Undergraduate News

Department of Chemistry University of Oxford

Welcome to the news listings for the Chemistry Undergraduate students.

The purpose of these pages is to share information that may be of particular interest to Part II students.




Fully funded 4-year International Doctoral Program

The Initiative for interdisciplinary research in Biology, i-Bio, is launching its call for applications for its fully-funded 4-year international doctoral program, consisting in a 1-year pre-doctoral rotation followed by a 3-year PhD contract at Sorbonne University in Paris.

Four positions are opened starting on the 15th of October 2022, within host teams affiliated to the Paris-Seine Biology Institute (http://www.ibps.upmc.fr/en) or the Fer à Moulin institute (http://ifm-institute.fr/en/).

Further details HERE

The deadline for application is the 24th of March.


PhD Studentship – CASE competition

Does the oxidation of organic material on atmospheric mineral aerosol change the solar radiative forcing of mineral aerosol?
Supervisors: Prof. Martin King (RHUL), Prof. David Waltham (RHUL), Dr Andy Ward (CASE partner, Rutherford-Appleton Laboratory)

Project background
The atmosphere of the Earth is an oxidizing medium and effectively acts as a low temperature, dilute fuel, combustion system, oxidizing complex compounds and returning them to the surface of the Earth via cloud water and dry deposition. The chemical composition of particulate matter affects climate directly, by scattering and absorbing solar radiation, and indirectly, owing to its ability to act as cloud condensation nuclei, leading to a change in cloud formation rainfall patterns. Cloud processing of atmospheric particulate matter changes the optical properties of clouds.

Atmospheric mineral particulate matter contains organic films that affect the reactivity of the particles and their potential to act as cloud condensation nuclei. You will study the optical properties and kinetics of atmospheric oxidants reacting with organic films on mineral aerosol. The kinetics will give an atmospheric lifetime and the optical properties will enable calculation of the change in climatic radiative forcing. If the lifetime is less than ten days and more than 1 minute then it is climatically important.

Research methodology
You will be based at the enviable facilities of the Rutherford-Appleton laboratory (Oxfordshire) and undertake experiments at the central laser facility with supervisors currently working with RHUL students. You will extract organic material from atmospheric aerosol, place it on spheric mineral particles and subject it to atmospheric oxidation whilst held in a laser trap. Neutron reflection studies will determine the morphology and thickness of the organic material, allowing an assessment of its atmospheric lifetime. Laser tweezer studies will determine the refractive index of the material during oxidation allowing the estimation of a change in radiative forcing due to atmospheric oxidation.

You will train in advanced techniques to study a new interface between mineral matter and water. The Rutherford-Appleton Laboratory will allow you to interact with many world-leading scientists. You will be trained in laser spectroscopy, neutron reflection, chemical extraction, atmospheric sampling and atmospheric modelling achieving a PhD with modelling, field and laboratory components.

Person specification
andidates with degrees in Chemistry, Physics, Engineering or Earth Science are encouraged to apply.

Key references

Shepherd, R., King, M., Ward, A., Marks, A. & Brough, N., “Determination of the refractive index of insoluble organic extracts from atmospheric aerosol over the visible wavelength range using optical tweezers” 2018, Atmospheric Chemistry and Physics. 18, 8, p. 5235-5252

Jones, S.H., King, M.D., Ward, A.D., Rennie, A.R., Jones, A., Arnold, T.: “Are organic films from atmospheric aerosol and sea water inert to oxidation by ozone at the air-water interface?” Atmospheric. Environment, 161,274-287, 2017, doi: 10.1016/j.atmosenv.2017.04.025

S.H.Jones, M.D.King, and A.D. Ward, “Atmospherically relevant core-shell aerosol studied using optical trapping and Mie scattering”, Chemical Communications, 51, p. 4914-4917 doi: 10.1039/C4CC09835H

M.D. King, A.R. Rennie, K.C. Thompson, F.N. Fisher, C.C. Dong, R.K. Thomas, C.Pfrang and A.V. Hughes “Oxidation of oleic acid at the air–water interface and its potential effects on cloud critical supersaturations” Physical Chemistry Chemical Physics, 2009, 11, 7699–7707

M.D. King, A.R. Rennie, C. Pfrang, A.V. Hughes and K.C. Thompson “Interaction of nitrogen dioxide (NO2) with a monolayer of oleic acid at the air–water interface – A simple proxy for atmospheric aerosol”, Atmospheric Environment 2010, 44(14) 1822-1825. (doi:10.1016/j.atmosenv.2010.01.031)


Application details
This project has been shortlisted for funding by the ARIES NERC DTP and will start on 1st October 2022. The closing date for applications is 23:59 on 12th January 2022. Successful candidates who meet UKRI’s eligibility criteria will be awarded a NERC studentship, which covers fees, stipend (£15,609 p.a. for 2021-22) and research funding. International applicants (EU and non-EU) are be eligible for fully-funded UKRI studentships. Please note ARIES funding does not cover visa costs (including immigration health surcharge) or other additional costs associated with relocation to the UK. ARIES students benefit from bespoke graduate training and ARIES provides £2,500 to every student for access to external training, travel and conferences. Excellent applicants from quantitative disciplines with limited experience in environmental sciences may be considered for an additional 3-month stipend to take advanced-level courses in the subject area. ARIES is committed to equality, diversity, widening participation and inclusion in all areas of its operation. We encourage enquiries and applications from all sections of the community regardless of gender, ethnicity, disability, age, sexual orientation and transgender status. Academic qualifications are considered alongside non-academic experience, and our recruitment process considers potential with the same weighting as past experience.

