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

Approaches amino acid building blocks by catalytic asymmetric reduction

Supervisor: Prof. Simon Jones

This project aims to provide access to new areas of ‘chemical space’ through developing efficient methods to prepare unnatural amino acids, versatile building blocks employed extensively in the medicinal chemistry sector. It will employ expertise in asymmetric catalysis from the Jones group to develop methodology access innovative amino acids of significant interest. The project is an EPSRC CASE award, part support by Redbrick Molecular Ltd, where the successful applicant will spend a placement period during their study.

Applicants should apply via the University of Sheffield, specifically mentioning this project. In addition to the information required on the application form, applicants should also upload the following information.

• A one page document, answering the following questions:
(1) Why do you want to study for a PhD?
(2) Please describe a challenge that you encountered in the last two years and what you did to overcome this. What did you learn from this experience?
(3) Describe one positive and one negative aspect of yourself and how these influence the way that you work.

• Three slides, two of which illustrate a chemistry project that you have been involved with, and a third outlining a modern innovation in chemistry that you have found to be interesting.

Informal enquiries should be directed to Professor Simon Jones (simon.jones@sheffield.ac.uk). The closing date is Wednesday 28th February 2018.

Please note that this project is supported from the University's EPSRC DTP grant and normal EPSRC nationality and residency eligibility requirements therefore apply to recruitment to this award.

Oxidation-sensitive materials for targeting inflammation

Supervisor: Dr Seb Spain

PhD studentship in oxidation-sensitive materials for targeting inflammation

This project forms part of a larger programme that aims to develop a range of oxidation-sensitive materials for targeting the inflammatory environment that characterises certain chronic immune diseases such as rheumatoid arthritis and multiple sclerosis. The project will involve synthesis of a range of oxidation-sensitive polymerisation initiators, chain transfer agents and monomers, and the application of these to the synthesis of branched polymers with oxidation-sensitive localised in different places. Materials will be analysed with respect to their oxidation-sensitive behaviour via a range of techniques including electron microscopy and small angle X-ray scattering. Candidate materials will progress to biological screening for toxicity and cellular uptake.
This project will suit a candidate who wishes to develop an interdisciplinary skill set including organic chemistry, soft matter analysis, and in vitro biological techniques.

Further Details

The proposed start date for this studentship is September/October 2018. For further details or informal enquiries, please contact Dr Seb Spain via email s.g.spain@sheffield.ac.uk.


The funding includes a stipend at RCUK level and tuition fees for a UK student.

Person Specification

The candidate needs
• an undergraduate degree in Chemistry (minimum of 2:1 MChem or equivalent).
• research experience in either synthetic organic or polymer chemistry.
• excellent communication skills and the ability to work in a multidisciplinary team.

About the Spain Lab

The Spain Lab, based in the Department of Chemistry, University of Sheffield was started in 2014 and is led by Dr Seb Spain. The research team currently comprises 11 PhD students, 3 undergraduate students and 1 visiting postdoctoral researcher. Our research interests are broad and include advanced polymer synthesis including controlled radical polymerisations, self-assembled and responsive materials with applications in regenerative medicine, therapeutics and diagnostics. We are well equipped for both polymer synthesis and analysis including excellent chromatography and particle sizing instrumentation within the group as well as access to the Soft Matter Analytical Laboratory (SMALL) including our world-leading gallium source Small-Angle X-ray Scattering instrument in the Department of Chemistry.


You can apply for this studentship using our Postgraduate Online Application Form.

BBSRC DTP White Rose Studentship - Understanding how magnetotactic bacteria respond to magnetic fields

Supervisors: Dr S Staniland, Dr J Bergeron, Dr W Durham

Project Description

Some bacteria are magnetotactic, meaning that they have the unique capacity to sense and respond to a magnetic field. This means that we can manipulate the movement of these bacteria by simply exposing them to external magnetic fields. This capability is being exploited for biotechnological applications, such as turning bacteria into controllable drug delivery devices.

Magnetotactic bacteria sense the magnetic field through magnetite nanoparticles in their cells called magnetosomes, that acts like a compass needle across the length of the bacteria, causing them to align with external magnetic fields.

