PhD Studentship: Catalyst design for tandem catalytic transformations

Aston University - School of Engineering and Applied Science

(3 years)

Applications are invited for a three year Postgraduate studentship, supported by the School of Engineering and Applied Science, to be undertaken within the Surfaces Materials & Catalysis Research Group at Aston University and supervised by Professor Karen Wilson. The successful applicant will join an established experimental group working on the rational design of heterogeneous catalysts for the tandem conversion of bio-derived feedstocks to renewable fuels and chemicals.  The studentship is offered in collaboration with Professor Roslyn Bill and Dr Marta Granollers-Mesa and will be in partnership with Chemoxy International.

The position is available to start in April or July 2017 (subject to negotiation)

This studentship includes a fee bursary to cover the home/EU fees rate plus a maintenance allowance (£15,850 in 2016/17).

Applicants from outside the EU may apply for this studentship but will need to pay the difference between the ‘Home/EU’ and the ‘Overseas’ tuition fees, currently £11,729 in 2016/17.  As part of the application you will be required to confirm that you have applied for, or secured this additional funding.

Background of the Project

This project will entail the synthesis and characterisation of novel nanostructured materials for catalytic application to the selective transformation of renewable biomass-derived feedstocks into sustainable platform chemicals and biofuels. Successful candidates will enjoy a stimulating working environment within the recently opened £2.5M Surface Chemistry and Materials Group laboratories, which are housed within the new £18M European Bioenergy Research Institute (EBRI) at Aston University. The catalysis research laboratories within EBRI are equipped with a suite of advanced analytical techniques for materials characterisation including, in-situ XPS, XRD, DRIFTS and DRUVS, and high performance adsorption and thermogravimetric instrumentation, alongside continuous flow microreactors and autoclaves and a suite of GC, HPLC and GC-MS facilities for catalyst testing. Group members also enjoy frequent opportunities for international exchange visits with our network of collaborators and access to international synchrotron facilities.

This studentship is offered under the auspices of the Midlands Energy Research Accelerator collaboration ( and some components of research training may be provided by the partner institutions.

Person Specification

The successful applicant should have a first class or upper second class honours degree or equivalent qualification in Chemistry or Chemical Engineering. Preferred skill requirements include knowledge/experience of Synthetic Chemistry, Materials Chemistry, Analytical Chemistry and Catalysis. 

We would particularly like to encourage applications from women seeking to progress their academic careers.  Aston University is committed to the principles of the Athena SWAN Charter, recognised recently by a prestigious Silver Award to EAS, and we pride ourselves on our vibrant, friendly and supportive working environment and family atmosphere.

For initial enquiries about this project prior to application and other opportunities within the Surfaces Materials and Catalysis Research Group, contact Professor Karen Wilson or Prof Roslyn Bill at,

The online application form, reference forms and details of entry requirements, including English language are available here.

Applications must also be accompanied by a research proposal giving an overview of the main themes of the research, and explaining how your knowledge and experience will benefit the project.

Details of how to write your project proposal are also included in the How to Apply section.

Closing Date: 13th February 2017

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Midlands of England