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

Pulse electrochemical EPR spectroscopy: development and application to redox-based metalloproteins and catalysts

Dr. Maxie Roessler

https://www.imperial.ac.uk/people/m.roessler

m.roessler@imperial.ac.uk

Two fully funded PhD positions are available in the Roessler research group as part of the Centre for Pulse EPR spectroscopy (PEPR) that is being built on the White City Campus at Imperial College London, supported by a £2.3 M grant from the EPSRC. The Roessler group investigates unpaired electrons in redox reactions that underpin essential chemical reactions in respiration and photosynthesis by applying state-of-the-art pulse EPR techniques [1] to understand the mechanisms of challenging enzymes that cannot be obtained in high concentrations and require precise electrochemical potential adjustment [2]. More recently, the group has been developing film-electrochemical EPR spectroscopy (FE-EPR), an exciting technique for studying the evolution of radicals during a reaction [3]. FE-EPR allows the accurate determination of the redox potentials of buried redox centres within enzymes and their activity during catalysis. PEPR combines state-of-the-art pulse EPR at X- and Q-band frequencies with FE-EPR and instrument development in collaboration with University College London and the London Centre of Nanotechnology.  

Project 1: In this project, you will expand the capabilities of FE-EPR from continuous wave to pulse EPR spectroscopy, thus enabling a new dimension in the investigation of radicals formed during catalytic reactions. This new method promises to enable us to get detailed information on structure and bonding (from pulse EPR) of radical intermediates formed during redox reactions, including surface-bound catalysts which are of wide interest. For this project a background in physical sciences will be helpful.  

Project 2: In this project, you will apply the state-of-art instrumentation available at PEPR to complex biological systems, such as metal-centered redox processes occurring in cells as well as in membrane proteins reconstituted into artificial membrane systems. For this project, either a background or an interest in biochemistry will be helpful.  

We are looking to recruit an outstanding Masters level graduate in Chemistry or a related subject. The PhD studentships are fully funded for 3.5 years. Please see http://www.imperial.ac.uk/roessler-lab/ for further details on current research and a full list of recent publications. The PhD student will primarily be based in the Molecular Sciences Research Hub, the new research home for the Department of Chemistry at Imperial’s White City campus, with access to further research facilities, e.g. SPIN-Lab, at the South Kensington Campus. 

EEA nationals are eligible but those who do not have permanent residence status in the UK must be able to start by 31.07.2021 at the latest to guarantee full funding of their tuition fees for their entire PhD. The prospective PhD student is encouraged get in touch via e-mail with a detailed CV and explaining his/her interests and research experience. 

  1. M. M. Roessler and E. Salvadori, 'Principles and Applications of EPR Spectroscopy in the chemical sciences', Chemical Society Reviews, 2018, 47 (8), 2534-2553

  2. N. le Breton, J. J. Wright, A.J.Y.J. Jones, E. Salvadori, H. R. Bridges, J. Hirst, M. M. Roessler, 'Using EPR Hyperfine Spectroscopy to define the Proton-Coupled Electron Transfer Reaction at Fe-S cluster N2 in Respiratory Complex I', J. Am. Chem. Soc., 2017, 139 (45), 16319-16326, Spotlight Article

  3. K. Abdiaziz, E. Salvadori, K.P. Sokol, E. Reisner, M.M. Roessler, ‘Protein film electrochemical EPR spectroscopy as a technique to investigate redox reactions in biomolecules’, Chemical Communications, 2019, 55 (60), 8840-8843

EPSRC Centre for Doctoral Training in Next Generation Synthesis & Reaction Technology (rEaCt)

Collage of researchers in the lab alongside the rEaCt and UKRI logos

Applications are invited for 4-year MRes/Ph.D. EPSRC CDT rEaCt studentship projects – Cohort 3 (Intake October 2021)

The mission of the EPSRC Next Generation Synthesis & Reaction Technology CDT is to educate a critical mass of researchers equipped to respond to future research challenges and opportunities created by the data-revolution. The aim is to train highly qualified researchers with the ability to collect data using automated, high-throughput reaction platforms, and to apply quantitative and statistical approaches to data analysis and utilisation. This will be achieved by incorporating cross-disciplinary skills from engineering, as well as computing, statistics, and informatics into a chemistry graduate programme, which are largely lacking from existing doctoral training in synthetic chemistry.

