Chemistry Scholarships

The Department typically admits 65-70 PhD and 90 - 100 MRes students each year. Funding for these students comes from a diverse range of sources, including the EPSRC, industry, scholarships and self-funded students. A selection of PhD Studentships currently available are detailed below or visit our other pages to find out more about MRes studentships.

Accordion - available studentships

PhD Studentship in Polyester Plastic Recycling Using Low-cost Ionic Liquids

We are inviting applications of motivated candidates for a PhD studentship in the exciting field of ‘Advanced plastic recycling’. The studentship includes fees and a bursary for suitable UK national/residents for the duration of 3 years. The studentship is available for a start from 1 October 2019. The deadline for application is 8 January 2019.

Persistent pollution of the environment with plastic is a major challenge. At the same time, plastic is also a valuable resource, and the best outcome after their initial use is recycling into a new product rather than landfilling, incineration or persisting in the environment. One reason for the low effectiveness of plastic recycling and limited value of post-consumer plastic are issues with mechanical recycling (remoulding), due to general degradation of the polymer structure and contamination with components such as metals, dyes, and labels. Renewable and non-renewable polyesters are a major part of the plastic economy. The amount of polyethylene terehtalate (PET) produced in 2015 was 33 million tonnes according to the World Economic Forum; it is the fourth most common plastic, used in drink bottles, food packaging and textiles. Emerging renewable and biodegradable polyester materials, for example polylactic acid (PLA), will also need high quality recycling routes to retain their economic value. Such polyesters are suitable candidates for a new route to plastic recycling called chemical recycling, where the polymer is deconstructed into its building blocks, which can then be recovered in purified form and used to produce virgin grade material.

 Ionic liquids are a new class of solvents that have interesting and unique properties such as non-volatility, in-built catalytic functionality and a broad range of solvation characteristics that can be tuned to suit an application. In this project, we will explore the use of stable, low-cost ionic liquids for the recycling of polyesters. The successful candidate will screen a range of suitable ionic solvents and optimise their composition for effectiveness and low cost, followed by optimising processing conditions and recovery of a range of polyester monomers, while monitoring the fate of contaminants. The new system will be compared with other chemical recycling approaches. Once we have identified an effective system, we will carry out an economic assessment.

 You will join two dynamic interdisciplinary research teams focusing on sustainable materials analysis and process development; applicants should have excellent understanding of physical science and / or chemical engineering, with a deep interest in sustainable chemistry, solvent selection, polymer characterisation and process development, combined with outstanding teamwork and communication skills and a passion to make a true positive difference to the global environment. Some experience with examining reaction mechanisms and molecular structure is preferable. Candidates should have (or be expecting to have) a Master’s degree (1st class or upper second class) in chemistry, chemical engineering or a relevant discipline. 

This PhD studentship will be funded through the DTP ‘Science and Solutions for a Changing Planet’ supported by the UK's Natural Environment Research Council (https://www.imperial.ac.uk/grantham/education/science-and-solutions-for-a-changing-planet-dtp/). It is open to UK home students or non-UK students who have settled status in UK or were ordinarily residing in the UK for 3 years prior to the start of the studentship. The studentship will cover tuition fees plus the standard London-weighted maintenance stipend of £16,777 per year.

INCA – INtegrated Chemical Analysis: Novel Ionic Liquid Electrochemical Sensors

Supervisors: Dr Alastair J.S. McIntosh, Dr Patricia A. Hunt, and Prof. Tom Welton.

 The aim of this project is to develop an electrochemical sensor made of a flexible ionic liquid-composite which will allow the in-situ solubilisation and analysis of deposited organic compounds.

 We will employ a synergistic experimental and computational approach to gain insight, at a fundamental level, of how functionalised ILs act.  The project will explore how functionalised ILs interact with other molecules; as solutes, co-solvents, or additives within an electrochemical system. Computational characterisation of ILs will provide insight into how different functional components behave, subsequently the knowledge gained will be employed to design novel ILs, with the aim of augmenting the solubilisation of deposited materials. Novel ILs exhibiting the most desirable properties will be synthesised, combed with composite materials, and their electrochemical function explored and optimised.

