Department of Chemistry events

Semester 1 & 2 all Departmental Seminars are held in Dainton Building - LT1 unless stated otherwise.

Semester 1 (September - December 2018)

Departmental Seminars in Semester 1 will all be held at 12 pm.


There are currently no events planned for September. For any upcoming events contact the webmaster.


1 October 13:00
Hicks LT7

Level 4 Safety Briefing

4 October 12:00
Dainton Building LT1

Level 1 Safety Briefing

9 October 12:00
Hicks LT1

CoSHH Lecture

10 October 14:00
Dainton Building LT1

Speaker: Prof. Andy Lewis

Host: Dr Joe Gaunt

CDT Industrial Seminar:
Polymeric Materials: A Backbone to a Career in Industr

Abstract: Andy Lewis first became fascinated by polymer systems during his degree and then PhD at Aston University. Since then, polymers have formed a consistent theme that has shaped a career spanning nearly thirty years in largely R&D roles in small, medium and large industrial enterprises. In this CDT seminar, Andy will describe his journey to date, showcasing some of the polymer technologies he has developed, whilst reflecting on some of the key decision points and lessons learned along the way.

16 October 12:00
Hicks LT1

Experimenting with Danger


2 November 12:00
Dainton Building LT1

Speaker: Prof. Joe Harrity
University of Sheffield

Host: Prof. Iain Coldham

Departmental Seminar:
New Strategies for the Synthesis of Boronic Acid Derivatives

Abstract: Aromatic and heteroaromatic boronic acid derivatives are one of the most valuable classes of intermediates in synthetic chemistry. Their value lies in their unique combination of high stability and rich reactivity, allowing them to participate in a wide range of functionalisation reactions. This lecture will describe benzannulation reactions of simple fragments that contain a pre-existing boronic ester moiety, leading to new reaction pathways and high value products.

9 November 12:00
Dainton Building LT1

Speaker: Dr Helen Willcock
Loughborough University

Host: Dr Seb Spain

Departmental Seminar:
Synthesis of Polymer Particles, from Nanometre to Micron Sized

Abstract: Control over the architecture and functionality of polymers gives us exquisite control over their solution properties and can often be achieved using commercially available starting materials. By incorporating responsive groups, such as charged or zwitterionic monomers, the solution properties of the polymer can be finely tuned and controlled by application of an external stimulus, such as pH or temperature. However, the incorporation of responsive groups by their very nature introduces complexity and can cause problems during synthesis and application. Zwitterionic, or betaine polymers such as PDMAPS exhibit unique properties including anti-polyelectrolyte and low protein fouling behaviour, as well as biocompatibility.
Here, the synthesis of betaine polymers by both Reversible Addition Fragmentation chain Transfer (RAFT) polymerisation and dispersion and emulsion techniques will be discussed, demonstrating how the architecture and functionality of the polymer can affect both particle formation and the responsive behaviour of the polymer. Specifically, the first reported synthesis of micron-sized, discrete cross-linked polybetaine particles, using polymerisation in scCO2 with methanol as a co-solvent will be presented. The effect of crosslinking density, monomer loading, and reaction conditions will be discussed. A spherical morphology and extremely low size dispersity is observed by SEM analysis, and importantly the particles can be readily re-dispersed in aqueous solution and light scattering measurements confirm their monodisperse nature.
Current examples of the Willcock group research demonstrating the incorporation of functionality into polymeric scaffolds for various applications will also be highlighted.

16 November 12:00
Dainton Building LT1

Speaker: Dr David Lennon
University of Glasgow

Contact: Dr Marco Conte

Departmental Seminar:
The Development of a Next-generation Methyl Chloride Synthesis Catalyst

The talk will describe an academic/industrial partnership where the process of catalyst design was applied to a methyl chloride synthesis catalyst. Building on initial efforts to discern the active site distribution of a prototype catalyst, chemical modification techniques were successfully employed that minimised by-product formation, leading to improvements in the atom economy of the industrial operation.

21 November
location tbc

Careers Day

21 November
location tbc

Speaker: Vanessa Locsenski-Rose

Host: Dr Joe Gaunt

CDT Industrial Seminar: An insight into a scientific career in industry

Dr Vanessa Loczenski Rose received her Diplom-Ingenieur in Medicinal Biotechnology from the Technische Universität in Berlin. After roles in the pharmaceutical industry at OSI Pharma and Novartis, she joined the Centre for Doctoral Training in Targeted Therapeutics and Formulation Science at the University of Nottingham. She obtained her PhD from the School of Pharmacy, where she focused on the synthesis of novel phosphonium-based polymers by CRP for RNA delivery. After completing her PhD she started working as a Technical Specialist at Syngenta focusing on the formulation of biologicals for agrochemical applications. Vanessa will give a brief overview of Syngenta as a company, the formulation department and the work she is currently undertaking within the Biocontrols area. Her talk will also provide some insight what it means working for a company like Syngenta, her work responsibilities as well as some up and downs working in Industry.

