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Department of Chemistry

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Joint Durham-York Research Consortium

A research consortium between scientists from Durham and York chemistry departments was launched in May. The symposium titled "Mechanism-driven understanding in complex molecular systems" covered mechanistic-orientated research and capabilities at both institutions and included talks from industrialists. 

The consortium is aimed at encouraging research collaborations and sharing training resources, specialist expertise and techniques and further symposia are planned in the future.

(25 May 2017)

Excellence Award for Dr Pippa Coffer

Congratulations to Dr Pippa Coffer on receiving a Durham University Excellence in Learning and Teaching Award. These are awarded to “staff who have made an outstanding contribution to learning and teaching at Durham.”

For more details of the award scheme, see the DU webpage.

Pippa has been instrumental in the redevelopment of the L2 and L3 Inorganic, and L2 Physical Chemistry laboratory courses with the introduction of new experiments, activities, and different feedback methods to enhance student learning. She is also the Level 3 BSc Mentor, supporting Chemistry BSc students in their final year of study at Durham.

(17 May 2017)

Best poster prize for Tavleen Attari

Congratulations to Tavleen Attari on winning best poster titled “Synthesis and Structural Characterisation of Lithium-Rich Anti-Perovskites” at the Royal Society of Chemistry 2017 Scotland and North of England Electrochemistry Symposium (Butler Meeting). She is currently doing a PhD studying materials for use in lithium-ion batteries with Dr Karen Johnston.

(12 May 2017)

Prof Badyal awarded prestigious Tilden prize

Congratulations to Professor Jas Pal Badyal on the Royal Society of Chemistry (RSC) Tilden prize for his outstanding research.


More details on his award can be found at the University website


He became a Fellow of the Royal Society (FRS) and was nominated for the THE awards last year.


(9 May 2017)

Poster Prize Success for Jasmine Cross

Durham’s Jasmine Cross was a poster prize winner at the ISACS: Challenges in Inorganic Chemistry Conference held in Manchester in April 2017. Her poster, entitled “Organometallics as Histone Deacetylase Enzyme Inhibitors”, describes work carried out in the Walton group on ruthenium complexes as potential anticancer drugs. This work was also recently featured in a special edition of ChemPlusChem

The ISACS international conference brings together world-leading experts from several disciplines across the broad fields of inorganic chemistry and materials science. Durham was well represented by a number of PDRAs and PhD students, including Kevin Mason (PDRA, Parker Group), Ross Davidson (PDRA, Beeby Group), Jack Pike (PhD, Walton group) and Sergey Shuvaev (PhD, Parker Group).

(25 Apr 2017)

Methyl radical trapping success

Durham’s Dr David Carty, as part of a collaboration led by Professor Takamasa Momose of the University of British Columbia, Vancouver, has succeeded in trapping in a magnetic field the methyl radical, CH3, which is a chemically important reaction intermediate. The temperature of the trapped molecules is extremely low, 200 mK. 

(19 Apr 2017) » More about Methyl radical trapping success

Abigail Scott takes Chemistry into Schools

Third year MChem student Abigail Scott has had her final project for the Chemistry into Schools module featured in the Northern Echo. Working with the class science teacher, Sandra Elliott, Abigail taught Year 5 pupils at Fishburn Primary School a number of different chemistry activities which they then presented to the younger children in Year 1 as part of a very successful science fair. Abigail and the class teacher also discussed the success of the science fair on Star Radio. The Northern Echo article about Abigail’s project at Fishburn can be found here.


(20 Mar 2017) » More about Abigail Scott takes Chemistry into Schools

Brussels Sprouts in Dementia Research

Professor Andy Whiting's research group and co-workers from University of Aberdeen are investigating synthetic retinoic acid analogues as a potential cure for Alzheimer's disease. Some vegetables, such as Brussels Sprouts, naturally contain vitamin A which is metabolised to retinoic acid in the body, so eating your sprouts is a good thing, just as your Mother told you! This work is described in a Youtube video at:

(2 Mar 2017) » More about Brussels Sprouts in Dementia Research

Engineering Nickel supply for biotechnology

Durham scientists have helped uncover the pathway for biosynthesis of the yellow, nickel-containing coenzyme F430, essential in microorganisms that convert CO2 to methane, as reported today in Nature. Metal-catalysts, such as F430, are critical for life, and many of them have applications in biotechnology. The research, led by groups in Kent and Germany, showed that this catalyst is very similar in structure to other brightly coloured metal-catalysts from different organisms - the iron-containing red pigment haem found in our blood, and the magnesium containing green pigment chlorophyll found in plants. Key to the synthesis of these cofactors is the insertion of a metal ion, which is glued into the centre of the coenzyme. Peter Chivers from Durham University provided the expertise needed to engineer nickel insertion inside E. coli cells, paving the way for future applications of nickel catalysts in biotechnology.

(28 Feb 2017) » More about Engineering Nickel supply for biotechnology

Research looks at metals' roles in reactions of life

Nearly half of the reactions of life are driven by metals. Now a multidisciplinary collaboration between ten Durham University Bioscientists and Chemists has discovered how living cells are attuned to these vital elements.

This knowledge will assist in the engineering of metal supply to metalloenzymes for use in industrial biotechnology. It will support the development of bioactive compounds that subvert metal-handling inside microbes in order to replenish the dwindling arsenal of antimicrobial treatments.

The research has been published in Nature Chemical Biology.

(7 Feb 2017) » More about Research looks at metals' roles in reactions of life

Low cost synthesis of Flucytosine at Durham

Research between the Durham Fluorine group (Professor Graham Sandford) and industrial collaborators Sanofi-Aventis and MEPI in France, funded by the European Union Innovative Medicines Initiative (IMI; has led to a new, more efficient way of producing flucytosine, a WHO essential medicine used to treat a common and often deadly fungal form of meningitis in people with HIV / AIDS. Professor Graham Sandford and PhD student Antal Harsanyi (both shown in photograph) carried out the flucytosine synthesis at Durham.

(2 Feb 2017) » More about Low cost synthesis of Flucytosine at Durham

Prof Beeby's Mappa Mundi investigation

Early January, Team-Pigment visited Hereford Cathedral to analyse the pigments used in the world famous Mappa Mundi which dates back to ca. 1300. This stylised world map is usually on display at the Cathedral, and the Durham/Northumbria team was given special permission to study it for three days. The team, shown below (Gamerson, Beeby (Durham) and Nicholson (Northumbria), used Raman and reflectance spectroscopies to determine for the first time some of the materials used to colour the map.

(18 Jan 2017)

Adams Poster Prizewinners 2016

Congratulations to Gemma Parker (1st prize), Andrei Markin (2nd) and Natalie Mitchell (3rd) in winning the D.B. Adams Poster prizes. These awards, inaugurated in 2014, are made annually in memory of Dr David Brinley Adams (Durham: BSc, 1967 – 1970, PhD, 1970 – 1973, Senior Demonstrator, 1973 – 1975) in recognition of academic excellence in the MChem poster competition.

(16 Nov 2016)