Chemistry Newsletter Archive

Our internal newsletter archive is given below.

Chemistry News 044– 30/07/14

Dear All,

After 5 years the time has come for me to write my final newsletter as Head of Department. Before telling you about the latest events in the Department, I’d like to thank everybody for the tremendous support they’ve given me over the last 5 years, and for making the Department such a stimulating and enjoyable environment in which to work. It’s been a busy 5 years but tremendous fun. As you know Mark Wilson will be taking over from 1st August. I wish him every success in the role and I know he’ll do a tremendous job. Mark will be moving into CG160B and I’ll be moving to CG109J.

I’d like to welcome Timothy Williamson to the Department. Tim is joining the technical team this week. Welcome also to Bryan Denton in electronics and Kate Ayres in finance – both were “pre-welcomed” in an earlier newsletter so this is the formal “post arrival” welcome!

Congratulations to Lian Hutchings on promotion to a chair from 1st October.

Congratulations to AnnMarie O’Donoghue for winning the RSC Physical Organic Chemistry Group’s Josef Loschmidt Award for her contributions to understanding proton transfer in organocatalysis and in biological reaction mechanisms. Read more about this and AnnMarie’s career to date at:

Congratulations to Karl Coleman who was awarded the University’s prize for Knowledge Transfer a few weeks ago. Regular readers of this newsletter won’t need reminding why Karl won the award. For those new to the Department see: and related stories.

Some of you will have seen this week’s breaking news from Glide Pharmaceutical Technologies (e.g. Glide have just announced that they’ve taken an exclusive world-wide licence to exploit the prostate cancer diagnosis technology developed by David Parker, Robert Pal and co-workers through their FScan spin-out company. You can read more about FScan at: and This is a great example of the impact of Durham Chemistry. Congratulations to all involved.

Congratulations to Michael Smith for winning the inaugural “Ken Wade PhD Thesis Prize” for his thesis “Application of new mass spectrometric Technologies for the Structural Characterisation of Synthetic Polymers”. Michael was supervised by Jackie Mosely. The award has been set up to commemorate the many contribution Ken Wade made to the Department. If people would like to contribute to the endowment in Ken’s memory please contact Kate Ayres.

Congratulations to everybody who won prizes at last month’s PG symposium: Jack Rowbotham, Mehrin Chowdury and Natalie Tatum for oral presentations and Gabriele Benzi, Emily Neil and James Wigzell for posters. I was personally delighted to see two prize winners from the “P&G team”! News and pictures are at:

Congratulations to Katie-Louise Finney (2nd year PhD in DP group) on being awarded 1st Prize (from 200 posters) at the RSC International Meeting on “Challenges in Inorganic and Materials Chemistry”, held in in Dublin on July 1- 4 2014. Katie is working on PARASHIFT probes for magnetic resonance, and beat off strong competition from others. Those who’ve been in the Department for a while might recognize our alumnus Neil Withers, who’s now an editor at Chemistry World, handing over the prize:

Congratulations to Mark Senn who was an undergraduate in Durham and did summer research internships with Judith Howard and Paul Hodgkinson before moving to Edinburgh to study for his PhD. Mark has recently been awarded a prestigious 1851 Research Fellowship which he’ll hold with Andrew Goodwin in Oxford.

Congratulations also to this year’s graduating students. We announced various chemistry prize winners during the Chemistry graduation party ( I was delighted that two of our students also won prizes awarded by the Natural Sciences examining board for outstanding achievement: Sarah Collins (Biology and Chemistry) and Timothy Wiles (Chemistry, Maths and Physics).

My thanks to everybody in the Department who has been involved in our many joint research projects with our strategic partner Procter and Gamble. Work from the Regional Development Fund “Cement” project has featured in several national publications in the last couple of months. The high quality results coming from this partnership have encouraged P&G’s central research directors to invest an additional £1m+ into Durham science (over and above other commitments) in the last couple of months.

Thanks to James Walton for organizing this year’s staff-student cricket match and particular thanks to all those who ensured that the staff team retained an unbeaten record during my period as Head of Department.

Last week was the official national opening of our new facilities in NMR, X-ray diffraction, Mass Spectrometry and Microscopy which were purchased under the EPSRC’s “core capability” initiative. We partnered with the other N8 chemistry departments to win this funding and held a launch event in Manchester on July 21st which featured lectures describing the state-of-the-art in each of the four techniques. There were news stories about the national launch events for these facilities in the Guardian and elsewhere:;

Bed time reading is an article that has just appeared in Physical Review Letters by Ivana Evans and Sam Ford ( The paper describes NMR spin-lattice and relaxometry measurements on 3,5 pyridine dicarboxylic acid, complemented by DFT-based calculations which clearly demonstrate low-temperature quantum tunnelling in this SSHB. These results raise the hitherto unexplored possibility of proton tunnelling enhancing SSHB-mediated processes such as enzyme catalysis.

Thanks one last time to everybody in the Department and beyond for their help and support over the last 5 years: those who have made the newsletters so easy to write through their stunning achievements and those who provide the environment that makes this possible. For people with historical interests he last 5 years’ of newsletters are available on our alumni wiki at:

With best wishes and good luck to Mark,


Chemistry News 043– 7/06/14

Dear All,

The first item in this month’s newsletter is to encourage everybody to attend this week’s “Durham Lectures”. If you’re new to the Department, this is our annual flagship lecture series where we invite one of the world’s leading chemists to spend a week in the Department and to give a series of three lectures. This year we’re delighted to have David Nesbitt from the University of Colorado in Boulder. David is interested in laser spectroscopy, dynamics, and kinetics of fundamental molecular, bio-molecular, and nanoparticle systems, studied at either the quantum state-to-state or single-molecule level. He is also very active in science outreach. David’s first lecture will be on Tuesday June 10th at 15.00 in CLC202 and is entitled “A Physical Chemist In Search of Simplicity: From the Interstellar Medium to Single-molecule RNA Folding”. Full details on the series are available from and there is more about David’s research at

Congratulations to this year’s M. Chem. class for all their research successes over the last 9 months. Academic staff were treated to a series of talks, poster presentations and oral examinations with the graduating class last week. We hope you enjoyed presenting your science to us as much as we enjoyed hearing about it. Congratulations in particular to Joanna Starkie, Callum Foden and Lucy Norton who were awarded poster prizes. Their posters will go on display for the next 12 months in CG193.

Congratulations to Robert Pal for winning a prestigious 5 year Royal Society University Research Fellowship, which he’ll take up in the Department from October 2014. Robert’s research project will be on “Development and Chemical Application of Phase Modulation Nanoscopy” (

Congratulations to Ivana Evans for winning one of the University’s “Excellence in Teaching and Learning Awards” this year. She won the award for her work on research led teaching and in implementing methods for providing effective feedback to students. Part of the award was around “The Feedback Sandwich: Junk Food or Healthy Food For Thought?” Those who’ve known Ivana as a colleague or mentor can perhaps guess the conclusion reached. Ivana’s award will be presented during this year’s chemistry graduation ceremony.

Chemistry graduation this year is on Wednesday 2nd July at 16.00 and Natural Science is on Thursday 3rd July at 9.00. Registration for staff wanting to process at congregation is via and must be complete by 15/6. We’ll be holding a reception for graduands and their families at 10.30 on the Wednesday morning in CG127.

Congratulations to Martin Bryce, Andy Monkman and Fernando Dias for winning £790k EPSRC funding for a project on “OLEDs without iridium. 100% efficient triplet harvesting by Thermally Activated Delayed Fluorescence”.

Congratualtions to Ehmke Pohl for winning funding under the Durham Senior Fellowship scheme that will bring Dr Christophe Verlinde to Durham for 3 months in early 2015. Dr Verlinde is from the University of Washington and his research interests are around structure-based drug design (

Congratulations to Jack Rowbotham for winning one of two poster prizes awarded by the RSC journal Chemical Sciences plus the award for the best overall poster at the RSC Dalton Division meeting in Warwick in April. Jack’s poster was entitled “Opening the Egg-box: Solution-state Studies of s-Block Metals with Seaweed Sugars”. Jack’s prize is to represent the UK at the forthcoming XVII Brazillian Meeting on Inorganic Chemistry (BMIC; in Araxa, Brazil, in August of this year. Jack is part way through the 3rd year of his PhD with Dr Phil Dyer and Dr Chris Greenwell (

Congratulations to Hannah Bolt, a first year PhD student working with Dr Steven Cobb and Dr Paul Denny, who has been awarded a grant from the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory ( and a Van Mildert College Postgraduate Award. The funding will allow Hannah to spend time in the group of Professor Ron Zuckermann at the internationally renowned Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (Berkley, California). Hannah’s research is focused on developing peptoids, a class of peptide mimetics, as a new type of agent for treatment of the neglected tropical disease Leishmaniasis.

Congratulations to Mehrin Chowdury who was awarded a prize for her oral presentation on “The study of fat emulsification using electrochemical and crystallisation methods” at the 2014 Post Graduate Research Topics Meeting in Electroanalysis and Sensing at Birkbeck.

There have been lots of developments over recent months around research equipment sharing. Durham now has a full database of equipment that’s available in the University. Details are available from - thanks to Alan Kenwright for leading on this for Chemistry. You may also remember that the Department won around £1.6M of funding last year for new research equipment as part of a coordinated bid to EPSRC from the N8 research-intensive chemistry departments. There will be a symposium to officially “open” the facilities provided across the N8 in Manchester on July 21st, which will feature talks on the chemistry around the infrastructure supported. Please email Anne Carrahar if you’re interested in attending this event. N8’s online equipment database is at

This month there is both recommended bedtime reading and viewing from Jas Pal Badyal’s group. Their article in the ACS journal Applied Materials and Interfaces on new materials for oil-spill clean-up has been highlighted as a “hot topic” ( You can see a youtube video of the chemistry being used to separate oil/water mixtures at:

For those with a biological bent, the cover article on a recent issue of Molecular Microbiology (founded by Prof Chris Higgins) features work from Nigel Robinson’s group ( The sharp-eyed amongst you should be able to spot the Palatine building in the background of the photo (

As always, please let me know of any stories I’ve missed.

Best wishes,


Chemistry News 042 – 12/04/14

Dear All,

Pre-Easter news from Chemistry.

Elizabeth Wood will be retiring this week after 47 years in the Department. We’re going to miss her, and the innumerable contributions she’s made to the Department, enormously. Please do come along to the Musgrave room at 12.00 on Thursday 17th to wish Elizabeth a happy and well-earned retirement.

As you know Ken Wade passed away unexpectedly last month. His family have asked that I pass on their thanks for the many messages they received from Ken’s friends and colleagues in the Department. We’ve put several articles celebrating Ken’s life and scientific achievements on our history wiki site at: A more formal obituary will appear there soon. Martyn Poliakoff from Nottingham (Ken’s alma mater) has posted a nice you tube video on Ken’s work and undergraduate/postgraduate days. It’s at:

It’s only a month since the last newsletter, but there are many staff and student successes to report:

Firstly, congratulations to Andy Hughes and the rest of the teaching team on successful reaccreditation of our degree programmes by the Royal Society of Chemistry. The RSC have extended accreditation to include the Chemistry+Physics programme and have indicated that they would also like to accredit Chemistry+Maths. This will mean that all our major named degree routes will now be accredited. We received very strong feedback from the RSC team who visited, so my thanks to everybody involved.

Congratulations to David Parker who has been named an EPSRC “Recognising Inspirational Scientists and Engineers” (RISE) Fellow (

Congratulations to Paul Hofmann who has just been awarded his Certificate of Higher Education with Merit for Facility Management. As you know Paul will be the lead contact in the Department for building-related issues from this week onwards.

It’s belated, and not “pure” chemistry, but we should congratulate our embedded friend Nigel Robinson on winning the “Metals in Biology” NIBB at the end of last year. This is one of 13 BBSRC-funded collaborative Networks in Industrial Biotechnology and Bioenergy (NIBBs) aimed at boosting interactions between the academic research base and industry, and at promoting the translation of research into benefits for the UK. The MiB-NIBB website is at:

Congratulations to Matt Tate who was awarded the RSC-sponsored “Solid State Chemistry Poster Prize” at last week’s British Crystallographic Association conference. Matt was a Durham M. Chem. student and is currently in the first year of his PhD working on oxide ion conductors for energy-related applications with Dr Ivana Evans. Matt’s poster was on the structure and properties of Nb-doped bismuth oxides (

Congratulations to Anne Krol’s whose poster “Penetration of Gold Nanoparticles into Bilayer and Monolayer Modified Electrodes” won a prize at the Chemical Nanoscience Symposium in Newcastle University earlier this month.

Jack Rowbotham (PhD student with Phil Dyer and Chris Greenwell) has just returned to Durham following his 3-month RSC Westminster Fellowship, during which he worked for the Parliamentary Office of Science and Technology (POST), spending his time advising the Energy and Climate Change Select Committee. There’s more information about this scheme and Jack’s experiences in this month’s RSC News (

Thanks to everybody who helped with this year’s science festival: Anna Prentis, Jas Sanghera, Beth Kazmierski, Laura Bingham, Melissa Goodwin, Kieran Atter, Oliver Burnham, Andrew Hones and Robert Pal. The feedback from the students attending was extremely positive. More information at: and

At the start of April Durham Chemistry welcomed 70 delegates to the 2014 Powder Diffraction and Rietveld Refinement School. The PhD+ level training school was organised by Ivana and John Evans and students came from 20 different countries, including participants from as far afield as Brazil, China and an ursine representative from Australia ( This week Mark Wilson is organising the British Liquid Crystal Society meeting with around 85 delegates coming to Durham. Full details of the meeting are at: and timetables/abstracts at

Many of you will know that the Department is about to submit its application for Athena Swan accreditation, which recognises the commitment of Departments to supporting the careers of female scientists. You might be interested in trying the “Project Implicit” online test which tries to determine whether you make unconscious links between women and arts subjects and men and science. You may find the results surprising! Go to and on the second screen select “Gender Science IAT”; it takes around 10-15 minutes to complete.

You’ll have seen several chemistry grant successes in the VC’s recent newsletters. Four that I’ve not highlighted in the Chemistry newsletters before are: Ian Baxendale: £91K from EPSRC for “Extraction and delivery procedures using phase transfer strategies”; Lian Hutchings: £45K from Synthomer for “Project Nextone” and Lian/Richard Thompson £115K from Michelin for “Temperature gradient interaction chromatography of complex mixtures of model polymers”; and Jon Steed who helped win the £1.7m interdisciplinary Leverhulme “Knots” project. Richard has also recently won ~£90k of funding from Michelin for a project on “Rheology of Complex Polymer and their Mixtures”.

Congratulations also to Steven Cobb, Chris Coxon and Graham Sandford for a £66k award for “Development of Protein Technology Platforms” under the EPSRC Impact Acceleration Account (IAA), Follow on Technology Conditioning Programme (FTCP). The project builds from earlier EPSRC funded work and aims to commercialise some of their research findings.

A couple of diary reminders: Bob Grubbs (whose awards include the “Inaugural Durham Lectureship” in 2006 and the 2005 Nobel Prize for Chemistry) will be in Durham on May 16th. Full details of the half day symposium and registration is at: This year’s Durham Lectures will be given by David Nesbitt ( on the 10-12th June.

Bedtime reading this month is a Dalton Transaction from David Parker’s group on emissive chiral probes. I think it’s the first paper this year to include one of our 4th year M. Chem. students (correct me if I’m wrong!). The paper is at:!divAbstract.

Best wishes,


Chemistry News 041 – 8/3/14

Dear All,

As always I’ve left it too long since the last newsletter so stories have backed up a little! The latest news from the Chemistry Department:

Firstly I’d like to welcome Julie McCloughlin to the Department. Julie started with us last week as the administrator on the Soft Matter CDT ( and on the MICSED European Doctorate Training Network with P&G ( Julie will be based in cg160b with Anne and Irene for the time being.

We’ll also have a couple of other new starters over the coming weeks: Bryan Denton will be joining the technical team as electronics workshop superintendent and Kate Ayres will be taking over (some of!) Elizabeth’s roles as our new Finance Administrator. Kate did her first degree in music, has CIMA accountancy qualifications, has worked as a financial administrator in the Jenner Institute and Nuffield Department of Clinical Medicine in Oxford, and most recently has worked in Durham’s research office.

There are several good news stories on the funding front. Congratulations to:

David Parker and Robert Pal for a ~£360,000 grant entitled “EuroTracker Dyes: Synthesis and Application in Functional Cell Imaging”. The aim of the project is develop bright europium complexes that serve as stains and responsive probes of particular organelles within living cells, aiming to add these systems to the panel of optical probes available. The project is motivated by recent work examining optical probe performance coupled with advances in instrumentation for time-resolved microscopy and spectral imaging. You can read about some of the underpinning science in the “in press” Chem. Sci. Edge Article at

Paul Hodgkinson and co-investigators (Judith Howard and Jason Cole from the Cambridge Crystallographic Data Centre) for a similar level of EPSRC funding for a project “Realising the combined potential of solid-state NMR and structural databases”. The research aims to develop NMR-based metrics for the validation of crystal structures and brings together expertise in solid-state NMR, crystallography and the CSD for the first time, helping to cement Durham Chemistry's reputation in the developing area of “NMR crystallography”.

Ivana Evans for a £97,000 grant to support a joint PhD studentship with the Institute Laue Langevin in Grenoble, France. The project will continue successful recent work combining experiment and modeling to produce new oxide ion conductors with potential application in intermediate temperature fuel cells and sensors.

Branton Campbell from Brigham Young University, Utah ( who has won a prestigious Fulbright Scholarship to spend a sabbatical year with us in 2014/5. Branton is a member of the Physics Department at BYU and a world-leader in solid state symmetry, group theory and their application to understanding and exploiting functional materials. He’s author of the widely-used isodisplace software. Branton will be spending a year working with my group on areas of common interest.