23 November 12:00
Dainton Building LT1

Speaker: Prof. David Leigh, FRS
University of Manchester

Contact: Dr Jona Foster

Departmental Seminar:
Making the Tiniest Machines

Over the past two decades some of the first examples of synthetic molecular level machines and motors—albeit primitive by biological standards—have been developed. Perhaps the best way to appreciate the technological potential of controlled molecular-level motion is to recognise that nanomotors and molecular-level machines lie at the heart of every significant biological process. Over billions of years of evolution Nature has not repeatedly chosen this solution for achieving complex task performance without good reason. When we learn how to build artificial structures that can control and exploit molecular level motion, and interface their effects directly with other molecular-level substructures and the outside world, it will potentially impact on every aspect of functional molecule and materials design.

30 November 12:00
Dainton Building LT1

Speaker: Prof. Helen Fielding

Contact: Prof. Julia Weinstein

Departmental Seminar:
Liquid-microjet Photoelectron Spectroscopy of Biochromophores

Much of our detailed understanding of the intrinsic electronic relaxation dynamics of photoexcited molecules has come from gas-phase experiments and calculations involving isolated molecules, free from interactions with solvent or protein environments. However, electronically excited states are sensitive to their microenvironment, particularly in polar solvents such as water, the most important medium in chemistry and biology. Experimentally, photoelectron spectroscopy (PES) is an ideal tool for probing the electronic structure of molecules through the measurement of electron binding energies. This presentation will describe recent work from our group employing the emerging technique of liquid-microjet PES to unravel the electronic structure and relaxation dynamics of biologically important chromophores following photoexcitation in aqueous environments.

30 November
Department of Chemistry

Skills Fest

A day celebrating projects carried out by L3 students aimed at developing transferable skills. Events include a quiz show, debates and presentations by students.


5 December
location tbc

Speaker: Dr Sarah Canning

Host: Dr Joe Gaunt

CDT Industrial Seminar: Polymer Science and Inkjet Printing – From Academia to Industry

Abstract: Sarah Canning studied chemistry at the University of Sheffield (UK) and the University at Buffalo, SUNY (USA). She completed a CASE award PhD in 2015 under the supervision of Professors Steve Rimmer and Mark Geoghegan, sponsored by Domino UK Ltd. This involved producing inkjet ink additives to improve adhesion performance on difficult substrates. She then went on to join the research group of Professor Steve Armes as a postdoctoral research associate for 2 years, working on polymerisation-induced self-assembly with a focus on aqueous emulsion polymerisations and pH responsive polymers. For the last 18 months she has been working as a research chemist at Fujifilm Speciality Ink Systems (FSIS) in Broadstairs, Kent. FSIS is a global leader in the development of UV-curing inkjet systems for both wide format and industrial printing applications. Sarah will give an overview of FSIS as a company, her work in the Industrial Systems group within the R&D department, and her experiences of adjusting to an industrial career from an academic background.

7 December 12:00
Dainton Building LT1

Speaker: Prof. Saiful Islam
University of Bath

Contact: Dr Natalia Martsinovich

Departmental Seminar:
Atomic-Scale Insights Into Materials for Lithium Batteries and Perovskite Solar Cells

Breakthroughs in clean energy technologies require advances in new materials and underpinning science. A greater fundamental understanding of energy materials depends upon characterization of their underlying structural and transport behaviour. With the aid of 3D glasses, this talk highlights the use of advanced modelling methods in synergy with experimental work to gain atomic-scale insights into novel materials for lithium-ion batteries and perovskite solar cells.

12 December 13:00
Department of Chemistry

L4 Presentations

L4 MChem students present their initial findings from their final year research projects.

Semester 2 (January - May 2019)

Departmental Seminars in Semester 2 will all be held at 1 pm.


8 January
Richard Roberts Auditorium 

Sheffield Stereochemistry 2019

For more information and registration see here.