 Functional electrochemical platform design will be undertaken, in collaboration with Prof. Joseph Wang (UCSD - http://joewang.ucsd.edu/), which may involve a research stay in his research group.

 The fundamental understanding obtained will be applicable in every field where ILs are replacing conventional solvents and electrolytes, e.g. pharmacology and biology, batteries and supercapacitors, fuel cells and biofuels, electrochemical sensors and analytics.

 Funding Notes:

 Applicants should have an upper 2nd or 1st degree in Chemistry, and some knowledge of one of ionic liquid synthesis, electrochemistry and/or computational modelling is desirable, with a willingness to train in the other area: synthesis or computational modelling as required.

 European/UK/Commonwealth students only

 Fully funded 36 month PhD project in collaboration with the Defence Science and Technology Laboratory (Dstl).

Start date: Between 1st July 2018 – 1st October 2018

 Please contact Dr McIntosh (a.mcintosh@imperial.ac.uk) and Dr Hunt (p.hunt@imperial.ac.uk) for further details.

Novel adjuvants for antibody-based cancer therapeutics: design, biological characterization and influence on membrane-protein structure

Applications are invited for a 4-year PhD studentship in Structural Biology, funded by Cancer Research UK, and supervised by Dr Doryen Bubeck (Department of Life Sciences) and Prof Ed Tate (Department of Chemistry). 

Monoclonal antibodies (mAbs) are one of the most exciting new classes of anticancer agent, with a current market of over $20 billion forecast to grow by 50% in the next 3 years. The mechanism by which mAbs kill cancer cells during cancer immunotherapy treatments is complex, and involves the interplay of multiple effectors, including selective activation of complement-dependent cytotoxicity (CDC). Membrane attack complex (MAC) pores contribute to CDC, and are counteracted by membrane-bound complement inhibitors such as CD59, which are overexpressed on tumour cells and can provide a mechanism for immune evasion. Interestingly, bacterial pore-forming toxins with a similar structural fold to MAC proteins (e.g. Streptococcus Intermedilysin, ILY) compete for CD59-binding through a specific interface, and increase cells’ susceptibility to CDC. This project will integrate a platform of technologies to determine how MAC pores lyse cells and how CD59 regulates this process, providing fundamental insights into the mechanism of action of rituximab. This platform will be exploited to design and optimize compounds that can specifically block CD59, and thus potentiate anticancer immunotherapy.

The project would ideally suit an outstanding biochemistry graduate with some existing experience in protein chemistry and/or structural biology. You should also have a strong interest in structural and functional characterization of protein complexes and protein-drug interactions, and in developing and applying these methods in the context of cancer treatment. The successful candidate will receive training in all relevant aspects of protein chemistry, biophysics and structural biology.

To apply, please send a letter of motivation and your full CV, including your nationality and full contact details of two academic references, to Dr Doryen Bubeck.

Closing date: 15th January 2018

For further details on eligbility and funding please see the full advert.

Plastic Electronics Centre for Doctoral Training

Studentships in the Plastic Electronics Centre for Doctoral Training

Fully funded and self-funding multi-disciplinary 1+3 year (MRes+PhD) studentships are available in the Plastic Electronics EPSRC Centre for Doctoral Training (CDT), for October 2018 start.  This year we have fully-funded projects supervised by Prof James Durrant, Prof Milo Shaffer and Prof Martin Heeney.

Full details of all the projects available and more information about the Plastic Electronics CDT are available on the PE-CDT website.  The PE-CDT is part of the Centre for Plastic Electronics.

You will need to apply via Apply.Imperial under the course code F3U8B.  For more information, please contact Ms Lisa Cheung (PE-CDT Administrator): lisa.cheung@imperial.ac.uk 

 

Studentships in the Institute of Chemical Biology (ICB) Centre for Doctoral Training

Fully funded 1+3 year (MRes + PhD) studentships are available at the ICB Centre for Doctoral Training for entry October 2018.

