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  PhD studentship in Organic/Supramolecular Chemistry

   School of Chemistry & Food

   Friday, May 10, 2024  Funded PhD Project (UK Students Only)

About the Project

A fully funded PhD position (tuition fees and stipend) is available in the group of Dr James Cooper ( at the University of Reading. The position is available from September/October 2024.

Membrane-bound proteins play a critical role in biology. They control the transport of ions and molecules across the lipid membrane, dictate chemical reactivity and catalysis, and enable signalling between cells. Synthetic supramolecular assemblies that can mimic this behaviour have potential applications in medicine—e.g., channel-replacement therapies and drug delivery—and synthetic biology, for example as components in synthetic cells or to control “chemical factories”.

Our research seeks to obtain a fundamental understanding of how synthetic molecules behave in lipid membranes, which will provide insights into how biological proteins operate and what the minimum requirements are for their activity. Armed with this knowledge, we will be able to develop more sophisticated transmembrane nanotechnology that can control the transmembrane transport of ions, molecules and energy with a high level of spatiotemporal precision, just like biology.

The focus of this PhD project is to design and synthesise new supramolecular assemblies that can insert into lipid membranes and then study their membrane-bound behaviour. The student will study the conformational dynamics of these molecules in membranes and solution, and will also evaluate their ability to act as transmembrane devices, such as ion transporters or channels, or transmembrane signalling systems. Following work in artificial lipid membranes, there will also be the opportunity to study these molecules in cells.

Skills the researcher will learn: The researcher will develop skills in organic synthesis, the synthesis and analysis of supramolecular assemblies, the formation of vesicles and lipid monolayers, and the study of host–guest interactions and transmembrane processes. The project will employ a range of analytical techniques including, but not limited to, NMR, fluorescence and UV/vis spectroscopy, and fluorescence microscopy. The interdisciplinary nature of this project means that there will be opportunities for collaboration, both inside and outside the Department of Chemistry.

Candidate requirements and eligibility: The candidate should have a good knowledge of synthetic organic chemistry with an interest in supramolecular chemistry and a desire to improve their synthetic and analytical skills. Applicants should have obtained a first or upper second-class honours degree in chemistry and not be in possession of a PhD. The studentship is fully funded (university fees and stipend) and is for UK students or students will UK status.

Please contact James for more information or to apply:

How to apply: You will need to submit an online application through the University of Reading website: 

Chemistry (6)

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