15 February 13:00
Dainton Building LT1

Speaker: Dr Natalia Martsinovich,
University of Sheffield

Contact: Prof. Patrick Fowler FRS

Departmental Seminar:
From molecular self-assembly to photocatalyst materials: insights from theory in partnership with experiment

Abstract: Theoretical chemistry is a powerful tool which allows us to gain insight into structures and properties of materials. In this talk, I will show how theoretical modelling works in partnership with experimental studies to elucidate the structures and identify structure-property relationships of materials. I will present examples from two areas of chemistry: molecular self-assembly in two dimensions (on surfaces and at solid/liquid interfaces), where our calculations revealed the nature of temperature-induced transformations in metal-coordinated superstructures on surfaces, and research on photocatalyst materials, where we used computational modelling to predict properties of new carbon nitride-based materials and to discover the reasons for the high photocatalytic efficiency of the recently synthesized oxygen-containing polymeric carbon nitride.

22 February 13:00
Dainton Building LT1

Speaker: Dr Rachel Evans
University of Cambridge

Contact: Dr Seb Spain

Departmental Seminar:
Light-Controlled Self-Assembly and Function of Azobenzene Photosurfactants

Abstract: tbc


1 March 13:00
Dainton Building LT1

Speaker: Prof. Eric Bittner
University of Houston
2019 Leverhulme Visiting Professor of Physics, Durham University

Contact: Prof. Julia Weinstein

Departmental Seminar:
Identifying electron transfer pathways using projected modes.

Electron transfer between molecular donor and acceptor species is a fundamental mechanism for a wide range of chemical processes including photosynthesis, respiration, and detoxification. The cornerstone theory for this is from Marcus which gives the transfer rate between two redox centers in terms of the driving force, reorganization energy, and non-adiabatic coupling. Lost in this description is a clear indication of specific nuclear motions that accompany the process. In my talk, I shall discuss an approach we have developed using a search algorithm similar to that used by Netflix to find the optimal combinations of nuclear normal modes that drive and couple intramolecular electronic transitions. I shall discuss our theoretical advances in light of experiments by Prof Weinstein’s group in Sheffield that probe energy transfer in Pt bridged donor/acceptor complexes.

8 March 13:00
Dainton Building LT1

Speaker: Dr Kim Jelfs
Imperial College London
RSC Harrison-Meldola Prize Lecture

Contact: Dr Grant Hill

Departmental Seminar:
Computational Molecular Materials Discovery

We have been developing an evolutionary algorithm targeted upon the discovery of optimal structures and properties for molecular materials. Whilst initially we have focused upon porous molecular materials, we will also address the ways in which our approach is generalisable to other molecular materials and their applications, including as organic semiconductors or for photocatalysis. We will also explore the use of machine learning for the rapid prediction of materials properties.

13 March 14:00
Dainton Building LT1

Speaker: Dr Robert Sayer
Personal Care
Croda Europe

Contact: Joe Gaunt

CDT Industrial Seminar:
A brief history of finding the right company for me – Don’t be afraid to challenge your employer and the complexities of launching a new ingredient for the cosmetics market!

Rob has studied at a number of Universities including York, Reading, Birmingham and Bristol. Following a postdoctoral positon in physical chemistry Rob moved to industry with Pilkington Glass. After Pilkington’s, Rob had a stint working for a start-up company before settling on Croda.

Rob joined Croda in 2008 as the team leader for the metal oxides research group within the Sun Care and Biopolymers business. He expanded his role to include the Claims Substantiation team at Croda, working predominantly for the hair care market.

Rob is now the Research Manager for personal care in Europe covering sun care and hair care and both synthesis and claim substantiation teams. This involves the development of new chemistries, new screening methods and new formulation developments for the global launch of new actives into the personal care market.

Rob will discuss his career pathway both before Croda and also within Croda and highlight the numerous challenges of bringing a new product to the personal care market.

15 March 13:00
Dainton Building LT1

Speaker: Prof. Barrie Wilkinson
John Innes Centre, Norwich
RSC Interdisciplinary Prize Lecture

Contact: Prof. Anthony Meijer

Departmental Seminar:
Evolving Molecular Diversity

Abstract: Natural products (NPs) represent a hugely important source of pharmaceutical and agrochemical agents. For example, most of the antibiotics in clinical use are of natural origins and, remarkably, around half of these come from a single bacterial genus (Streptomyces). Despite these successes many NPs do not have the physical properties required to make them successful as a pharmaceutical agent without some structural modification, but their structural complexity makes this task difficult. To address this problem we developed an approach we term ‘biosynthetic medicinal chemistry’ where synthetic chemistry methods are augmented with biosynthetic engineering to enable the optimization of NP lead molecules. In my lecture I will provide some background to this area and provide examples of successes, and discuss limitations, from our work of the last two decades. I will finish with recent work in which we take inspiration from how nature evolves biosynthetic pathways.