Congratulations to Aaron Brown who recently passed his British Society of Scientific Glassblowers examinations with excellent marks.

Several PhD successes at recent conferences:

Congratulations to Esma Okur, who is doing a PhD with Kosmas Prassides, who was awarded top prize for her poster presentation at the recent International School and Symposium on Molecular Materials (ISSMM2013) ( held in Tokyo late last year.

Congratulations to Caitlin Langford (PhD with Neil Cameron), who won 2nd poster prize at the RSC Biomaterials Conference at the University of Manchester, in January.

Congratulations to Jenny Norcliffe on her poster award at the RSC BMCS Biological and Medicinal Chemistry Postgraduate Symposium held at Cambridge University last December. This symposium was designed to showcase the very best postgraduate research in the field of biological chemistry and medicinal chemistry (

Congratulations to several students who have won BP Women in Science awards: Caitlin Crombie, Bryony Hockin, Galina Badalova and Ivalina Minova; and to Jennifer Stansby who has won a BP STEM+ award.

The next British Science Festival will be held in Birmingham this September. If people would like to contribute there are still a few days until the application deadline (14th March). More information at:

As always, bedtime reading to finish. First item is a review article by Judith Howard and Mike Probert which is in this week’s Science (and featured on the front cover) as part of the special issue celebrating 100 years of crystallography. You can find links from the University’s home page at

The second item is an article by our PVC Research on interactions between academia and industry on “The Conversation”: “The Conversation” site hosts a collection of short articles written by academics on topical subjects.

Finally, to bring a smile to the faces of the many who will remember him fondly, Chris Brown has just had a Chem. Commun. published based on the work he did with Holger Braunschweig during his 4th year M. Chem. research project in Wurzburg a couple of years ago: Chris’ unique insights into 4th year placements in Germany, including Lederhosen advice, are available on duo to help future generations of students (

With best wishes,


Chemistry News 040 – 2/11/13

Dear All,

I hope people will forgive me for the delay since the last Chemistry Newsletter. We’ve had some wonderful news on the funding front recently and I’ve been waiting for the “embargo” to be lifted.

Firstly, congratulations to Lian Hutchings, Tom McLeish and others in the Durham Centre for Soft Matter ( for winning a major grant from the EPSRC to fund a Doctoral Training Centre. The Soft Matter and Functional Interfaces (SOFI) CDT is a Durham lead venture with Leeds and Edinburgh Universities and numerous industrial partners. The grant will fund 5 cohorts of 16 PhD students per year and t has a total value of around £10 million combining EPSRC, University and Industrial contributions. This is the first EPSRC CDT that Durham has lead, and is something we have been lobbying to host for several years. An enormous thank you to Lian for the huge amount of work he put in last spring/summer to pull this together. For the record, SOFI’s industrial partners include Mondelez, Croda, Ashland, DuPont Teijin Films, Infineum, Innovia, Lucite, Mars, Michelin, PA Consulting, P&G, Schlumberger, Technical Fibre Products, Unilever, Synthomer, AkzoNobel, CPI, Epigem and GSK.

We’ve been cruelly knocked into second place in this newsletter, but congratulations to me and others (David Hodgson, AnnMarie O’Donoghue, Andy Beeby Sandra Engelskirchen, Sharon Cooper, Richard Thompson, Mark Wilson, Patrick Steel, Tom McLeish and Buddho Chakrabati) for winning a £1.5 million EU FP7 doctoral training (ITN) grant with P&G. The MICSED (Molecular Interactions in Complex Systems European Doctorate) programme will underpin the next round of collaborative research projects with our strategic partner P&G. We’ll be working with P&G Innovation Centres in the UK, Germany, Brussels and Italy and the students will start in October 2014.

Congratulations to David Parker for winning £500k EPSRC funding for a joint program with Newcastle University entitled “Moving the goal posts: PARASHIFT proton magnetic resonance imaging”. Chemistry World have just published an article on the background to the work:

Congratulations to Kosmas Prassides and Dr Gyongyi Klupp (Institute for Solid State Physics and Optics, Budapest, Hungary) for winning a 2-year Newton International Fellowship which will bring Dr Klupp to Durham to work on a project entitled “Towards a new generation of molecular superconductors at unprecedented high Tc”.

Many of you will have read in the national press that Karl Coleman’s Durham Graphene Science spin-out has just floated on the stock market as “Applied Graphene Materials”. There have been stories in the Financial Times, the Times, the Guardian, the Daily Express (“Miracle Material Makers Serve up a Hit”), the Northern Echo, the Yorkshire Post and even the Sun. The flotation was two times oversubscribed, raised £11m and the first day share price rise from 155 to 216p valued the company at £36 million. The Sun and the Express surprisingly went with photographs of Maria Sharipova to highlight the story, while the Northern Echo more wisely chose a picture of Karl. More from:,, and

Congratulations to Bnar Ahmed who recently won first prize for her poster presentation at the annual RSC Protein and Peptide Science Group Early Stage Researchers meeting. The meeting was held in Durham and attended by over 50 peptide chemists and biochemists from all over the UK:

Congratulations to Peter and Emma Stokes who have a new addition to their family. Charlotte Jean Stokes was born on Saturday 26th October weighing in at a healthy 10 lb 6 oz.

Some of you may remember Rob Short either from his period studying for a BSC then PhD in the Department (1981 to 1987), or from when he returned last year to give a particularly gory research seminar. Rob was appointed as Pro Vice Chancellor at the University of Southern Australia earlier this year and has just been elected as a Fellow of the Australian Academy of Technological Sciences and Engineering (ATSE):

Thanks again to everybody from Chemistry who took part in this year’s Celebrate Science festival ( Over 6500 people attended the event over three days and I’ve heard a number of extremely positive comments about the chemistry contributions.

The Department’s submission for REF2014 went in this week. We owe thanks to Graham Sandford for leading the process in Chemistry, to our internal REF steering group (David Parker, Mark Wilson and Colin Bain) and to all staff who contributed to outputs, environment and impact cases. We’ve also received significant help, advice and input from Dave Petley, Val Woof, Tom McLeish, Elaine Grieveson, Wendy Harle and Bob Holdsworth.

I’m delighted to announce that the University has just approved a programme for dual-award PhDs with the University of Western Australia in Perth. This is one mechanism for research collaborations with one of Durham’s Matariki partners (Matariki network of research intensive universities: and, of course, with our former colleague Paul Low who now holds a Winthrop Professorship at UWA.

An advanced warning for your diaries: the Durham Lectures for 2014 will be given by Professor David J. Nesbitt of JILA, University of Colorado, Boulder: and will be held from 9-13 June 2014.

There are several articles to recommend for this month’s bedtime reading:

The first is a paper by Daniel Horke and Jan Verlet in collaboration with the Universitat de Girona entitled “Ultrafast above-threshold dynamics of the radical anion of a prototypical quinone electron-acceptor” which has just appeared in Nature Chemistry:

The second is a highly interdisciplinary study on oligoyne molecules synthesised by Murat Gulcur in Martin Bryce's group which prove to be outstanding “molecular wires”. Scanning tunneling microscopy and break junction measurements on the materials were performed by collaborators at the University of Bern and DFT-based calculations at the University of Lancaster. The work was funded by the EU FP7 ITN “FUNMOLS” coordinated by Martin. Read the article at There’s also a follow up article containing more of the chemistry in Chemistry of Materials at:



Chemistry News 039 – 8/10/13

Dear All,

As this is the first newsletter of the new academic year I’d like to start by welcoming all the new M. Chem., Masters and PhD students to the Department, along with new visitors, PDRAs and staff.

Welcome also to:

Margarita Stoykava who has just joined Durham as one of the strategic appointments in the area of Soft Matter. Margarita was most recently at Princeton, works in the area of lipid membranes, and has a 70:30 joint appointment between Physics and Chemistry (

Prof Robert Meszaros from the Eotvos Lorand University in Budapest who is joining the Department this term as a COFUND Policy & Enterprise Fellow. He will be working with Colin Bain on strongly interacting polymer-surfactant systems.

Kerry Strong who has joined the Department as one of the new Science Faculty apprentices.

I typically circulate “Chemistry News” every 4–6 weeks to update people with the latest information from the Department. If there are stories people would like to share please do send them to me. If new starters are keen to catch up on the last 38 newsletters (!), they are on the Department’s History and Alumni wiki site at: The wiki site also contains a growing history of the Department, including superb summaries of developments under recent Heads of Department that Euan Ross has written for us ( – thank you Euan!

Congratulations are due to several people:

Congratulations to Bethany Harriss who was awarded the national Science, Engineering and Technology (SET) award for the best chemistry student in the country at an awards ceremony in London on 26th September. The award was based on her 4th year research project with Ivana Evans. There’s more detail and photos at: and It’s great to see our students’ achievements being recognised on the national stage.

Congratulations to Aaron Brown who has just been awarded the British Society of Scientific Glassblowers Hampshire Trophy. This award is given to the top glassblower in the in the first 7 years of their career and Aaron won for his entries of a McCleod gauge and a multi-surface coiled condenser. It’s only 4 years since Aaron joined the Department so it’s a great recognition for him and Malcolm in the glassblowing workshop. In case you’ve never seen a glassblower smile, there’s an (almost) smiling Aaron at:

Paul Brooks a final year PhD student with Lian Hutchings was recently awarded one of two prizes for best oral presentation in the “Rising Stars” session of the International Symposium on Ionic Polymerisation held on Awaji Island, near Osaka, Japan. The title of Paul’s presentation was “Controlling monomer sequences in living anionic polymerisation”.

Joe Ridout won the CCDC European Crystallographic Association Poster Prize for his work entitled “Kinetic Control of High-Pressure Crystallisation: Rates of Compression” at this August’s ECM conference. Joe is supervised by Ehmke Pohl and Judith Howard with Sally Price and Louise Price at UCL as computational collaborators.

Congratulations to Krishna K Damodaran who has been offered an Assistant Professorship at the University of Iceland and will be leaving Durham at the end of November. Krishna has been working as a PDRA with Jon Steed. We wish him every success in this new position.

Jack Rowbotham a PhD student with the Dyer and Greenwell groups in Chemistry has been awarded a Royal Society of Chemistry Westminster Fellowship. He will work for three months in the Parliamentary Office of Science and Technology (POST) with the responsibility of keeping members of both houses of parliament informed on matters of current scientific importance.

Alexander Boddy (M. Chem. year 2), Florence Gregson (year 4) and Jonathan Warby (year 3) have each been awarded one of the prestigious Vice-Chancellor’s Scholarships for Academic Excellence – these are the highest undergraduate awards in the University.

We also have more good news in the regular “cooking chemists” category. Some of you will have heard the VC mention Durham alumni’s expertise in chocolate puddings and wine importation. We can add tea cakes and cheese to that list. Casey Lam’s “Top Hat Teacakes” business has won yet more awards. This time it was the top prize at the region’s Blueprint Awards and the Garbeau prize for Creativity ( and Matt Feroze who graduated a few years ago after an M. Chem. project with Paul Low has won the title of “France’s most talented Cheesemonger” by winning the “Concours National des Fromagers at the Salon Mondiale de Restauration et Hôtellerie”. More at: Matt has a book “The Cheese and I” coming out in September.

You may have seen that Durham Chemistry has just overtaken Oxford in the Good University Guide for the first time ( As our Director of Education has pointed out, Cambridge don’t offer a chemistry degree via UCAS so we can claim to be top of the table! Everybody across the Department has put in huge efforts to achieve this.

The Durham Book Festival runs throughout October ( Science related events include: Wednesday 9 October in Durham Castle where our very own (or half our very own) Professor Tom McLeish, Professor Patricia Waugh (English Studies), Ken McLeod (science-fiction writer) and Dr Andrew Crumey (novelist and physicist) will be debating: “Is great science great science fiction? Science is full of the weird and wonderful, but do scientists create the facts or do they discover them?”. Fellows from the Institute of Advanced Study at Durham University – Dr Robert Fosbury, Professor Glen Brock and Professor Tom Moles – will be at Durham Town Hall on the morning of Sunday 13th October talking about Light. Light is the theme for the IAS during 2013-14 and encompasses both the emotive, theological and literary symbolism of light and the central role it plays in the physics of the universe.

To close, the normal recommended bed time reading: this week it’s an article by Beccy Edwards and Karl Coleman which is one of the top 10 most accessed papers in the ACS journal “Accounts of Chemical Research” for the second quarter of 2013 and discusses research on the growth of graphene films. It’s at:

Best wishes, and please do send through any stories/news that you think would interest others.


Chemistry News 038 – 10/8/13

Dear All,

Mid-summer news from Chemistry:

There are various new people to welcome to the Department. Peter Chivers joined Biology last month as a Senior Lecturer, but has his office and research labs in Chemistry. Peter came to Durham from Oberlin College Ohio and, as those of you who know your pentafluorophenyl tin chemistry will realise, he’s returning to his scientific roots ( It’s good to bring him home!

Welcome also to: Emily Unsworth who has joined us in a joint analytical role between Chemistry and Earth Sciences (we plan to reopen elemental analysis next month); Annette Passmoor who joins the lab attendant team; and Sophie Dobby who joins us on Tuesday this week as an apprentice secretary.

We’re also saying goodbye to several people who have made enormous contributions to the Department over the next few weeks. As you’ll all know Paul Low leaves us for UWA Perth at the end of the month and Jean Parnaby retires on 23rd August. We’ll miss them both.

As many of you know, we have two new lectureship appointments. Corinna Hess’s position has been made permanent and James Walton, a Durham alumnus, will be joining us in January 2014.

There are also several “friends of chemistry” elsewhere in the University who are moving on to new challenges. Andrew Deeks will be standing down as PVC Science from January 2014 to take up a new position as president of University College Dublin ( – congratulations to him on the promotion! Andrew has given the Department and me great support over the last four years.

Dajana Dzanovic from the Research Office is also moving west, to take up a post at Queen’s University Belfast. Helen Symcox, our HR liaison, is moving positions internally to work with the professional services division. Dajana and Helen have both have a huge impact on the Department in recent years – thanks to both of them for their work on our behalf.

The National Student Survey (NSS) results have just been published. Our scores in all categories have increased this year and the “overall satisfaction” score has risen from 89 to 94%. We had more students responding to the NSS than any other Chemistry Department in the country. 97% of the students found the course intellectually stimulating and 95% said that teaching and support staff were accessible and that the learning resources they had were good. Thanks to everybody for the hard work that’s gone into achieving this.

Congratulations to our student body for coming runners up in this year’s staff-student cricket match on 31st July. The staff team met their target of 69 runs to win in 12 overs with the loss of just one wicket (I won’t mention Lenny’s name). Thanks to Ffion Abraham and her barbecue team for organising the day, which was Paul Low’s last competitive match for the Department. I won’t mention fielding mishaps to save Paul’s Australian cricketing pride.

Congratulations to Paul Brooks for winning a £250 prize at the UK Macro Group (polymer chemistry interest group of the RSC and the SCI) young researchers meeting for his talk entitled “Monomer Sequence Control in Anionic Copolymerisation”.

For poster prizes: congratulations to Anne Krol who was awarded prize for a poster based on her fourth year project on “Penetration of Gold Nanoparticles into Bilayer and Monolayer Modified Electrodes” at the recent Faraday Discussion “Electroanalysis at the Nanoscale” in Durham; and Samantha Eaves who won a poster prize at the recent Universities of Scotland Inorganic Conference (USIC).

Congratulations to Casey Lam whose Top Hat Teacakes business won the Journal’s “If we can you can” business competition last week. There’s a great interview with Casey and her Kenwood Chef in last Thursday’s journal:

Congratulations to Chris Greenwell who was awarded the Max Hey medal of the Mineralogical Society which is given “'to recognize existing and ongoing research of excellence carried out by young workers, within the fields of either Mineralogy, Crystallography, Petrology or Geochemistry” for individuals within 15 years of the award of their first degree:

Congratulations to Oliver Burnham and Alex Richards for great performances in last week’s University Challenge. It was good to hear them respond correctly to physical chemistry questions on relative humidity (even if Paxman wrongly said their answer was incorrect) and dew point. The team were narrowly beaten, but have a chance of returning in the next round for their high score.

Three students doing significant amounts of chemistry won Natural Science prizes last year: Katherine Rumble, Bethany Orrell and Jack Panter were awarded the 4th year MSci, 3rd year BSc and the Michael Weston (Grey College 2nd Year) awards respectively.

Congratulations to Paul on the birth of Zachary Anthony White and Ashleigh on the birth of Charlie James Thompson.

On the funding front:

Congratulations to Jon Steed for the award of PhD funding from Ashland for a project on “Mode of Action of Lactam Oligomers as Kinetic Hydrate Inhibitors”.

Various EU funding awards have also now been finalized. Congratulations again to Graham Sandford and Steven Cobb for coordinating a €3.3 m EU ITN Network (approx. €750k to Durham) with 6 academic (Prague, Berlin, St Andrews, Dublin, Munster, Neuchatel) and 4 industrial partners (AstraZeneca, Bruker, Almac, F2 Chemicals) entitled “FLUOR21 : Synthesis, structure and function of fluorinated systems”. Congratulations to Martin Bryce on leading the €4 m MOLESCO project (approx. €1m to Durham). The MOLESCO network will develop a pool of young researchers capable of achieving breakthroughs aimed at realising the immense potential of molecular electronics. In part this will involve the major challenges of design and fabrication of molecular-scale devices.

Thanks to Andy Beeby, Lars Palson Ritu Kataky and Andy Hughes for representing the Department at recent “Meet the Universities” events.