The molecular basis for motility in these bacteria is not well understood, and particularly how motility is affected by magnetic fields. We do know however that they move thanks to a flagellum, a corkscrew shaped appendage that generate thrust when it rotates. The aim of this project is to study the interplay between the magnetosome and the flagellum, using a range of approaches, covering biochemistry, structural biology, genetics, molecular biology, and microfluidics.

Funding Notes

4 year BBSRC studentship, under the BBSRC White Rose Mechanistic Biology DTP.

We welcome applications from students with first degrees in Biological, Chemical or Physical Sciences. For successful applicants, the studentships would provide funding for tuition fees and living stipend at the current Research Council UK rates (subject to eligibility) for 4 years. Please note that EU citizens must have lived in the UK for at least 3 years to be eligible for full support.

Applicants should have or expect to achieve an undergraduate honours degree at 2.1 or higher in a relevant field.


You can apply for this studentship using our Postgraduate Online Application Form.

The deadline for applications is Friday 5th January 2018.

BBSRC PhD Studentship: Analysis of neuronal kinesin-1 activation dynamics in response to cargo binding

Supervisors: Dr Alison Twelvetrees (Dept of Neuroscience, Sheffield), Dr Tim Craggs (Dept of Chemistry, Sheffield), Prof Michelle Peckham (Astbury Centre, Leeds)

We are recruiting a PhD student to work on an interdisciplinary project studying kinesin activation in the context of axonal transport and neurodegeneration. This project uses advanced single molecule imaging, biochemistry, and neuronal cell biology techniques to reveal fundamental insights into motor protein regulation and axonal transport, with translational outcomes for neurodegenerative diseases.

You will learn:

  • advanced microscopy & single molecule imaging
  • neuronal cell culture & live cell imaging
  • protein expression, labelling & purification

There is further potential to develop super-res (PALM/STORM; iSIM) and cryo-EM aspects to the project.

The successful applicant will be based in the Sheffield Institute for Translational Neuroscience, whilst working closely with all three labs involved. You will be supervised by Dr Alison Twelvetrees (Department of Neuroscience, Sheffield), Dr Tim Craggs (Department of Chemistry, Sheffield) and Prof Michelle Peckham (Astbury Centre, Leeds).

Creative individuals with an eye for detail are encouraged to apply. As an interdisciplinary project, applications from people from a diverse range of scientific backgrounds are welcomed, e.g. cell biology, biophysics, neuroscience, biochemistry, chemistry, structural biology, biomedical sciences.
Funding Notes

This is a BBSRC White Rose Doctoral Training Partnership PhD studentship fully funded for 4 years and covers:

  1. an annual tax-free stipend at the standard Research Council rate
  2. research costs
  3. tuition fees at the UK/EU rate.


Interested applicants should contact Dr Twelvetrees in the first instance to discuss the project: a.twelvetrees@sheffield.ac.uk.

Application Deadline

7th January 2018.

Further Information





Mechanistic Biology of FAN1

Supervisors: Prof Jane Grasby, Dr David Williams, Dr Tim Craggs

Studentship Available for 17-18 with the White Rose Doctoral Training Programme in Mechanistic Biology

Applications are invited for a BBSRC funded White Rose Doctoral Training Programme Studentship to study the recently discovered 5’-nuclease FAN1. The FAN1 protein plays vital roles in the repair of cross-linked DNA, but how FAN1 functions is currently unclear. This project will study the mechanism for FAN1 using a combination of steady and pre-steady state enzyme kinetics, oligonucleotide chemistry and biophysical techniques such as fluorescence (FRET). The student will join a vibrant and world-leading research grouping within the Centre for Chemical Biology within the Krebs Institute for Mechanistic Biology. The four year BBSRC funded student will be able to access to a full range of career development and training opportunities via the White Rose Mechanistic Biology DTP.


Candidates will have at least a 2.1 degree or equivalent in Chemistry, Biochemistry or a related discipline and will receive a tax free stipend (currently £14, 553 pa) for four years, funds for research costs and tuition fees. There are language requirements for international students.

Further Details

Further Details can be obtained by contacting Prof Grasby (j.a.grasby@sheffield.ac.uk).


Applications to be received via the PGR portal with a deadline of 26th January 2018.

Selection Process

Shortlisting will take place as soon as possible after the closing date and successful applicants will be notified promptly. Shortlisted applicants will be invited for an interview to take place at the University of Sheffield, video interviews can be arranged for international applicants.