Research Fellow – Mechanistic Study of Mineral Oil Degradation in Transformers

University of Southampton - Organic Chemistry: SCF

Applications are invited for a one-year Postdoctoral Research Fellow available in Chemistry at the University of Southampton, to contribute to a wider programme of work (TOPICS II), funded by a major UK electricity business. The successful applicant will be responsible for delivering chemical research as part of an interdisciplinary team led by Professor Paul Lewin (Tony Davis High Voltage Laboratory, TDHVL) and Professor Richard Brown (Chemistry). The team will also include two PhD students, academics from Chemistry and TDHVL and scientists and engineers from the sponsoring organisation.

The TOPICS II project aims to increase understanding of failure mechanisms in power transformers in order to identify when failures are likely to occur and to develop mitigation strategies. The Research Fellow will focus on the mechanistic organic chemistry involved in the thermal breakdown of mineral oils used in transformers, and to understand the factors contributing to degradation. The approach will combine laboratory experimental work in flow reactors, to recreate thermally stressed conditions within transformers, with analytical methods to identify compounds indicative of breakdown.

Suitable candidates must have a good degree in Chemistry, a PhD or equivalent in Chemistry or be close to submission of their thesis, and a strong track record of academic research in chemical science. They should have a keen interest in mechanistic organic chemistry. Prior experience and expertise in either organic chemistry, or analytical techniques (Gas or Liquid Chromatography, Mass Spectrometry) is required. An understanding of organic reaction mechanisms is also required. Experience of flow chemistry is desirable, and it would also be beneficial to have experience of conducting reactions at high temperatures. The successful candidate will be responsible for day-to-day management of the project locally and will be required to liaise directly with the University supervisors, members of the TOPICS II team, and work closely with the sponsor. The successful candidate will be expected to report to the sponsor at regular meetings, and will also be responsible for preparation of publications and presentations at conferences and project meetings.

The post is funded for 12 months in the first instance, with a possibility of extension. For additional information please contact Professor Richard Brown ( by email. 

Applications will be considered from candidates who are nearing completion of a relevant PhD qualification or equivalent.  The title of Research Fellow will be applied upon completion of PhD.  Prior to the qualification being awarded the title of Senior Research Assistant will be given.

Application Procedure: 

You should submit your completed online application form at The vacancy will close at midnight on the closing date as shown above. If you need any assistance, please contact +44 (0) 23 8059 9002. Please quote vacancy reference number XXXX on all correspondence.

At the University of Southampton, we value diversity and equality. The University recognises that employees may wish to have working patterns that fit with their caring responsibilities or work-life balance. Due consideration will also be given to applicants who have had career breaks for reasons including maternity, paternity or adoption leave, disability or illness. Both the University of Southampton and Chemistry are proud to hold Athena Swan Silver Awards.

We aim to be an equal opportunities employer and welcome applications from all sections of the community. Please note that applications from agencies will not be accepted unless indicated in the job advert.

Share this job
  Share by Email   Print this job   More sharing options
We value your feedback on the quality of our adverts. If you have a comment to make about the overall quality of this advert, or its categorisation then please send us your feedback
Advert information

Type / Role:


South East England