This year we will have many co-funded studentships with industry as well as fully funded CDT studentships.

For full details please see - : http://www.icb-cdt.co.uk/how-to-apply/available-projects

You will need to apply via Apply.Imperial under the course code F1ICB [Chemical Biology: Multi-Disciplinary Physical Scientists (1plus3) (MRes 1YFT + PhD 3YFT)|F1ICB|1|SK|FT|CN)].

Chemistry Doctoral Scholarships

‌Each year, the Department of Chemistry awards Approximately 10 Chemistry Doctoral Scholarships to outstanding PhD applicants, funded by the EPSRC Doctoral Training Partnership. Successful scholars will receive full tution fees and a stipend at advertised EPSRC rates for a PhD place in the Department of Chemistry at Imperial College London. Recruitment for the 2019 intake is now open.  The next deadline for submission of all the application materials is the 25th January 2019.  CDS Advert 2019.

PhDs in Inorganic and Organometallic Chemistry

PhDs in Inorganic and Organometallic Chemistry

Two 36-month PhD positions in synthetic inorganic and organometallic chemistry are available within the research group of Professor Nicholas Long (http://www.imperial.ac.uk/people/n.long).

The first position features the synthesis and application of redox-active/stereoselective catalysts for polymerisation. The work will involve a range of synthetic organometallic and inorganic coordination chemistry techniques and working with a Schlenk line, as well as spectroscopic and electrochemical characterisation. The project is in collaboration with Prof. Charlotte Williams (Oxford) and builds upon recent research in the group, see for example Angew. Chem. Int. Ed., (53) 9226-9230 2014; J. Am. Chem. Soc., (134) 20577-20580 2012.

The second position involves the synthesis and evaluation of new inorganic compounds for molecular imaging, particularly dual-modal imaging.   The project will feature the synthesis of new organic ligands and chelates, and their metal coordination chemistry with transition metals and lanthanides.   Applications will be evaluated in collaboration with biomedical collaborators and will involve optical imaging, magnetic resonance imaging and positron emission tomography.  The work builds on recent research in the group e.g. Chem. Eur. J. (21) 5023-5033 2015; Angew. Chem Int. Ed., (53) 9550-9554 2014.

The positions are available to both UK and EU graduates with a 1st or 2:1 class UG degree in Chemistry. Previous experience with synthetic inorganic/organometallic chemistry and/or biomedical imaging is not a requirement but would be an advantage.

Interested applicants should contact Prof. Long (n.long@imperial.ac.uk) by email, along with a CV and the contact details of two referees. These positions are available for October 2018. 

Engineering biointerfaces between synthetic and biological cells

Funded by the Leverhulme Doctoral Scholarship Programme in Cellular Bionics – 3 year PhD studentships

Supervisors: Dr Yuval Elani |  Dr Karen PolizziProfessor Oscar Ces

One of the central ideas behind cellular bionics is that cell functions can be augmented both by introducing non-biological components into cells, and by interfacing cells with functionalised soft-matter microsystems. To date, most efforts have focused on engineering isolated self-contained systems. The design of higher order systems, where discrete units are physically linked together in a network, are in turn expected to yield higher-order functions (akin to how cells function as a collective within tissues).  Doing this requires the development of novel biophysical and chemical toolkits. Recently, we have developed a new approach to assemble, manipulate and selectively fuse synthetic cell-mimetic vesicle networks, exploiting optical tweezers, membrane biophysics, and nanoparticle conjugation. In this project, these techniques will be used to generate tissue-like 2D and 3D artificial cell networks as well as architectures that mimic cell-cell interfaces (synapses, gap junctions, etc.). Technologies to construct hybrid living/synthetic proto-tissues composed of interlinked biological and artificial cells will be developed, and methods to shuttle material between the biological and synthetic nodes explored. This project will lead (i) to the development of new classes of biomaterials and (ii) to new tools to biochemically manipulate cells for a better understanding of cell biology.

