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Structure/Activity Relationships in Transition Metal Mediated Catalysis

Department of Pure and Applied Chemistry

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Dr David Nelson , Dr M Reid No more applications being accepted Funded PhD Project (European/UK Students Only)

About the Project

The use of transition metal catalysts has had a profound impact on the development of methodology for synthetic organic chemistry. However, mechanistic understanding of transition metal mediated processes often lags behind our synthetic capabilities. The use of rigorous and detailed computational, mechanistic, and kinetic studies can help us to fix this gap in our understanding.

A Research Excellence Award Studentship has been secured to embark on a combined computational/experimental project to improve our understanding of nickel catalysis by probing the reactivity of nickel(I) complexes that may or may not be on the catalytic cycle. The work will include building computational models for catalytic cycles for some common nickel-mediated reactions, and testing these by preparing and studying these nickel(I) complexes in the laboratory. The researcher who takes up this studentship will develop skills in computational chemistry, reaction kinetics, and organometallic chemistry; this set of skills will equip them well to tackle future challenges in catalysis and organometallic chemistry.

The project will be supervised by Dr David Nelson (Chancellor’s Fellow and Lecturer) and Dr Marc Reid (Leverhulme Trust/GSK Early Career Academic) who have complementary and overlapping expertise. This work follows on from exciting experimental (Organometallics 2017, 36, 1662) and computational (Chem. Eur. J. 2017, 23, 16728) work from the Nelson group in the area of nickel catalysis. Marc Reid has significant expertise in using computational chemistry and physical organic chemistry to understand reactivity and guide reaction development (e.g. Angew. Chem. Int. Ed. 2017, 56, 7808; J. Am. Chem. Soc. 2017, 139, 13156). The student will work alongside two other researchers working on projects in the area of nickel catalysis.

The project will make use of the excellent facilities available at Strathclyde, including high-field NMR spectroscopy, UV/visible spectroscopy, and the soon-to-be-upgraded Archie-West computing cluster. Support, training, and mentoring will be provided by two motivated and research-active academic advisors; Strathclyde PhD students also undertake a Postgraduate Certificate in Researcher Development as part of their PhD, providing access to a range of courses in scientific areas and softer skills, including presenting and writing about research.

The ideal candidate will have a keen and broad interest in organometallic chemistry and catalysis, and be willing to develop skills in both computational chemistry and synthetic chemistry. Previous experience in computational chemistry (using e.g. Gaussian09), kinetic studies, or the use of Schlenk and glovebox techniques would be a significant advantage, but is not essential.

Please see below for the application procedure. Informal inquiries (to David Nelson) are welcomed at any time before the closing date.

*** Application Procedure ***
(i) Please send the following to David Nelson by email, before the closing date: an up-to-date CV (2 pages maximum); a cover letter summarising your skills and experience, how these make you a good candidate for this position, and your motivation for applying (2 pages maximum); details of two references that can be contacted during the assessment of your application.
(ii) Initial interviews will be carried out via Skype, during which candidates will be asked to speak briefly about a recent research project.
(iii) 2-3 applicants will be invited to visit Strathclyde and meet with Drs David Nelson and Marc Reid, before a final decision is made.

Funding Notes

Funding has been secured in the form of a University of Strathclyde Research Excellence Award for a period of 3 years. This includes a stipend at the standard rate (£14,777 p.a. for 2018/19). Please note that this funding is only available for students from within the EU.
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