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PhD Studentship in Organic Synthesis/Enantioselective Photocatalysis

Project Description

A fully funded 3.5-year PhD studentship in the area of organic synthesis/enantioselective photocatalysis is available in the Department of Chemistry, Lancaster University, commencing in October 2019. This is an interdisciplinary project that will involve organic synthesis, photochemistry, catalysis and first-principles computational electronic structure theory modelling, which will be co-supervised by Dr Susannah Coote and Dr Michael Peach.

The research in Dr Susannah Coote’s group focuses on the development of new photochemical methods for the efficient preparation of “difficult-to-make” molecules (particularly four-membered rings and cubanes) for a variety of applications, including novel building blocks and fragments for drug discovery in the pharmaceutical industry. For more information on the Coote group:

Dr Michael Peach’s group research involves the development, assessment and application of first-principles electronic structure theory techniques, with a particular focus on excited states and the synergistic use of theory and experiment to develop understanding of fundamental chemical processes.

Project description:

There is a need within the pharmaceutical industry for novel building blocks with enhanced three-dimensional complexity, and photochemical methods often allow access to complex fragments that cannot be accessed using traditional ground state synthetic routes. However, photochemical methods are not yet routinely used in preparative organic synthesis, a limitation that this PhD project aims to address.

Specifically, the project focuses on photochemical electrocyclic ring closing reactions to produce complex, strained intermediates that can be easily converted to a wide range of interesting products. The Coote group has specific expertise in these types of reactions, and this project aims to develop catalytic enantioselective methodology for the production of high-value molecular building blocks. Crucially, the combination of traditional synthetic photochemistry with electronic structure modelling will allow a much greater understanding of the underlying chemistry than could be obtained by either approach alone.

During the course of this project, you will be trained in core practical techniques in synthetic organic (photo)chemistry and catalysis and appropriate computational techniques, and will have the opportunity to further your knowledge through regular group meetings and seminars. You will have access to brand new facilities and equipment, including a new synthetic chemistry laboratory, NMR and IR spectroscopy, mass spectrometry, X-ray crystallography and chiral HPLC, as well as significant local computational resource and many modern electronic structure programs.

Applicants will hold, or expect to receive, a 1st class or 2:1 UK BSc or Masters-level degree (or equivalent) in Chemistry and possess theoretical and practical skills commensurate with the undergraduate degree programme. The successful candidate will demonstrate a strong interest in both organic chemistry and computational modelling, enthusiasm to work in a laboratory environment, willingness to learn, a collaborative attitude, and will possess excellent written and oral communication skills. Please note that no prior experience in computational methods is required, as full training will be provided.

We encourage informal e-mail enquiries before submitting an application, either to Dr Susannah Coote () or Dr Michael Peach (). Applications should be made via Lancaster University’s online application system ( Applications will be considered in the order that they are received, and the position may be filled when a suitable candidate has been identified. Please indicate on your application that you are applying for this funded PhD project.

The Department of Chemistry at Lancaster University provides a research environment that strongly supports the individual needs of each student, and promotes a healthy work-life balance. We are committed to the Athena Swan Charter, which recognises and celebrates good employment practice undertaken to address gender equality in higher education and research. Our commitment to these principles is reflected in our recent receipt of an Athena Swan Bronze Award. The Department of Chemistry also operates an informal PhD peer-peer mentor scheme available to all students.

Funding Notes

The studentships will cover fees at the UK/EU rate plus the standard maintenance stipend (£14,777 for 2018/19).

How good is research at Lancaster University in Chemistry?

FTE Category A staff submitted: 12.00

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

Click here to see the results for all UK universities

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