Graduate Studies in Chemistry

Department of Chemistry University of Oxford

Two DPhil Studentships in Electron Paramagnetic Resonance – Royal Society Funded and based at the University of Oxford

Start Date: 1st October 2018

Supervisor: Dr Alice Bowen ( )

Applications are invited for two 4-year DPhil studentships under the supervision of Dr Alice Bowen (Royal Society-EPSRC Dorothy Hodgkin Fellow) at the Department of Chemistry (Inorganic Chemistry), Oxford University in the field of pulsed Electron Paramagnetic Resonance (EPR).

The projects in Dr Bowen’s group aim to develop and apply pulsed dipolar spectroscopy (PDS) techniques, such as double electron-electron resonance (DEER) and the relaxation induced dipolar modulation experiment (RIDME), to study novel hetero-spin labelled systems containing two or more different types of spin centre.

PDS EPR is an important technique in structural biology; dipolar interactions measured between pairs of spin centres (1.5 to ca. 10 nm apart) can be related to the distance, and in some cases orientation, between the spin centres. This distance range matches the size of many biological systems and the distance restraints determined provide information about the structure and in some cases the dynamics of the system being investigated.

The University of Oxford provides world-class facilities for research and skills training. In particular the Centre for Advanced Electron Spin Resonance located within the Department of Chemistry is a world leading facility for EPR research ( )

Project details:

Project 1

This project will investigate the application of optically activated spin-labels, either based on triplet states or formed by photo-switching of molecules, for distance measurements in systems containing two or more spin centres. The use of optically activated spin labels has the potential to control the complexity of the system by ‘turning-on’ or leaving off dipolar interactions within the system. New types of spin labels will be investigated in collaboration with Prof. Snorri Sigurdsson (University of Iceland; ) and the techniques developed as part of this project will be applied to biologically important CREB-bZIP system in collaboration with Dr Sarah Shammas (Department of Biochemistry, Oxford University; ).

Project 2

This project will involve using model systems, containing different forms of stable radical centres including lanthanide metals synthesised in collaboration with Prof. Stephen Faulkner (Department of Chemistry, Oxford University; to optimise experimental techniques before applying the techniques to interesting biological systems, including the p7 viroporin in collaboration with Prof. Nicole Zitzmann (Department of Biochemistry, Oxford University; ).

Additional Information

Applicants for both these funded, 4-year DPhil studentships should have an undergraduate or Master’s degree in a relevant discipline (e.g. Physics, Chemistry, Biochemistry, Natural Sciences etc.), an interest in simulations and experimental work, problem solving and creative thinking. No prior experience of Electron spin Resonance or other forms of spectroscopy is necessary.

The studentship funding will cover university fees (payed at current RCUK Home/EU rate) and a stipend of not less than £14,533 per annum will be funded by the Royal Society. Candidates can be of any nationality, however funding towards the university fees will only be provided up to the Home/EU rate.

One studentship is offered in association with a Crewe Scholarship at Lincoln College, Oxford ( ) which will cover the college fees. Lincoln College has a long established tradition of supporting graduate students; having one of the largest and the oldest Middle Common Room (MCR) in Oxford. The college also has a large stock of graduate housing close to the city centre.

The other studentship is offered with a funded position at Jesus College, Oxford or another college of the candidates choosing. The college system in Oxford ensures that graduate students are immersed in an international and academically broad community outside of their doctoral studies.

More information can be found here:

Interested students are invited to contact for informal discussions prior to submitting a formal application for DPhil in Inorganic Chemistry. ( ).

Please quote: AB/EPR/2018 in your application form.

Application deadline:  Positions will be advertised until filled but you are encouraged to apply as soon as possible.

Queries related to application process should be directed to: 

Room temperature high-resolution X-ray spectroscopy of electrochemically-controlled redox metalloproteins at intense beamlines

Supervisors: Prof. Kylie A. Vincent, Dr Philip A. Ash from University of Oxford, Dr. Stephen P. Best from University of Melbourne and Dr Sofia Diaz-Moreno from Diamond Light Source Ltd.


