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New NMR tools for the most complex problems

Project Description

Knowing the structures and behaviour of molecules is crucial for understanding the world around us and for the development of new chemical products, drugs and materials. As our knowledge grows about how Nature works, the species under study steadily increase in size and complexity, making their analysis more and more difficult. New methods are urgently needed to allow us to address a wider range of scientific problems, and to reduce the time and effort needed to extract useful chemical and biological information. In principle, nuclear magnetic resonance (NMR) spectroscopy ought to be able to meet this need. NMR is one of the most powerful and versatile techniques for the structural, conformational and dynamic analysis of molecules. However, conventional methods generally struggle to extract simple and clear information from the most challenging systems.

The primary focus of the studentship will be on the development of new experimental NMR methods tailored to maximise our ability to extract chemical and biological information currently rendered inaccessible by spectral complexity. Throughout the project, methodological developments will proceed hand in hand with collaborative applications to problems of chemical and biological importance, both to facilitate critical assessment of the utility of the new methods and as a stimulus to further development.

The student will be based in the NMR Methodology Group at the University of Manchester’s School of Chemistry. They will have access to world-class research facilities in the School of Chemistry including a suite of NMR spectrometers. This PhD project spans a range of disciplines including chemistry, physics, statistics/chemometrics, and programming. It will provide extensive training in a range of research methods, allowing the student to acquire a broad set of skills in practical NMR spectroscopy, spin physics, statistical data analysis, software production and scientific programming, and can be tailored to suit individual preferences.

Applicants are expected to hold, or be about to obtain, a first class or good upper-second class honours degree (or equivalent) in a subject closely related to Chemistry, Physics, or Materials Science. Some prior experience with NMR spectroscopy is advantageous but not essential.

Contact for further Information:
For enquiries about admission, qualifications, etc. please email Postgraduate admissions team

For enquiries about the project please email Dr Laura Castañar Acedo -
Personal Pages -
NMR methodology group website -

Funding Notes

This is a 3.5. year studentship. Funding will cover fees and stipend (£15,009 in 2019-20)

Due to funding restrictions this position is only open to UK/EU applicants.

We expect the programme to commence in September 2019.


1) G. Dal Poggetto, L. Castañar, R. W. Adams, G. A. Morris, M. Nilsson. "Dissect and divide: putting NMR spectra of mixtures under the knife". J. Am. Chem. Soc. 2019. (in press)

2) L. Castañar, P. Moutzouri, T. Barbosa, C. Tormena, R. Rittner, A. Phillips, S. Coombes, M. Nilsson, G. A. Morris. "FESTA: an efficient NMR approach for the structural analysis of mixtures containing fluorinated species". Anal. Chem., 2018, 90, 5445-5450.

3) L. Castañar, G. Dal Poggetto, A. Colbourne, G. A. Morris, M. Nilsson. "The GNAT: a new tool for processing NMR data". Mag. Reson. Chem., 2018. 56, 546-558.

4) G. Dal Poggetto, L. Castañar, R. W. Adams, G. A. Morris, M. Nilsson. "Relaxation-encoded NMR experiments for mixture analysis: REST and beer". Chem. Commun. 2017, 53, 7461-7464.

5) M. Foroozandeh, L. Castañar, L. G. Martins, D. Sinnaeve, G. Dal Poggetto, C. F. Tormena, R. W. Adams, G. A. Morris, M. Nilsson. "Ultrahigh-Resolution Diffusion-Ordered Spectroscopy". Angew. Chem. Int. Ed. 2016, 55, 15579-15582.

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