PhD Studentship in Organic Chemistry: Synthesis of Heterocyclic Scaffolds Enabled through the Catalytic Activation of Alcohols

University of Nottingham - Chemistry

Dr James Cuthbertson, School of Chemistry, University of Nottingham.

A fully-funded 3½ year PhD studentship starting in October 2018 is available in the Cuthbertson research group. The group is based in the GSK Carbon Neutral Laboratories for Sustainable Chemistry, School of Chemistry, University of Nottingham.


Research in the Cuthbertson group is broadly based in the areas of organic synthesis and catalysis. As a result of the ongoing drive towards the design and implementation of more sustainable chemical processes, current research is focussed on the development of new methods to enable the direct functionalisation of simple and readily available starting materials.

The direct use of alcohols as electrophiles in chemical reactions represents a sustainable alternative to traditional approaches employing potentially toxic alkyl halides or pseudohalides. This project aims to develop novel routes to heterocyclic scaffolds enabled through the catalytic activation of alcohols. The development of enantioselective transformations through combining the catalytic activation of alcohols with other modes of catalysis (organocatalysis/transition metal catalysis) will also be explored. Once developed, the applications of the chemistry will be demonstrated through the synthesis of bioactive molecules including natural products and pharmaceuticals.

Applications are invited from candidates who have, or who are expecting to obtain, a first Class or 2(i) chemistry degree (or equivalent). The project will be ideally suited to candidates who have a strong interest in organic chemistry and catalysis, alongside excellent written and oral communication skills. Experience in reaction development, catalysis, and/or total synthesis is highly desirable.

The proposed research will provide training in a broad range of areas of organic chemistry including organocatalysis, transition metal catalysis, organometallic chemistry, and target synthesis. Furthermore, training in a variety of analytical techniques including NMR spectroscopy, mass spectrometry, X-ray crystallography, and HPLC/GC will also be provided. The student will develop additional skills through participation in group meetings and problem classes, as well as attending seminars that are regularly held in the School of Chemistry.

How to Apply

Informal enquiries should be addressed to Dr James Cuthbertson (

Formal applications should be made online through the University of Nottingham’s online application system.

The School values diversity and is committed to equality of opportunity.The School of Chemistry holds a Silver Athena SWAN Award in recognition of our commitment to advancing women's careers in science. You can read more about what this means at and on our website

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Midlands of England