To finish with the traditional bedtime reading I can recommend an excellent paper just accepted in JACS. It includes Durham M. Chem. students' research which has produced the first material whose the isotropic thermal expansion could be systematically tuned from expanding as much as normal materials, to contracting as much as normal materials expand. Importantly it was possible to produce zero expansion composition whose size and shape remains unchanged over an ~600 K temperature range. The paper’s at:

You might also be interested in work by Neil Sim, Robert Pal, David Parker, Anurag Mishra and German collaborators who have synthesised a series of novel MRI contrast agents that can pinpoint N-methyl-D-aspartate (NMDA) receptors in vitro, effectively mapping the location of these receptors in real time. The glutamate receptor NMDA plays a key role in memory, learning and neurotransmission. misregulation and overstimulation of NMDA receptors has been associated with Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s diseases. The work is highlighted at and Neil’s boffin-like qualities (!) are described in the Shields Gazette at



Chemistry News 037 – 22/6/13

Dear All,

Firstly, some information about events in the Department this week. Wednesday is graduation day. The Natural Science congregation is at 9.00 am, followed by Chemistry graduation is at 16.00. There will be a reception for the families of our graduating classes in the Department at 10.30. Professor David Phillips, former RSC president, will be awarded an honorary degree during the afternoon graduation ceremony. More information about David can be found at David will be coming to the Department on Thursday morning for a coffee/cakes reception in the Musgrave room from ~10.30. All are welcome!

There are many people to congratulate this month:

Congratulations to Sarah Armitage (M. Chem. graduand), Sophie Scott and Beth Orrell (both BSc graduands) who did a superb job representing the Department at last week’s Rising Stars symposium ( Sophie’s poster on “The Graphene Dream” won the prize for best overall poster in the Science Faculty.

Congratulations to Antal Harsanyi, Oliver Maguire and Andrea Perrin who have been awarded postgraduate demonstrator prizes for the support they have given undergraduate students in the teaching laboratories. Many thanks also to all of the rest of the superb demonstrating team.

Congratulations to Mark Wilson for being awarded the Durham Student Union “Science Lecturer of the Year Award” for exceptional teaching. The award is made for intellectually stimulating teaching that motivates and inspires students’ learning.

Congratulations to Martin Dracinsky, a Marie-Curie Fellow working with Paul Hodgkinson, on winning a Wichterle Prize, which is awarded to young Czech researchers across science and humanities:(

For a great example of Durham undergraduate research take a look at this month’s American Chemical Society journal “Chemistry of Materials”: The front cover of the journal features an article co-authored by Jim (aka Kim!!) Madge on structure and oxide ion dynamics in the solid electrolyte Bi26Mo10O69. The cover illustrates the information that comes from DFT-MD calculations Jim performed during a summer project last year jointly with Ivana Evans in Durham and Mark Johnson at the ILL in Grenoble. Jim is part of this week’s M. Chem. graduating class and is staying in Durham next year to start a PhD with Mark Miller. You can read the article at:

Congratulations to Andy Beeby and Jacquie Robson on winning Student Experience awards. Andy’s award will be to develop a new “open ended” third year physical practical. Students will be encouraged to come up with a hypothesis to explain an unusual phenomenon and will use equipment in the teaching lab to test their hypothesis. They will be given equal credit for either proving a right hypothesis or disproving a wrong one, helping develop critical research skills. Jacquie’s project is called “Closing the feedback loop: using screencasts as a vehicle to provide fast feedback and feedforward” and will produce a series of video screencasts to accompany the first year chemistry laboratory course. These will increase the range of feedback and feedforward opportunities that can be accessed by students during their lab work.

As you know, the Lindisfarne Gospels are returning home this summer ( Linked to this, Andy Beeby and team (principally Kate Nicholson and Andy Duckworth from Chemistry) have been undertaking some fascinating Raman and diffuse reflectance experiments on Durham’s ancient manuscript collection aiming to understand the different pigments used in their preparation. There’s a wonderful blog of their findings to date at: - including Andy Jnr in an appropriate ecclesiastical outfit. The work is being sponsored by Rob and Felicity Shepherd – Rob is a Durham Chemistry alumnus and was here from 1962 to 1965 (

Several recent funding successes – congratulations to:

Steven Cobb and Ehmke Pohl who have won funding as part of the EU ITN network POSAT (Prolong Organ Survival After Transplantation).

Lian Hutchings and Richard Thompson who have secured follow-on funding from Michelin to support a PDRA and PhD in their groups.

Ian Baxendale for studentship support from International Fragrances and Flavors.

Ehmke Pohl for winning support from the British Society for Antimicrobial Chemistry for a project entitled “Targeting the hemolytic phospholipase PIcHR from Pseudomonas aeruginosa as a novel drug target”.

Thanks to everybody who has helped support our overseas visiting students and Erasmus scholars this year. There are interviews with Hoi Yee Chow (who spent her 2nd year here on exchange from the University of Hong Kong), Julia Galvez Bulhoes Pedreira (from the University of Brasilia who spent her 3rd year with us through the Science without Borders programme) and Benjamin Laroche (from CPE Lyon who was in our 4th year and did his research project in Andy Whiting’s group) at ,, and We wish all of this year’s exchange scholars the very best in the continuation of their studies.

Finally, I’ll finish with a fond farewell to our graduating classes. The Department wishes you well in your future endeavours and looks forward to welcoming some of you back as PhD students in October.

Best wishes,


Chemistry News 036 - 13/05/13

Dear All,

The first two items in this newsletter are to remind people of major events coming up in the Department over the next fortnight.

This week we welcome Prof Peter Seeberger to the Department to give the 2013 “Durham Lectures”. Prof Seeberger is world leading in many areas of carbohydrate chemistry and chemical glycomics. One major contribution from his group is the development of methods for the automatic synthesis of oligosaccharides. These have enabled chemists and biologists to focus on the biological role these molecules can play in vaccines and treatments for diseases such as malaria, TB, leishmaniasis and cancer, and in developing sensors for bacteria. His lectures will be on “Carbohydrate Vaccines and Flow Synthesis”, “Automated Oligosaccharide Synthesis” and “Carbohydrate Based Nanotechnology”. More details are at The lectures will be at 16.00 on Tuesday (D110), Wednesday (CG85) and Thursday (CG85). The first lecture will provide an introduction to the area for non-specialists and set the scene for later talks. I look forward to seeing everybody at the lectures.

Next week (Wednesday 22nd May) we are hosting an RSC award symposium on supramolecular chemistry. Talks start at 14.00 and speakers include Jerry Atwood (Missouri), Andrew Houlton (Newcastle), Krishna Damodaran (Durham) and Tuomas Knowles (Cambridge). Support staff in the Department are going on an “away day” that afternoon, so the majority of services will be closed from 12.00.

Congratulations to David Hodgson who has been promoted to a Senior Lectureship from October 2013.

Congratulations to Jacquie Robson who has been awarded a Durham University “Excellence in Learning and Teaching” award for her work in the department. Jacquie has developed a number of new activities and experiments for the first year laboratory course as part of the RELITE project, and she recently worked with the team that devised new induction processes for first year students. Many of the first year initiatives are being combined with the best features at levels 2 and 3 as we “relite” labs for second and third years.

It’s not quite chemistry, but the Department has had yet another success in the University’s Blueprint Innovation Awards (previous winners were F-scan, Durham Graphene Science and Brock Fine Chemicals). Congratulations to Casey Lam whose new business “Top Hat Teacakes” won first prize this year ( Casey now goes on to compete in regional and national competitions. I hear the VC has been sent a sample of the products, though sadly none have yet reached the Chemistry HoD’s office! Perhaps we’ll get to try some in the Musgrave room at some point soon? Casey’s website is and she’ll be selling products at Durham’s youth market on May 19th.

Congratulations to Nick Evans from David Parker’s group who has recently accepted a lectureship at Lancaster Chemistry. Nick will be joining two other Durham alumni as Lancaster relaunch their chemistry degree programme: Michael Peach and Mike Coogan.

Congratulations to Lars Palsson, Andy Beeby and Robert Pal on the award of a £70K grant from the Royal Society Paul Instrument fund. The funding will allow them to build a spectrometer for time-resolved circularly polarised emission. The instrument will be able to study a range of areas in which chiral interactions are important ranging from biological systems to liquid crystal lasers and active displays.

As hinted in the last newsletter, various people in the Department have been asked to enter negotiations with the EU on three major grants we’re coordinating. I’ll hold off announcing details until everything is finalized.

Congratulations to Richard Thompson on the award of an Industrial Case studentship from P&G and to Patrick Steel, Colin Bain and Andy Whiting/Ehmke Pohl on case top ups from Pfizer, Merck and High Force Research respectively. We’ve several other industrially-funded PhD positions available for next year sponsored by companies such as P2i, Synthomer, P&G and Johnson Mathey.

Thanks to Jon Steed and team for organizing the 2013 Chemistry postgraduate research symposium. Lecture awards sponsored by Asynt were given to Phil Brown, Xiaotao Zhao and Chris James. Poster prizes sponsored by Aldrich were awarded to Neil Sim and Oliver Burnham. Congratulations to each of them.

Pete Edwards has asked me to thank everybody who took part in the 2013 Schools’ Science Festival. There’s a report of the event at, which involved around 650 students (200 more than 2012!) from 19 schools. Thanks to all for their contribution.

Thanks to everybody who contacted me recently about various building-related problems which emerged as significant issues during the February review of the Department. We’ve had several productive discussions with Estates and Buildings, and we’ve been assured that a team will be coming to fix as many of these as possible starting from this week.

Some of you will know that the Department’s International Coordinator and I spent a couple of weeks in China last month visiting various Universities. The main event was a trip to Peking University where Professor Deeks and Professor Lin (Vice President of PKU) signed the formal memorandum of understanding for a 2+2 joint degree programme between Durham and Peking chemistry departments. A story (not completely scientifically accurate) of one of the school visit is at

Finally congratulations (and thanks) to everybody on the Complete University Guide rankings which were published at the end of April. The Department remains at number 3 in the list:

Best wishes,


Chemistry News 035 - 04/04/13

Dear All,

Some recent news:

Welcome to Dr Mark Miller who joined the Department as a Senior Lecturer last week. Mark’s research interests include the simulation of soft condensed matter, self assembly, molecular and colloidal clusters and network-forming fluids; read more at Mark willl be closely associated with Durham’s Institute for Advanced Research Computing.

Congratulations to Stephen Butler who has just been awarded a two year Ramsay Memorial Fellowship. Stephen will be exploring the selective recognition of phosphate species in solution using optical methods. Congratulations also to our alumnus Dr Gareth Roberts - Jan Verlet’s first PhD student in the Chemistry Department and now a PDRA at Warwick. Gareth has won a Ramsay Fellowship with Bristol Chemistry where he will undertake ultrafast laser dynamics studies of DNA base pairs.

Congratulations to Chris Greenwell who has been awarded a Royal Society Industry Fellowship to understand how clay minerals and clay mineral/other mineral interfaces hydrate during drilling and fracking operations. The Fellowship will last for 4 years and Chris will spend 50% of his time working with M-I SWACO (Schlumberger) on the project, making use of the world class Aberdeen Research & Technology Centre.

Thanks to everybody who took part in February’s external review of the Department. We’re still awaiting the formal written report, but received lots of very positive informal feedback from the panel. Thanks also to everybody who took part in last month’s survey of our research services. We received 250 responses within a few days. Service managers are considering the full report and the extremely helpful comments people made. If people are interested in the “numerical” responses to questions there is a short summary in the “Departmental Information” section of sharepoint (

We’ve had more good recent funding news. Kosmas Prassides has just won a £400k EPSRC grant on “New Directions in Molecular Superconductivity”. The grant will continue Kosmas’ successful collaboration with Liverpool university and more details are at: Congratulations also to Richard Thompson who’s won a CASE award with P&G. We’re also anticipating significant good news from the recent round of EU Marie Curie Initial Training Network applications; I hope to confirm in a future newsletter!

Some important diary dates this term. We have our annual postgraduate research gala on THURSDAY of THIS WEEK (4/4/2013): arrival from 09:30 in the Calman Learning Centre; talks until 14.30 then posters on the top floor. This year’s Durham Lectures will be given by Peter Seeberger and will be held on Tuesday-Thursday 14-16th May. Prof Seeberger’s biography and an outline of his research interests (the role of oligosaccharides in biological processes) are at



Chemistry News 034 - 04/02/13

Dear All,

The latest news:

We have a major review of the Department’s teaching and research happening on Wednesday and Thursday of this week. Internal members of the review team will include Andrew Deeks (PVC Science), Tony Fawcett (Science Education Committee chair), Claire Sutherland (Social Science Education Committee chair), Charles Augard (Science Postgraduate Education Committee chair), Tom Wakelam (JCR President at St Cuths), Sam Graham (Academic Support Office) and Nicola Brennan (Faculty Support Office). The external members will be Prof Paul Walton ( and Prof Tim Gallagher ( who are previous Heads of Department at York and Bristol respectively. We look forward to welcoming them to the Department and learning the outcomes of their review.

As the Chemists will already know, we received sad news on the 10th of January about the death of Geoffrey Coates (1917–2013), who was head of Department from 1953 until 1968. Prof Coates made enormous contributions to the Department and University during his time in Durham. He reinvigorated Durham Chemistry helping design and establish us in a then state-of-the-art building. His activities and the people he hired set the foundations for the modern Department. His monograph on organometallic compounds (Methuen, 1956) outlined the principles of the rapidly developing subject so effectively that it was followed by a second and then further substantial multi-author editions. Many of us first learnt organometallic chemistry from his texts. We named our synthetic teaching laboratory in honour of Prof Coates during our 50th birthday celebrations in September 2011. Lots of staff and alumni who knew him were present at that event where Ken Wade gave a wonderful overview of his life and chemistry, including stories of him returning from Wyoming to Durham to lecture dressed as the “Man from Laramie” in full cowboy regalia. Some of the spirit of the day is captured at:

There have been several recent successes on the research funding front. Simon Beaumont was awarded his first EPSRC grant at the December panel on “CataRaman: Watching Catalysts in situ using Total Internal Reflection Raman Spectroscopy” ( The project will develop new methods for probing the properties of heterogenous catalysts under realistic operating conditions. Martin Bryce and Andy Monkman were also awarded £688K to study “High performance fluorescent devices from E-type triplet harvesting” ( The project aims to develop new strategies to achieve high performance organic light-emitting devices (OLEDs) enabling low energy organic solid-state lighting. Karl Coleman and Richard Thompson won further EPSRC funding associated with their £1.8M “Engineering innovation in graphene nanocomposites” project to purchase an atomic force microscope equipped with Tip Enhanced Raman Spectroscopy (TERS). This gives the ability to perform Raman spectroscopy on individual molecules. Congratulations to them all! Congratulations to Geri Rosser who was awarded a bursary to attend the British Interactive Group conference in January 2013. The conference gave Geri the opportunity to further develop her STEM communication skills to assist her with her work as a Science Animator and in her role in the department's Outreach team (

There are some great new interviews with our undergraduate students on the website at: Thanks to Rachel for pulling those together.

Some diary dates people might like to note. The inaugural Roberts Lecture will be given by Richard Friend on “Organic Electronics” on March 13th ( This year’s Chemistry “Durham Lectures” will be held between 14th and 16th of May and will be delivered by Prof Peter Seeberger from the Max Planck Institute of Colloids and Interfaces (

A couple of pieces of bedtime reading. Firstly a Nature Chemistry article by Jon Steed’s group in collaboration with researchers from Milan on “Halogen-bonding-triggered supramolecular gel formation”. The paper reports the first explorations on the use of halogen bonding to trigger gel formation. It’s available on line at:

Secondly a JACS paper from AnnMarie O’Donoghues group entitled “Proton Transfer Reactions of Triazol-3-ylidenes” ( studying the acididty of N-Heterocyclic carbenes (NHCs), which are important organic catalysts. The work was chosen as a highlight in this weeks JACS Spotlight issue:

Best wishes,


Chemistry News 033 – 03/12/12

Dear All,

These newsletters often start with me saying that it’s been an excellent few weeks for the Department. This time it really has been an excellent few weeks for the Department! I won’t apologise for the newsletter length, only for it being a bit of a Coleman special!

Firstly then, it’s congratulations to Karl Coleman for being the driving force behind the University winning the 2012 Times Higher Education Award for “Outstanding Contribution to Innovation and Technology” last week. This reflects Karl’s work in creating and spinning out Durham Graphene Science ( and the University and Department’s support in helping it happen. DGS was originally housed in Chemistry before moving to external premises. Karl has received huge support from DBIS and the University’s legal team, particularly Mike Bath, Tim Hammond, Tess Mantzoros & Max Brougham. The full story, including Karl receiving an on-stage cuddle from David Walliams, is at: DBIS will be entering for the team dancing category in next year’s competition.

Congratulations also to Phil Souter from P&G, who you’ll know has a visiting chair in the Department. Two week’s ago Phil was awarded the 2012 Economist Innovation Award in the category of “Social and Economic Innovation” for the P&G Pure Water product. Several years ago Phil was working on a product that would clean water in a washing machine allowing it to be recycled, when he realised that the same technology might be applicable for producing clean drinking water. The product he went on to develop is now being distributed globally by P&G on a not-for-profit basis, and is particularly effective after natural disasters such as hurricanes or flooding. It has now been used to produce 5.5 billion gallons of clean drinking water, and is estimated to have saved 200 million days of illness and 26,000 lives. The full story is on line at

Super news also on the funding front:

Karl Coleman has just been awarded £1.8m from EPSRC for a project “Engineering innovation in graphene nanocomposites for consumer products and packaging applications” with Nigel Clarke at Sheffield, Dyson and P&G. The project aims to incorporate graphene in components and packaging to enhance their properties. This research will make use of many of the developments made by Durham Graphene Science. News on Nigel, who left Durham in February of 2011 is that he will take over as Head of Sheffield Physics in January next year.

