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PhD project themes

Each year we receive funding from UK Research Councils, as well as other sources (e.g. industry sponsors). This funding is awarded to UK/EU applicants with excellent academic profiles who are successful at interview (applicants must also meet RCUK criteria). Funded positions are advertised on our funding pages. We are also happy to accept applications from UK/EU students who wish to apply for a Postgraduate Doctoral Loan.

The School welcomes international applicants who are either self-funded or have secured funding from an external sponsor.

All applicants should expect to be interviewed by prospective supervisors.

Projects currently available

A list of projects currently available in the School are listed below. Applications should be made via the Cardiff University application service. Please quote the project title and supervisor on your application.

Projects available in biological chemistry.

SupervisorProject title/s

Professor Rudolf Allemann

  • Physical and Chemical Basis of Enzyme Catalysis.
  • Redesign of existing natural biological systems for useful purposes.

Professor Nigel Richards

  • Substrate-based radical formation without organic chemical precedent.
  • Free energy of interaction in enzyme/inhibitor and protein/nucleic acid complexes.
  • The structure and properties of DNA and RNA containing additional nucleobases.

Dr Yuhsuan Tsai

  • Development of novel chemical biology tools to study protein functions in vivo
  • Applications of genetically incorporated unnatural amino acids in living systems

Dr Louis Luk

  • Developing enzyme-driven hydrogen-borrowing cascades.
  • Structural studies on protein-protein interactions in sepsis
  • Structural and NMR studies of the catalysis of DNA-repairing enzymes
  • Catalytic mechanisms of small G proteins involving unnatural amino acid incorporation
  • Allosteric control of Alarmone (p)ppGpp synthetases and hydrolases involved in bacterial persistence
  • Catalytic mechanisms of carbohydrate processing enzymes from gut microbiota involved in colon mucin degradation

Projects available in catalysis and interfacial science.

SupervisorProject title/s

Professor Graham Hutchings

  • Gold nanoparticles as novel active heterogeneous catalysts.
  • Design of selective oxidation and hydrogenation catalysts.
  • Design of novel heterogeneous catalysts.

Professor Philip Davies

  • Mechanism of photocatalysis and water splitting.
  • Surface reaction mechanisms studied with scanning tunnelling microscopy and x-ray photoelectron spectroscopy.
  • Nanoparticle stabilisation for heterogeneous catalysis studied with atomic force microscopy and x-ray photoelectron spectroscopy.

Professor Stuart Taylor

  • Development of heterogeneous catalysts for environmental protection.
  • Heterogeneous catalysts for selective oxidation under mild conditions.

Professor Richard Catlow

  • Computational Modelling of Structure and Mechanism of Catalytic Systems
  • Synchrotron Radiation and Neutron Scattering Studies in Catalysis
  • Catalytic Conversion of Carbon Dioxide

Professor Christopher Kiely

  • Aberration corrected analytical electron microscopy of catalysts
  • Microscopy informed catalyst design

Dr Jonathan Bartley

  • New methods for synthesizing metal oxides and mixed metal oxides catalysts.
  • Microwave assisted catalysis.

Dr Jennifer Edwards

  • Au catalysts for highly selective, clean oxidation reactions under very mild conditions.

Dr Sankar Meenakshisundaram

  • Supported monometallic and bimetallic nanoparticles catalysts for selective oxidation, selective hydrogenation, coupling reactions and cascade reactions.
  • Catalyst development for the valorisation of renewable materials such as CO2, lignocellulosic biomass components (cellulose, hemicellulose and lignin).
  • Towards understanding the structure-activity correlation for catalytic reactions using in situ spectroscopic and kinetic methodologies

Dr David Willock

  • Periodic DFT calculations for surface catalysis.
  • Monte Carlo and molecular dynamics applied to material properties.
  • Chemical kinetics and mechanism in heterogeneous catalysis.

Dr Alberto Roldan Martinez

  • Design and tune of nanostructures of catalytic interest.
  • CO2 mitigation and Low Carbon Energies.

Dr Andrew Logsdail

  • Computational modelling of metallic nanoparticles for catalytic applications
  • Understanding fundamental properties of metal oxide catalysts through multiscale modelling
  • Predicting improved catalysts by multiscale modelling of extrinsic dopants in catalytic materials.

Projects available in materials and energy.