Available studentships

Applying

  • How to applyPlease note that due to COVID-19 interviews are likely to be held on a virtual platform.

The CDT

Contact us

Got a question? Find out how to contact the Centre

Unravelling epigenetic drivers of chemo-resistance by optical editing of DNA-methylation in cells

Funded by the CDT in Chemical Biology: Innovation in Life Sciences – 1+3 year PhD studentships - APPLY HERE

Dr Marco Di Antonio | Prof Robert BrownDr Lorenzo Di Michele

Aberrant DNA-methylation is a well-established driver of acquired resistance in ovarian cancer, although such epigenomic changes occur within a high background of passenger events and current epigenetic chemical biology tools generally affect the entire epigenome rather than locus specific. This makes it challenging with current biological tools to investigate the role of key locus specific methylation events in resistance mechanisms. To overcome this, epigenetic editing using CRISPR-Cas9 fused to epigenetic modifiers is increasingly being evaluated, although current approaches have the limitation of not being inducible. To identify key drivers of resistance and demonstrate phenotypic effects, we aim to generate novel chemical ligands that enable light-controlled positioning of DNA-methylation writer and eraser (e.g. DNMTs and TETs) at specific genomic loci by means of CRISPR-Cas9. These chemical tools will disentangle the role of site-specific methylation in patient-derived cell-lines and xenografts. The light-controlled positioning of the epigenetic modifiers will enable temporal control of epigenetic modification, allowing evolution of resistance and its prevention or re-sensitisation to be studied in a time-dependent manner that is essential to study dynamic epigenetic-based processes such as acquired resistance to chemotherapy.

 

Next-generation biosensors for real-time, enhanced sensitivity antigen detection

Funded by the CDT in Chemical Biology: Innovation in Life Sciences – 1+3 year PhD studentships - APPLY HERE

 Dr Alex Ivanov | Dr Sara Goodchild | Prof Joshua EdelProf Tony Cass

The ability to measure biomarkers and trace analytes both specifically and selectively at the single- molecule level in biological fluids has the potential to transform the diagnosis, real-time screening, analyte seining for specific hazardous materials of high-profile defence interest. Strategies such as the use of nanopore sensors combined with functional molecular probes have been gaining in prominence not only for sequencing but more recently in screening applications. However, substantial challenges remain in achieving sufficient resolution to distinguish bound from unbound target analytes or in reaching detection of critical analytes that may be present at a very low level in biofluids. The proposed CDT project addresses the above limitations by delivering a new class of biosensors, of importance to the DstL, the research arm of the Ministry of Defence. The platform combines custom molecular probes and dielectrophoretic nanopore sensors, that are capable of selective analyte discrimination in near real-time at sub-pM and fM concentrations.

Computational modelling of corrosion processes at metal-electrolyte interfaces

Project description

ICL Chemistry department is offering a fully funded studentship to a highly motivated candidate. The position is immediately available. The project will be based in the Computational NanoElectrochemistry group of Dr. Clotilde Cucinotta, in the framework of a multidisciplinary project on developing and applying new theoretical methodologies for the operando modelling of electrochemical (EC) systems. You can find out more about the project here: Towards a Parameter-Free Theory for Electrochemical Phenomena at the Nanoscale (NanoEC).

Oxidation and corrosion in materials science and technology costing yearly billions of pounds to the UK economy and affecting multiple sectors, from metal consumption in biomedical implants to the corrosion of electronic circuits, from atmospheric corrosion, to the interrelated passivation and dissolution processes occurring in the eroding environments of the petrochemical industry.