PhD in Synthetic Coordination Chemistry (MOFs)

A PhD position in the synthesis and characterisation of novel Metal Organic Framework materials (MOFs) is available in the Davies group with an October 2019 starting date. The work will involve a variety of synthetic techniques (both organic and inorganic) for the preparation of the organic linkers and the MOFs themselves, as well the application of a wide-range of spectroscopic and materials characterisation techniques. The group has interest in these materials in medical, catalysis and gas sorting applications. For recent examples see Chem Commun., 2017, 53, 12524-12527; CrystEngComm, 2018, 20, 4541-4545; Angew Chem Int Ed Engl, 2018, 57, 4532-4537.

The position is available to UK graduates with a 1st class degree in Chemistry. Previous experience with synthetic inorganic/organometallic chemistry and/or MOFs is not a requirement but would be an advantage. Interested applicants should contact Dr Rob Davies (r.davies@imperial.ac.uk) by email, along with a CV.

Development of next-generation Bio-Printing

Funded by the Leverhulme Doctoral Scholarship Programme in Cellular Bionics – 3 year PhD studentships

Supervisors: Dr Connor Myant Dr Guy-Bart StanDr John Heap

This project will employ a new 3D printing method, developed by the project supervisors, that is merging the fields of synthetic biology and 3D Printing. 3D Printing has enabled the creation of complex geometric structures previously unavailable to design engineers and scientists. However, this vast new pallet of object geometries has been limited to non-living materials. The ability to create bespoke biological structures directly from a 3D printing process has so far alluded us. Current Bio-Printing methodologies are limited to the creation of cell cultures and scaffolds that allow cellular material to grow within them to create tissue-like structures. These simple materials lack sophistication, are non-functionalised and are reliant on the scaffold to determine mechanical properties. As yet, 3D printing has not been able to match nature's ability to create such structures. The focus of this project is to challenge this limitation and open a new era of bio-printing.

The successful development of this bio-printing technology could have significant impact in the medical field, biotechnology, and pharmaceutical industries. From the development of high through put pharmaceutical screening equipment to 3D microfluidics and novel biomaterials. In addition the 3D printing technique offers a new paradigm in 3D manufacturing applications were the printing process is not limited to 2D planar layer stacks but rather a true 3D object.

This project will employ a novel 3D Printing process that employs nature as the 3D printer, at a cellular level; whilst utilizing engineering's ability for highly accurate spatial control. It is a true cellular-bionic 3D printing process. This project will focus on developing the advanced optical methods needed to control the light signals employed during the printing process. The project will bring together a truly multidisciplinary team of design engineers, mechatronics, bio-engineers and synthetic biologists. The work will be support by a parallel project run by the supervisors; Dr Connor Myant from the Dyson School of Design Engineering, Dr Guy Bart Stan from the Department of Bioengineering, and Dr John Heap from the Department of Life Sciences. If you have any questions regarding the application please email Dr Connor Myant.

Requirements:

  • You must have a MEng or MSc degree (or equivalent experience and/or qualifications) in an area pertinent to the research topic, i.e. Engineering, Physics, Chemistry or similar.
  • A strong track record, or interest, in mechatronics, robotics or optics is desirable.
  • Be prepared to work within a multidisciplinary research group
  • You must have a high standard undergraduate degree at 1st class or 2nd upper class level (or international equivalent).
  • You must meet Imperial’s English standards.
  • You must have excellent communication skills and be able to organise your own work and prioritise work to meet deadlines.
  • Any published scientific papers would be a plus.

Functionally optimized biofilms for building façades and architecture

Funded by the Leverhulme Doctoral Scholarship Programme in Cellular Bionics – 3 year PhD studentships

Supervisors: Professor Peter Childs | Dr Connor MyantDr Laura Barter

Building façades remain one of the most important exterior elements for the functionality of a construction. While the façade can be an elegant component that helps to define the unique architectural aesthetics of the building, it also has critical roles such as building protection, energy performance and interior function of a building. As technology continues to improve, different options for improvement become available for incorporation into building facades. An exciting avenue for novel building facades is the use of bio-materials or bio-receptive materials that incorporate, and harness, living systems to improve façade performance.

