PhD Studentship: The surface chemistry of complex organic molecules in space

University of Sussex - Department of Chemistry, School of Life Sciences.

A Ph.D. studentship (42 months) is available from September 2018 under the supervision of Prof Wendy Brown, Department of Chemistry, School of Life Sciences.

This PhD project will use a combination of experimental and theoretical surface science techniques to investigate the adsorption, processing (thermally and by electrons and photons) and formation of complex organic molecules (COMs) in conditions relevant to interstellar space and to cometary and planetary ices. This research is particularly timely because of the upcoming launch of the James Webb Space Telescope (JWST) in 2019, which will allow the detection of molecules in space with much higher sensitivity than previously possible. There will hence be the chance for this PhD student to be involved in laboratory and theoretical work directly relevant to observational astronomy. COMs are currently a hot topic in Astrochemistry, with new species being found all of the time in a range of different environments, including stars, planets and comets. Their importance stems from the fact that many COMs are pre-biotic i.e. they act as precursors to the formation of biologically relevant species such as simple amino acids. Further information about the work in the Brown research group can be found at

Please submit a formal application using our online application system at, including a CV, degree transcripts and certificates, statement of interest (clearly stating supervisor’s name and the project title) and names of two academic referees. Programme of Study is PhD Chemistry.

Applicants will have an excellent academic record and should have received or be expected to receive a relevant first or upper-second class honours degree in a relevant subject. The full award is available to UK and to EU students who have been ordinarily resident in the UK for the previous 3 years.  EU candidates who do not meet this criteria will be eligible for a fee waiver only and Overseas (non EU) students are not eligible to apply.

The EPSRC award covers Home/EU PhD fees, a tax-free living allowance at Research Council UK rates (currently £14,553 per annum) and research/training expenses for 3.5 years

Contact Anna Izykowska for application enquiries (

Contact Prof Wendy Brown ( for enquiries about the project

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South East England