Post Doctoral Research Associate


Office: Barton Lab, Room 307, RCS1

Office phone number: +44 207 594 5708

Extension: 45708

Department of Chemistry




2011 - present

Post-Doctoral Research Associate in Chemistry, Imperial College London

2010 - 2011

Post-Doctoral Research Associate, University of Edinburgh

2007 - 2010 

Post-Doctoral Research Associate, Cardiff University

2002 - 2006

PhD in Chemistry, University of Cambridge


John’s primary research is part of an EPSRC funded collaborative project involving 5 UK universities (Imperial College, UCL, Leeds, Cardiff and Huddersfield) looking at the oxidation of organic molecules using molecular oxygen as the terminal oxidant. 

Oxidation is one of the most widely used chemical reactions in the pharmaceutical industries.  Currently most oxidation reactions make use of secondary chemical oxidants (ie. high energy reagents which have to be independently synthesised prior to use).  This raises the cost, safety implications and environmental impact (additional manufacturing of bulk chemicals and an increased waste stream) of the process.

Using oxygen in the air as the oxidant would avoid all of these probems.  Air is free, safe (as a chemical substance) and the byproduct of oxidation using air would be water. 

However, many challenges remain:

  1. Air is only 21% oxygen. 
    How can we get enough oxygen into our (solution phase) reaction to perform chemical oxidations on a useful scale?

  2. Oxidation is an (extremely) exothermic process. 
    Uncontrolled release of heat could lead to over oxidation or even fire and/or explosions.
    How much heat is produced and how can we control it?

The use of flow reactors in these reactions has many advantages, in particular the ability to reach high temperatures and pressures while only exposing a low volume of the reaction solution to these conditions at any one time.  This considerably improves our ability to control the reaction and make it safer.

As part of the collaboration with our partners we are evaluating catalysts for oxidation reactions and establishing their kinetic and thermodynamic parameters.  In particular we are interested in measuring the exotherm of these reactions.

John has previously worked on projects involving the construction of a “one box” electrochemical reactor for the production of chemical oxidants and a variety of projects in chemistry focused around a core theme of catalysis, in particular the identification of intermediates in solution.  His main research interests are in the effects that solvents have on the structure and activity of reagents and intermediates in chemical reactions.


  • Associate Member, Royal Society of Chemistry