We heard last week that the Department has won £1m from EPSRC to help maintain and update our analytical infrastructure. Durham and a few other top Chemistry Departments worked closely with EPSRC at the start of 2012 to make the case that UK chemistry needed significant infrastructure investment, then coordinated a series of aligned bids with other N8 Departments that won around £5m in total. With support from the University’s infrastructure funding, we’ll be able to invest around £1.6m in NMR, X-ray, Mass Spectrometry and AFM facilities. Many thanks to everybody who helped put the bid together at extremely short notice.

Congratulations to Nigel Robinson, Corinna Hess and Ehmke Pohl on winning a BBSRC grant on “Engineering nickel supply to cyanobacterial hydrogenase to test the relationship between enzyme metallation and metal-sensing”.

Congratulations to Ezat Khosravi on an £84K award by Scott Bader Ltd. to create a ROMP technology platform for the company in order to develop novel monomers and polymers for various industrial applications.

Congratulations to Jon Steed and Arnab Dawn for winning an EU Marie Curie International Incoming Fellowship (the second won by Jon’s group in two years). Arnab will be working on crystal growth in gels.

Congratulations and thanks to Chris Greenwell for coordinating the EPSRC small equipment grant across the faculty. EPSRC have provided around £400K to provide various equipment for new starters across the science departments.

In other news areas:

Congratulations to Aaron Brown on the birth of his first child, Elliot Holden Brown, who was born on Saturday 3rd November.

Congratulations to Jack Robotham who’s just won his third major poster prize of the year for a poster entitled “Seaweed and Sustainability: Biofuels from the Catalytic Pyrolysis of Macroalgae” at an RSC Early Career Researcher Symposium ( Many of you will know that this work relates to the £1.6m grant won by Phil Dyer and Chris Greenwell announced in the last newsletter.

Congratulations to Hannah Straker who won the prize for the best oral presentation at the recent National Agri-Science Chemical Biology Postgraduate/PDRA Symposium held at Imperial College on 1st-2nd November 2012. Her talk was entitled “ Chemical Tools for Investigating Multiple Herbicide Resistance in Black Grass: Design and Synthesis of Novel Synergists”.

I announced last time that two PDRAs in the Department had just won permanent academic positions. In one week at the start of November three more, all from Mark Wilson’s group, were also appointed to lectureships. Tom Rodgers to a position in Chemical Engineering at Manchester, Khongvik (Tom) Prasitnok to a position in Chemistry at MSU in Thailand and David Cheung to a lectureship at Strathclyde. Congratulations and best wishes to each of them in their future careers, and to Mark for his mentorship!

David Parker and Robert Pal’s research was in the news again last week in relation to the £800K Impact Acceleration Account awarded to Durham. The full story is at and

Another of the Department’s spinout successes, P2i, was recently listed 27th in the Sunday Times Hiscox Tech Track 100 ranking. As you’ll know P2i have commercialised many research innovations from Jas Pal Badyal’s group and recently bought Surface Innovations which Jas Pal spun out from the University. P2i can now, for example, apply their super-repellent coatings to 10’s of millions of phones a year and have contracts with many of the world’s major manufacturers.

Last week an open letter signed by 44 European Nobel laureates was been published in top European newspapers to lobby for continued investment in scientific research. If you’d like to support this cause there is an online petition at:

Thanks to everybody from the Department who helped make “Celebrate Science” such a success this year. The full story is at, but thanks to Robert Pal, Gerri Rosser, Andy Beeby, Malcom Richardson, Aaron Brown, Jacquie Robson, Katie Finney, Hayley Lumb, Rachel Carr, Natalie Tatum, James Radcliffe, Alex Dudgeon, Alexandra Tyson, Liana Vella-Zarb, Matthew Tate, Romnik Thind, Lucy Wilson and Becky Edwards. Friends who attended said their children were blown away by the event.

If you’d like some bedtime listening, I’d recommend last week’s Melvyn Bragg show “In our Times” on Radio 4 ( which featured Judith Howard, Mike Glazer and Chris Hammond ( talking about crystallography.

And for bedtime reading, it’s only appropriate to recommend recent review articles by Karl Coleman and Becky Edwards: an Accounts of Chemical Research article on graphene film growth:; and a Nanoscale article on graphene synthesis and applications:

Best wishes,


Chemistry News 032 – 22/10/12

Dear All,

As it’s a new academic year my first job is to welcome new staff and students to the Department and to the Chemistry newsletters. Newsletters come out approximately monthly to keep you up to date with the many activities and achievements in the Department. If you’ve stories or publications you think should be shared, please do let me know. If you’d like to catch up with the last 3 years of newsletters, they’re on our alumni wiki at: .

I’d like to formally welcome 3 new members of academic staff to the Department (some of whom have been with us for a while!): Drs Simon Beaumont and Sandra Engelskirchen who join us as lecturers in physical chemistry and Prof Ian Baxendale as a chair in synthetic chemistry. Their research interests are on our staff webpages ( Dr Mark Miller from Cambridge will also join us in March as part of the University and Faculty’s strategic appointments in computational science. Congratulations also on promotions from 1/10/2012 to Professors Andy Beeby, Karl Coleman, Patrick Steel and Gareth Williams and senior lecturers AnnMarie O’Donoghue, John Sanderson and Jan Verlet.

Congratulations to Emma Smart and Billy on the birth of twins Joseph and Jessica on the 7th September.

Congratulations to two of the Department’s post docs, Michael Peach and Emma McCabe who have taught in the physical and inorganic sections respectively, who have both recently been appointed to permanent academic posts. Michael will be joining the new chemistry department at Lancaster and Emma will be joining the University of Kent. We wish them both every success in their independent academic careers.

Congratulations to Alex Dudgeon, Becky Edwards and Katharine Linton who were awarded Chemistry’s 2011/12 “Excellence in Postgraduate Demonstrating” awards. As always, selecting winners from the excellent team of demonstrators was extremely difficult – thanks to all for their contributions.

Two major recent successes on the funding front: congratulations to Phil Dyer and Chris Greenwell who have successfully won EPRSC funding for a consortium of researchers from across the UK who will investigate the use of seaweed as a renewable feedstock for Fischer-Tropsch catalysis. The total grant is worth £1.6m. The consortium initially formed via the IAS Biofuels, Science and Society theme and is a great example of Durham interdisciplinary work and the role the IAS can play in stimulating this. Secondly, Paul Low has won around £450k of funding from the EPSRC as part of a £1.1m project with Liverpool and Reading on “Electrochemically gated single molecule field effect transistors” – well done Paul!

Congratulations to Dr Stephen Butler and Dr Brian McMahon, both from David Parker’s group, who both won poster prizes at the International Conference on Coordination Chemistry in Valencia last month. Durham chemists winning two prizes from over 900 posters is a great achievement. Congratulations also to Rachel Daunton for winning a poster prize at “Electrochemistry 2012” in Dublin for a poster on “Single cell manipulation and sensing: A multifunctional microgripper device”.

I’m delighted to announce that one of our alumni, Julian Tanner, has made an extremely generous donation to the Department that will allow us to provide a small kitchen area off the Musgrave room for staff and students to use at lunchtime. There will be a bit of disruption over the next couple of weeks as the kitchen is installed, but I’m sure it will be worth it. Julian is also funding some of our summer research internships, and you can read about the first cohort at:

If you’re in town next week, do go along to the Celebrate Science events ( The chemistry outreach team will be giving demonstrations in the Palace Green Marquee over three days from Tuesday 30/10.

Thanks to staff for organising and being involved in various recent events: Jon Steed for leading the organisation of the recent Royal Society of Chemistry roadshow in the Department - the talks on areas such as “how to get your work published” and careers were extremely well received; to everybody who took part in September’s splendid open days; and everybody who took part in our recent REF awayday.

Congratulations to our environmental team - here Dave Hunter, JSOE, E&B (Paul and Dave) and Richard Thompson - who were commended in the climate change category at the Durham County Environmental Awards on 9th October for our recent fume cupboards project in stage 4 of the building. By adopting slightly different working practices, with selected fume cupboards turning off automatically when not needed, we are saving around £2000 per month in electricity. Richard would be delighted to receive any new ideas to reduce our energy usage.

Congratulations to Graham Sandford for being elected as chair of the Royal Society of Chemistry’s Fluorine Chemistry group.

Bedtime reading this month is a Chemical Science article on catalytic C-H borylation chemistry from Patrick and Todd’s groups with collaborators in Hong Kong, China, Japan and industry (GSK and Syngenta). Read it at:

And for our sporting round up…….I was clearly too excited by the five-a-side football victories in my last newsletter to mention that we should also be celebrating departmental Olympic gold victory. Sophie Hoskings was, of course, a chemistry/physics student from 2004-7, and took gold in the lightweight skulls on 5th August:

Finally, can I ask everybody to be extra vigilant in the chemistry courtyard area behind stores over the next few weeks? The number of deliveries is significantly higher than it used to be due to the opening of the Palatine building and drivers may not be aware of the various activities in the area. Could everybody keep an eye out for vehicles trying to proceed beyond the temporary barriers and, particularly, for anybody smoking in the area?

Best wishes,


Chemistry News 031 - 29/08/12

Dear All,

August is meant to be a slow month for news – unfortunately not in Chemistry! My first job is to welcome several new arrivals to the Department.

Congratulations to John Sanderson and Victoria Money on the birth of Rory John Sanderson. I’m delighted that they followed section 8.8.vii(a).g of the Learning and Teaching Handbook ( which requires faculty offspring to be named after the Head of Department.

I’d also like to welcome Dr Juan Aguilar who joined the Department as an experimental officer in NMR at the start of August. Many of you will know that Juan has a wide scientific background and expertise in NMR techniques, chemistry, pharmacy and biology - we’re delighted to have him as part of the team. Welcome also to Anthony Newman who has just joined Neil and Paul in the mechanical workshops.

Welcome also to George McBane ( from Grand Valley State University Michigan, who has just arrived to spend a year with us as an IAS fellow. George will be working with Jeremy Hutson, Eckart Wrede and Simon Cornish in the area of ultracold molecules. You can read more at:

I’d like to thank everybody who took time last week to host the P&G Cincinnati and Italy group who visited the Department, especially those behind the scenes who made cg116j sparkle. It’s good when top brass from the world’s leading cleaning company walk into a Durham room and say “wow”!

Thanks also to everybody who took part in the various open days at the start of the summer and particularly those (Lars, Andy B) who represented the Department at RSC events in London. The next open day is September 22nd so more volunteers will be needed. Free lunch and cakes as usual!

Continued good news on the funding front, congratulations in particular to:

Jan Verlet on winning a prestigious ERC Starting Grant worth € 1.84 M to study the spectroscopy, dynamics and reactivity of solvated electrons at water interfaces using both gas-phase clusters and ambient aqueous interfaces.

Andy Whiting and collaborators on a £897k award from the TSB. The 3 year project involves AkzoNobel, High Force Research, and Manchester University, and is aimed at investigating novel routes to manufacturing waterborne polymers for coating applications. The key aim is the replacement of solvents and the use of more efficient continuous manufacturing processes to improve air quality and reduce greenhouse gases, thereby making coating manufacturing more sustainable.

Congratulations to Robert Pal and team (David Parker, Andrew Beeby, Kelvin Appleby) on an award from Ocean optics for the miniaturisation of the screening instrument associated with FScan’s ( prostate cancer screening test. The aim of the project is to use a time gated CCD detection system to produce a palm-size reader capable of reducing the test time to under a minute.

There have also been various recent prize awards in the Department:

Helen Benjamin (Chemistry/Maths) was awarded a 2012 Natural Sciences Master of Science student prize and Deborah Gathercole (Chemistry/Earth Sciences) won a Natural Sciences Bachelor of Science student prize.

Congratulations to Rachel Daunton who was awarded a prize for her poster on “A Multifunctional Microgripper Capable of Simultaneous Single Cell Manipulation and Associated Ion Sensing” at the Royal Society of Chemistry’s Analytical Research Forum 2012 which was held in Durham in early July.

Sander Groenen, a visiting student from Radboud University Nijmegen in the Netherlands, won a Polymer Chemistry-sponsored poster prize at the Macro Group International Conference in Polymer Synthesis at the University of Warwick in July. This is the largest conference devoted entirely to polymer chemistry with 550 delegates and 250 posters.

Many of you will have seen that there has been a huge amount of outreach activity over the last couple of weeks that many people have been contributed to. Thanks particularly to Jacquie Robson and Kate Nicholson for leading/coordinating and the PhD students and undergraduate interns who contributed. On Tuesday and Wednesday of last week we hosted 18 students from a range of London inner-city schools as part of the “Generating Genius” ( programme. The students heard about Durham research, visited Johnson Matthey’s Billingham site to learn about catalysis, then followed this up with catalysis-related experiments in our teaching labs. On Thursday we hosted the University's Sutton Trust summer school, targeting “Gifted and Talented” students who participated in a range of activities in cg193. Pictures will be on the web soon.

Two sporting triumphs to mention before switching back to science: congratulations to Chembridge United who again pulled off the five-a-side League and Cup double and to the Durham team, captained by Paul Thornton, who won the 5-a-side football tournament at the Macro Group International Conference in Polymer Synthesis. Research-led Internationalisation at its best.

Three items of bedtime reading this month, two from the Materials Synthesis and Characterisation Grouping and one from OME: 1. a JACS paper from Mike Probert, Judith Howard and collaborators from Cambridge, Israel and Switzerland on the unusual property of negative linear compressibility (i.e. it gets bigger as you squeeze it!) in a metal organic framework 2. a publication in Nature Communications by Martin McDonald, Kosmas Prassides and co-workers on the role of Jahn-Teller distortions on the metal to insulator transition in the 38 K Cs3C60 superconductors 3. work by Mark Fox, Rachel Harder and colleagues from Bielefeld in Chemistry a European Journal ( on fluorescent carboranes has been highlighted in the ACS weekly highlight “Noteworthy Chemistry” portal (

Finally, can I remind everybody about the (no) smoking policy on the science site? The summary is that there is a 10 m exclusion zone around buildings to prevent smoke entering and other hazards. This is, of course, particularly important in the region near the solvent stores. Details are at: Can people let me know if they see this rule being broken?

Best wishes,


Chemistry News 030 - 17/6/12

Dear All,

Lots of news items over the last month; apologies for the length of this newsletter!

Firstly great news for the Department from the promotions committee at the end of last week. Congratulations to Andy Beeby, Karl Coleman, Patrick Steel and Gareth Williams who have all been promoted to chairs.

Thanks to everybody for getting us to the end of another teaching year – especially Andrew, David and the rest of the exams team who have worked incredibly hard over the last few weeks. I’ve read all the module evaluation questionnaires and, while there are obviously areas where we can improve, the overall feedback from undergraduates is extremely positive. They comment particularly favourably on enthusiasm and professionalism in teaching from both academic staff and post graduate demonstrators. It's really pleasing that perhaps 2/3rds of staff are specifically mentioned in individual feedback comments with phrases like “best lecturer”, “most interesting course of the year”.

Congratulations go to:

Simon Beaumont who has been awarded a Leverhulme Research Fellowship to work on “Novel Spectroscopic Studies of Catalyst Surfaces under Operational Conditions”. Simon also recently won an Addison Wheeler fellowship and will hold the two concurrently.

Julita Gasowska on winning two “Enhancing the Student Experience” grants from the University and a third from HESTEM. These will allow her to continue the provision of lab-related videos, will provide new equipment for the Level 2/3 synthetic laboratories and will fund a summer student to work on developing new project-based experiments. I’ve highlighted staff achievements in specific laboratory classes in previous newsletters; the undergraduate questionnaires again specifically mention areas of good practice from all the laboratories, which we’ll be looking to share via our relite-2 and relite-3 projects.

All the postgraduate students who took part in last week’s gala postgraduate research day (thanks to Jon Steed for organising a great day). The overall standard of talks and posters was superb. We’ll announce winners of the prizes for oral and poster presentations at next week’s graduation celebrations.

Stefan Przyborski on winning (on behalf of the Reinnervate Team; the Royal Society of Chemistry Rita and John Cornforth award for “For commercialising technology to enhance the growth of cultured cells, through a multidisciplinary collaborative partnership using novel organic and materials chemistry”. Stefan: we’ll count you as a chemist for this award! There’s a full story at

P2i for another business award for “Most Innovative Company of the Year” at the Best-in-Biz awards 2012 (

Paul Hodgkinson, David Apperley and Robin Harris on the publication of their new text on solid state NMR. Along with the EPSRC national service for solid state NMR, this helps reinforce Durham’s long-standing strength and reputation in the area. The authors inform me that you can order directly at:

Andy Beeby on the award of ~£50k to extend work with Procter and Gamble on hyperspectral imaging. Expect more good news on funding successes in the next newsletter!

Chris Greenwell for two METRC-funded chemistry projects for summer interns to work on projects related to marine biomass and clay polymer barrier layers.

On internationalisation:

There’s lots of recent activity on the internationalisation front. I spent a week in Brazil at the end of May with the other heads of science exploring links with several of their top Universities. There are a number of exciting potential research collaborations that we’ll be following up as a Department. As my camera was unfortunately stolen, the most exciting picture I can share with you is Professor Ward of Physics speaking at USP Sao Carlos:

David Hodgson has won an RSC Journals travel grant to spend time at Carnegie Mellon and other Departments in the US this summer.

Lian Hutchings was recently awarded funds from our Departmental internationalisation funding scheme to travel to Malaysia. The trip has now led to a successful application to fund two PhDs and a Masters student who Lian will co-supervise. Staff should contact Ivana for more information on this pump-priming funding scheme.

