PhD: Biomolecule based fluorescent sensors for the selective detection of uranium in different oxidation states

The University of Manchester - School of Chemistry


Principal Supervisor: Louise Natrajan

Co-supervisor:  Sam Hay

National Nuclear Laboratory (NNL) Industrial Supervisors: Nick Smith and Divyesh Trivedi

Anticipated start date for project: 17 September 2018

Closing date for applications:  The application deadline for this studentship is 28 February 2018. However, please note the School reserves the right to review applications as they are submitted, to interview and appoint a candidate that meets the academic requirements prior to the closing date.

Summary of Project

Applications are invited for a fully-funded industrially sponsored CASE postgraduate studentship in the Centre for Radiochemistry Research within the School of Chemistry and the Manchester Institute of Biotechnology at the interfaces of chemistry, biochemistry radiochemistry and materials science. The position is available from September 2018. The PhD is co-funded by the National Nuclear Laboratory.

Environmental contamination of uranium is an on going challenge within the nuclear industry. Aligned with NNL’s waste management and disposal programme In this project, the aim is to combine selective complexation with indirect fluorescence detection systems, to detect uranium at levels required for environmental monitoring. A range of chemical and biochemical (enzyme/protein) fluorescent probes for the ratiometric and specific detection of low concentrations of uranium in different oxidation states, in the realm of nuclear decommissioning and environmental remediation will be developed.

The successful candidate will form part of a young, dynamic research group and receive full training in synthesis, biochemistry, radiochemistry and a variety characterisation techniques that will enable them to design, synthesise and evaluate the selectivity of chemical and biochemical fluorescent sensors for the detection of uranium in solution, and further evaluate them in cell imaging.

The interdisciplinary nature of the project will require the successful candidate to use a wide variety of characterisation techniques including NMR, mass spectrometry, X-ray crystallography, electrochemistry and fluorescence spectroscopy and microscopy, during the course of their research.


Applicants should have or expect a good II(i) honours degree (or an equivalent degree) in Chemistry or biochemistry and be interested in pursuing highly interdisciplinary research at the boundaries of synthetic inorganic chemistry, biochemistry, radiochemistry and materials science. Potential applicants must be willing to work with small amounts of uranium and have good synthetic based laboratory skills and experience working with biological reagents is an advantage. The successful candidate must also be highly motivated, capable of working independently and demonstrate good communication skills.


Funded by an EPSRC DTG and awarded by the School of Chemistry. The funding covers tuition fees and a stipend for 3.5 years (£14,553p.a. in 2017/18). Due to funding restrictions the studentship is open to UK and EU nationals with 3 years residency in the UK.

Contact for further Information

Potential applicants seeking more information are encouraged to contact Dr’s Natrajan and Hay by email ( and enclosing a detailed CV. Please note that to apply for this studentship you must submit a formal University online application form including a covering letter, formal written references, transcripts and degree certificate (if awarded).

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