PhD Studentship in Physical Organic Chemistry: Non-covalent interactions

University of Edinburgh - School of Chemistry

Supervisor: Dr Scott L. Cockroft


This is a three-year award available to start 1st September 2017. This is a tax-free stipend covering tuition fees and living expenses at the standard EPSRC rate (commencing at ~£ 14,296 per year).

Project: Non-covalent interactions are fundamental aspects of almost all chemical and biological processes. Solvent effects coupled with the precise positioning of interacting functional groups may be essential for the astonishing ligand binding affinities observed in biology. However, previous experimental studies concerning the influence of van der Waals dispersion interactions have been limited. Here, we plan to develop molecular balances for quantifying dispersive interactions between large polarizable functional groups, such as those involving halogens and extended aromatic surfaces.

The student working on this project will receive training in a range of modern experimental and analytical techniques associated with physical organic chemistry including:

  • organic synthesis
  • theoretical background in molecular recognition
  • NMR spectroscopy
  • X-ray crystallography
  • quantitative structure activity relationships
  • computational modelling


Applicants should express a keen interest in molecular recognition phenomena. Previous research experience in synthetic chemistry is required. Applicants must be in possession of (or expecting to obtain) a first class or upper-second class degree (or equivalent) in Chemistry or other cognate discipline before the start of the PhD. Applicants MUST be either be EU, or UK nationals who have been resident in the UK for the past three years, OR be an exceptional EU national ranked within the top 5% of their class. To apply, email a copy of your CV to Please include a brief description of your previous research experience and current research interests.

Further information:

The deadline for applications is 31 January 2017.

-The limit of intramolecular H-bonding.

T. A. Hubbard, A. J. Brown, I. A. W. Bell, S. L.  Cockroft*. J. Am. Chem. Soc., DOI: 10.1021/jacs.6b09130 (2016).

-Can dispersion forces govern aromatic stacking in an organic solvent?

L. Yang, J. B. Brazier, T. A. Hubbard, D. M. Rogers & S. L. Cockroft*. Angew. Chem. Int. Ed., 55, 912–916 (2016).

-Quantifying solvophobic effects in non-polar cohesive interactions.

L. Yang, C. Adam & S. L. Cockroft*. J. Am. Chem. Soc., 137, 10084–7 (2015).

-Partitioning solvophobic and dispersion forces in alkyl and perfluoroalkyl cohesion.

C. Adam, L. Yang & S. L. Cockroft*. Angew. Chem. Int. Ed., 54, 1164–7 (2015).

-How much do van der Waals dispersion forces contribute to molecular recognition in solution?

L. Yang, C. Adam, G. S. Nichol & S. L. Cockroft*. Nature Chem., 5, 1006-10 (2013).

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