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Solvent-free Enzyme Biofluids for Non-aqueous Biocatalysis

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  • Full or part time
    Dr A Brogan
  • Application Deadline
    No more applications being accepted
  • Funded PhD Project (European/UK Students Only)
    Funded PhD Project (European/UK Students Only)

Project Description

Our society has an increasing demand for the fuels, plastics, and other essential chemicals that support our modern way of life. This growing energy requirement is in direct competition with the need to better protect our environment to mitigate the ongoing climate change we are experiencing. Furthermore, our relative inability to efficiently recycle current generation plastics has led to an accumulation of waste that is an ongoing ecological disaster. We therefore need to start improving the efficiency of how we make the products we need, and how to recycle those we no longer need. Many of the processes involved in making our fuels and chemicals can be environmentally damaging. Similarly, many current recycling strategies are equally as energy intensive. As a result, we need to develop more environment-friendly and energy efficient processes. Key to this is the development of enzyme based biotechnologies. Enzymes can perform many industrially relevant reactions with high specificity and under significantly milder conditions than their chemical counterparts. Research into the use of enzymes as industrial biocatalysts has been gaining momentum. However, enzymes often have very low solubilities and stabilities in nonaqueous environments, limiting the window of usability. There is now a need to develop new biotechnologies that improve solubility and stability of biocatalysts in nonaqueous media.

This project aims to develop new biotechnologies for non-aqueous biocatalysis. Primarily this will be done through the development of solvent-free liquid proteins as a novel biomaterial for the deployment of enzymes in industrially relevant solvent systems. Solvent-free liquid proteins are a new class of material, pioneered by Dr A. P. S. Brogan, which have been shown to stabilize enzymes in non-aqueous environments. The successful candidate will build on previously published work (most notably; A. P. S. Brogan, et al. Nature Chemistry. 2018), with the following key objectives:

i) develop solvent-free biofluids for use in industrially relevant environments;

ii) expand the repertoire of enzymes used in this technology; and

iii) broaden the scope of biocatalysis by providing the toolkit to perform enzyme reactions in the absence of water.

Full list of publications can be found at:


Further information can also be found at:


Student profile:

Prospective candidates should have – or are expecting to get - a 1st or 2:1 M-level qualification in Chemistry, or a related programme. Preference will be given to those who are enthusiastic about (bio)physical chemistry, soft materials, protein chemistry, and biocatalysis.


We expect that the successful candidate will want to contribute to our department’s teaching, for which payment will be made separately. The opportunity to contribute as a teaching assistant during the PhD programme can be an interesting and rewarding experience, which will help students develop skills which will be relevant when they look for future roles. Training and mentoring in teaching and learning in higher education will be provided, and the successful applicant will be expected to attend the Faculty’s Preparing to Teach course should they undertake additional teaching duties. Successful applicants will also have the opportunity to complete the Teaching Recognition at King’s programme (TRaK) which is the King’s route to achieve Higher Education Academy (HEA) professional recognition.


Students interested in undertaking a PhD in this project should register their interest as soon as possible. Informal enquiries can be made to Dr Alex Brogan at [Email Address Removed] with a copy of your curriculum vitae and cover letter.

To apply, please visit the King’s College myApplication system: https://apply.kcl.ac.uk/
1. Register a new account/login
2. Once logged in, select Create a new application
3. Enter ‘Chemistry Research MPhil/PhD (Full-time/Part-time)’ under Choose a programme. Please ensure you select the correct mode of study.
4. Enter Funding Code StChem.

All relevant information regarding eligibility, including academic and English language requirements, is available from the online prospectus

To guarantee consideration, the deadline for applications is 21/12/2018, although applications will be accepted until the position is filled.

Please ensure that you quote the project title “Solvent-free Enzyme Biofluids for Non-aqueous Biocatalysis” and supervisor Dr Alex Brogan in the relevant sections of the application form.

If you require support with the application process, please contact the Postgraduate Admissions Tutor for Chemistry, Dr Gerd Wagner, at: [Email Address Removed]

Funding Notes

The Studentship is funded for 3.5 years, on a starting bursary at the standard research council rate, which is presently £17,027 per annum including London Allowance, and cover the full cost of Home/EU tuition fees. Income tax is not payable on the stipend.

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