Building exteriors are an underutilized canvas that could provide a rich environment for cellular bionic systems in the following means: protection of building surfaces from weathering, the cleaning and repairing of exterior surfaces, the control of indoor temperatures and comfort, and by providing smart fire defences.  In addition, cellular bionic building facades present an opportunity to create something delightful such as colourful designs that alter appearance and adapt with their surroundings, the weather and changing fashions. This project presents a novel definition of “smartness”, one that harnesses the embodied intelligence of bacterial organisms and their biofilms. Bacteria can react to novel stimuli in real-time, reproduce and self-repair as well as learn behaviour according to environmental circumstances. The possibility that we may create bio-facades that can communicate to their user, provide feedback and adapt to their environment proposes an initial step towards an exciting vision of the smart city of the future.

This project will investigate the potential use of bio-receptive materials capable of growing microorganisms directly onto their surface as novel cladding systems. This system will go beyond the current limitations of green walls, with the accompanying need for mechanical irrigation systems and expensive maintenance, and design cellular symbiotic systems that feed off their surrounding environment. Instead of building against nature, biological materials and processes will be integrated into structurally engineered materials and processes. By designing surfaces that are bio-receptive we will carefully select and grow bio-films that perform a desired function actively delivering a beneficial system. 

Supervision:

The project will be supervised by Professor Peter Childs and Dr Connor Myant from the Dyson School of Design Engineering, and Dr Laura Barter from the Department of Chemistry. If you have any questions regarding the application please email Dr Connor Myant or email Professor Peter Childs.

Requirements:

  • You must have a MEng or MSc degree (or equivalent experience and/or qualifications) in an area pertinent to the research topic, i.e. Biology, Chemistry, Material Science, or Engineering.
  • You must have a high standard undergraduate degree at 1st class or 2nd upper class level (or international equivalent).
  • You must meet Imperial’s English standards.

Organelle breeding for artificial cells

Funded by the Leverhulme Doctoral Scholarship Programme in Cellular Bionics – 3 year PhD studentships

Supervisors: Dr Nick Jones | Professor Patrick Chinnery (Mitochondrial Biology Unit, Cambridge)

Recent research indicates that healthy cells can donate their power-stations (organelles, called mitochondria) to sickly ones. This has led to the idea of ‘mitochondrial transplants’: using the bulk delivery of these organelles for therapeutic purposes. Bulk breeding/generation of mitochondria or chloroplasts could also be used for future artificial cells they might power. This would involve modifying cells or using artificial cells to breed large numbers of organelles. As each organelle has its own genome, each can evolve and mutate. This evolution can involve large-scale deletions of the mitochondrial genome which can disable mitochondria as power-stations and even turn them into power-sinks. Any bulk production of organelles must be acutely sensitive to their mutational profile. Tracking the evolving quality of thousands of power-stations inside millions of, possibly replicating, quasi-living systems will require the development of new theoretical tools to infer the evolutionary structures these cells display that exploit modern sequencing technologies. The student will develop these in collaboration with Nick Jones (Imperial Mathematics), members of the mitochondrial biology unit in Cambridge and as part of the wider Leverhulme centre in cellular bionics in Imperial.

Cells and organelles as embedded biomodules in artificial cells

Funded by the Leverhulme Doctoral Scholarship Programme in Cellular Bionics – 3 year PhD studentships

Supervisors: Dr Yuval Elani | Dr Laura BarterProfessor Oscar Ces

The bottom-up construction of artificial cells is becoming ever more advanced, with vast applications for their use as biomimetic micromachines that can perform chemically and biologically relevant tasks. Traditionally, molecular-level approaches are used, where selected biomolecules (DNA, lipids, proteins) are assembled into a cell-like entity. In this project, building on previous work (Elani et al. Sci. Rep., 8; 4564, 2018) a new conceptual framework will be explored. In addition to biomolecules, whole biological structures — including engineered cells and chloroplasts — will be commandeered and embedded within synthetic cells, allowing them to serve modular functions as part of a hybrid entity. Hijacking ‘living’ modules will allow us to leverage the power of cell-biology to confer, for example, battery, sensor, and reactor functionalities into artificial cells. This project will involve the development of novel microfluidic technologies for hybrid artificial cell construction, and the exploration of the engineering principles needed to physically and biochemically couple the synthetic and biological modules together.

