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

Controlling appetite through G protein coupled receptors

Controlling appetite through G protein coupled receptors: new chemical probes to understand the roles of signalling in health and disease

Supervisors: Prof Ed Tate (Department of Chemistry), Dr Aylin Hanyaloglu (Department of Surgery & Cancer), Prof Gary Frost (Department of Medicine), Prof Johannes Le-Coutre (Perception Physiology, Nestle Switzerland; visiting Professor at Imperial College).

Email contact: Website:

Applications are invited for a fully funded 3-year PhD studentship, sponsored by the EPSRC and Nestle, aiming to understand and manipulate communication between the microbiome and the human gut. Bacteria in the gut ferment dietary carbohydrate to generate short chain fatty acids (SCFAs), which signal through GPCRs in the gut wall to release peptide hormones which control insulin levels and energy homeostasis. Understanding these pathways may lead to novel drugs or dietary interventions targeting obesity and type 2 diabetes; these diseases are among the world’s most pressing health challenges, consuming around 15% (£16 billion per year) of the NHS budget in the UK alone.

In this project, you will join a multidisciplinary team of experienced postdoctoral and postgraduate researchers, to develop novel approaches to manipulate SCFA GPCRs in the human gut. You will use organic synthesis to design small molecule tools to control GPCR activity, combined with CRIPSR/Cas gene editing to create cells expressing photoswitchable small molecule/GPCR hybrids, and apply these technologies to organoids (so-called ‘mini guts’) grown from mouse or human stem cells. You will collaborate with engineers to adapt these approaches to microfluidic devices which mimic the signalling environment of the gut, and with systems biologists to understand how SCFAs and the microbiome influence disease-relevant signalling.

The project would ideally suit an outstanding chemistry Masters level graduate with research experience in synthetic chemistry and/or chemical biology, and a strong interest in developing and applying novel chemical tools to advance biology and medicine. The successful candidate will receive training in all relevant aspects of chemical synthesis, cell biology, microscopy, and organoid culture and maintenance, and will benefit from working in the state of the art Molecular Sciences Research Hub at Imperial’s White City campus opening in summer 2018, sited adjacent to Imperial’s main research hospital.

000.1 PhD studentship in advanced materials from biomass: strong carbon fibres from lignin

PhD Studentship in Advanced Materials from Biomass: Strong Carbon Fibres from Lignin

We are inviting highly motivated candidates for a PhD studentship in the field of “Strong carbon fibres from lignin”. The studentship includes fees and a bursary for UK/EU nationals for the duration of 3 years. The start date is 1 October 2018 or earlier if required.

Carbon fibre reinforced composites are strong and durable materials that are surprisingly light-weight. They can be used to construct cars, planes and wind turbine blades. Carbon fibres are traditionally made from the fossil fuel-derived precursor polyacrylonitrile (PAN) in an expensive, energy-intensive process involving toxic chemicals. If this is not addressed, the use of carbon fibre composites will continue to receive criticism for poor environmental impact and the high cost production limit their reach.

Lignin is a major component in wood and the largest by-product of the production of sustainable biofuels from wood. Currently, utilisation of lignin is almost non-existent, but this will change through technological advances. Creating strong carbon fibres from lignin has the potential to reduce the environmental impact of carbon fibre production and also drastically cut the cost of carbon fibres by more than 75%. The challenge is the low strength of the lignin-derived carbon fibres produced to date. This is due to poor control of the lignin properties such as subunit composition, functional groups, molecular weight and branching. The biopolymer needs to be more carefully understood and controlled before it can be used successfully as a source of renewable carbon fibres.

The goal of this project is to generate tailored lignins using a novel lignin isolation process (ionosolv process). The ionosolv process uses ionic liquids, a group of non-volatile solvents that are capable of extracting and modifying lignins very effectively. You will characterise the lignins from a variety of sources and extrude them into lignin fibres and ultimately convert them to carbon fibres. You will analyse the relationship between the structure of the lignins and the resulting carbon fibres in detail and introduce modifications that improve fibre spinning and carbonisation. The project is cross-disciplinary, marrying the fields of synthetic chemistry, materials science, Green Chemistry and biology and it also provides contact with chemical engineering and commercial thinking.

The successful candidate will join a dynamic research team focusing on carbon-based assemblies and composites at Imperial College London (; the group has a strong activity in the chemistry, processing, and applications of nanocarbons. Applicants should have solid knowledge in physical science, with an interest in carbon materials from biomass, combined with good teamwork and communication skills; experience in organic synthetic chemistry is beneficial. Candidates should have (or be expecting to have) a Master’s degree (1st class or upper second class or equivalent) in materials, chemistry, or a relevant discipline.