Other news:

Prof. Vernon Gibson has been made chief scientific adviser to the MoD. Vernon was a lecturer in Durham chemistry (1986-1995, Phil Dyer's PhD supervisor) before moving to Imperial then BP as chief chemist. He's a long-standing friend of the Department and supported our undergraduate prizes while at BP:

Professor David Phillips has recently been awarded an honorary DSc from Durham University, and will accept his degree at next summer’s (2013) congregation. David is a native of the North East, another long-standing friend of the Department and one of our former external examiners. There’s a short biography of David on his RSC President’s webpage:

The library have just upgraded our RSC holdings subscription to “RSC Gold”. This means we have all RSC publications (books, databases, journals) available electronically. Thanks to Ben Taylorson (our contact librarian) and Neil Davies for this.

Karl Coleman has been appointed as editor of the new online journal “Chemistry of Graphene”.

Thanks to Patrick Steel for organizing last week’s Musgrave symposium. In addition to great talks from the “support acts” (AnnMarie O’Donoghue and Paul Davies from Birmingham) we were treated to a superb lecture by Professor Alois Fürstner (Max-Planck-Institut für Kohlenforschung) on “Catalysis for total synthesis”.

Both bedtime reading and listening this month. Firstly a review article from Karl on: “Unweaving the rainbow: a review of the relationship between single-walled carbon nanotube molecular structures and their chemical reactivity” is now available from Chemistry Society Reviews, Secondly, you can listen to an interview with Paul Low on the future of hydrogen powered vehicles (with a little bit of scientific content!!!) from Radio Tees at:

If anybody is interested in reading back issues of the newsletter (I’m sure you haven’t read enough!) they are now on our alumni/history wiki site at:

Finally a few diary items: the Faculty Rising Stars symposium is today (Monday) in the Calman Learning Centre (; our teaching away day is Wednesday 20th June; Chemistry graduation is on Friday 29th of June.

Best wishes,


Chemistry News 029 - 7/5/12

Dear All,

It’s mainly people news this time:

Congratulations to John Sanderson, AnnMarie O’Donoghue and Jan Verlet who have been promoted to Senior Lectureships from October.

As many of you will know the Department has made several recent appointments. Dr Sandra Engelskirchen will be joining us from Stuttgart in October to take up a lectureship in physical chemistry. Sandra will join our Soft Matter and Interfaces research grouping. Ian Baxendale will be joining us in July to take up a chair in synthetic chemistry; Ian will take over the laboratory space vacated by Todd. Simon Beaumont (Cambridge, Berkeley) has recently arrived in the Department and will start a 5 year lectureship and Addison Wheeler fellowship in physical chemistry in October. Finally, Juan Malavia will be joining us as an experimental officer in the NMR service in August. Juan has a PhD in supramolecular chemistry from Valencia and has since worked as a post-doc with Simon Duckett at York and Gareth Morris in Manchester.

The University has just announced a series of new academic positions across different disciplines which you may have seen in the recent press. Full details are at: Please do bring these to the attention of anybody who might be interested.

Congratulations to Julita Gasowska who has just won an “Excellence in Learning and Teaching Award” for her work in creating a new ethos and introducing a set of extended project-based experiments in the 3rd year organic teaching laboratory.

On the funding front, congratulations to Ezat Khosravi who has won industrial support for a PhD student from Catalytic Technologies and to both Ezat and AnnMarie who have won support from Procter and Gamble.

David Parker will be awarded the 5th LeCoq de Boisbaudran Award at the International Conference on f elements in Italy this August. The award is “in view of his outstanding and far-reaching contributions to the field of bio-analyses and bio-imaging”. The award is named for Paul-Emile LeCoq who discovered gallium (named after France as advertised or himself; Gallia or Gallus?), samarium and dysprosium as well as working on crystallisation and the application of spectroscopic methods to chemistry. There’s also an interview with David in a recent edition of ChemComm at:

Congratulations to Neil Cameron for winning a Leverhulme Study Abroad Fellowship which will provide funding for him to build research links with colleagues at CSIRO and Monash in Australia. Enjoy the sunshine Neil!

Many thanks to everybody for the continued hard work that’s kept us 3rd in the Independent Complete University Guide for 2013. The rankings are linked from: Durham science is also in the Times Higher World top 50 list:

Finally, a reminder that the Durham Lectures will be held next week (Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday 14-16th May). We’re delighted that Prof. John Hartwig, who is Henry Rapoport Chair in Organic Chemistry at Berkeley, will be giving a series of lectures at 16.00 each day. Full details are at I look forward to seeing everybody there.

Best wishes,


Chemistry News 028 - 1/4/12

Dear All,

A few pre-Easter news items that might be of interest. On the funding front:

Congratulations to Colin Bain and John Sanderson on the award of a Programme Grant with colleagues from Imperial College on “Sculpting dynamic amphiphilic structures”. The Durham £800k portion of the £4.5m project will fund a post-doctoral researcher for five years and a PhD studentship.

Congratulations to Steve Cobb for a Leverhulme award to support a 3 year PhD studentship to work on the use of 19F-NMR to study steroid degradation in urine samples.

Congratulations to Paul Low who has been awarded £313k from the EPSRC to extend his Research Leader Fellowship into the new area of catalytic water oxidation (internal news only for now). I won't jinx things by saying it's now 7/7 EPSRC grants since December……

Congratulations to Victoria Money for winning a £39k Royal Society Grant.

Many of you will know that we're embarking on a major energy saving initiative this month. The fume extraction system in the newest wing of the Department (JWS, KP and former TBM laboratories) is being upgraded so that 50% of the fume cupboards will automatically turn off overnight (with appropriate safety warnings and over-rides possible). This will lead to a ~£24k energy saving every year, helping the University to meet its energy-reduction targets. Thanks to Dave Hunter and Richard Thompson who have been involved in planning this initiative and to the research groups who are willing to embrace a new model of working despite suffering temporary disruptions to allow it. Whilst this project gives “big savings”, can I urge everybody to continue other energy-saving efforts wherever possible - everything helps?

Congratulations to Frances Chadbourne who was selected from several hundred applicants to present her PhD work to MPs in the Houses of Parliament. Frances has performed an interdisciplinary project with Steve Cobb and Paul Yeo on the neglected tropical disease Leishmaniasis. More details are at:

Ken Wade's many contributions to the Department and University over almost 50 years were recognised last month by the award of the Chancellor's medal during a celebration dinner at Castle. There's a short description of Ken's contributions at, and more details on our history wiki.

The Department has held a number of international events recently. Last week Ivana and I ran an international school on Powder Diffraction and Rietveld Refinement with around 70 PhD+ students from around 30 countries. Thanks to the sunshine they left with a wonderful impression of Durham and believe we have the best climate in Europe! This week we've welcomed members of the Rennes Chemistry Department for a mini-symposium as part of our on-going European research partnership; after yesterday's snow they've left with a very different meteorological view.

Thanks to everybody who took part in the School's Science Festival last week. Chemistry's Slime Zone, Amazing Materials and Light Entertainment exhibits were seen by over 450 students from 21 schools across the North East and were extremely well received. Thanks to: Jacquie, Julita, Kate, Katherine, Matthew, Alexandra, Robek, Lucy, Joel, Pippa, Ffion and Geraldine.

Some of you may have seen the recent £11.4m fund raising success for P2i (, which was set up to commercialise the super-repellent nanocoatings invented in Jas Pal Badyal's research group. For those of you registered, there was a recent story on the company in the FT:

Durham has just been awarded Athena Swan bronze status ( Julita is leading activities in this area for us, so please do talk to her if you'd like more details of the Department's Athena Swan plans.

Congratulations to Julita, the senior demonstrating team, the postgraduate demonstrators and technical staff who were involved in running the third year organic teaching lab this term. The team delivered laboratory classes that were both challenging and enjoyable and at the end of the course were bought cakes by the undergraduates to say thank you. I was particularly pleased to be given one, despite having made no contribution to earning them!

Finally, happy 100th Birthday to David Parker's group. David's 50th PhD student (David Smith) has recently submitted his thesis, and the 50th PDRA (Dr Nick Evans) started last September.

Best wishes to all for the Easter break.


Chemistry News 027 - 17/2/12

Dear All,

The latest news from Chemistry. People first, then some excellent research news:

Welcome to Paul White who has joined Neil in the mechanical workshops. Paul has previously worked in the Physics Department, and has been doing the instrument building work associated with David Carty and Eckart Wrede's programme grant on ultracold molecules.

Many of you will have heard that Mark Wilson has taken over as head of the physical teaching section from Jeremy Hutson, who has acted in this role since 2002. I'd like to thank Jeremy for the enormous contributions he's made to the Department as section head and, of course, to Mark for taking on the role.

Congratulations to Prof Jas Pal Badyal who has been awarded the International Association of Advanced Materials (IAAM) Medal, for “outstanding and notable contributions in the field of Nanomaterials and Nanotechnology”. Jas Pal was presented with the award during the opening ceremony of the International Conference on Nanomaterials and Nanotechnology (ICNANO-2011) in Delhi in December.

We've had significant recent successes in winning research funding. In particular we had a “clean sweep” at last week's EPSRC panels. We’ve now had five out of five successes at the last two responsive mode panels, totalling around £2.5m:

Congratulations to Steve Cobb for winning £125k (£124861.73 to be precise!) under the EPRSC first grant scheme on “Regiospecific, Controlled Synthesis of Structurally Defined Peptide Scaffolds”.

Congratulations to Corinna Hess for another £125k first-grant success on “Ligand-Centred Mixed Valence Catalysts for Hydrogen Production”. Corinna will be exploring some exciting new ideas using “non innocent” ligands for generating hydrogen by photolysis.

Congratulations to Jon Steed, Sharon Cooper, Paul Hodgkinson and Judith Howard for winning a £683k grant on “Complementary Gel and Microemulsion Strategies for Pharmaceutical Solid Form Control”. A great example of collaborative science from members of the Durham polymorphism team (

Congratulations also to Karl Coleman and his spin-out company Durham Graphene Science ( on securing £1.2m of investment in the business. There are lots of stories on the web including:;–-leads-1-2m-seed-round-in-durham-university-spin-out/;

Some of you might be interested in the N8/TSB/HEFCE Industry Innovation Forum described in the VC's last bulletin. This aims to build links between Universities and Industry:

A reminder of a couple of exciting lectures next week: Ian Manners will be coming to give the DUCS lecture at 17.00 on Tuesday ( and Stephen Faulkner will be “returning home” to give the Departmental seminar at 15.00 on Wednesday.

Instead of bedtime reading this month I've got a late-night movie to recommend. Learn all about fluorine flow chemistry in Graham Sandford and Jess Breen's online film: Don't have nightmares!

Best wishes,


Chemistry News 026 - 3/1/12

Dear All,

I hope everybody enjoyed their Christmas break. I’m delighted that there are various pieces of excellent news to start the New Year.

Firstly I’d like to welcome Caitlin Athey to the Department. Caitlin is joining the team in the undergraduate office as a secretarial apprentice. We will look forward to working with her. Welcome also to Cora Lind from the University of Toledo, who is coming to spend a 5-month sabbatical with my group.

Various congratulations are due on funding and research:

Congratulations to Jas Pal Badyal who has been awarded a significant grant from the EPSRC (~£1.5 million) for a project entitled “Eco-Sustainable fog collection in arid climates”. The work aims to try and adapt some of Nature’s tricks to harvest water in dry climates and promises to be extremely exciting. This was the second large award the Department won at the final EPSRC panels of 2011.

The University had significant success this year in attracting Marie Curie post doctoral fellows. Two will be coming to chemistry (E430K), so thanks to Dajana Dzanovic for her (continued) hard work on our behalf. We look forward to welcoming Dr Prakash Reddy, who will be joining Jon Steed’s group to work on a project entitled “Solid State Chameleons: Chemical Transformations as Single Crystal Transitions”, and Dr Martin Drackinsky, who will be joining Paul Hodgkinson’s group to work on “Efficient NMR Crystallography of Nucleic Acid Systems”.

As in VC's last bulletin, congratulations to Patrick Steel and Mark Skipsey for a £30K award from EPSRC and Frutarom plc for a fellowship “Development of biotechnology capability in the flavor and fragrance industry”.

Congratulations to Ritu Kataky for a UKIERI award for a UK-India Staff Exchange Programme to develop collaborative research proposals.

Congratulations to Rachel Carr and Nick Evans from David Parker’s group who both won poster prizes at the Royal Society of Chemistry’s Supramolecular Group meeting in Bath at the end of December.

Our best wishes go to James Walton from David Parker's group who has just joined the University of Bath as a fixed term lecturer. James took both his M. Chem. and PhD degrees in Durham between 2005 and 2011 (and even survived having me as a college tutor). Two other members of David’s group have recently obtained academic positions. Dr Ga-lai Law, who was a PDRA between 2007 and 2009, has been appointed to an Assistant Professorship at Hong Kong Polytechnic University from 1st February this year. Gary Wong has a Research Assistant Professorship at Hong Kong Baptist University. We wish them all every success in their new environments.

Those of you travelling and presenting Durham science round the world might be interested in the latest Leiden Ranking list ( Durham science is ranked 5th in Europe in terms of normalised (for size and field) mean citations rates for 2011/12.

I'm delighted that Todd Marder has accepted an Honorary Chair in the Department to start following his move to Wurzburg at the end of the month.

A few papers that might be of interest this week:

Firstly, a couple from Todd, various colleagues in the Department and international collaborators. The first is in JACS and features an extensive photophysical study on pyrene derivatives involving Durham staff and Prof Zhiqiang Liu from Shandong University: (authors: Andrew Crawford, Austin D. Dwyer, Zhiqiang Liu, Andreas Steffen, Andrew Beeby, Lars-Olof Palsson, David J. Tozer, and Todd B. Marder). The second is a collaboration with Tsinghua University in Beijing and the University of Science and Technology of China in Hefei and results from discussions Todd and Patrick Steel had during last years RCUK-funded workshop in Beijing. The paper describes the synthesis of alkylboronic esters from copper-catalyzed borylation of primary and secondary alkyl halides and pseudohalides and is available at: (Durham team: H. Tajuddin, M. Czyzewska, P.G. Steel, T.B. Marder).

Secondly there's a recent Nature Communication ( from Ehmke Pohl working with collaborators in Northwestern and Pittsburgh universities on a metal organic framework with the largest pore volume reported to date. This work took advantage of the high intensity single crystal instrument in Ehmke's group.

People might also be interested in a paper that’s appeared this week in Nature, which solves one of the “classic mysteries” of solid state chemistry/condensed matter physics, and finally unravels the charge-ordered structure of magnetite, Fe3O4, below the Verwey transition (Durham graduates at least will remember the system from exam questions!). I’m afraid it’s not a Durham publication, but I’m sure many of you will remember the first author, Mark Senn, who did his undergraduate degree with us then moved to Edinburgh for his PhD (he also survived me as a college tutor!). We can also claim a somewhat tenuous link to the corresponding author, Paul Attfield, who is a graduate of Durham Johnston school and therefore a direct academic descendant of James Finlay Weir Johnston, the first chair of chemistry in Durham! You can read the paper at:

Finally I’m sure everybody will have noticed that the Chemistry mass spec service feature as the May entry of the 2012 Waters calendar ( I’ll resist all pin-up related jokes.

Best wishes,


Chemistry News 025 - 13/12/11

Dear All,

A final newsletter before the end of term. I hope that the 4th years have enjoyed their first term working in a real research environment, and that everybody else isn't too exhausted as a result!

I'd like to thank three people for their contributions to the Department, one short and two long! Firstly, thanks to Ellie Hurst for doing a wonderful job in managing the chromatography service and helping many people with their research while Aileen has been maternity leave. Ellie is leaving this Tuesday to take up a position at Agenda1 analytical services as chromatography team leader, and we wish her every success in her new job. Secondly, both David Apperley and Ezat Khosravi are celebrating 25 years in the University at a VC's dinner this week. Congratulations to both for their stamina!

Various pieces of good news on the research/funding front:

Congratulations to Hendrik Nahler whose Royal Society URF has been extended for a further 3 years.

(Self) congratulations to me (sorry) and Emma McCabe for winning a £360k EPSRC grant in collaboration with Stewart Clark from physics and partners from the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) in the US. This grant will allow us to continue earlier EPSRC-funded work on the electronic and magnetic properties of new oxychalcogenide phases for a further 3 years. Thanks to Karl and Ivana who did the internal peer review and raised various awkward/annoying (but very helpful) questions!

Belated congratulations to various people for winning PhD funding from industry. Ezat Khosravi, Jon Steed and Neil Cameron all won funding earlier in the year from ISP, who are now Ashland Speciality Ingredients ( Ezat also won funding from Catalytic Technologies (

Congratulations to Jon Steed and Kathi Fucke for the award of an EPSRC KTA project entitled “Water Structure is Important” to develop a web resource for pharmaceutical hydrates and develop follow-on impact from earlier neutron and theoretical studies. Kathi’s work on this topic also featured on a recent cover of “Chemistry a European Journal”. You can read the article at:

Congratulations to Dr David Hoyle on winning the British Society of Rheology, Vernon Harrison Award, (first prize) in recognition of his PhD work. Over the last year, David has been working with Richard Thompson and Junjie Wu (Engineering) on Knowledge Transfer projects that utilise his and other MuPP work to improve industrial polymer processing. The prize will be presented at the BSR mid-winter symposium, UCL, 19-20 December at which David has been invited to give a lecture on his research.

P2i, which was set up to commercialise the super-repellent nanocoatings invented in Jas Pal Badyal's research group, has recently won the “Best Use of Technology” prize at the UK Fast Growth Business Awards. More details at:

A reminder from last week's Durham Times that Durham won “Top City in England” and the Cathedral “Britain's Best Building” in Guardian/Observer polls this year. Do advertise these facts as your travelling round the world presenting research!

