PhD studentships available

Fully funded PhD studentships – DISRUPT: Disruptive processes for late-stage functionalisation in chemical synthesis
Closing Date: Friday, 6th January 2023
Apply here:

The EPSRC and SFI Centre for Doctoral Training (CDT) in Sustainable Chemistry at the University of Nottingham is offering three 48-month PhD studentships in organic chemistry in its thematic area “DISRUPT: Disruptive processes for late-stage functionalisation in chemical synthesis”.

The pharmaceutical industry is a large contributor to the UK’s carbon footprint. To meet current Net Zero goals, sustainable processes are required for the synthesis of high-value chemicals (pharmaceuticals, materials, etc.). DISRUPT aims to address this challenge by delivering new methodology for late-stage functionalisation of pharmaceutically relevant molecules. Projects will develop new reactions to access target molecules and investigate their application in drug discovery, drug delivery and medical imaging.

Examples of potential research areas in the theme include:

  • Development of novel photocatalytic reactions for C-H functionalisation of complex molecules (e.g., pharmaceuticals), and prediction of their selectivity.
  • Biocatalytic & enzymatic strategies for the modular chemical modification of drug targets.
  • Transition-metal catalysed isotopic labelling of medical (PET) imaging agents for the diagnosis and treatment of bacterial infections.
  • Selective functionalisation of biocompatible polymers for therapeutic applications, such as non-invasive monitoring of cancer drug delivery in real time.

The first year of this CDT involves a student-focused and individually tailored series of technical and laboratory training courses and workshops, designed to provide the students with the skills and confidence required to successfully undertake their PhD project. We will provide research training in synthetic organic chemistry leading to a core PhD in chemistry, but the projects will also provide opportunities to work across disciplinary boundaries with co-investigators from the schools of pharmacy, medicine, engineering and computer science. With the support of their academic mentors, the students also have the unique opportunity to co-design and develop the research projects which they will focus on in years 2-4 of their studies.

The academic mentors in the theme are: Dr Miriam O’Duill (School of Chemistry); Prof. Cameron Alexander (School of Pharmacy); Dr Helen Betts (Nottingham University Hospital); Dr James Cuthbertson (School of Chemistry); Dr Kistaps Ermanis (School of Chemistry); Dr Grazziela Figueredo (School of Computer Science); Prof. Anna Grabowska (School of Medicine); Dr Anca Pordea (School of Engineering); Dr Mattia Silvi (School of Chemistry).

Applicants should have, or are expected to achieve, a First Class or good 2:1 Honours degree (or equivalent) in chemistry or natural sciences specialising in chemistry. Research experience will be advantageous. The University of Nottingham and our CDT are committed to providing an inclusive study environment for all students. We welcome applications from candidates from different backgrounds and protected characteristics.

For more information about the research topics, please contact Dr Miriam O’Duill at miriam.oduill(at) For more information about the programme and how to apply, please visit:

Application deadline 6th January 2023.

Welcome to the O’Duill group!

It’s been an exciting summer for the O’Duill group. We moved into the GSK Carbon Neutral Laboratory on Jubilee Campus (a big thank you to Andrew for doing most of the heavy lifting!), and expanded the group.

Suman Das joined us from the Indian Institute of Technology, Bombay, for a 3-year postdoc. He immediately set out to expand and improve our set-up for air- and moisture-free chemistry in the lab.

Charlotte McIvor finished her MChem at Northumbria University and has started her PhD here. She will be applying her experience with Fe(III) chelators to I(III) chemistry.

We also welcome Georgia Brown, Laura Carter and Rory Cunningham, who will be doing their MSci projects in the group this year.