Engineering novel cell mimetic membrane architectures

Supervisors: Dr Yuval Elani and Professor John Seddon

Cell mimicry – the ability to imitate the physical architecture, function and behaviour of cells – is proving to be an increasingly useful conceptual framework in (i) furthering our understanding of biological systems and (ii) constructing novel bio-inspired devices for clinical and industrial applications. The ability to generate membrane-based structures is proving to be especially powerful in both respects. However, the field has reached an impasse: although plasma membrane mimics are well established, mimics of alternative membrane structures are lacking. In this project, a suite of droplet-based technologies to assemble, manipulate, and functionalise synthetic analogues of a repertoire of membranous motifs — including synapses,  nuclear envelopes and double membranes — will be developed, and their biophysical properties characterised. This will lead to a step change in our ability to generate artificial cell systems from the bottom up, allowing us to reproduce features associated with intra-cellular compartmentalisation and inter-cellular communication. This project is multidisciplinary, incorporating elements of chemical biology, microfluidics, biophysics and biointerface science.

For further information please contact Yuval Elani (email Yuval)

ICB/Oxford Nanopore - Controlling nanopore loading in Droplet Interface Bilayers

Supervisors:

Prof Mark Wallace Prof John Seddon Prof Oscar Ces

Summary

Recent advances in ‘fourth-generation’ genome sequencing methods have led to a dramatic reduction in the cost per base – driving a marked expansion in our understanding of the subtleties and variations in how genetic profiles affect disease. In particular, Nanopore sequencing has been highlighted as a technology with the potential to further disrupt this field. In nanopore sensing, the flow of ions through a nanoscopic protein or solid-state pore is disrupted by the presence of an analyte. If this analyte is DNA, blockades in the current corresponding to the sequence are detected. In collaboration with Oxford Nanopore Technologies (ONT), we will combine optical single channel recording and single-molecule fluorescence imaging to understand and then optimise the mechanistic steps of nanopore – analyte interactions; from membrane binding, to capture and readout. It is expected that a successful outcome will facilitate the development of improved nanopore sequencing and help design nanopore sensors for protein-protein, and protein-DNA interactions.

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Targeting DNA secondary structures to investigate ageing biology

Targeting DNA secondary structures to investigate ageing biology - PhD project with Dr Marco Di Antonio

The aim of this research project is to investigate the role of DNA packaging and DNA G-quadruplex secondary structure thorough ageing and accelerating ageing disorders.

G-quadruplexes are stable non-B DNA structures that form in guanine-rich DNA sequences, acting as knots and posing a threat for polymerases processivity during transcription and replication. G-quadruplex prevalence is highly dependent on chromatin architecture and recent findings have suggested that is the lack of resolution of DNA G-quadruplex structures, particularly those formed within the guanine-rich ribosomal DNA, the underlining cause of accelerating ageing in Cockayne syndrome. However, a clear cause-effect between the build-up of unresolved G-quadruplex structures, chromatin structure alteration and ageing biology remains yet to be elucidated. Investigating chromatin architecture variation thorough lifespan and targeting age-dependent DNA structural features to revert ageing phenotypes is an unexplored opportunity that could radically improve our understanding of ageing biology.

The successful PhD candidate will develop small molecule probes to target, visualise and disrupt G-quadruplex structures within cells. These chemical tools will be used to study G-quadruplex structures prevalence and influence on chromatin during ageing. This project will expose the successful student to synthetic chemistry, biophysics, molecular biology and microscopy, which will be combined to unravel changes in chromatin architecture and DNA secondary structures formation that are linked with ageing. This work will pave the way towards the targeting of DNA and chromatin structural features to revert ageing associated conditions and treat rare accelerating ageing disorders.

For further information, please email Dr Di Antonio at md530@cam.ac.uk