This week's bedtime reading is an article that's just appeared on line in Angewandte Chemie by Ivana Evans, Xiaojun Kuang and Julia Payne from Durham working with Mark Johnson of the ILL, Grenoble. Xiaojun recently left Durham to take up a faculty position in Sun Yat-Sen University in Guangzhou. The paper describes the best low temperature fluorite type oxide ion conductor discovered to date. Oxide ion conductors are needed, for example, as electrolytes in fuel cells which are likely to form a key component of energy provision over future decades. The article is at:

Finally (and as a reward for reading this far), a reminder that the Chemistry Department Christmas Party will be at 3.30 on Wednesday 21st December in the Musgrave Room (CG141). I look forward to seeing everybody there!

Best wishes,


Chemistry News 024 - 20/11/11

Dear All,

The main news of the last few weeks has, of course, been the sad death of Peter Coyne on November 6th after a long struggle with cancer. Peter’s technical skill with scientific glassware impacted nearly everybody in the Department, and he helped many undergraduates and researchers with their work. He’ll be particularly missed for the warm humour, wisdom and common sense he brought to everything he did. Our thoughts are with his family at a difficult time.

More positive news includes:

I’d like to formally welcome a “new” member of staff: I’m delighted that Ashleigh Tarn will be taking on the role of Assistant Undergraduate Secretary in the Department. Ashleigh will be starting at 08:30 so that the undergraduate office will be manned before the start of the teaching day.

An interdisciplinary research team led By Dr Steven Cobb and involving the University of Manchester and Imperial College London has just been award a Grand Challenges Explorations Grant (100,000 USD) from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. The project titled “Something from Nothing: Developing Technologies for Energy Recovery from Sewage Waste” will design a novel technology that will have the ability to convert fecal sludge into hydrogen, a useable fuel source.

Durham Chemistry has recently completed a hat trick of victories at the Blueprint Awards. Congratulations to Graham Sandford and Brock Fine Chemicals ( for continuing chemistry staff successes in winning Knowledge Transfer Awards. Awards in the previous two years were won by Karl Coleman for Durham Graphene Science ( and David Parker and Robek Pal for FScan (

Paul Low has been awarded A$15,000 from University of Western Australia (on of our Matariki partners) to support exchanges of staff and students between Durham and UWA. The project is with George Koutsantonis and is to study novel molecular switches for molecular electronics.

The Department was indirectly in the news last week when HMS Bulwark’s crew visited Durham ( HMS Bulwark is the flagship of the royal navy ( and County Durham’s adopted naval ship. Bulwark’s commander is Alex Burton, who read Chemistry at Durham from 1983-1986. David Parker was his college tutor and was invited to dine on HMS Bulwark during the visit.

Many of you will know that we’ve recently entered a formal collaboration with the Rennes. This week’s bedtime reading is, therefore, an article in JACS from the Durham-Rennes team on diruthenium radical cations:



Chemistry News 023 - 7/10/11

Dear All,

As this is the first Chemistry newsletter of the academic year I’d like to start by welcoming new students and staff to the Department: welcome to all! September was a busy month for the Department and there are lots of news stories to report.

The 50th Birthday party was a great success, and I’d like to thank everybody again for helping over the weekend, and thank the organising team (Judith, Andrew, Ken, Euan, Irene and Tracy) for all their efforts. There’s a news story on our website at and we’re also in the Durham Times again this week – the Northern Echo version of the story is online at I’ve received many letters from those who attended saying how much they enjoyed seeing old friends and meeting the current members of the Department.

Thanks also to everybody who has worked hard over the summer to get two important projects in the Department ready for the new academic year: the 1st year lab RELITE project (Research Led Innovative Teaching Experiments) and our new in-house postgraduate demonstrator/teacher training programme. We hope that both will further strengthen the quality of our undergraduate courses and enhance the student experience. Many people have been involved in both projects, but particular thanks to Jacquie Robson and Julita Gasowska.

Congratulations to:

Mark Wilson, who has won substantial funding from EPSRC for a project entitled “Chromonic phase behaviour based on planar discs functionalized with EO (ethylenoxyl) groups”. Mark has led a team from Durham Chemistry, Hull and Manchester Chemical Engineering. The project also brings in expertise from groups in Bologna, Malaysia, Braga, Fujifilm and Kent State – a strong interdisciplinary, international team.

Rachel Carr and Katie Moss who have been awarded our inaugural Postgraduate Demonstrator Prizes for their superb contributions in teaching labs. We’ll be awarding this prize annually to reflect the important role our postgraduate teachers play in laboratories and problem classes.

Karl Coleman whose spin out company, Durham Graphene Science has been named as one of “Britain's most innovative, creative and disruptive young brands”. See the story at:

Jess Breen who won the RSC prize for best oral presentation at the RSC Fluorine Postgraduate Research Symposium in Aberdeen ( second item).

Graham Sandford who has been elected to the Executive Committee of the American Chemical Society Fluorine Division – one of two non-US members.

Many members of staff have been awarded PVC-Research seedcorn funding (including Kosmas Prassides, Neil Cameron, Paul Low, Ritu Kataky). This funding allows people to initiate exciting new areas of research; the preliminary work it enables typically (at least) doubles success rates for future major applications.

Two items of bedtime reading this month:

Firstly, the Joint Quantum Institute at Maryland has issued a press release on a paper Jeremy Hutson and collaborators have recently published in Physical Review Letters on the bound state of a Efimov-triplet of ultra-cold Cs atoms. The press release is at:, and the original paper at

Secondly, Tom McLeish with colleagues from Leeds, Dowchemicals and LyondellBasell polymers have just had a paper published in Science on the flow properties of polymer melts. Even everyday polymers like polyethylene have remarkably complex rheological properties due to the many possible branched architectures present in any sample. The paper describes how to solve this complexity problem, allowing predictions of the flow properties of real materials. There’s a perspective at, and the full article is at

Finally, for an exciting day out, York Chemistry are holding a symposium on 30th November to celebrate the 250th anniversary of the birth of Smithson Tennant who discovered iridium and osmium (

As always, please do let me know of any news stories.

Best wishes,


Chemistry News 022 - 29/08/11

Dear All,

A quick end of summer update:

Plans for the 50th Birthday celebration on 23/24th September are progressing really well ( We've already got over 275 people registered on the Saturday, so it looks like being a splendid day. To remind you of the highlights: we have a scientific symposium on Friday pm and early Saturday; a public lecture on Marie Curie to celebrate the 2011 international year of chemistry; and over 30 exhibitions and displays on Saturday. Many of the Saturday events will be young-person-friendly so please bring families along!

Please do get in touch with your network of colleagues, former group members and other friends of the Department to publicise the event - we want to make sure we haven't forgotten to invite anybody! There are also a few places left for dinner on Friday evening if you'd like to attend that.

Please register if you're attending attending either day so we can organize catering. There's a list of others attending at

A few people to congratulate:

Congratulations to Paul Hodgkinson, David Apperley and Fraser Markwell for winning the tender to provide the EPSRC national solid state NMR service for the next 5 years ( Winning the contract reflects 25 years of Durham (read David and team) providing a first rate service to UK academia and industry.

Congratulations to David Smith for winning the prestigious (and extremely lucrative!) first prize in the poster competition at the International Conference on Bioinorganic Chemistry in Vancouver earlier this month. David is currently in the final year of his PhD working with David Parker.

Thanks to all staff for their efforts throughout last year which have led to an improvement in the Department's NSS score. We had an incredibly high response rate from our students and lots of positive feedback. Pleasingly, over 97% of them found the course intellectually stimulating (

I'm sure staff will also want to join me in congratulating Christoph Salzmann on being appointed to a permanent position at UCL. Christoph joined us as a temporary lecturer in 2010 and has made many excellent contributions during his time in Durham. We wish him every success in his new position.

You may remember from last August's newsletter that Jas Pal sold his spinout company Surface Innovations to P2i (, who are a world leader in liquid repellant nano-coating technology and also have their scientific origins in Durham. P2i have just won the 2011 International Business Award for “Most Innovative Company in Europe” (

Final congratulations are to our incoming first year class. As many of you will know we have a bumper crop of home and international students this year, with probably the highest entry A-level tariff ever. Many thanks to Andy Hughes and the rest of the recruitment team for their superb efforts on our behalf. We'll look forward to teaching them all!

This week's background reading is an interview with Karl Coleman in the September edition of Chemistry World which arrived in peoples' mailboxes this week (it should appear on line via soon; I guess at The interview describes Karl's success in setting up Durham Graphene Science (, for which he was awarded the Chemistry World Entrepreneur of the Year award. I'd like to echo here the thanks that Karl gives the Durham Business Innovation Services (BIS) team for their support to this project, and to many other activities in the Department.

Best wishes,


Chemistry News 021 - 08/08/11

Dear All,

As you know, last week was an extremely difficult and distressing one for the Department. The loss of Andreas was a huge shock to everybody, and he will be very, very greatly missed. He was genuinely one of the “good guys” in the Department, an exceptionally warm and generous-spirited person, and made significant contributions to much of our research and teaching. He also made many contributions nationally and internationally via the British Crystallographic Association and his research collaborations. Our thoughts are with his family Marcela, Anabella and Nico, and with their closest friends from the Department who are helping them at this difficult time.

We marked Jimmy Lincoln’s retirement after 49 years in Chemistry on Thursday. Jimmy joined us at age 16 and again made enormous contributions to the Department over many years. We wish him a well-earned, long and happy retirement and look forward to hearing stories of his travels.

Congratulations are again due to many people for achievements in recent weeks:

Congratulations to Aaron Brown who has been awarded the British Society of Scientific Glassblowers (BSSG) trainee glassblower of the year award. This is a superb achievement only 18 months into his training. It’s also a testament to the skills of the “old hands”, Peter and Malcolm, who have been training Aaron.

Congratulations to the 5-a-side football team, Chembridge United, for another winning season. Top of the league and a 100% unbeaten record! Stalwarts of the team were Keith Dillon, Ross Carnachan (in goal), Mike Smith, Scott Kimmins, Adam Hayward, James Walton, Iain Johnson, Scott Ramsey, Dan Maltman and Steven Zheng.

Colin Bain was awarded the Royal Society of Chemistry and the Society of Chemical Industry inaugural Thomas Graham award on 5th July. The Thomas Graham lectureship is awarded for contributions from mid-career academics in the areas of surface and colloid science.

Congratulations to Rui Campos and Alice Delcourt Lancon, for being awarded best oral presentation and best poster prizes, respectively, at the RHINE (Robin Hood Interdisciplinary Network in Electrochemistry) postgraduate workshop (

Congratulations to Phil Dyer who has been elected as a member of the Royal Society of Chemistry’s Dalton Division council.

Congratulations to all involved in undergraduate teaching for our success in recent league tables. As you’ll know we were 3rd in the 2012 Times Good University Guide and had the top score in the country for graduate employability ( This follows a 3rd place ranking in the Independent Guide earlier in the year.

I’m sure everybody will also be delighted to hear that one of our first years, Andrew Frawley from St Mary’s College, has been awarded the 2011 Rochester Prize. It’s rare for a chemist to succeed in this award in competition with other high-marking science disciplines.

There are also a couple of pieces of good news on the funding front:

Congratulations to Kosmas who is coordinating a EU-Japan project entitled LEMSUPER (Light-element superconductivity: and interdisciplinary approach). The project was awarded 1.66 million Euro with matching funding from the Japan Science and Technology Agency. The funding will be split between 5 European (Durham, Liverpool, Trieste, Mainz, Ljubljana) and 5 Japanese (Tokyo, Osaka, Okayama, Aoyama Gakuin) groups.

Colin Bain and Jas Pal Badyal have been awarded over 500 thousand Euro as part of a Marie Curie ITN bid entitled “Soft, small and smart: design, assembly and dynamics of novel nanoparticles for industrial applications”.

This month’s honorary chemist is Stefan Przyborski. Congratulations to Stefan and the rest of the Reinnervate team for winning one of the Annual R&D top 100 awards for the Alvetex 3D growth scaffold ( The awards are made by R&D Magazine and will be presented in Florida this October.

This month’s reading is an advance-article in Dalton on “The synthesis and photophysics of tris-heteroleptic cyclometalated iridium complexes” by Bob Edkins, Alisdair Wriglesworth, Kathi Fucke, Sylvia Bettington and Andy Beeby ( One of the reactions in the paper was actually performed by two year 11 work-experience pupils from Framwellgate School (Jack Strangward and James Milne), and they’re acknowledged in the paper as assisting in the work.

Finally a few people to welcome to the Department: firstly, the many scientists and students who are visiting us this summer for short term projects; secondly, welcome to Prof. Ken Waugh (Emeritus Prof. University of Manchester; Consultant Davy Process Technology) who has recently been elected as a visiting chair in the Department ( Ken will be working with the Centre for Sustainable Chemical Processes (CSCP).

Best wishes,


Chemistry News 020 - 11/6/11

Dear All,

The news this month from Chemistry is a combination of congratulations and information on some important events in the next two weeks.

Firstly, congratulations to:

Our PVC Research, Tom McLeish, on being appointed as a Fellow of the Royal Society (FRS). Despite a formal background in physics, Tom is a chemist at heart and has a joint appointment between physics and chemistry. More details from:

Paul Hodgkinson and Lian Hutchings on promotion to readerships.

Liz New, who did here PhD with David Parker, who has been awarded the Royal Society of Chemistry's Dalton Young Researchers award. We hope that Liz will be able to come and give a seminar as part of her award later in the year. More info about the award is at, and some information on Liz's experiences in Durham at

Jacquie Robson, who organized the Supported Progression taster session over Easter. Chemistry topped the feedback scores from students attending with 9.3/10!

Jacquie, Ivana Evans and Andy Hughes for winning funding under the university's “Enhancing the Student Learning Experience” scheme for the purchase of new virtual laboratory software. This is part of the exciting “RELITE” (Research Lead Innovative Teaching Experiments) project which will introduce a completely revamped (in terms of philosophy and student experience) first year lab course for 2011/12. The RELITE team will be looking for support from various people though the department in the next few months, so please help them where you can.

There are three major events coming up over the next couple of weeks:

This Wednesday (15/6/2011) we have our first one-day postgraduate research symposium. There will be three parallel sessions of talks from our 3rd year PhD students, followed by poster presentations from our 2nd years. The talks will start at 10.00 in Elvet Hill House, posters will be from 15.30 in CG127. Lunch and nibbles/wine will be provided. We expect that all academic staff and researchers will want to attend, so weekend working rules will apply in the Department.

On Thursday 16th Paul Low has organized the annual staff-student cricket match. I'm sure that Paul will send round precise details later in the week, but it's bound to be an enjoyable and competitive day. Food and drink will be available to help the festivities along.

On Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday of next week (21-23 June) we will be holding the annual Durham Lectures. This year we're honoured to have Prof. Jacob Israelachvili from Santa Barbara delivering the lectures. John Sanderson has also arranged two poster lunch sessions in the general areas covered by our Soft Matter Centre and the BSI to give students and PDRA's a chance to discuss their work with Jacob. As always, we’ll expect to see everybody at the lectures. More details at

On a less exciting note, you'll be aware that there is significant work going on around the Department as part of the boiler replacements. This will carry on until later September. We hope that disruptions will be limited to a lack of hot water and occasional periods when some services (NMR, Mass Spec) have to be temporarily interrupted due to equipment movement. If there are any other problems please inform Jimmy Lincoln.

This month's bedtime reading is a paper from David Parker's group (along with Ka-Leung Wong from Hong Kong Baptist University) on the use of lanthanide complexes as sensors to probe bicarbonate concentrations in mitochondria, which forms during the energy-producing Krebs cycle. There's a news story and link to the original article at:



Chemistry News 019 - 11/5/11

Dear All,

Lots of good news this week! This short update is mainly to send congratulations to various members of staff for award of fellowships, promotion and for winning FOUR Royal Society of Chemistry awards.

Congratulations to Christoph Salzmann who has just been awarded a prestigious Royal Society University Research Fellowship to work on a project entitled: “Spotlight on the water molecule: the dynamics & chemistry of its solid forms”.

Congratulations to Phil Dyer who has been awarded a Royal Society Industry Fellowship. This fellowship will allow Phil to spend 50% of his time for the next 3 years working with Johnson Matthey at Billingham on a project involving modification of heterogenous catalysts. Spending time on both sites will provide a wonderful opportunity for Phil, and the Department, to increase interactions with industry.

Congratulations to Ivana Evans who has been promoted to a senior lectureship.

Congratulations to Mark Wilson who has been elected as chair of the British Liquid Crystal Society.

Congratulations to Karl Coleman who has been awarded the Royal Society of Chemistry award for “Chemistry World Entrepreneur of the Year”. The award is to recognise Karl's development of intellectual property around the production of graphene, and for the formation of the spin out company Durham Graphene Science Ltd, which is currently housed in Chemistry. This follows on from Karl's Blueprint award last year (;

Congratulations to Jeremy Hutson who has been awarded the Royal Society of Chemistry Tilden prize and lectureship which was awarded for “advances in chemistry”, particularly in the area of ultracold molecules. Jeremy's citation reads “for pioneering studies of the formation and properties of ultracold molecules, particularly the novel molecular collisions that occur in the fully quantum-mechanical regime below 1 millikelvin”.

Congratulations to David Parker who has been awarded the Royal Society of Chemistry Ludwig Mond Award for “outstanding research in any aspect of inorganic chemistry”. The citation is for work on the “coordination chemistry of the rare earths, leading to an understanding of the action of responsive optical and magnetic probes and the development of lanthanide complexes and conjugates for use in analysis and imaging”. A former head of the organic teaching section winning an inorganic award is a nice example of the way in which Durham Chemistry breaks down (well, ignores) traditional boundaries.