For further details of the post, please contact Dr Agi Brandt-Talbot, Applicants will be required to complete an electronic application form.

Plastic Electronics Centre for Doctoral Training

Studentships in the Plastic Electronics Centre for Doctoral Training

Fully funded and self-funding 1+3 year (MRes+PhD) studentships are available in the Plastic Electronics Centre for Doctoral Training (CDT), for October 2017 start.  This year we have projects available with Prof James Durrant, Prof Iain McCulloch, Prof Milo Shaffer, Prof Martin Heeney, Prof John de Mello, and Dr Matt Fuchter.  Some of these projects are industry sponsored.

Full details of 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 Dr Steph Pendlebury (PE-CDT Programme Manager):



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 2017.

This year we will have co-funded studentships with the British Heart Foundation, National Heart & Lung Institute, GSK, Nestle, Oxford Nanopore and Proctor&Gamble.

For full details please see - :

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)].

PhD in the computational modelling of supramolecular materials

PhD in the computational modelling of supramolecular materials 

A 36 month PhD position in computational chemistry is available within the research group of Dr. Kim Jelfs ( for a project focusing upon developing methods to predict the assembly, structure and function of supramolecular materials, including both polymeric and organic molecular materials. Possible applications of the research might include predicting the likely structure of amorphous polymers or crystalline molecular solids and the link between the structure and properties of such materials, including functions related to their porosity or optoelectronic properties. This research will involve the use of a range of computational chemistry methods, including forcefield-based methods and electronic structure calculations, as well as some development of small-scale in-house software. This project will build upon recent research in the group, see for example Nature Materials 2016 (DOI: 10.1038/nmat4638) or publications listed at 

The position is available to both UK and EU graduates with a good degree in a relevant subject (Chemistry, Physics or Materials Science). Previous experience with computational chemistry or physics methods is not a requirement but can be an advantage.

Interested applicants are encouraged to contact Dr. Kim Jelfs ( by email, along with a CV. This position is available for October 2017

PhD Studentship in Graphene Chemistry, Characterisation and Composites

Duration: 36 months

Supervisor: Professor Milo Shaffer

We are inviting motivated candidates for a PhD studentship in the exciting field of “Graphene Chemistry, Characterisation, and Composites”. The studentship includes fees and a bursary for suitable UK/EU nationals for the duration of 3 years. The studentship is available for an immediate start.

Intrinsically, ideal graphene and related materials (GRMs) have exceptional properties and offer the potential for fundamental improvements in a wide range of applications. The ability to manifest these properties in useful macroscopic applications is intimately linked to the manufacturing processes and modification chemistry involved, which determine the nature and quality of the GRMs produced, as well as the extent of their dispersion in solvents (for inks) or matrices (for composites). The aim of the project will be to better understand the nature of GRM based products, using advanced techniques to map the locus of functionalization, and the three dimensional dispersion/orientation within, for example, polymer matrices. Advanced techniques such as nanoscale tomography will provide fundamental new insight, but cannot be used routinely in a manufacturing context. Thus, the goal will be to relate this type of detailed characterisation to more accessible physical properties, such a conductivity or viscosity. The project will complement “TheLink”, a new EU-funded Marie Curie network with a major node at Imperial, which is addressing similar issues in carbon nanotube systems. The application of functionalised GRMs to composites is a particular interest, and there will be the opportunity to explore the combination of GRMs with conventional carbon fibres, to create hierarchical composites.

You will join a dynamic research team focusing on hierarchical assemblies and composites, at Imperial College London (; the group has a strong activity in the chemistry, processing, and applications of nanocarbons. Applicants should have solid knowledge in physical science, with an interest in nanomaterials, combined with good teamwork and communication skills; experience of electron microscopy or mapping spectroscopy would be an advantage but is not essential. Candidates should have (or be expecting to have) a Master’s degree (1st class or upper second class) in materials, physics, chemistry, or relevant discipline. 

This PhD studentship is funded by the UK's Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council and is open to UK home students or European students who have spent the last five years in the UK.  The studentship will cover tuition fees plus the standard maintenance stipend of £16,296 per year. It is expected that the project will also be eligible for a £3000 CASE top-up as part of a collaboration with a leading company in the field.

 How to apply:

The prospectus, entry requirements and application form (under ‘how to apply’) are available at:

 For further details of the post, please contact Professor Milo Shaffer at  Applicants will be required to complete an electronic application form.

 The prospectus, entry requirements and application form (under ‘how to apply’) are available at:

Closing date: 31 December 2016, or until filled.

