraduate Admissions website or e-mail me if you require further information.

  • Bioelectronic biomaterials for regenerative medicine (drug delivery and tissue engineering) and neuromodulation

    Applications are invited for a position in the lab of Dr John G. Hardy at the Department of Chemistry and Materials Science Institute at Lancaster University. Research in the Hardy group focuses on the development of organic electronic biomaterials which are an emerging class of materials that have the potential for application in regenerative medicine (drug delivery and tissue engineering) and as electrodes for recording or stimulating neural activity (i.e. neural interfaces for neuromodulation).

    Technological significance: Electromagnetic fields affect a variety of tissues (e.g. bone, muscle, nerve and skin) and play important roles in a multitude of biological processes (e.g. nerve sprouting, prenatal development and wound healing), mediated by subcellular level changes, including alterations in protein distribution, gene expression, metal ion content, and action potentials. This has inspired the development of electrically conducting devices for biomedical applications, including:

    • biosensors
    • drug delivery devices
    • cardiac/neural electrodes
    • tissue scaffolds

    It is noteworthy that there are a number of FDA-approved devices capable of electrical stimulation in the body, including cardiac pacemakers, bionic eyes, bionic ears and electrodes for deep brain stimulation; all of which are designed for long-term implantation. Polymers are ubiquitous in daily life, and conducting polymers (e.g. polyaniline, polypyrrole, poly(3,4-ethylenedioxythiophene)) have shown themselves to be both capable of electrically stimulating cells (e.g. stem cells) or the delivery of drugs. Furthermore, when implanted into small mammals (e.g. mice, rats and rabbits) their immunogenicities are similar to FDA-approved polymers such as poly(lactic-co-glycolic acid) (PLGA), supporting their safety in vivo. These preclinical studies suggest that conducting polymer-based biomaterials are promising for clinical translation.

    Research in the Hardy group is inherently interdisciplinary and the student will learn:

    • Chemistry - synthesis (polymers/semiconducting molecules)
    • Materials Science - preparation of films, fibres, foams, gels, particulates, supramolecular materials, 3D printing; and their characterization (physicochemical, electrochemical, mechanical)
    • Biomedical applications (drug delivery, neuromodulation, tissue engineering)

    The student will utilise the facilities and expertise that exist at Lancaster University and may involve external collaborators (academia, charities, industry).

  • Development and application of advanced structural characterisation techniques using solid-state NMR spectroscopy

    Self-funded applicants are sought for a PhD studentship in the development and application of advanced structural characterisation techniques using solid-state NMR spectroscopy.

    NMR spectroscopy is one of the most powerful probes of local structure in materials, giving unrivalled access to atomic-level information that can be difficult to obtain by standard analytical techniques. While NMR is routinely applied for the study of liquids, the study of solids is often more challenging owing to a variety of anisotropic nuclear spin interactions. However, using advanced experimental methodologies, it can be possible to gain detailed insight into a range of structural phenomena such as atomic disorder, defects, and ionic or molecular dynamics.

    The aim of this PhD project is to develop and apply new solid-state NMR techniques for the study of structure and function in technologically-relevant materials. The candidate will work with state-of-the-art experimental NMR facilities at Lancaster University, and also have the opportunity to travel to other facilities within the UK and abroad. In addition to experimental techniques, the project will also involve extensive use of computational codes for analysis of experimental data and the development of structural models. The candidate will also have the opportunity to become involved in NMR hardware development by designing and building NMR probe heads for the study of bulk materials and devices.

University of the Year

Lancaster University is the Times and Sunday Times University of the Year. Lancaster is now ranked 6th in The Times and Sunday Times Good University Guide, and we've been named Best Campus University and Best University in the North West. Learn more

Scholarships and Funding

You may be entitled to a number of scholarships and funding opportunities to aid your postgraduate study of chemistry at Lancaster.

Postgraduate loans

In November 2015 the UK Government confirmed that a new postgraduate loan scheme will be introduced for students commencing Masters courses in the 2016/17 academic year.

Non-means-tested loans of up to a maximum of £10,000 will be available to taught and research Masters students.

Scholarships and bursaries

The University has committed £3.7m to scholarships and bursaries, with 400 students per year being entitled to these.

Faculty scholarships cover your full tuition fees, as well as providing you with a generous stipend and access to a research training grant.

Generous travel grants are also available, allowing you to attend conferences, workshops and seminars relevant to your PhD.

Industry-funded PhDs

Our 80 industry-focused PhDs will allow you to undertake intensive research and development on a specific research project to underpin the development of a new product or service, using this work as the basis of your programme of study. Undertaking an industry-funded PhD could give you a tax-free stipend of £15,000 per year, have your tuition fees subsidised by your partner business, and put you in an enviable position to begin a long-term, well-paid career.

More information