Finally, congratulations to our final year students for a 90% overall completion rate in the NSS. Clearly top in the science faculty, but pipped at the post by Music (though there is a natsci allocation algorithm feeding into our figure which probably means we can claim moral victory!). In the absence of the VC's prize we'll fund graduation cream cakes ourselves!

Best wishes,


Chemistry News 018 - 15/4/11

Dear All,

Recent news from Chemistry:

We've had a number of significant recent funding successes. Some of you will have seen the announcement in this week's Durham Times of ~£1.25m funding (subject to formal offer) from the Government's regional growth fund to develop collaborative work with Procter and Gamble ( This will support a number of PhD students and postdocs in the Department. The award follows lots of work from various people in chemistry and outside. Externally we should thank, in particular, Tim Hammond from BIS and Tom McCleish who have done a huge amount of work in building our strategic relationships with P&G. Internally, thanks to everybody who has been involved in many guided tours, visits and scientific discussions in recent months. I hope this will be the first of several initiatives with P&G.

Other funding successes include a Leverhulme grant to Jan Verlet and Colin Bain for ‘Spectroscopy, dynamics and reactivity of hydrated electrons at interfaces’; and a grant to Richard Thompson and Lian Hutchings for two postdoctoral positions from Michelin - unfortunately the tire rather than food division.

Congratulations to Andy, Lars and Jacquie for winning ~£25k to extend the “Spectroscopy in a Suitcase” outreach activities to a wider region.

There's been a huge amount of activity recently from our outreach team:

Thanks to everybody who took part in recent work experience activities. I received the following in an email from a parent: “X has, quite literally, had the time of his life! I haven’t met anyone from this team before but, after hearing X talk about them all, I now have an image of them all wearing capes, that float gently in the wind, and wearing a shiny top with a big ‘S’ on their chests!”. We'll issue said capes to all members of staff from 2012. The student's comments are at:

Thanks also to those (Julita, Jacquie, Katy Moss, Iain Wallace, Ricardo Girling, Alistair Linsell, Mike Smith, Chris McPake, Becky Edwards and Alex Dudgeon) who took part in the Schools' Science Festival ( Again, incredible feedback from pupils who attended. I've pasted some comments at the end of the email.

Thanks to everybody who's taking part in this week's teachers' conference. There are about 50 delegates, and many chemistry staff are giving up their time (weekends and evenings included) to take part.

Other recent news includes a partnership between Durham Chemistry (Steve Cobb, Ehmke Pohl) and Cambridge Research Biochemicals:; and a successful CV workshop run by DUCS, industry and staff members:

This newsletter's reading is a paper on mixed valence from Neil Brown, Mark Fox, Dmitry Yufit, Judith Howard and Paul Low along with Hannah Lancashire, Ruth Edge, David Collinson and Mark Whiteley from Manchester: There's beautiful artwork on the journal cover created by Horst using the Durham Olex2 software (

Finally, 50th birthday plans are coming along nicely. Judith has finalized the speakers for the science symposium on 23rd September, and we'll also be holding a public lecture on Marie Curie as part of the 2011 year of chemistry celebrations. Thanks principally to Euan Ross, though with several contributions from others, our Departmental History is taking shape on our wiki site: Please do contribute!

Best wishes,


Science Festival Feedback: Amazing materials was the best Range of materials in the Amazing materials and good subject knowledge The amazing materials session was good fun – staff have all been really helpful and friendly Alistair and Ricardo in Amazing materials were awesome! Alistair and Ricardo at Amazing materials were funny and informative An excellent morning that enthused the pupils It was fun Thank you loads – great to see real university people! I liked how everyone was helpful Excellent engaging demonstrators Enjoyed everything Fantastic Could we do a whole day? Very good university students Kept students involved and interested School students did not want to leave at lunchtime A very enjoyable & informative afternoon – your demonstrators were all fabulous – thank you Very polite teachers, it was fun to take part in It was a good chance to learn more about science Perhaps include learning outcomes or some follow up ideas for one in school Great demonstrators Should have had more lessons Overall it was really good The people who demonstrated were kind and helpful Really, really enjoyable Thanks for the apple juice A great day I enjoyed it Please do it again It is awesome!! It was amazing Thanks for a great afternoon Your demonstrators were all fabulous – thank you

Chemistry News 017 - 10/2/11

Dear All,

Some news stories from the Department:

Plans are developing rapidly for our “50th Birthday” event on September 23/24th, when we'll invite alumni, staff and families for a weekend of “science and friendship”. Details will be updated on the alumni webpage at We've also launched an alumni wiki ( where people can contribute stories about the Department.

Thanks again for enduring the recent heating problems in the Department. You'll have heard from Jimmy that all systems were finally back in action on Tuesday. We're fighting hard for improvements for the future.

Recent funding successes include an award from HE-STEM for the “RELITE - Research Led Innovative Teaching Experiments” project. Through this project we'll introduce a new problem based learning approach in the first year teaching lab. Congratulations to Jacquie Robson, Ivana Evans and Andy Hughes for winning the funding. Congratulations also to Ritu Kataky for a Royal Society International project grant to work with Christian Amatore and to Ezat Khosravi for a grant to spend time with Bob Grubbs at Caltech. Bob and Christian gave given the “Durham Lectures” in 2006 and 2008 respectively (, so it's great to see the links made with our visitors continue. You may also have seen David Parker's ERC grant ( highlighted in this week's Durham Times.

Best wishes to Nigel Clarke who has just moved to a chair in the Department of Physics in Sheffield, and congratulations on this promotion. Nigel's been a valued member of staff since 2000 and will be greatly missed. Nigel will be in the Department one day a week for the rest of term, so we'll celebrate his departure (or whatever the phrase should be!) later in the year.

Welcome to Ellie Hurst who has joined us to provide maternity cover in chromatography while Aileen Congreve is away. Congratulations to Aileen and Horst on the related birth of Thomas Puschmann!

The RSC journal Dalton Transactions has just celebrated its 40th anniversary. As part of the celebrations they've announced their most cited articles of all time. Congratulations to David Parker and Gareth for making the top ten:

For bedtime reading you might be interested in three articles by Durham groups in a recent issue of Chem. Comm.: Work there is from the O'Donoghue group on N-heterocyclic carbenes (, the Steed group on supermolecular gels ( and the Sanderson group on acyl transfer from a lipid to peptide (

Best wishes,


Heating News 14/1/11

Dear All,

With term starting on Monday I wanted to update everybody on the state of heating in the Department. The details below are my best understanding of the evolving situation.

As you know significant areas of the Department have been without proper heating since the cold snap in late November and we have suffered due to the resulting burst pipes. As a Department we should be particularly grateful to the security team who saved us from potentially far worse damage.

There has been a huge amount of work going on by Bryan, Paul and Jimmy to try and repair systems. Much of the ground work has been done, but we're unfortunately still not in a position where heating has been restored in failed areas.

Our largest problem area is the new wing that contains the synthetic teaching lab. My information is that it will be at least a week before the air handling units are repaired; my guess is longer. E&B have today hooked up an emergency heating system (as used in e.g. marquees and warehouses) to try and blow warm air via heating ducts into the teaching laboratory. The first fifteen minutes suggests that this may have been successful. If this approach fails we will take the regrettable step of cancelling undergraduate laboratories when the lab temperature is below 16 C. Realistically this will mean we'd need outside temperatures around 10 C to teach. Next week is forecast to be cold. We'll inform the undergraduate classes as appropriate.

The status in other areas is that all the units are back on site and repaired but we are still waiting for filters before they can be switched back on. This is essentially where we were at the last update a week ago. E&B have asked for written confirmation that the filters will be here by Monday so units can be turned on early next week. My understanding is that the expectation of this happening is high, but we are at the mercy of external contractors.

To prevent more problems this winter we have agreed a cold weather protocol with E&B. It's necessarily detailed and attached for your information (will also be on Departmental SharePoint). Briefly, if the temperature is threatened to hit -3 C overnight we'll enter “code blue” status and turn off fume cupboards in the high risk areas from 16.30. If it's threatened to reach -6 C we'll enter “code deep blue” status and turn off fume cupboards more widely. This will clearly cause more and significant disruption to our research. I think we will have to accept more potential regular short term disruption to prevent long term problems. Jimmy will contact people with full instructions when needed.

We have requested written details by the end of January on how plans to avoid similar issues in the future will be made.

I hope that free tea and coffee this week has helped warm people through the day; I equally hope that we don't have to open a soup kitchen later in the winter.

With my continued apologies for the situation,


Chemistry News 016 - 17/12/10

Dear All,

A final newsletter for the year.

Thanks again to everybody for struggling through the recent lack of heating, the consequent floods and for preparing us for potential problems over the Christmas shutdown. It's likely to be several weeks into the New Year before everything is back to normal, but we'll be working hard to try and improve things for the future. The VC has written to us this week to encourage us in this task and to ask us to bid for funds to help.

To switch to good news:

Welcome to Nigel Robinson and group who are moving in to the Department this week.

Two parties to announce. Our end of year Christmas drinks/nibbles will be in the Musgrave room from 16.00 on Wednesday 22nd. I look forward to seeing everybody there. Next September (Friday/Saturday 23/24th) we'll be celebrating 50 years of chemistry in our current building. The plan is to have talks celebrating our and alumni science on the Friday afternoon and part of Saturday morning. We'll then have “popular science” talks and an open day and lunch from around 11.00. We'll be inviting lots of old colleagues, students and post-docs back to Durham and hope that the Saturday will be a chance for people to bring in local friends and family to see what we do. Judith and the birthday team will provide more information on the plans in the New Year.

We've a couple of great recent grant successes. Congratulations to David Parker on a multi-million euro ERC Advanced Investigator grant to work on “Functional Coordination Chemistry”. These grants “allow exceptional established research leaders……to pursue frontier research of their choice”. Congratulations also to Neil Cameron for winning a Leverhulme grant to work on “a synthetic cell that displays acceptor mediated endocytosis” and to Mark Wilson for winning funds to bring a CECAM computational workshop to Durham in 2011.

The Department has been placed in the top “excellence” category across Europe in the 2011 CHE rankings, as have the sustainable chemistry and catalysis team:

Prof Paul O'Brien from Manchester ( will be an IAS fellow next term, hosted by Colin Bain. His research interests are in inorganic materials, and particularly quantum dots and other nano-scale systems. We look forward to welcoming Paul to Durham.

Richard Thompson and I did an energy audit late on Monday evening. We were delighted to see that the overwhelming majority of equipment had been properly turned off. There were a few labs with computers and monitors left on - please do turn these off where appropriate. It was particularly nice to see that Santa and a helper elf were still beavering away in CG100 late at night. Clearly preparing a Christmas results surprise for their supervisor!

This week's recommended reading is a Nature Chemistry article by Jon Steed and team from the Department (Jonathan Foster, Marc-Oliver Piepenbrock, Gareth Lloyd, Nigel Clarke, Judith Howard) on the use of supramolecular gels for growing crystals of organic compounds and pharmaceuticals with a clever trick of anion-induced gel dissolution being used to recover crystals:

Happy Christmas to all,


Chemistry News 015 - 14/11/10

P.S. I apologised in advance for potentially missing people off the list of those who helped with “Celebrate Science”. However I really shouldn't have missed off Kate Nicholson who did a huge amount of work manning the stand and Aaron Brown who helped with the glass blowing. Kate and Aaron: thanks and apologies.

Dear All,

The latest news from the Chemistry Department:

I'm sure everybody will be delighted to hear that Elizabeth New (PhD 2009, Parker) has been appointed to a lectureship at the University of Sydney from 2011. Liz came to Durham on a Commonwealth Scholarship (2006-2009) to do a PhD with David Parker. She then won an 1851 fellowship which she took to UC Berkeley to work with Chris Chang. It's wonderful to see one of our alumni win a top academic position so quickly.

Congratulations to Karl Coleman for winning the 2010 Blueprint and Knowledge Transfer Award. Details are on the web at: This is the second year running that Durham Chemistry have won this award, last year's winners being Robert Pal and David Parker for Fscan. Karl's work on graphene (the subject of the 2010 Nobel prize for physics) was also featured in the local press:

Karl, Mustafa Bayazit, Lucy Clarke and Nigel Clarke (no relation!) have also recently had a JACS article published on their carbon nanotube work: Lucy's contribution to the work was from her 4th year project - a nice example of research-led education in chemistry.

As you know the 2010 Nobel prize in chemistry was was awarded jointly to Heck, Negishi and Suzuki “for palladium-catalyzed cross couplings in organic synthesis”. The RSC have produced a themed issue of Organic and Biological Chemistry which features a collection of articles in the area with contributions from Andy Whiting, Patrick Steel and Todd Marder's groups:

Thanks to everybody who took part in the “Celebrate Science” event ( Apologies if I miss anybody but the team included: Andy Beeby, Malcolm Richardson, Jacquie Robson, Pippa Monks, Hazel Sparkes, Kathryn Moss, Katherine Linton, Marie-Helene Thibault, Alex Dudgeon, Mike Smith and Ricardo Girling. The general feedback I was sent included: The Chemistry exhibit was outstanding! I love liquid nitrogen! My favourite things were the bubbles! The most amazing thing I did today was find out about Chemistry! I learnt some Chemistry even though I didn’t know any in the first place! Our children really enjoyed the Chemistry – thank you! My favourite thing was the dry ice (Scarlett, age 6). The glassblowing was great! I learnt how to make a beautiful glass (Katie, age 7). Thank you everybody (John, age perhaps a little over 40)

Finally two poster prize awards: congratulations to Richard Delley who works with David Hodgson and AnnMarie O'Donoghue who won the poster competition at the recent RSC Physical Organic meeting; and to Valentina Erastova who won the poster award at “Celebrate Science” ( The judges' comments on Valentina's poster were: I think the winning poster should be “What happens in the Cold” because… …of the fantastic pictures to accompany the brilliantly simplified concept for all of the audience to understand. …the penguins are lovely! …the truck looked unhappy. …of the imaginative layout and pictures. …it has got good pictures and is very informative. …it is well presented, has a good layout, is clear and easy to understand, and has lovely pictures.

Best wishes,


Chemistry News 014 - 22/9/10

Dear All,

The latest news updates. I'll go with funding first as September has been a great month for the Department.

Congratulations to:

Jeremy Hutson, Eckart Wrede and David Carty who've been awarded a multi-million pound EPSRC programme grant on “Microkelvin Molecules in a Quantum Array” with colleagues in physics and at Imperial College. This is a great achievement by the team.

Colin Bain and Lian Hutchings who (along with colleagues in Physics and Maths and at Imperial, Melbourne and the Central Laser Facility) have won significant funding under the EPSRC's critical mass scheme for a research programme on Nanofluids. The probability of this award being relegated to second item in my news list in any other week is vanishingly small!

Colin Bain and Jas Pal for an NSF/EPSRC grant on “Catch and Release Chemistry”.

Andy Monkman and Martin Bryce for winning an EPSRC grant to develop polymers for LEDs for lighting applications.

Andy Monkman, Martin Bryce, Gareth Williams and Fernando Dias for winning an epsrc grant “EXPLORER; Excitonic Polymer Organic Devices for Energy”.

I'm sure you'll all be delighted to hear that Professor Nigel Robinson will be joining the Biology Department as a BSI chair from January. Nigel's research group will be housed in Chemistry and he'll take over the space vacated by Rob Edwards. His research interests ( concern the role of metals cell biology, so there should be many opportunities for collaborative work with staff in the Department.

Welcome (back!) to Jacquie Robson (nee Burke) who will be spending a year in the Department as an RSC teacher fellow. Jacquie will be looking at various aspects of the transition from school to university life, how we can improve students problem solving skills, outreach activities and many other things. Since finishing her PhD Jacquie's been a teacher in local schools so we'll be extracting as much information from her as possible about modern school teaching methods and the school science curriculum.

Three of our undergraduates have received University awards: Robert Puckrin (now year 3) and Ashley Johns (year two) have both been awarded prestigious VC's scholarships for academic excellence and James Farrell (year three) a PVC faculty scholarship.

Finally, this week's reading: a paper from Chris Greenwell and colleagues in JACS on the interaction of RNA with clays and its impact on the origins of life (

Best wishes,


Chemistry News 013 - 24/8/10

Dear All,

Some news updates from the last few months - apologies that I've been slow in sending some of these:

Welcome to Ashleigh Tarn who joined the secretarial team earlier in the summer and to Fabian Niedermair who's come to work with Gareth Williams on an Austrian Schrodinger fellowship.

A belated thanks to everybody who helped with the Departmental graduation event back in June. I thought the event went wonderfully and received lots of positive feedback from students and parents.

Congratulations to David Parker and Lars Palsson on the award of a significant grant from EPSRC on the development of circularly polarised luminescence microscopy; to Tom McLeish, Mark Wilson, Ehmke Pohl and Martin Cann on a grant to develop “New Multiscale Tools for Protein Physics”; and to Graham Sandford on winning PhD support grants from Sony.

Thanks to the team led by Pippa et al. for hosting this summer's USIC inorganic chemistry conference in Durham, which was a great success. Congratulations to Lisa Murphy for winning first prize for the best oral presentation at the meeting.

Jas Pal has successfully sold his spinout company Surface Innovations to P2i ( who are a world leader in liquid repellant nano-coating technology and also have their scientific origins in Durham.

There have been a stream of top-quality papers in recent months. To highlight a few:

Kosmas Prassides, Yasuhiro Takabayashi, Martin McDonald and co-workers have reported on superconductivity in fcc Cs3C60 in Nature ( It's a remarkable system where one can pass cleanly from an antiferromagnetically insulating to a superconducting state by the application of pressure at low temperature, and follows a series of fascinating articles in top ranked journals in this area.