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Fully funded studentship in predictive modeling of ICAM-1 repression by Erg; Designing therapeutic Erg mimetics using computational modelling

This 4 year fully funded studentship is part of the Institute of Chemical Biology Centre for Doctoral Training and co-funded by the British Heart Foundation Centre for Research Excellence.

To apply, you must meet the eligibility criteria and go to Apply.Imperial selecting the F1ICB programme in the Postgraduate Programme Search[Chemical Biology: Multi-Disciplinary Physical Scientists (1plus3) (MRes 1YFT + PhD 3YFT)|F1ICB|1|SK|FT|CN)]. Please clearly indicate in the Supporting Document section and Personal Statement, which studentship (or several) you are applying to.

Studentship 6 | Predictive modeling of ICAM-1 repression by Erg; Designing therapeutic Erg mimetics using computational modelling

Endothelial cells (EC) lining blood vessels play an important role in health and disease by regulating key vascular functions, including permeability, hemostasis/thrombosis, inflammation and angiogenesis. The ETS transcription factor, Erg, is highly expressed in endothelial cells, and functions as a ‘master-regulator’ of endothelial homeostasis. Erg acts as both an activator and repressor of homeostatic and proÔÇÉinflammatory genes, respectively. In healthy endothelium, Erg represses expression of pro-inflammatory genes. A unique mechanism has been identified whereby Erg represses ICAM-1 activation by preventing the transcription factor NFκB-p65 binding to the ICAM-1 promoter. Notably, Erg’s expression is lost in activated endothelium over human coronary atherosclerotic plaques. Thus Erg represents a promising target to restore endothelial homeostasis and prevent vascular disease. The complexity of transcription factor signaling has meant they are traditionally considered too difficult to target therapeutically. Preliminary studies using state-of-the-art molecular dynamics simulations  have been performed in our group to generate a model of Erg protein structure. In this project, we aim to take these studies forward and model molecular interactions  to validate binding motifs within the promoter of ICAM-1 for Erg and NF-κB-p65. Furthermore, Erg isoforms and a putative Erg inhibitor, YK-4-279, will be used in silico, and in cellular in vitro models to validate our findings. This multi-disciplinary project aims to unveil the molecular interactions between Erg, NFκB-p65 and the ICAM-1 promoter to identify key structural and conformational determinants, providing us with the tools to design selective Erg compounds.

Dr Ian Gould | Prof Anna Randi


PhD Vacancy in Nanostructures, Hierarchical Assemblies and Composites (UK/EU)

Synthesis of hierarchical carbon nanotube/graphene networks as catalyst supports.

Carbon allotropes (such as nanotubes and graphenes) are widely regarded as a crucial new material in a wide variety of application s. Their high aspect ratio, robustness, chemical stability, conductivity, and high surface area, allows them to for m unique networks or scaffolds, at a hier archy of lengthscales, relevant to electrodes and catalyst supports. Nature already assembles materials at every length scale from the molecular to the macroscopic, demonstrating the value of this approach. Although we lack nature’s dexterity, we can use a wider range of ch em istry that is not necessarily compatible with physiological conditions. This project will explore the use of new carbon allotrope chemistries to produce controlled hierarchical networks that will act as active catalyst supports for anionic layered double hydroxides (LDHs). LDHs have general composition [M(II)1−xM(III)x(OH)2]x+[Am−x/m.nH2O]x- and are widely used as solid-state bases. The project will explore the effects of different support materials on the nanomorphology and activity of the supported catalysts towards gas sorption and specific gas phase reactions. Previous res earch has shown that small particle size (< 100nm) produces materials with the highest surface areas and edge/defect densities which leads to good adsorption kinetics and rapid regeneration. Our recent results on the use of such systems for carbon dioxide sorption have shown large increases in capacity and cycle stability. Further improvements are anticipated in this and other environmentally-relevant contexts, by enhancing the design of the supporting carbon structure.

The project requires a skilled chemist/materials scientist, ideally with experience both of materials chemistry (synthesis) and physical methods for assessing catalysts and sorbents, at graduate level.

The studentship award will cover tuition fees (UK/EU) and a tax-free maintenance stipend (including London weighting) of approximately £15000 per year. Overseas (non-EU) students may apply, though the additional overseas fees will not be included. Applications are invited from students with an appropriate background in materials chemistry, with an interest in nanomaterials. Candidates should have received at least a 2:1 in their first degree.

To apply for any of these project please send a c.v . and details of at least two referees to Prof. Milo Shaffer, Department of Chemistry, Imperial College, South Kensington, London, SW7 2AZ