Photo of the GSK Carbon Neutral Laboratory

Indole deuteration preprint available online

Our first preprint is available on ChemRxiv! Congratulations to Liam, who carried out this work under truly challenging conditions, as well as Rachael and Andrew who provided valuable validation studies.
Deuterated compounds find important applications in drug discovery programmes and biomolecular analysis, as well as providing fundamental insight during methodology development. In this manuscript we develop a deuteration strategy with programmable regioselectivity, allowing access to indoles with selective isotope incorporation at C2, or C3, or C2-and-C3 without the need for directing groups. The preprint is available here: Undirected, Pd-catalysed deuteration of indoles with programmable regioselectivity

Lay summary: Compounds containing carbon-deuterium bonds find important applications in drug discovery programmes, as well as providing fundamental insight during the development of new chemical reactions. Selectively incorporating deuterium at one particular position in a molecule can require long processes with several steps and expensive reagents. In this manuscript, we show how to create these selective carbon-deuterium bonds using a short route with mild, catalytic methods. We hope that this method will find application in the development of new pharmaceuticals, and spark further new discoveries.

EPSRC postdoc position available

In a nutshell:
We are hiring! Postdoc position available from April 1st or as soon as possible thereafter.
Project: design, synthesis and reactivity of hypervalent iodine reagents for late-stage alkylation
Duration: 36 months
Deadline: 10th March 2022
Apply here:

More detailed information:
Applications are invited for a Postdoctoral Research Associate/Fellow in Synthetic Organic Chemistry and Catalysis to work under the supervision of Dr Miriam O’Duill in the School of Chemistry, University of Nottingham for a period of 36 months. This post is funded by the EPSRC project ‘Alkyl(aryl)iodonium Reagents for Late-Stage Alkylation’ which investigates the design, synthesis and reactivity of hypervalent iodine reagents. 

The successful candidate will develop new alkyl(aryl)iodonium reagents, gain an understanding of their stability through mechanistic studies and demonstrate their usefulness as late-stage alkylating agents in catalysis. The candidate will write high quality scientific research articles, present research at national and international conferences, liaise with academic collaborators, contribute to the supervision of student projects and to the maintenance and smooth running of the research laboratory.

Successful candidates must have a PhD (or near completion)  in organic chemistry. In addition, candidates should have hands-on experience in synthetic organic chemistry and methodology development, including reactivity and mechanistic investigations. Experience with hypervalent iodine reagents is advantageous, but not essential. Excellent oral and written communication skills, teamworking skills, the ability to manage the day-to-day running of a research project and a track record of high-quality publications are expected. If English is not the candidate’s first language, they must provide evidence that they meet the University’s minimum English Language requirements (IELTS 6.0 with at least 5.5 in each element).

The post is available from 1st April 2022 and is fixed term for 36 months. 

Information about the School of Chemistry can be found at The School of Chemistry values diversity and is committed to equality of opportunity. The School 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

Informal enquiries may be addressed to Dr Miriam O’Duill, email: miriam.oduill(at) Please note that applications sent directly to this email address will not be accepted. Formal applications are to be made online by 10th March 2022.

PhD Projects in Sustainable Chemistry

Fully funded PhD studentships available at the University of Nottingham EPSRC and SFI CDT in Sustainable Chemistry: HeatToPower investigates the synthesis and characterisation of thermoelectric materials to address sustainability challenges by converting waste heat into electricity. We are looking for organic, inorganic or physical chemists to take on the challenge of preparing new and exciting molecular thermoelectrics.

We will provide research training in synthetic or theoretical skills leading to a core PhD in chemistry but will also afford opportunities to work across disciplinary boundaries with physics and engineering co-investigators to optimise, characterise and exploit these materials’ thermoelectric performance as part of a multidisciplinary team. These posts would ideally suit those with a strong interest in sustainability and in the search for scientific and technical solutions to global energy issues.

More information available in this studentship ad (pdf) or in this video.

Apply here, or email miriam.oduill(at) for informal inquiries.

Deadline: 25. February 2022.

Andrew joins the lab

A big welcome to Andrew Greener, who joined the O’Duill group this month as its very first Nottingham PhD student!

After completing an MSc in the James group at the University of York where he worked on transition-metal-free cross-coupling reactions, Andrew will investigate the design, synthesis and reactivity of hypervalent iodine reagents.

