We are hiring!

Fully-funded 42-month PhD studentship available for UK or European students in the field of catalysis. More information on https://www.nottingham.ac.uk/jobs/currentvacancies/ref/SCI1973 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)nottingham.ac.uk) for more details or enquires about the project.

Formal applications should be made online through the University of Nottingham’s online application system: http://www.nottingham.ac.uk/pgstudy/how-to-apply/apply-online.aspx. Please also send a cover letter and CV to miriam.oduill(at)nottingham.ac.uk detailing your previous research experience and current research interests. Applications are open until a suitable candidate has been found and early applications are encouraged.

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, https://blogs.sciencemag.org/pipeline/archives/2017/04/04/the-first-deuterated-drug-arrives (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.

Sapientia urbs conditur

I am excited to be starting my new post as Assistant Professor at the University of Nottingham today (albeit remotely).

I would like to thank all of my colleagues and students at NUI Galway – I thoroughly enjoyed working with all of you and have learned a lot in the last 2.5 years. I am looking forward to meeting my new colleagues in Nottingham soon and welcoming my first students into the lab there. Please get in touch with miriam.oduill(at)nottingham.ac.uk if you are interested in joining us.


NUIG Chemistry online seminar series

Research labs and universities around the world are adapting to a new way of working through this lockdown, finding ways to keep connected and productive. My colleague Joe Byrne here at the NUI Galway School of Chemistry has put together an online seminar series (Fridays at 12:00 Irish time) to encourage the exchange of ideas and networking in a time when we cannot meet in person. Many of these will be open to the public, and we invite everyone to join us via the link that will be made available here on the day.


Arann’s Graduation

Congratulations to Arann Drohan who graduated with an MSc from the O’Duill group! Arann laid the groundwork for exciting research into removable directing groups and has since started a stellar career at Teva Pharmaceuticals.

Arann graduation

Health and Wellbeing

Settling into day 22 of the Irish university closure, I would like to share some resources to perhaps make working from home slightly easier:

Please keep following WHO and HSE health advice: wash your hands, stay at home and avoid/minimise contact with others to slow the virus’ spread and give our health professionals a fighting chance.

If you are feeling stressed and anxious, here are some suggestions on how to take care of your mental health and establish good habits: https://www2.hse.ie/wellbeing/mental-health/minding-your-mental-health-during-the-coronavirus-outbreak.html

There has been a peak of domestic abuse incidents reported during this pandemic. If working from home is making you feel anxious and unsafe, please find out where you can get help: https://www2.hse.ie/wellbeing/mental-health/domestic-violence-and-abuse.html

The opinions expressed on this website are my own (MOD). For official, up-to-date information concerning the NUI Galway campus, live Q&A sessions and student & staff FAQs, please see: https://www.nuigalway.ie/alert/


(source: HSE.ie)



In light of the Coronavirus pandemic we would like to remind everyone to practise good hand hygiene and infection control (avoid crowded places and protect those at risk), follow official public health advice and avoid the spread of fake news and panic.

Social distancing measures slow the spread of infections, ensuring that the healthcare system does not get overwhelmed and thus protecting the vulnerable:


(gif source: https://thespinoff.co.nz/society/09-03-2020/the-three-phases-of-covid-19-and-how-we-can-make-it-manageable/ )

All opinions expressed on this website are my own (MOD) – for official, up-to-date information relating to the NUI Galway campus, please visit http:www.nuigalway.ie/alert/

Outreach Season

In addition to storm warnings and a well-deserved Christmas break for our students, winter also brings the two biggest outreach events of the year for NUI Galway’s Kitchen Chemistry outreach group.

26,000 visitors attended the 22nd Galway Science and Technology Festival in November that aims to communicate the relevance of STEM in our everyday lives and society to the general public. I would estimate that 120-150 children from the ages of 5-12 took part in the hands-on chemistry workshop the Kitchen Chemistry volunteers put on during this festival, discovering the wonders of elephant toothpaste, lava lamps, rainbows and liquid nitrogen thunderstorms – a glimpse of which could be seen on the RTE 6’oclock news.

Last week, the Kitchen Chemistry team promoted NUI Galway’s science courses at the BT Young Scientist & Technology Exhibition in Dublin. This STEM competition for secondary school students from across the island or Ireland is the longest running science fair in Europe and attracts around 60,000 visitors every year over three days. On one of these days, we demonstrated to the participants how important chemistry is in our daily lives with colourful redox reactions, important drugs, invisible ink and our do-it-yourself lava lamps.

A big thank you to the Kitchen Chemistry organisers and volunteers who always make these outreach events highly successful and fun!

Thomas Dillon Centenary Symposium

The Thomas Dillon Centenary Symposium celebrated 100 years since the appointment of Thomas P. Dillon as professor of chemistry at NUI Galway and his role in setting the course for Irish carbohydrate chemistry in the following century. Prof Paul Murphy, Dr Joseph Byrne, Dr Styliana Mirallai and the rest of the organising committee put together an excellent scientific programme showcasing the rich research on carbohydrates as natural resources and new medicines that is currently being carried out in Ireland and abroad. The evening programme was open to the public and included a historical lecture on Dillon’s life, a chemical ballet and 3-minute lightning talks by PhD students. Congratulations to Liam for winning 1st prize in this Threesis competition, and to all the other participants for their high-quality, delightfully enjoyable contributions – these, together with the rest of the evening’s programme, can be found on youtube and are truly worth a watch.

EFMC-ASMC ’19 Athens

It was a great honour and joy to present some of my work at this year’s EFMC International Symposium on Advances in Synthetic and Medicinal Chemistry in Athens. Thank you to the organisers for an excellent conference with an impressive lineup of speakers from industry and academia.