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Systems Chemistry: Non-Equilibrium Synthesis and the Origins of Life

  • Full or part time
  • Application Deadline
    Thursday, February 28, 2019
  • Funded PhD Project (European/UK Students Only)
    Funded PhD Project (European/UK Students Only)

Project Description

Applications are invited from suitably qualified candidates for one three-year PhD Studentship. The Studentship is fully funded by the Volkswagen Foundation and available from September 2019, depending on applicant availability. The successful candidate will be based in the Department of Chemistry at UCL and supervised by Dr Matthew Powner.

The PhD project will investigate the underlying chemistry of nucleic acid and peptide synthesis and their selective polymerisation. The Powner group has developed world-leading organic chemistry to probe the origins of the core metabolite that underpin biological form and function. Now, through collaboration with leading biophysicists at LMU Munich in Germany, the influence of non-equilibrium conditions on these synthetic methodologies will be investigated. The PhD project is part of an international experimental work package designed to unravel a key missing element in the search for the Origins of Life on Earth by elucidating a novel mechanistic understanding of prebiotically important physicochemical interactions and novel synthetic methodologies.

This is a very exciting opportunity for student with a strong chemistry background to tackle one of the biggest questions in science. The successful candidate will join a group of highly motivate scientists (5 post-doctoral research associates, 6 PhD and 3 MRes students) working to elucidate the chemistry that underpins the Origins of Life on Earth. The student will directly collaborate with three groups at LMU Munich, Germany. Dr Powner is an investigator of the Simons Foundation (New York, USA) and broader international collaborative interactions within the on going Simons Foundation Collaboration on the Origins of Life (, as well as with members of a newly established EU Marie Sklodowska-Curie Innovative Training Network, are anticipated.

The minimum requirement is a first class or upper second-class honours degree (MSci, MChem) or equivalent. Applications, including a cover letter and full and up-to-date CV, together with the names, addresses and email addresses of two academic referees should be sent as soon as possible to Dr Powner (). Informal enquiries may also be made with Dr Powner. The deadline for applications is 5 p.m. GMT on 28 February 2019.

Funding Notes

Due to studentship regulations, only UK and EU students are eligible to apply for this post.

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