In spite of the large variety of experimental and computational approaches adopted to rationalize different corrosion processes, relatively little is known of the electrochemistry of metal surfaces in realistic electrochemical environment, even for the simple case of metal aqueous electrolyte interfaces. Information on the local chemistry of the electrolyte in contact with the metal is essential e.g. to unravel the initial stages of metal oxidation.

In this project we will focus on the realistic simulation from first principles molecular dynamics of the interaction of metal (e.g. Cu, Ag, Fe, Ni and Mg) surfaces with the aqueous electrolyte, studying the formation and degradation of oxidising layers on the metal surfaces. In certain cases surface degrades (e.g. iron) in other cases protective films form (e.g. in stainless steel). We will develop molecular scale models for these processes with the aim of unravelling the fundamental mechanisms triggering surface degradation and protection.

Applications should be submitted ASAP through the College’s online application system, specifying Dr Cucinotta as a supervisor: 

Apply here >>

Required documentation includes CV, research proposal or personal statement, transcript, 2 references and IELTS results. Outstanding applications submitted prior to January 10th will be shortlisted for the President’s scholarship.

Interested candidates can email Dr Clotilde Cucinotta with enquires, with a transcript and a motivation letter.

Funding notes

UK/EU students are eligible for this studentship, which will cover tuition fees at UK/EU rate plus a stipend for three and ½ years. The position is available immediately and will stay open until a suitable candidate is found. We also welcome applications from students who have alternative funding available.

Applicants should demonstrate excellent communication skills and an outstanding academic record in Chemistry, Physics, Materials Science, or related discipline. Prior experience in density functional theory based calculations would be an advantage.

Computational modelling of electrochemical nanojunctions

Project Description

ICL Chemistry department is offering a fully funded studentship to a highly motivated candidate. The position is immediately available. The project will be based in the Computational NanoElectrochemistry group of Dr Clotilde Cucinotta, in the framework of a multidisciplinary project on developing and applying new theoretical methodologies for the operando modelling of electrochemical (EC) systems. You can find out more about the project here: Towards a Parameter-Free Theory for Electrochemical Phenomena at the Nanoscale (NanoEC).

In the last two decades, electrochemical (EC) nanojunctions (NJ)s have become a promising platform to study fundamental charge transport through a large variety of molecular moieties; from synthetic molecular backbones, to sensors, to more complex biomolecular structures.

EC molecular NJs (ECMNJs) are three terminal functional devices where an individual molecule covalently bridges the electrodes in EC environment. In such configuration, the application of an EC voltage gate can be exploited to move the molecular energy levels with respect to the electrodes’ fermi levels, opening a new way to modulate the conductance and study charge transport mechanisms in a nanoscale molecular device.

The atomistic understanding of the EC transformation occurring in ECMNJ is an almost unexplored niche in computational research and will be the focus of this project. Our starting point will be prototypic small ECMNJs made with synthetic backbones, which will allow to study systematically how the EC environment alters molecular junction and contacts, depending upon the chemical of the molecular backbone. This builds on preliminary results showing that the EC gating efficiency on ECMNJs displays a strong dependence on the length of the molecular bridge. To understand these experimental data, we will model explicitly double layer effects in the gap, using models of increasing realism. We will then simulate the complex charge transfer phenomena within ECMNJ including redox molecular units. To this end we develop novel theoretical and computational methodologies to perform molecular dynamics under bias and achieve an open-boundary description of the electrons, which in these systems must be free to enter and leave the computational cell. The project outcomes will bring clear answers to the transport and gating mechanisms in ECNJ.

This project will be developed in collaboration with Professor Horsefield at ICL and Dr Díez-Pérez (experiments) at Kings College London.