Marie Sklodowska Curie Postdoctoral Fellowships 2021

The University of Nottingham School of Chemistry is inviting expressions of interest for the current Marie Skldowska Curie Postdoctoral Fellowships (MSCA PF) 2021 call under the Horizon Europe programme. If you have an interest in catalysis and methodology development for late-stage functionalisation and would like to develop a Fellowship application for a postdoctoral position in the O’Duill group, please get in touch!

Expressions of interest are required by July 20th 2021. Please click here for more information. Please contact miriam.oduill(at) before this date for an informal discussion.

A Guide to Directing Group Removal: 8‐Aminoquinoline in press

Do you use directing groups in catalysis and struggle to remove them at the end of a synthesis? Liam has utilised the time out of the lab during lockdown to bring you this review on how to remove 8-aminoquinoline, one of the most popular N,N-bidentate directing groups used in C–H activation and alkene functionalisation. We hope to provide a useful end-users’ guide for chemists in academia and industry who are considering using this powerful directing group—and want to be able to remove it from their final products.

For a link to the paper, click here:

We are hiring!

Fully-funded 42-month PhD studentship available for UK or European students in the field of catalysis. Application deadline: March 1st 2021. More information on and below:

Catalytic labelling methods for the deuteration and fluorination of drug targets

The incorporation of isotopes such as deuterium, tritium or fluorine-18 into molecules is instrumental in medicinal chemistry: Deuterium and tritium labelling is required for preclinical ADME studies and clinical trials,1 deuteration can improve the metabolic stability, pharmacokinetics and toxicity profile of drugs,2 and fluorine-18 is the isotope of choice for positron emission tomography (PET) – an in vivo imaging technique that is used both for diagnostics and in the drug development process.3 Developing new, selective functionalisation reactions that allow for the incorporation of these isotopes at a late stage in the synthesis is therefore of utmost importance and interest. 

The aim of this PhD project is to address this challenge and develop reactions for the late-stage deuteration, tritiation and fluorination of drug-like molecules using transition-metal catalysed and metal-free, organocatalytic methods. The specific focus of the project will be defined in collaboration with the successful applicant.

Based in the School of Chemistry, University of Nottingham, this project will provide extensive training in organic synthesis and catalysis, reaction screening for methodology development and analytical techniques (NMR, MS, X-ray). 

Candidates will have a chemistry degree with a strong interest in catalysis and methodology development. The starting date for the project is flexible: Apr 2021 or, ideally, Oct 2021. Prospective applicants are encouraged to contact Dr Miriam O’Duill (miriam.oduill(at) for more details or enquires about the project.

Formal applications should be made online through the University of Nottingham’s online application system: Please also send a cover letter and CV to miriam.oduill(at) detailing your previous research experience and current research interests. Applications are open until March 1st 2021.

Funding notes

Fully funded studentship to commence before Oct 2021. UK students – tuition fees paid and full stipend, tax-free, for 42 months at the RCUK rate (currently £15,285 per annum). EU students eligible and considered as UK students if available to start by Aug 2021, please get in touch for further details.

Entry requirements

Applicants should have, or expected to achieve, a First Class or good 2:1 Honours degree (or equivalent) in chemistry and an interest in catalysis. Substantial research experience will be advantageous.
If English is not the candidate’s first language, they must provide evidence before the beginning of the studentship that they meet the University minimum English Language requirements (IELTS 6.0 with at least 5.5 in each element).


1. Atzrodt, J.; Derdau, V.; Kerr, W. J.; Reid, M. Deuterium‐ and Tritium‐Labelled Compounds: Applications in the Life Sciences, Angew. Chem. Int. Ed. 2018, 57, 1758–1887.
2. Lowe, D. In The Pipeline, (accessed 6.12.2020)
3. S. Purser, P. R. Moore, S. Swallow, V. Gouverneur, Fluorine in medicinal chemistry, Chemical Society Reviews 2008, 2008, 320–330.