The Bryce group has just published their third article in the Journal of the American Chemical Society in two years on pi-conjugated molecular wires synthesised in Durham and their subsequent assembly in nanoscale electrical junctions. The interdisciplinary work is in collaboration with experimental device groups at the Universities of Liverpool (Prof. Richard Nichols) and Basel (Prof. Christian Schoenenberger) and theoreticians at the University of Lancaster (Prof. Colin Lambert). The work is aimed at the fundamental understanding of factors governing electrical conductance at the single-molecule level. The Durham coauthors on these papers are Changsheng Wang, Rukkiat Jitchati, Andrei S. Batsanov and Martin R. Bryce. See;; and

For proof that it's possible to chair the board of examiners and do great science have a look at Mark Wilson's front cover paper at: and JACS article with Fatima Chami on the molecular order in the sunset yellow dye (presumably the sun setting on his tenure as BoE chair) at

Do let me know of any other news items.


Chemistry News 012 - 21/5/10 Jeremy Hutson FRS

Dear All,

I'm sure that you'll all be delighted to hear that Jeremy Hutson has been elected as a Fellow of the Royal Society. There's a short story and details of the work that led to the award on the web at: *.

Jeremy's in the US at the moment so we'll have to postpone our celebrations slightly. However I hope everybody can come to a celebration drinks party at 16.30 on Friday 4th June. For those examining 4th years it's straight after the final moderators meeting, by which time I'm sure we'll all be ready for a drink!!


Chemistry News 011 - 30/4/10

Dear All,

I do apologise for sending another news letter so soon, but good news shouldn't wait:

First and foremost, congratulations to two members of staff on winning major Royal Society of Chemistry awards. Jon Steed has been awarded the Corday Morgan Prize for “the most meritorious contributions to chemistry” for chemists 40 and below. Kosmas Prassides has won a Tilden Prize, which is awarded for major contributions to chemistry from mid career researchers. These are two of the Royal Society of Chemistry's most prestigious awards and it's a great achievement for two members of staff to be awarded them simultaneously. More details will appear soon as a news story on the website.

Congratulations also to:

The five-a-side football team, Chembridge United, who beat the ITS by six goals to one in a thrilling final at Maiden Castle on Thursday. Well done to the Carnachan, Smith, Fleming, Ramsey, Walton, Johnson, Dillon and Zheng team. As always technical staff, students and academics working together in perfect harmony!

Hayley Charville, David Jackson, George Hodges and Andrew Whiting for a top ten accessed article in Chemical Communications:

Steve Cobb on recently winning grants for “The development of antimicrobial peptide based on antileishmanial agents” from the Royal Society, and for support of a Netherlands-UK workshop on “Developments in Antimicrobial peptides: Isolation, characterization, application, and modification” from the British Council.

The team who took part in the science festival recently. There's a great photo of Durham Chemists in action in the local press at

Jan Verlet, Colin Bain and D.M. Sagar on a JACS communication on electrons at the water/air interface (

…and finally to Barry Barker for mending the Musgrave room kettle!

Best wishes,


Chemistry News 010 - 26/4/10

Dear All,

The latest news:

Congratulations to Jeremy Hutson and Todd Marder, both of whom have been awarded prestigious Humboldt prizes, which are Germany's highest research award to internationally renowned scholars. More details on the web at:

Professor Jacob Israelachvili has agreed to give the Durham Lectures in 2011 in the area of soft matter. We have tentatively booked the week beginning 20th June 2011 for his visit, which Nigel Clarke will coordinate. Details of Prof. Israelachvili's research are at:

The date for the 5-a-side football final has been set: 29th April, 1.00 pm, Maiden Castle. The Department is willing to refund all public transport costs between the Department and venue for those wishing to travel to see the match.

Despite the best efforts of the ash cloud, last week's international graduate school on Powder Diffraction and Rietveld refinement was a great success, with delegates travelling from as far as Brazil and Hong Kong. More at:

Best wishes,


Chemistry News 008 - 14/4/10

Dear All,

The latest news from the Department:

Congratulations to Ruth Poultney on being awarded one of this year's Salters' Graduate Prizes in Chemistry. This is the second year running that one of our fourth year M. Chem students has won this prestigious national award (Christine Wheeler was a winner in 2009 see

Jackie Robson (nee Burke) has just been awarded an RSC Teacher Fellowship which she'll hold in Durham from September 2010. Jackie did her undergraduate degree and PhD (with Todd and Judith) in the Department and has since been working as a chemistry teacher in Newcastle and Barnard Castle. Jackie's fellowship will fund her to look at ways of improving the links between schools and universities and helping students develop the study skills they'll need for a chemistry degree. We look forward to welcoming her back.

Congratulations to Antonis Messinis from Phil Dyer's group who won the (only) poster prize at the 7th European Workshop on Phosphorus Chemistry in Budapest. His poster was entitled “Synthesis, Characterisation and Properties of pi-Conjugated Phosphenium Ions”. I hope the regularity of poster prizes being won by Phil's group will inspire healthy rivalry in the Department!

Congratulations to Jeremy Hutson for a US Air Force grant on “Ultracold Molecules: new phases of matter for quantum information and quantum control”.

Thanks to all staff who spent time reviewing epsrc grants this year. In addition to helping the community this earns money that the Department puts towards doctoral training. We had a 99.12% response rate to requests for reviews (looking at the statistics I'm guessing we also had a cast-iron excuse for the missing 0.88%). Particular thanks to all those who responded before deadlines - this earns us £50 extra each time!

A couple of literature highlights from the Department. Firstly Andrew Ilott, Sebastian Palucha, Andrei Batsanov, Mark Wilson and Paul Hodgkinson have recently published a jacs paper on structure and dynamics in the solid state using a combination of experimental methods and theoretical calculations ( - a nice example of the interdisciplinary collaborative work the Department does well.

Secondly, Jesus Aldegunde and Jeremy Hutson have recently co-authored a paper in Nature Physics, with the experimental cold molecules group in Innsbruck: The Science perspective article I mentioned last time has also received interest in the scientific press:;;

Those of you fascinated by h-indices and impact factors might find the article “Bibliometrics as Weapons of Mass Citation” interesting: The “Teaching Factor” and “Fun Factor” are certainly metrics to explore. Thanks to Robin Harris and Alan Kenwright for forwarding the link.

The University is currently reviewing internal communication so you may be contacted by a company called “Marketwise Strategies” and invited to take part in an anonymous focus group.

Durham and the Department will be hosting a week-long residential school for 75 UK and international graduate students in powder diffraction and Rietveld refinement next week. My thanks to all those who are contributing time to teaching and tutoring on the school.

Finally at long last I have a sporting triumph to report: good luck to the Chemistry 5-a-side football team who've made it to this year's University final. I'm sure Keith will let people know the date of the big match.

Please do let me know of more items as they arise.

Best wishes,


Chemistry News 007 - 22/2/10

Dear All,

Some recent(ish) news items:

Welcome to Corinna Hess, Christoph Salzmann and Pete Stokes who have joined us since the last newsletter. Corinna graduated from Cal Tech (Harry Gray's group) and has been a PDRA at Berkeley (with Judith Klinmann) and the Max Planck Institute in Muelheim (with Karl Wieghardt). As you might guess her research interests are in the area of bioinorganic chemistry. Christoph did his PhD in Innsbruck and has since spent time at UCL and Oxford. His research interests include the properties of water and carbon nanotubers. Pete has joined us as an Experimental Officer in mass spectrometry from LGC (the former laboratory of the Government chemist).

Congratulations to:

Martin Bryce on winning significant funding from BP for a 4 year research project.

Ritu Kataky on her new spin out company - Durham Electroanalysis Limited.

Kosmas Prassides whose work on the record breaking Cs3C60 superconductors has recently featured as an annual highlight of both the ESRF and Japanese SPring-8 synchrotron facilities.

Todd Marder on the award of a JSPS Invitational Fellowship to give a series of lectures at Japanese Universities.

Some recent publications that might interest people:

Chris Greenwell has recently published a tutorial review on algae biofuels, a “most read” article in the Journal of the Royal Society Interface (

Jeremy Hutson has recently published a Perspectives article in Science on ultracold chemistry ( which discusses recent results showing how flipping a single nuclear spin can dramatically change the chemical reactivity of ultracold molecules.

Dates for your diary: The 2010 Durham lectures (Dan Nocera, will be 10th-13th May - details will be on the web soon.

Finally, this weekend's network outage had significant impact. It put the NMR machines out of action and meant that automatic data backups failed (not to mention me having to traipse through the snow to get files I couldn't access). Can I urge people to be careful with all equipment around the Department and to always consider the wider consequences of their actions?


Chemistry News 006 - 14/12/09

Dear All,

A few pre-Christmas news updates:

Firstly welcome to Aaron Brown and Craig Robinson who have recently joined the Department as junior apprentices to help in the glassblowing and safety/waste disposal. In the New Year we’ll also be joined by Pete Stokes who is the new experimental officer in mass spectrometry and Neil Jerome who will join us for 6 months as an experimental officer in NMR.

This year’s Christmas party will be held from ~15.30 on Friday 18th.

Congratulations to Ritu Kataky and co-workers for their appearance in the Times magazine article “The new Victorians” last Saturday (

Belated congratulations to Jonathan Foster who was a member of the team (along with three students from Biological and Biomedical Sciences) who won the regional heat of BiotechnologyYES in Manchester in November. They are competing (today) in the national final.

Jas Pal Badyal and co-workers have won funding under the Invention for Innovation (i4i) scheme for a project to test bactericidal biomedical surfaces.

Thanks again to everybody who helped organize Bill Bryson’s visit ( Many of you will have seen Bill’s letter to the Department which was displayed in the Musgrave room. In summary, he was struck by the enthusiasm of everybody he met and particularly taken by his coffee mug souvenir!

I’ve also just found out that the chemistry coffee mug has featured in an overseas science outreach festival and is featured on youtube (!

Congratulations to Jenny Readman, Sarah Lister and co-workers for a nice JACS communication on the use of ultrafast powder diffraction to unravel the reaction pathways to functional materials (

Please do let me know other news stories.


Chemistry News 005 - 2/11/09

Dear All,

A few news updates:

I'm delighted to announce that Corinna Hess has accepted the 5 year lectureship in inorganic chemistry and will be joining us early in January. Corinna graduated from Cal Tech (Harry Gray's group) and has been a PDRA at Berkeley (with Judith Klinmann) and the Max Planck Institute in Muelheim (with Karl Wieghardt). As you might guess her research interests are in the area of bioinorganic chemistry.

You'll remember that Alistair Linsell received a silver medal in the NESTA FameLab competition for scientific communication earlier in the year ( - the only undergraduate to reach the finals. As part of his prize he's made a short “3minute wonder” film for channel 4 which is scheduled to be shown on Thursday at 12.30.

We were keeping the following one quiet, but as the VC announced it last week: Neil Cameron has been awarded a €3.9M FP7 grant as coordinator of a European network involving seven partners.

Peter Bruce from St Andrews will give the RSC Tilden lecture this Wednesday on “Materials Chemistry and Climate Change”. Note that the venue is CG85. The Durham Energy Institute PhD students will be joining us for the seminar and there will be a wine reception afterwards in the Musgrave Room.

Bill Bryson will be visiting the Department on the morning of Thursday 17th November. More details to follow.

Best wishes,


Chemistry News 004 - 21/10/09

Dear All,

I pressed “send” too soon. Today's breaking news:

Congratulations also to Robert Pal and FScan Ltd who won first prize last night in the “Dragon's Den” Science and Technology Category of the Regional (Blueprint) Business Awards. More details will appear on the web.


Dear All,

Sorry for another news letter so soon, but several pieces of good news to report.

People first. Christoph Salzmann, who many of you will have met last week, will be joining the Department as a fixed-term lecturer from January 4th 2010. Christoph did his PhD in Innsbruck and has since spent time at UCL and Oxford. Details about some of his work are at and

Congratulations also to Robert Pal on the birth of his son Oliver Tobias at the end of September.

Several successes to report on the funding front:

At the last EPSRC panel Paul Hodgkinson won substantial funding for a joint project with Warwick on “New Paradigms for NMR of organic solids”; Mark Wilson was funded on a joint project with UEA on “Bridging the gap between Molecular Dynamics and EPR spectroscopy” for liquid crystal systems; and Ivana and I won funding for the 2010 Powder Diffraction and Rietveld school. The school brings PhD-level condensed matter scientists from around the world to Durham for an intensive residential training course.

Congratulations also to David Parker for an £86K grant from fscan for work on prostate cancer diagnosis and Ezat Khosravi in raising funding from ISP for a PhD studentship. We’ve also got a rumour of more good news to announce soon on the funding front.

At the undergraduate level Wai Ching Wong was awarded a Vice-Chancellors scholarship of £2000 for her first year academic work. Two of our first years won VC scholarships for sport (Stuart McCluskey) and performing arts (Paul Moss). Vicky Chang and James Farrell both won Baxter Awards from Hatfield for their exam performance.

Finally a couple of events coming up outside Durham:

On 30th October Ahmed Zewail, who received the Nobel prize in chemistry, in 1998 is speaking on the “Mysteries of Time” at York University. More details via or the posters around the Department. He is an excellent speaker.

The Parliamentary and Scientific Committee have recently announced SET for Britain 2010, a poster event for early-career researchers. Details are at


Chemistry News 003 - 6/10/09

Dear All,

Term is upon us and it's time to welcome new people to the Department. Firstly welcome to our new graduate students - it was great to see so many of you getting to know new people at the reception last night. I remind those of you I saw helpfully “clearing up” at the end of the evening of the usual requirement of winchester carriers when transporting liquid chemicals! Secondly a record-sized first year undergraduate class joined the Department yesterday. Thanks in advance to everybody for the hard work that's going to be needed to look after them all.

As the new year gets underway there are many exciting things events coming up in the Department. The full seminar programme is listed at I'd like to highlight the RSC Centenary prize lecture by Prof. Yoshinori Yamamoto which is on Friday 16th at 12.00 (CG85 - please be prompt, engineering lecture at 13.00), and hope to see everybody there. I'd also like to remind you that Victoria Money is running an informal seminar programme for the BSI on 7th October. She's had a terrific response from people wanting to contribute and attend. I attach the programme but contact Victoria ( for more details.

I'd like to congratulate the following people:

Dan Smith (PWD) who won the prize for the best student talk at the RSC main group meeting for a talk on “flexible multi-functional reagents”.

Paula Lopes for a poster prize at the Faraday Division's Electrochemistry meeting for work on “Chiral transfer at a liquid/liquid interface”.

Louise Parkes for best oral presentation at the Scottish Inorganic Chemistry meeting for work on “new luminescent complexes containing quinoline ligands and 6-membered chelating units”.

Thanks/congratulations to Val Watson for raising £500 for Grace House children's hospice through cake sales in the Department.

People might also be interested in the story at describing the £4.1M raised by P2i Ltd which spun out from Jas Pal's research. Stephen Coulson, who graduated from Jas Pal's group, is now Chief Technology Officer for the company.

Finally, for some light entertainment what could be better than Jon Steed's podcast on Ruthenium available from the RSC's webpages at ? For something heavier (but equally fascinating) try Garth and Jon's Nature Chemistry article on tunable gels (

Best wishes,


Chemistry News 002 - 27/8/09

Dear All,

Some recent news in the department:

Many of you will have seen the new sharepoint system (http://baron/sites/chemistry/default.aspx) that Alan Harland has put together to replace and improve the old chemistry intranet. Lots of useful documents are stored there and there's a new online booking system for rooms, projectors, etc. There's also a calendar where you can enter departmental events you think will be of interest to others. Please feed suggestions and comments to Alan. Thanks to him and others for their hard work putting this together.

We have an exciting list of speakers coming in the next few months. To start us off there's an afternoon symposium on carbenes on Tuesday 8th September (AnnMarie, Steve Nolan and Guy Bertrand are speaking) as part of the RSC awards programme.

If people have any science stories that should be on the shiny new webpages please let either Mark Fox, Mark Garner or me know.

Congratulations to:

Rachel Chismon, Gary Oswald and Scott Ramsey on completing their three year training programmes.

Lars Palsson on the award of a RS grant.

Chris Greenwell on an EU FP7 award “BioAlgaeSorb” looking into renewable fuels.

Andy Hughes and admissions team for ensuring that we're all going to be very busy teaching a bumper crop of first years from October.

Andy Whiting and others for funding to help build the nascent Centre for Sustainable Chemical Processes.

Judith Howard on being appointed as next director of the BSI.

Best wishes,


Chemistry News 001 - 3/8/09

Dear All,

I'd like to thank everybody for the warm welcome they gave me at the party on Friday evening. The words of support are much appreciated. I'd also like to thank Judith again for the tremendous amount of hard work she's done in leading the Department over the last three years.

A few practical issues for while I'm Head of Department:

I'd like to continue the tradition of an open-door policy if people have issues they need to discuss with HoD. However I'd like people to try and see me between 09.00 and 12.00 (midday!) if at all possible. I would like the periods before/after those times to be as uninterrupted as possible to allow me to work on both research and Departmental projects. I am, of course, happy to discuss issues outside those times if they're urgent. Please either pop in or email if you want to set a time slot.

For “routine” signatures (e.g. visitor, IT forms and the like) there will be an in-box and out-box in cg160. I'll aim to sign these at least once a day.

You'll have seen that Mark and Andrew have put a lot of effort into the web pages recently (many thanks). Much of the information has already been updated, there are striking new images and regular news stories are appearing. I will also send round semi-regular emails with information/news about the Department to try and keep people informed of what's going on - do let me know if there's news that should be passed on.

With best wishes,


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