Don't miss our weekly PhD newsletter | Sign up now Don't miss our weekly PhD newsletter | Sign up now

  MRes Project – Supramolecular Organic Chemistry

   School of Chemistry

This project is no longer listed on and may not be available.

Click here to search for PhD studentship opportunities
  Dr B Pilgrim  Applications accepted all year round  Self-Funded PhD Students Only

About the Project

The Pilgrim Group at the University of Nottingham is looking to recruit an enthusiastic and talented MRes candidate to join our research team. The group’s research interests span supramolecular self-assembly, metal-organic coordination complexes, interlocked molecule synthesis, and stimuli-responsive materials. Please see for more information.


Metal-organic coordination complexes are self-assembled, nanometre-sized structures created from the reversible dynamic coordination bonds between suitable metal ions and organic ligands. Through careful design of the correct organic ligand piece and metal ion, we can direct the size, shape, and resultant properties of the structures that are formed. Different structures such as cages, barrels/channels or helicates can be constructed, with potential function dictated by their shape. For example, cages have an interior cavity, inside of which other molecules can bind (typically through non-covalent interactions such as the hydrophobic effect, hydrogen bonding or pi-stacking). This binding can be used for sensing, extraction of a valuable component from a mixture, stabilisation of something highly reactive, or for catalysis (e.g., by mimicking an enzyme active site).

Project goals

This project will seek to design novel metal-organic coordination complexes constructed from lanthanide ions as opposed to the more commonly encountered transition metal ions. Lanthanides have larger coordination numbers than transition metals and more flexible coordination geometries and so traditionally have received a lot less attention than transition metals for the construction of self-assembled architectures. However, the unpaired electrons in lanthanide metal ions offer many interesting opportunities to develop structures with interesting electronic, optical, or magnetic properties. This project will build upon some exciting recent unpublished results of our group in this area.

What would you do day to day?

We are a synthetic group, and the first part of this project is similar to other synthetic organic chemistry groups as the ligands are designed, synthesised, and characterized by the standard organic chemistry techniques (NMR spectroscopy, mass spectrometry etc.). However, once the organic molecule is made, that is where the fun begins! We then try self-assembly with different metals, see what structures form, and characterise them with a range of supramolecular methods. During your studies you will receive the training to become an excellent synthetic supramolecular chemist, gaining knowledge of organic and inorganic synthesis techniques and structural elucidation methods such as NMR spectroscopy, mass spectrometry and X-ray crystallography. Over the course of the MRes, it is envisaged you will produce work of high impact suitable for publication, and there is money allocated to present the results of this work at a national/international conference towards the end of the year. 

Funding Notes

The position is a 12-month research masters (MRes) to start in October 2023. The Pilgrim Group are based in the School of Chemistry, University Park, University of Nottingham, UK. There is no stipend attached to this position, but UK/Home students should be able to get a Masters loan from the UK government ( (value of £11,836 in 22/23) to cover fees, accommodation and living expenses. International/non-home students are eligible to apply but would need to have a confirmed source of funding to pay the full international tuition fees and also to support maintenance to be able to be considered. (For international fee rate see

Entry requirements

You should have or expect to achieve by summer 2023, a First class or 2:1 Honours degree in Chemistry or Natural Sciences specialising in Chemistry (or equivalent). This would be either at MSci/MChem level or at Batchelors level (e.g., BSc).

Research experience in supramolecular chemistry, coordination chemistry, organic chemistry or related areas is beneficial (such as undergraduate lab project or summer project) but not essential.

If English is not your first language, you must provide evidence before starting the position that you meet the University minimum English language requirements (IELTS 6.0 with at least 5.5 in each element, or equivalent).

We are looking for someone who is creative, works hard, is a team player, and would enjoy being part of a dynamic and growing research group.


We encourage you to submit your application as soon as possible. There is no deadline but the position will be filled as soon as a suitable candidate is identified.

Start Date: October 2023

Keywords: Chemistry; Supramolecular; Organic; Self-assembly; Coordination; Metal-Organic; Cages; Lanthanide


Dr Ben Pilgrim is happy to discuss informally via email any questions that prospective applicants have ([Email Address Removed]).

To apply you need to send your CV (max two pages) and a cover letter to [Email Address Removed] Please make sure the names and contact details of two referees are listed on your CV.

At this stage you do not need to submit an official application to the University of Nottingham applications portal. After interview, the successful candidate will need to submit a formal application to the University.

Chemistry (6)

Where will I study?

 About the Project