22 March 13:00
Dainton Building LT1

Speaker: Prof. John Hartwig
University of California, Berkeley, USA
RSC Centenary Prize

Contact: Prof. Joe Harrity

Departmental Seminar: 

This is Professor Hartwig’s RSC Centenary Prize Lecture. The 2018 Centenary Prize was awarded to Professor Hartwig for "the discovery of new catalytic reactions, their mechanistic elucidation, and their application to organic synthesis."

29 March 13:00
Dainton Building LT1

Speaker: Dr Rebecca Melen
Cardiff University

Contact: Dr Ben Partridge

Departmental Seminar: Modern Alchemy: Turning Boron into Gold

Abstract: As main group chemistry has expanded and developed over the past 20 years,one class of reagents has risen to prominence as well namely Lewis acidic fluorinated triarylboranes. In particular, tris(pentafluorophenyl)borane has demonstrated extensive applications in a wide variety of chemistry, including organic synthesis and metal-free catalysis. This talk will discuss the applications of Lewis acidic boranes in cyclisation reactions as an alternative to homogenous gold catalysts. The talk will also cover the use of highly Lewis acidic boranes in combination with Lewis basic phosphines in Frustrated Lewis Pair hydrogenation reactions.


3 April 14:00
Department of Chemistry
Dainton Building LT1

Speaker: Prof. Alan Spivey
Imperial College London

Contact: Dr Seb Spain

Departmental Seminar: A Synthesis of Bespoke Molecules for Chemical Proteomics, Natural Product Investigation & Asymmetric Catalysis

Abstract: This presentation will discuss three related projects. The first is an investigation into the application of chemical proteomics with insect with the objective of identifying P450 enzymes responsible for metabolic resistance to diamide insecticides. The second is a total synthesis of (-)-lophirone H, a furanochromane natural product from a class of compounds with fungicidal activity (see below). The third is a follow-up synthetic and computational study aimed at elucidating the detailed mechanism of the key bicyclisation step used in the total synthesis and which led to insights that allowed the reaction to be optimised.

The L4 Poster Session will follow this seminar (15.15, G-floor).

L4 MChem students present posters about research from their final year research project.

5 April 13:00
Dainton Building LT1

Speaker: Professor Igor Alabugin
Florida State University

Contact: Prof. Nick Williams 

Departmental Seminar: From Alkyne Origami and Metal-Free C-H Aminations to Electron Upconversion: An Array of New Tools for Solving the Ouroboros Problem

Abstract: I will present a selection of new synthetic strategies for assembling poly- and heteroaromatic systems. In the first part, I will discuss the advantages of alkynes as high-energy carbon-rich precursors for extended polyaromatics, the two general patterns of oligoalkyne folding into an aromatic ribbon, and the use of supramolecular effects in the design of traceless directing groups for radical reactions. In the second, I will present a mild method for oxidative C(sp3)–H amination. I will also introduce reductant upconversion, a new concept in catalysis, and show how it can be used to achieve the precise timing of oxidation steps in reaction cascades.

10 April 14:00
Dainton Building LT1

Speaker: Dr Mark Harriman
Composite Materials Strategic R&I Group (Cytec)

Contact: Joe Gaunt

Industrial Seminar: Planes, (Trains) & Hyper-Automobiles: Engineering Polymers and High Performance Composites

Abstract: Dr Mark Harriman received both an MChem degree (2002) and PhD in green chemistry (2006) from the University of York. The final year of his degree was spent in industry; first at ICI and then Cytec, who sponsored his PhD investigating hexavalent chromium replacements. Mark returned to Cytec as a researcher with early projects focussing on catalysis of epoxy polymerisation and an exploration into nanotechnology. For the last several years he has lead the development of a “technology platform” on benzoxazines; an aromatic, heterocyclic thermosetting resin chemistry. Since Cytec’s acquisition by Solvay in 2015, Mark has been the Group Leader of the Composite Materials Strategic R&I Group. His remit covers operational management whilst also remaining actively engaged in science. He also collaborates with people in other functions to help solve some of the business’ most urgent scientific issues. This talk will give some background to Solvay, engineering polymers and composite materials and cover some opinions on “organic” career growth. This will be coupled with some interesting polymer science and industrial problem solving investigations.


2 May 18:00
The Diamond LT6


Contact: Manasi Mulay

Grantham Centre Seminar
Sustainable Palm Oil: Utopia or reality

Palm oil is almost everywhere -food, fuel or cosmetics- and its use probably leads to thousands of burnt forest and dying wildlife. So, certified palm oil comes to the rescue. But how sustainable is it? This event explores the implications of palm oil certification on the people, forests and wildlife.