Applications should be submitted ASAP through the College’s online application system, specifying Dr Cucinotta as a supervisor:

Apply here >>

Required documentation includes CV, research proposal or personal statement, transcript, 2 references and IELTS results. Outstanding applications submitted prior to January 10th will be shortlisted for the President’s scholarship.

Interested candidates can email Dr Clotilde Cucinotta with enquires, with a transcript and a motivation letter.

Funding Notes

UK/EU students are eligible for this studentship, which will cover tuition fees at UK/EU rate plus a stipend for three and ½ years. The position is available immediately and will stay open until a suitable candidate is found. We also welcome applications from students who have alternative funding available.

Applicants should demonstrate excellent communication skills and an outstanding academic record in Chemistry, Physics, Materials Science, or related discipline. Prior experience in density functional theory based calculations would be an advantage.

DNA phase-separation as a general mean of regulating gene expression in hybrid cells

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

Supervisors: Dr Marco Di AntonioDr Lorenzo Di Michele

Liquid-liquid phase separation is increasingly recognised as a key mechanism to regulate gene expression in living cells by controlling the accessibility of genetic material and its co-localisation with transcription machinery. Although mechanisms that trigger phase separation in biological cells are not fully understood, a similar control of transcriptional activation could be recapitulated in hybrid cells, engineered from the bottom-up by combining biological and man-made components. Programming the condensation of genetic material (DNA) and its co-localisation with cellular machinery is a particularly promising approach to regulate transcription. DNA aggregation can be induced by well-understood canonical and non-canonical secondary structures, and its occurrence can thus be controlled by a variety of physical stimuli, including temperature, crowding agents and exposure to certain ions. Herein, we propose to generate a hybrid cell system that can be transcriptionally activated by triggering nucleic-acid phase separation, offering an orthogonal solution to current methods that fully rely on small-molecule treatment (e.g. IPTG) and cannot be controlled easily by physical means. Besides offering an alternative method to regulate gene-expression in artificial cells, this project will yield insights on the fundamental physical processes that might be responsible of gene-regulation via liquid-liquid phase separation in living cells.

 

Engineering motile artificial cells capable of swimming up concentration gradients

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

Supervisors: Dr Lorenzo Di MicheleDr Yuval ElaniProf Pietro Cicuta

Billions of years of evolution shaped cells into highly sophisticated micromachines, whose intricate network of molecular interactions are difficult to unravel. Bottom-up synthetic biology aims at constructing artificial cells by combining a small number of molecular agents into compartmentalised microenvironments. This reductionist approach enables the study of biological processes in a simplified setting. More importantly however, it offers the opportunity of producing smart cell-like agents to tackle pressing needs in diagnostics, therapeutics, biosynthesis, and bioremediation. Most attempts at engineering life-like ‘behaviours’ into artificial cells have focused on metabolism, energy generation, computation, and communication. One behaviour which has been neglected so far is motility: directed motion towards a target site. Motility (e.g. swimming and crawling) is a characteristic that is found across all life classes: from unicellular photosynthetic organisms that perform vertical migrations to optimise light exposure, swimming sperm cells, and macrophages that chase down pathogens. In most instances, cells are able to direct their motion following environmental cues, typically gradients in light intensity (phototaxis), temperature (thermotaxis), or the concentration of chemicals (chemotaxis). Despite the unquestionable benefits that controllable taxis would bring for most foreseen applications of artificial cells, viable technologies for engineering motion in synthetic cells have not been developed. This is because the protein assemblies needed to drive motility (e.g. flagella) are the most complex macromolecular structures in existence, and reconstituting them into synthetic systems is simply not possible using current state of the art. In this project we will develop a cellular bionics solution to this challenge: instead of using native cellular machineries, we will develop novel nanotechnologies based on DNA biophysics to propel a synthetic cell forwards, up a concentration gradient, with cell engineered to elicit a response (protein synthesis) when reaching its target site.

