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PhD in Chemistry - Structure/activity relationships in heterogeneously catalysed selective hydrogenation reactions of relevance to agri-chemical production chains

   College of Science and Engineering

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  Dr D Lennon  No more applications being accepted  Funded PhD Project (Students Worldwide)

About the Project

As the global population continues to increase, food security is playing an increasingly important role in national and international sustainability strategies. Syngenta is a world-wide organisation that specialises in crop protection via application of innovative technologies encompassing various areas of biology and chemistry [1]. At the Jeallot’s Hill International Research Centre (Berkshire, UK) the Process Studies Group are interested in understanding heterogeneous catalytic processes for the large-scale production of agri-chemical intermediates. One transformation of interest involves the application of heterogeneous catalysis to selectively hydrogenate aromatic nitrile molecules to primary amines.

A recently completed Ph.D. project, concentrating on the kinetics and hydrodynamics of nitrile hydrogenation, has enabled a catalyst specification to be defined that supports high amine selectivity and extended catalyst lifetimes [2-4]. A follow-on Ph.D. project is available for commencement in October 2022 that represents a further collaboration between Syngenta and the University of Glasgow. The new project will build on the previous work by developing a mechanistic understanding of the principal surface-mediated processes responsible for sustained product yields for a series of nitrile hydrogenations relevant to large-scale agri-chemical production. Most of the work will be performed in modern laboratories housed within the School of Chemistry at the University of Glasgow. In addition, each year, the student will be expected to spend a 1-2 week placement at the Company’s research centre.

The project is ideally suited to high-calibre graduates in Chemistry, Chemistry and Medicinal Chemistry and/or Chemical Physics, providing a training in surface chemistry and heterogeneous catalysis research.

Enquiries to:-

Professor David Lennon, School of Chemistry, Joseph Black Building, University of Glasgow, Glasgow, G12 8QQ, UK.

Email: [Email Address Removed]; Tel: 0141-330-4372.

It is the University of Glasgow’s mission to foster an inclusive climate, which ensures equality in our working, learning, research and teaching environment.

We strongly endorse the principles of Athena SWAN, including a supportive and flexible working environment, with commitment from all levels of the organisation in promoting gender equality.

As an Athena SWAN Bronze Award holder, the School of Chemistry has equality, diversity and inclusion at its heart, and actively supports applications from all sections of society.

More details of the School’s Athena SWAN activities can be found here:


How to Apply: Please refer to the following website for details on how to apply:


Funding Notes

Funding is available to cover tuition fees for UK nationals and EU nationals with ‘settled status’ applicants for 3.5 years, as well as paying a stipend at the Research Council rate (estimated £15,840 for Session 2022-2023).


1. https://www.syngenta.com/en
2. L. McMillan et al., Journal of Molecular Catalysis A: Chemical, 411 (2016) 239.
3. M.I. McAllister et al., Organic Process Research and Development, 23 (2019) 977.
4. M.I. McAllister et al., RSC Advances, 8 (2018) 29392.
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