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Conformational and Structural Characterisation of Biomolecules

   Department of Chemistry

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  Dr ME Sanz  No more applications being accepted  Funded PhD Project (European/UK Students Only)

About the Project

Structure and function are intimately linked in biological systems. One of the important features of biologically-relevant molecules is that they are highly flexible and capable of adopting an immense array of conformations. However, for many biological processes a detailed knowledge of the structures of the biomolecules involved is lacking. The challenge is to understand how certain conformations are selected and how they change responding to the environment. What are the relevant intra- and intermolecular forces determining which conformations are preferred? Precise knowledge of the conformational landscape of biological molecules is vital to understand biomolecular function and reactivity, and the first step for a rational design of molecular solutions tackling specific biomedical problems. This research project aims to investigate the conformations and interactions of molecules of biological interest by using a novel broadband rotational spectrometer in combination with molecular modelling.

Student profile

The project will appeal to chemistry or physics graduates with interest in applying physical chemistry to biological problems. Applicants must hold, or expect to obtain, a first or upper second-class honours degree or UK equivalent in Chemistry or Physics from a recognised academic institution, be strongly motivated and ideally have some experience with spectroscopic methods.


We expect that the successful candidate will want to contribute to our department's teaching, for which payment will be made separately. The opportunity to contribute as a teaching assistant during the PhD programme can be an interesting and rewarding experience, which will help students develop skills which will be relevant when they look for future roles. Training and mentoring in teaching and learning in higher education will be provided, and the successful applicant will be expected to attend the Faculty’s Preparing to Teach (https://www.kcl.ac.uk/study/learningteaching/kli/prodev/prepteach.aspx) course should they undertake additional teaching duties. Successful applicants will also have the opportunity to complete the Teaching Recognition at King’s programme (TRaK - https://www.kcl.ac.uk/study/learningteaching/kli/HEA-Recognition/HEA-Recognition-Programme.aspx) which is the King’s route to achieve Higher Education Academy (HEA) professional recognition (https://www.heacademy.ac.uk/).


Students interested in undertaking a PhD in this project should register their interest as soon as possible. Informal enquiries can be made to Dr Maria E. Sanz at [Email Address Removed].

To apply, please visit the King’s College myApplication system: https://apply.kcl.ac.uk/
1. Register a new account/login
2. Once logged in, select Create a new application
3. Enter ‘Chemistry Research MPhil/PhD (Full-time/Part-time)' under Choose a programme. Please ensure you select the correct mode of study.

All relevant information regarding eligibility, including academic and English language requirements, is available from the online prospectus (https://www.kcl.ac.uk/study/postgraduate/index.aspx)

Deadline for applications is 1st May 2018. We might accept later applications until the position is filled.

Please ensure that you quote the project title Conformational and Structural Characterisation of Biomolecules and supervisor Dr Maria E. Sanz in the relevant sections of the application form. If you require support with the application process, please contact the Postgraduate Admissions Tutor for Chemistry, Dr Gerd Wagner, at: [Email Address Removed]

Funding Notes

The Studentship is funded for 3.5 years, on a starting bursary at the standard research council rate, which is presently £16,777 per annum including London Allowance, and cover the full cost of Home/EU tuition fees. Income tax is not payable on the stipend.


[1] D. Loru, I. Peña, J. L Alonso, M. E. Sanz, Intramolecular Interactions in the Polar Headgroup of Sphingosine: Serinol, Chem.Comm. 52, 3615 (2016), inside back cover
[2] D. Loru, M. M. Quesada-Moreno, J. R. Avilés-Moreno, N. Jarman, T. R. Huet, J. J. López-González, M. E. Sanz, Conformational Flexibility of Limonene Oxide Studied By Microwave Spectroscopy, ChemPhysChem. 18, 274-280 (2017), cover
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