NMR research

Funded PhD Projects

The following PhD projects come with funding (at the time of writing) to cover tutition fees and living expenses. Please note that they may not be available to students from outside the UK or the European Union. We strive to keep this page up to date, but please contact the supervisor of any PhD opportunity you wish to apply for. They will be able to provide current information on any funding restrictions. A more extensive list of projects, both with and without funding, is available.

Apply online

Postgraduate Research Studentships in the Department of Chemistry, The University of Sheffield.

Two fully funded studentships are available to UK nationals (EU fees only) to start in October 2018. We are seeking outstanding students to work in the areas of Chemical Biology; Theory & Light-Matter Interactions; Polymers, Materials & Nanoscience; Molecular Design & Catalysis. In particular we are looking at students with an interest in addressing the UK Industrial Strategy priorities. These include:

• Prospering from the energy revolution
• Transforming food production
• Data to early diagnosis and precision medicine
• Healthy ageing
• Quantum technologies particularly directed to medical diagnostics (Pioneer area)

Applications should be made online using the university application system and should include a statement saying in which area of research they would prefer to work.

Successful candidates will be able to choose from a range of projects related to their interests in the defined areas.

The deadline for applications is Monday 11th June 2018.

Funding Notes & Eligibility

The studentships cover tuition fees at the UK/EU rate and a tax-free stipend at the standard Research Council rate (EU fees only). The studentships are available to UK and EU students who meet the UK residency requirements, see epsrc.ukri.org/skills/students/help/eligibility/

An integrated compositional and structural approach to understand keratin hair fibre damage using mass spectrometry based proteomics and surface analysis techniques.

Supervisors: Dr Mark Collins and Prof. Graham J. Leggett


The use of hair treatments is common across many countries in the world. These may be relatively inert, or in some cases may involve a reactive chemical treatment in order to modify hair keratins, or components within to achieve an end effect. These chemical processes are often detrimental to hair which are then masked via the use of yet further treatments. Proteins and protein hydrolysates from many sources are frequently added to hair care formulations as they have been proven to penetrate into the hair’s cortex and in some cases have been shown to modify the physical and even moisture binding properties of the hair. However, beyond this point, very little information is available regarding the protein composition of hair and whether specific sequences have benefits over others. Furthermore, it is not known to any degree of certainty which proteins or peptides are damaged or lost from the hair and if these can be replaced by similar, or identical sequences to restore the properties of the hair.

The project will use state of the art mass spectrometry-based proteomic methods to characterise the protein composition of hair and those that are lost or modified due to the use of damaging treatments. Further to this, proteins will be analysed and their sequences compared to those found within the hair, or to those found in hair extracts. As a final step, a degree of method development will be required in order to determine the extent to which proteins have been delivered to hair fibres and replaced lost protein material and how this affects hair fibre structure.

The successful candidate will be trained in protein biochemistry and analytical chemistry techniques (under the supervision of Dr Mark Collins, biOMICS Facility to detect, identify and quantify proteins extracted from or remaining within hair fibres. The student will also have the opportunity to apply a number of surface analysis approaches (under the supervision of Prof. Graham J. Leggett, Sheffield Surface Analysis Centre to characterise the physical consequences of hair damage and the effectiveness of new treatments. This PhD will include a placement (6-9 months) at CRODA’s research partner (TRI) based in the U.S with the option to carry out industry relevant testing at the CRODA research centre near Liverpool (Widnes).

Croda is the name behind the high-performance ingredients in some of the biggest, most successful brands in the world, creating products that are relied on by industries and consumers worldwide. The company has approximately 3500+ employees working across 18 manufacturing sites and in offices in over 30 countries. Market sectors served include Personal Care, Crop Care, Home Care, Health Care, Geo Technologies, Industrial Chemicals, Polymer Additives, Coatings and Polymers and Lubricants.

Funding Notes

Fully funded 4-year PhD project in collaboration with CRODA (BBSRC industrial CASE award). European/UK Students Only.


The deadline for application is 5th July 2018. For further information, please contact Dr Mark Collins (mark.collins@sheffield.ac.uk).

High throughput single molecule FRET for drug screening

Supervisor: Dr Tim Craggs and Dr Ashley Cadby

A PhD position is available under the Imagine initiative to develop a high through put single molecule FRET system in the Bio-Imaging center at Sheffield. This work will provide the basis for a new, disruptive technology which will revolutionize drug discovery. FRET allows us to measure the confirmation of molecules, specifically proteins, with angstrom precision. These confirmations are vital to the function of proteins, and by measuring the confirmation profiles of proteins in the presence of drug candidates we can identify suitable candidates for further investigation. Currently determining confirmation profiles using single molecule FRET is a slow process making its application to high throughput drug screening not viable. However, we have developed a method to multiplex single molecule FRET gaining a 1000-fold increase in speed, making the screening of 10K candidate compounds within 24 hours a real possibility. You will be working with two world leading groups, one in FRET (Craggs) and another in optical systems development (Cadby) to design, develop and apply the system to drug screening.

What will you do

You will design and build a single molecule FRET microscope capable of detecting hundreds of single molecules simultaneously. This will require the development of high resolution optical paths and hardware programming to control the multiple aspects of the microscope. Once built you will design the data analysis and automation of the system with a view to scientific and commercial applications, exploiting the groups strong links with industrial partners.

Ideally, we want a self-motivated individual who is not afraid of new challenges; you should have a 2:1 or better in a physical science with a strong working knowledge of computer code. It would be beneficial to have an appreciation of optics and chemistry, but full training will be provided.

What is Imagine

Our goal, in Imagine, is not to do more of the same, but to do something very different. We bring together several fundamentally different but complementary advanced imaging techniques. But Imagine is about more than revolutionary technologies – we apply these techniques to solve global issues in medicine, biology and healthcare. By combining and harnessing key advances in microscopy we can delve deeper into the detailed architecture and cellular interactions of biological systems.


Dr Tim Craggs t.craggs@sheffield.ac.uk

Dr Ashley Cadby a.cadby@sheffield.ac.uk



Funding Details

This is a full UK EPSRC PhD for 3.5 years, including fee and stipend. Eligible candidates must have been resident in the UK for the last 3 years.


Deadline for applications 29th June 2018, to start October 2018.