SupervisorsProject title/s

Professor Kenneth Harris

  • Development and application of new strategies for crystal structure determination from powder X-ray diffraction data.
  • Understanding fundamentals of crystallization processes by in-situ solid-state NMR.
  • Polymorphism in molecular materials.
  • Fundamentals and applications of X-ray Birefringence Imaging – a new experimental technique that represents the X-ray analogue of the polarizing optical microscope.

Dr Timothy Easun

  • Nano-confined fluid behaviour in Metal-Organic Frameworks.
  • Controlled guest diffusion in MOF materials.
  • Photoswitching crystalline porous materials.

Dr Stefano Leoni

  • Crystal Structure Prediction.
  • Materials for Energy Storage.

Dr Alison Paul

  • Physicochemical characterisation of macromolecules in solution.
  • Polymer mediated drug-delivery systems

Dr Nelson Dzade

  • Heterojunction Design Strategies of Semiconductor Composites for Enhancing Charge Carrier Separation in photocatalysis and photovoltaics
  • Mechanistic insights into the thermodynamics and kinetics/dynamics of catalytic reactions
  • Computer-aided Design of Earth-abundant catalysts for the Hydrogen Evolution Reaction and CO2 conversion
  • Surface Geochemistry and Computational Mineralogy

Projects available in molecular synthesis.

SupervisorProject title/s

Professor Thomas Wirth

  • Development of New Hypervalent Iodine Reagents.
  • Iodine-based Catalysis for Drug Synthesis.
  • Microreactor Technology under segmented-flow conditions.
  • Flow Electrochemistry for the Green Synthesis of Heterocycles.
  • 3D - Printing of New Reactors for Flow Chemistry.

Professor Simon Pope

  • Development of luminescent complexes for bioimaging applications.
  • Development of hybrid materials for luminescent applications.

Dr Angelo Amoroso

  • Development of highly fluorescent lanthanide complexes.
  • Design and synthesis of MRI contrast agents.

Dr Niklaas Buurma

  • Kinetic and mechanistic studies of Pd-catalysed reactions and their translation to the rational use of enabling technologies
  • Kinetics and mechanistic studies of racemisation of drug-like compounds
  • Optoelectronically active nucleic acid binders as sensitisers in biosensors
  • Directed assembly of functional nanostructures
  • Development of analytical techniques for the design of functional nanostructures
  • Synthesis of optoelectroncically active nucleic acid binders
  • Biophysical studies of nucleic acid binding processes
  • Development of software for the analysis of complex equilibrium systems

Dr Ian Fallis

  • Immuno-histochemical imaging and applications in clinical pathology.
  • Synthesis and coordination chemistry of macrocyclic ligands and polydentate Lewis acids.

Dr Rebecca Melen

  • Main group catalyst design including tuning the steric and electronic effects of the Lewis acid.
  • Frustrated Lewis Pair (FLP) chemistry.
  • Metal-free hydrogenation catalysis.

Dr Louis Morrill

  • The exploration of new frontiers in organocatalysis via the productive merger or organocatalysis with other transition metal, main group or biochemical modes of activation.
  • Employing enabling tools (flow and mechanochemistry) for organocatalytic processes.
  • The development of novel aromaticity-driven organocatalysts.
  • Expanding the utility of neglected, yet readily available and inexpensive precursors in organocatalytic transformations.
  • Frustrated Lewis pairs for small molecule activation.

Dr Paul Newman

  • Fused expanded-ring NHCs in coordination chemistry and homogeneous catalysis.
  • Development of stereogenic-at-metal complexes for asymmetric catalysis
  • Novel ligand frameworks for the construction of multimetallic systems

Dr Benjamin Ward

  • Asymmetric catalysis using environmentally benign calcium complexes.
  • Polymerisation catalysis using Earth-abundant catalysts.
  • Polymers containing CO2: benign polymers from abundant feedstocks.
  • Asymmetric catalysis using aluminium complexes.

Projects available in spectroscopy and dynamics.

SupervisorProject title/s

Professor Damien Murphy

  • Visualisation of weakly interacting molecules in solution by Selective Electron Nuclear DOuble Resonance (ENDOR) spectroscopy.

Professor Peter Knowles

  • ab initio methods and linear-scaling for large molecules.

Dr James Platts

  • Metal-protein interactions in Alzheimer's disease.
  • Metal-DNA interactions in cancer therapeutics.
  • Theoretical studies of non-covalent interactions.

Dr Emma Richards

  • EPR spectroscopy of TiO2 photocalalysts.

Dr Joseph Beames

  • Development of trace gas sensitive spectrometers.