 

Engineering synthetic cell ‘translators’ to mediate human-cell communication

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

Supervisors: Dr Yuval ElaniDr Laura BarterProf Oscar Ces

Synthetic biology can be divided into two distinct approaches. The first is the top-down approach, where cells are modified using metabolic and genetic engineering techniques. The second is concerned with the bottom-up construction of membrane-bound microsystems — artificial cells — that resemble biological cells in form and function. The current state-of-the-art involves using lipid vesicles as chassis that are functionalised with biomolecular machinery allowing cellular processes to be mimicked. Until now, these approaches have largely evolved in isolation from one another. The aim of this project is to bridge this divide by chemically networking synthetic cells with engineered biological ones on a population level using through-space communication. The student will design a suite of stimuli-responsive synthetic cells that can induce activation of a DNA programme in living E. coli in response to external stimuli. The artificial cells will act as intermediaries between a human user and a living biological cell, capable of ‘translating’ an external signal into a language that living cells can understand and act upon. This approach will effectively allow microbes to respond to cues that are entirely different from the ones they have evolved to respond to.

For more details contact Yuval Elani at y.elani@imperial.ac.uk

EPSRC CDT in Smart Medical Imaging opens recruitment for 2021 student cohort

The EPSRC Centre for Doctoral Training in Smart Medical Imaging at King’s College London and Imperial College London is now accepting applications for fully-funded PhD studentships beginning in September 2021.

Students at the CDT typically follow a 1 + 3 pathway spending their first year studying for the newly designed MRes in Healthcare Technologies at King’s College London, and then the remainder of their course on their PhD research project (N.B. a 0 + 4 pathway is sometimes possible for candidates with excellent and relevant prior experience). Research projects fit into at least one of the CDT’s four smart medical imaging themes: AI-enabled imaging, Smart Imaging Probes, Emerging Imaging and Affordable Imaging.

Professor Nick Long (Chemistry), deputy director of the CDT in Smart Medical Imaging said:

“Our vision is to train the next generation of medical imaging researchers, leveraging the full potential of medical imaging for healthcare through integration of artificial intelligence, targeted, responsive and safer imaging probes, cutting-edge emerging and affordable imaging solutions, within a unique multi-disciplinary environment of imaging scientists, engineers, clinicians and other healthcare professionals.”

Why Join Us

  • Fully funded PhD studentships, including generous research consumables and conference travel, with exposure to international imaging labs and healthcare industry placements;
  • Research excellence in Smart Medical Imaging within a unique multi-disciplinary hospital environment in Central London (St. Thomas’ Hospital), with state-of-the-art labs and clinical research imaging facilities within both King’s and Imperial (based at South Kensington or White City campuses).
  • Choice of a large number of innovative PhD projects, supervised by internationally renowned academics from Imperial College London and/or King’s College London, with direct input from world-leading clinical academics of our associated NHS Hospital Trusts;
  • Close healthcare industry involvement in selective research projects, with paid internships and on-site clinical application specialists from major industry partners;
  • Emphasis on research collaboration through PhD cohort building and interdisciplinary research training, and transferable skills training for outstanding employability;
  • Access to large UK research initiatives and infrastructure, such as the new £10m London Medical Imaging & Artificial Intelligence Centre for Value-Based Healthcare, the NVIDIA AI initiative at King’s and the new London high-field 7T MR centre based at King’s.

For more information, visit the CDT’s website.

EPSRC Centre for Doctoral Training in Chemical Biology: Innovation in Life Sciences

infographic

The ICB CDT is a postgraduate training programme, which forms the heart of the ICB at Imperial College London. The ICB is an institute which brings together more than 130 research groups across Imperial College London with 20 industrial partners and a SME business club with over 40 members.

