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Using EPR spectroscopy to probe electron transfer in biology: from model molecular wires to complex metalloenzymes

   Department of Chemistry

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  Dr M Roessler  Applications accepted all year round  Funded PhD Project (European/UK Students Only)

About the Project

Dr. Maxie Roessler

A fully funded PhD position is available in the Roessler research group in affiliation with the Institute of Chemical Biology CDT (ICB-CDT) and as part of the Centre for Pulse EPR spectroscopy (PEPR). The Roessler group investigates unpaired electrons in redox reactions that underpin essential chemical reactions in respiration and photosynthesis. We apply pulse EPR techniques [1] to understand the mechanisms of challenging enzymes that cannot be obtained in high concentrations and require precise electrochemical potential adjustment [2,3]. We are also developing film-electrochemical EPR spectroscopy (FE-EPR), an exciting technique for studying the evolution of radicals during a reaction [4]. FE‑EPR allows the accurate determination of the redox potentials of buried redox centres within enzymes and their activity during catalysis. PEPR combines pulse EPR at X- and Q-band frequencies with FE-EPR and instrument development, in collaboration with the London Centre for Nanotechnology LCN [5].

In this project, you will apply the state-of-art instrumentation available at PEPR, together with the unique capabilities of FE-EPR, to build on our recent findings of electron transfer within photosynthetic complex I [2] and energy-coupling in respiratory complex I [3]. You will acquire a fundamental understanding of how best to harness the recent advances in pulse EPR to investigate complex paramagnetic centres using model molecular wires. Using this foundation, we will study how complex I‑type enzymes use electron transfer to pump protons that are essential for ATP synthesis. The project is interdisciplinary and collaborative, and depending on your choice of focus for your project you will have the opportunity to combine physics/physical chemistry (advanced EPR, electrochemistry), material science (for the fabrication and characterisation of electrodes), biochemical methods (making and manipulating membrane proteins) and chemical synthesis (making model molecular wires). See for further details on current research and a full list of recent publications.

We are looking to recruit an outstanding Masters level graduate in Chemistry, Biochemistry, Physics or a related subject. You should have a keen interest in developing new methodology in the physical sciences to answer biological questions. An interest in magnetic resonance spectroscopy and/or working with proteins is desirable. Excellent training opportunities are available as part of the ICB-CDT, where you will be joining a cohort of highly motivated students. The Molecular Sciences Research Hub, the new research home for the Department of Chemistry at Imperial’s White City campus, provides access to top research facilities, including the recently launched PEPR.

The PhD studentship is for 3.5 years and covers home tuitions fees and the standard London living allowance. EEA nationals are eligible if they have permanent residence or pre-settled status in the UK. The prospective PhD student should via e-mail with a detailed CV and explaining his/her interests and research experience. Interviews are expected to take place in February/March. 


1.      M. M. Roessler and E. Salvadori, 'Principles and Applications of EPR Spectroscopy in the chemical sciences', Chemical Society Reviews, 2018, 47 (8), 2534-2553

2.      K.H. Richardson, J.J. Wright, M. Simenas, J. Thiemann, A.M. Esteves, G. McGuire, W.K. Myers, J.J.L. Morton, M. Hippler, M.M. Nowaczyk, G.T. Hanke, M.M. Roessler, ‘Functional basis of electron transport within photosynthetic complex I’, Nature Communications, 2021, 12, 5387, Press Release

3.      N. le Breton, J. J. Wright, A.J.Y.J. Jones, E. Salvadori, H. R. Bridges, J. Hirst, M. M. Roessler, 'Using EPR Hyperfine Spectroscopy to define the Proton-Coupled Electron Transfer Reaction at Fe-S cluster N2 in Respiratory Complex I', J. Am. Chem. Soc., 2017, 139 (45), 16319-16326, Spotlight Article

4.      K. Abdiaziz, E. Salvadori, K.P. Sokol, E. Reisner, M.M. Roessler, ‘Protein film electrochemical EPR spectroscopy as a technique to investigate redox reactions in biomolecules’, Chemical Communications, 2019, 55 (60), 8840-8843

5.      M Šimėnas, J O’Sullivan, CW Zollitsch, O Kennedy, M Seif-Eddine, I Ritsch, M Hülsmann, M Qi, A Godt, MM Roessler, G Jeschke, JJL Morton, ‘A sensitivity leap for X-band EPR using a probehead with a cryogenic preamplifier’, Journal of Magnetic Resonance 2021 322, 106876

How good is research at Imperial College London in Chemistry?

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

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