Michael Guindon (ZSL London)
Maud Salber (Rainforest Foundation UK)
Dr Monica Di Gregorio (University of Leeds)
Catherine Barton (Chester Zoo)
Dr Johan Oldekop (University of Manchester)

3 May 13:00
Dainton Building LT1

Speaker: Dr Daniele Leornori
University of Manchester

Contact: Prof. Iain Coldham

Departmental Seminar:
Photoinduced Generation of C–N Bonds

In this talk I will discuss the work that my group has done in the generation and use of nitrogen radicals by photoredox catalysis.I will also present mechanistic studies and applications in late-stage functionalisation.

15 May 14:00
Dainton Building LT1

Speaker: Dr Martin Murray

Contact: Dr Jennifer Dick

Industrial Seminar:
Reflecting on 35yrs as a scientist in industry

Martin Murray (AkzoNobel) will reflect on his career to date in industry where he has seen many changes despite working for the "same" company. He will provide an introduction to AkzoNobel (a 2019 top UK employer), set out some of the challenges facing the paints and coatings industry and describe how science and innovation are helping the company meet its goals of providing more sustainable technology solutions. From a scientific perspective, the talk will focus on how moving away from solventborne paints towards more sustainable waterborne paints introduces significant challenges, many of which remain to be solved. Hopefully the talk will dispel the idea that watching paint dry is boring.

15 May 15:00
Dainton Building LT1

Speaker: Prof Nicholas Kotov
University of Michigan

Contact: Prof. Patrick Fowler FRS

Winner of the 2018 RSC Soft Matter & Biophysical Chemistry Award Seminar:
Chiral Inorganic Nanostructures

Early observation of strong circular dichroism for individual nanoparticles and their assemblies have developed into a rapidly expanding field of chiral inorganic nanostructures, encompassing metals, semiconductors, ceramics, and nanocarbons with multiple chiral geometries with characteristic scales from Ångströms to microns. This talk will address (1) the mechanisms of chirality transfer in inorganic materials, (2) the origin of the uniquely high values of optical anisotropy, (3) the fundamental challenges of multiscale chirality observed in nanostructures, and (4) physicochemical differences/similarities with chiral supramolecular, liquid crystal, and biological systems.Parallels with biomineralized skeletons of coccoliths help in understanding the need for chiral asymmetry in live matter.

Summer (2019)


5 June 14:00
Dainton Building LT1

Speaker: Ana Morales
Procter and Gamble

Contact: Dr Jennifer Dick

Industrial Seminar:
How to detach unwanted stuff: lessons from bacterial biofilm dispersion and laundry enzymes

In this CDT seminar I will speak about my formation as a Biophysicist, with emphasis in projects that dealt with the interaction force between bacterial polymeric substances and surfaces. I will explain how this work garnered the interest of Procter and Gamble and how together we developed an understanding of the interaction forces between bacterial biofilms and surfaces in the presence of enzymes. I will present the findings of a paper recently published by members of this CDT that shows the role of extracellular DNA as a key structural component of a biofilm and how treatment with the enzyme DNaseI disperses the assembly most effectively. I will then venture into the realm of fabric and home care research, and how we at P&G are driving chemical, material science and biophysical research forward. I will highlight R&D case studies on the modification of fabric surfaces by the enzyme cellulase.

28 June 9:30-17:00
Dainton Building LT1

Programme: follow this link.

Contact: Prof Julia Weinstein

The 1st Annual Lord Porter Ultrafast Laser Lab Symposium. Celebrating the breadth of light-driven science!

We aim to bring together UK researchers from across the disciplines to discuss what's new in the time-resolved world across Physics, Chemistry, Biology, Engineering, and Medicine.


10 July 11:00-12:00
Dainton Building LT1

Speaker: Sarah Greenwood

Contact: Prof Andrew Slark

Departmental Seminar:
Flexible Packaging Films: Villain or Saviour?

Single use flexible packaging films enable us to live our existing lifestyles, but at what expense? Films (and other plastics) have a bad press due to environmental pollution but without them there would be a much bigger problem with food waste.
This seminar will review the technology behind creating multilayer film structures, summarize their benefits with regard to packaging Fast Moving Consumer Goods and highlight the challenges that need to be addressed to ensure they become more sustainable and fit with a future circular economy.

Previous Seminars

For a list of previous seminars from the 2015/2016 academic year, click here.
For a list of previous seminars from the 2016/2017 academic year, click here.
For a list of previous seminars from the 2017/2018 academic year, click here.