The aim of the ICB CDT, one of the longest standing CDTs in the UK, is to train students in the art of multidisciplinary Chemical Biology research, giving them the exciting opportunity to develop the next generation of molecular tools and technologies for making, measuring, modelling and manipulating molecular interactions in biological systems. Students on the programme apply these advances to tackle key biological/biomedical problems and clinical/industrial challenges. In addition, students gain experience of industry 4.0 technologies such as 3-D printing, machine learning and robotics with a view to increasing the impact of Chemical Biology research.  This is a skill set which is in great demand from industry and addresses the future needs of employers in the pharmaceutical, biomedical, healthcare, personal care, biotech, agri-science and SME sectors.

To find out more or to apply to our 4 year studentships, visit our webpage at https://www.imperial.ac.uk/chemical-biology/cdt

Resins Project

Resins Project: ionosolv lignin as replacement of phenol in resins and adhesives

In order to limit climate change, it is key that we decarbonise our economy extensively and rapidly. While renewable energy technologies such as wind and solar can provide reneable electricity, we also need to find alternative raw materials for the chemical industry, which currently relies on petroleum as a feedstock for virtually all organic chemicals. Wood or lignocellulosic biomass is a readily available source for sustainable carbon and will provide a new generation of chemical building blocks in a timely manner. A number of woody plants can be grown in high yields in diverse locations worldwide with low inputs.

At Imperial, we have developed the ionosolv biorefining technology which fractionates any type of lignocellulosic biomass, including non-recyclable waste wood into the biorefining intermediates cellulose and lignin. The technology produces these intermediates at unprecedent low cost in a clean process by utilising ultra-low-cost ionic liquids. The ionosolv technology is being commercialised by biorefining start-up Chrysalix Technologies, who is co-funding this project and keen to identify new applications for its novel lignin output.

In this project, you will be developing ionosolv lignin as a replacement of phenol in resins and adhesives. The global resin industry is a major user of phenol and consumed 2.9 million tonnes of petrochemical phenol in 2016. Lignin has great promise in this application both in terms of matching or potentially exceeding the performance of the petroleum product and lower pricing than the petrochemical phenol. Lignin containing resins have been reported to have lower residual formaldehyde levels, making the biobased resin a healthier product to use.

As part of the project, you will develop protocols for producing and testing resins from lignin, with the goal of maximising the amount of phenol substitution while maintaining resin performance. You will study the underlying chemical and rheological properties of lignin that dominate resin performance and compare a variety of ionosolv lignins derived from different sustainable wood feedstocks with conventional resins and resins based on other technical lignins.

You will join two dynamic interdisciplinary research teams in Chemistry and Chemical Engineering focusing on sustainable materials analysis and process development, as well as an adventurous, pragmatic start-up team. Applicants should have an excellent understanding of physical science, material science and / or chemical engineering, combined with outstanding teamwork and communication skills and a deep interest in biomass conversion and materials development, and a passion for transforming the chemical industry. The studentship is funded through the Science and Solutions for a changing planet DTP and is for 3.5 years. It includes a London weighted UKRI stipend (£17,009/ year), Home tuition fees and a £5,000 consumables budget (over the 3.5 years).

Any questions and to apply, please email Dr Agi Brandt-Talbot agi@imperial.ac.uk. We require a CV, a cover letter and details of two independent referees. Closing date is 12 January.

Unlocking a new toolkit for mediating protein-based interactions between synthetic cells and real cells

Please note

Applications are no longer being accepted as this position has now been filled.

Supervisors: Dr Rudiger Woscholski Prof Oscar Ces

A major bottleneck in the field of cellular bionics and bottom-up synthetic biology is the ability to decorate and functionalise the chassis of synthetic cells with user defined proteins. Unlocking this technology bottleneck would transform our ability to mediate interactions between synthetic cells and between synthetic cells and real cells across extended length scales including tissues based materials. This project will lead to the development of a new generation of artificial lipids that are able to reversibly bind proteins thereby revolutionising our ability to functionalise cellular bionic systems. We will validate this strategy by using this approach to modulate communication between synthetic cells and real cells at the single cell level. In addition by making use of extracellular proteins we will manufacture hybrid tissues that accommodate living and synthetic cells.

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