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Development and application of manganese C-H bond functionalization catalysts for organic synthesis

Project Description

Catalysis plays a central role in the synthesis of high value chemical feedstocks, from agrochemicals and pharmaceuticals to advanced materials. Transition metals, particularly the precious metals like Pd, occupy a privileged space, transforming an eclectic array of substrates, containing varying functionalities, into products carrying increased structural complexity, oftentimes formed in a chemo-, regio- and stereoselective manner. In recent years there has been interest in taking advantage of the earth-abundant metals in reactions predominantly associated with precious metal catalysts. The sustainability and abundance of iron and manganese, for example, make them attractive elements for exploration of their potential as catalysts for a whole host of organic transformations. In this PhD project we will design and synthesise new manganese catalysts for organic synthesis. We will take advantage of the stability of manganese(I), but also ligand design to access other oxidative states of this metal. The latter can be useful for accessing distinctive reactivity of the manganese centre at higher oxidation states. The project will examine C-H bond functionalisation reactions, cyclisation and halogenation processes. The project is in collaboration with Syngenta (as an industrial collaboration) working with Dr. Alan Robinson and will include an industrial placement at Jeolotts Hill for three months, most likely during Year 3 of PhD study. The project is fully-funded for 3 years.

All research students follow our innovative Doctoral Training in Chemistry (iDTC): cohort-based training to support the development of scientific, transferable and employability skills. All research students take the core training package which provides both a grounding in the skills required for their research, and transferable skills to enhance employability opportunities following graduation. Core training is progressive and takes place at appropriate points throughout a student’s higher degree programme, with the majority of training taking place in Year 1. In conjunction with the Core training, students, in consultation with their supervisor(s), select training related to the area of their research.

The project will deliver unique training in catalysis, synthetic methodologies and data analysis. The student will engage with the supervisors daily, benefiting from the extended infrastructure available. The student will further receive leading training in Schlenk line techniques and glove box usage, in addition to hands-on training in NMR and IR spectroscopic analysis. Increasingly, industry is seeking to identify students with the ability to both prepare molecules, but also to obtain quantitative reaction data that can be used to accelerate reaction understanding and mechanistic interpretation.

You will be trained in science ethics and engage in broader training (e.g. CV writing, interview technique, and developing a professional social media profile). We openly discuss gender bias; Group members regularly debate wide-ranging issues. Fairlamb and Lynam run regular research group meetings, and you will be asked to write regular update reports, giving up-to-date results in a brief digest, aiding formal/informal discussions.

The studentship is funded by Syngenta and a Department of Chemistry Teaching Studentship. You will assist with undergraduate practical Chemistry teaching for 3 years:
Undergraduate term time:
• 37 hours of demonstrating per year in the undergraduate teaching laboratories. Most of your teaching duties will take place in Autumn and Spring term
• 2.5 hours per year of departmental tours for UCAS visit days in the Autumn Term

Undergraduate vacations:
Other teaching related duties to enable you to develop your skills, e.g. development of laboratory/Virtual Learning Environment material, assisting with workshops, as well as personal training and development sessions.

The Chemistry Department has a Graduate Teaching Assistant (GTA) Training Programme for assisting in laboratory practicals. You will receive additional training specific to developing teaching material online and assessing practical work. You will have the opportunity to take courses offered by the University’s Research Excellence Training Team (RETT) via the Postgraduates Who Teach programme.

This training will be complemented by research training integral to your PhD programme. Collectively, experience of research and teaching methods should place you in a strong position for future employment in teaching, academia or other related fields.

The Department of Chemistry holds an Athena SWAN Gold Award and is committed to supporting equality and diversity for all staff and students. The Department strives to provide a working environment which allows all staff and students to contribute fully, to flourish, and to excel.

This PhD will formally start on 1 October 2019. Induction activities will start on 30 September.

Funding Notes

Fully funded for 3 years by Syngenta and a Chemistry Teaching Studentship and covers: (i) a tax-free annual stipend at the standard Research Council rate (£14,777 for 2018-19), (ii) tuition fees at the UK/EU rate, (iii) funding for consumables. You need to submit a separate Teaching Studentship application: View Website
Funding is available to any student who is eligible to pay tuition fees at the home rate.


Candidate selection process:

• You should submit an application for a PhD in Chemistry and a Teaching Studentship Application by 25 January 2019
• The supervisor may contact their preferred candidates either by email, telephone, web-chat or in person
• The supervisor may nominate up to two candidates to the assessment panel
• Shortlisted candidates will be invited to a panel interview at the University of York on a date TBC
• The Awards Panel will award studentships following the panel interviews
• Candidates will be notified of the outcome of the panel’s decision by email

How good is research at University of York in Chemistry?

FTE Category A staff submitted: 47.06

Research output data provided by the Research Excellence Framework (REF)

Click here to see the results for all UK universities

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