Applications should be made via the Royal Holloway Direct website
Application deadline: 12th January 2022
Please contact m.king@rhul.ac.uk for further information.


CeMM - Research Center for Molecular Medicine of the Austrian Academy of Sciences

CeMM, the Research Center for Molecular Medicine of the Austrian Academy of Sciences in Vienna. International PhD Program in Molecular Technologies and Systems Medicine where we are offering 15 fully funded PhD positions.

We are highly interdisciplinary and looking for medics, biologists, chemists, bioinformaticians, computer scientists, engineers, physicists, mathematicians, and candidates with a degree in a similar subject to apply now.

The deadline for applications is 26th January 2022.

A pdf poster of the program can be found here and a pdf with full details of the opportunity here.
Interested students can apply quick and easy via our online recruitment tool: https://cemm.at/phd-program/application/

Matthew Spencer, PhD
PhD and Postdoc Program Manager


Department of Chemistry

Multiple PhD positions in Medicinal Radiochemistry and Imaging Science

The University of Zürich (UZH) is seeking applications from candidates for a PhD in Medicinal Radiochemistry and Imaging Science in the group of Prof. Dr. Jason P. Holland in the Department of Chemistry. www.hollandlab.org.

Project Background

Our research lies at the interface of chemistry, biochemistry, and translational molecular medicine. We design, synthesise, and test the properties of new drugs and imaging agents that have potential applications in diagnosis and therapy of cancers. These PhD studentships will focus on the development of light-induced reactions to make discrete, regio-specific protein-conjugates with controlled stoichiometry. The research is funded by the European Research Council and the UZH.

Responsibilities and Conditions

Several PhD studentships are available with starting dates throughout 2022/23. Successful candidates will conduct chemical synthesis, radiochemistry (with 68Ga, 89Zr, 64Cu, 18F, 99mTc, 111In, 177Lu, etc), spectroscopy, computational work, and biological studies in vitro and in vivo to develop new cancer specific probes. The work involves handling human cells, radioactive materials, and animals.

Duration of the PhD position: maximum 4 years, subject to successful evaluation at periodic meetings

Starting dates: Spring 2022 onwards

Deadline for applications: Continuous throughout 2022 until all positions are filled

Academic stipends are commensurate with normal UZH and Swiss National Science Foundation regulations.

Qualifications and Eligibility Criteria

Candidates must hold, or expect to complete, a Master’s (MChem, MSc or equivalent) degree in chemistry prior to matriculation at UZH. Successful candidates must be ambitious, creative, and highly motivated, with an excellent background in synthetic organic/inorganic chemistry. Candidates must have an outstanding academic record as evidenced by:

  • First class undergraduate/Bachelor’s and Master’s degrees (or equivalent qualifications) in chemistry
  • Experience in synthetic chemistry (master’s thesis)
  • Academic awards at university level
  • Excellent English language skills (written and oral). German is also advantageous.


Selection will be based solely on academic excellence and research potential. Short-listed applicants will be interviewed either in person or via video conference call. Applications should be provided as a single PDF file and must include a cover letter with a brief statement of motivation including past research experience/achievements (max. 2 pages), full CV (résumé), and the names and contact details of two referees. Please apply directly online at www.jobs.uzh.ch. Further details are available from Prof. Jason P. Holland, University of Zurich, Department of Chemistry (jason.holland@chem.uzh.ch).







Job Description: Report on a fair price on embedded carbon in plastics


  • Co-research and co-write sections of a report on the issues and opportunities of the plastics economy focusing on reducing the harms caused by fossil-plastic, and increasing alternatives. The report is for a corporate client and will be publicly available.
  • Applied research will include focus on the chemistry or economics of fossil plastic vs sustainable plastics economy
  • Work to be completed by June 2022
  • Approximately 15-20 days of work at competitive consultancy rates of £200/day


Seeking 3 x Research Assistants. In particular, we are looking for Masters or DPhil students who have previous experiences with one of the following:

  • Carbon pricing / taxes
  • R&D / Innovation
  • Chemistry of bio-derived and biodegradable polymers

Please contact Katherine Collett (katherine.collett@eng.ox.ac.uk) with a cover letter and CV/overview of experience if you are interested in one of these roles.

Deadline: 5pm Friday 26th November


Two Oxford Materials DPhil opportunities

The two DPhil Studentships available are for projects on new perovskite solar cell materials using state-of-the-art computational techniques in the group of Professor Saiful Islam.  Please click on the button below to find out more, and to feel free to contact Professor Islam if you would like to discuss the opportunities.  

Atomistic Computer Modelling of new solar cell Materials: two DPhil studentships - LINK