Project Description:

This project addresses key challenges in X-ray absorption spectroscopy studies of metal- containing proteins, namely how to control and protect against photoreduction and X-ray damage and how to generate protein samples in well-defined oxidation states. These questions are highly relevant on beamlines like I20, where the high intensity allows study of low protein concentrations (typical for biological studies) but in turn is more likely to induce damage to the protein. Exploiting expertise of Vincent and Ash in Oxford on electrochemical control of metalloproteins, we explore the applicability of a pulsed solution electrochemical flow approach, demonstrated by Best, to protect proteins during room temperature solution measurements of defined redox states. We will set up this approach on the I20 beamline and aim to generate data on a range of metalloprotein sites which will serve as models for understanding XAS of more complex enzymes.
This will include electron transfer proteins with haem and non-haem iron sites, copper and nickel sites and an iron-sulphur cluster. We then extend the study to a direct electrochemical approach in which the protein of interest is immobilised on a carbon electrode and exchanges electrons directly, enabling fast catalytic oxidation and reduction reactions in an enzyme to be controlled in situ during XAS measurement.
Research will be carried out 50% at Diamond Light Source which is the UK’s national synchrotron science facility, located at the Harwell Science and Innovation Campus in Oxfordshire. The remaining 50% research will be conducted in the Department of Chemistry at the University of Oxford. The Science Transit shuttle provides quick and convenient travel between the University of Oxford Science Area and Harwell Campus.

Funding Notes

This project is funded for four years by the Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council - BBSRC. BBSRC eligibility criteria apply. EU nationals who do not meet BBSRC residence criteria are encouraged  to contact the Programme Administrator ( to check their eligibility for BBSRC funding before submitting a formal application. Successful students will receive a stipend of no less than the standard RCUK stipend rate, currently set at £14,777 per year, which willl usually be supplemented by the industrial partner.

Application deadline

In order to submit a formal application please follow the link:
and scroll down to Interdisciplinary Bioscience (BBSRC Centre for Doctoral Training) -> BBSRC DTP-Diamond DPhil Studentship with Prof. Kylie Vincent. This course will remain open until the place has been filled. You are encouraged to apply as soon as possible.

Querries relating to the application and admissions process should be directed to:

DPhil Studentship in Inorganic Chemistry and Catalysis

Start Date: October 2018

Supervisor: Professor Charlotte Williams

Applications are invited for a fully funded DPhil (PhD) studentship supervised by Prof. Charlotte Williams in Inorganic Chemistry.  The project involves the synthesis, characterization and properties of colloidal nanocatalysts.  The catalysts are targeted for carbon dioxide photo/electroreduction to form dense energy carriers (e.g. methanol).  The catalysts are small, well-defined, colloidal nanoparticles and exfoliated 2-D nanosheets, comprising Zn/Cu/Ni oxides/sulphides and metallic particles.  The particles will be prepared using new organometallic routes developed by Williams and Shaffer (see publications).  Funding is provided by Shell and supports a large scale, interdisciplinary team of researchers (DPhils and postdoctoral researchers) working in Chemistry (Oxford), Materials (Imperial, Shaffer) and Engineering (Imperial, Kelsall).  This studentship will involve training and research in organometallic chemistry, synthesis, inorganic nanomaterials characterization and close collaboration with experts in photo-electrocatalysis and engineering (at Imperial). For recent publications from the Williams/Shaffer team in this area please refer to: Acs Nano, 2017, 11, 2714-2723; Nat. Commun., 2016, 7, 13008.  Further publications and information on the broader research group are available on the Williams group website ( )

Applicants must have an undergraduate degree in Chemistry at first class/upper second level. The University of Oxford provides world-class facilities research and skills training; the College system in Oxford ensures that graduate students are immersed in an international and academically broad community outside of their doctoral studies. The studentship will cover College and University fees at Home/EU rate plus provide a maintenance grant at a UK Research Council rate - £14,777 per annum. Candidates can be of any nationality.

Applicants are encouraged to contact Professor Williams with a CV and covering letter/email ( ) prior to submitting a formal application ( for a DPhil in Inorganic Chemistry

Please quote: CW/Chem/2018 in your application form.

Application deadline: 12.00noon (UK time) on Friday, 15th June 2018

Queries related to application process should be directed to:

The Department of Chemistry is the holder of Athena SWAN Silver Award.