Student Research Profiles

Here are some examples of projects that are currently being worked on by our postgraduate researchers:

Cohort 1

Anthony Griffiths
Title: Heterogeneous Catalyst-Pellet Hybrids for Continuous-Flow Operations.

Theme Areas: Product Functionalisation and Performance; Product Characterisation.

Academic Supervisory Team: Dr Thomas Chamberlain (School of Chemistry), Dr Sean Collins (School of Chemical and Process Engineering), Dr Andy Brown (School of Chemical and Process Engineering).

Industrial Sector: Pharmaceutical.

Description: This project explores the feasibility of a promising novel carbon-based spherical catalyst support for continuous flow hydrogenation reactions on a lab scale, with a view to exploring self-optimisation, automation and scale-up depending on the success at smaller scales.

Harrison Johnson-Evans

Title: Optimising Continuous Flow Biocatalysis Processes for Fine Chemical Manufacturing.

Theme Areas: Product Functionalisation and Performance, Product Characterisation 

Academic Supervisory Team: Professor Steve Marsden (School of Chemistry), Professor John Blacker (School of Chemistry and School of Chemical and Process Engineering), Professor Nik Kapur (School of Mechanical Engineering).  

Industrial Sector: Pharmaceutical  

Description: This project aims to optimise the performance of supported biocatalysts in different reactor configurations and integrate continuous separation with the intention of facilitating downstream cascade reactions and/or co-factor recycling. This will demonstrate the union of continuous bio- and chemo-catalysis processes and lead to understanding of the relationship between the catalyst and support to improve activity and longevity.  

Amna Khatun

Title: Testing the Biodegradation of Engineered Polymeric Microparticles.

Theme Areas: Product Characterisation, Product Functionalisation and Performance. 

Academic Supervisory Team: Dr Olivier Cayre (School of Chemical and Process Engineering), Dr Simon Connell (School of Physics and Astronomy), Professor Anwesha Sarkar (School of Food Science and Nutrition). 

Description: This project will systematically design tests to monitor the degradation of polymeric (plastic) microparticles in the environment and develop microparticles made from biodegradable polymers that match the characteristics of the current systems. 

Sam Meredith

Title: Connecting Drug Discovery with Solid State Formulation Strategies.

Theme Areas: Process Modelling between Scales; Product Functionalisation and Performance.

Academic Supervisory Team: Professor Colin Fishwick (School of Chemistry), Dr Martin McPhillie (School of Chemistry), Dr Robert Hammond (School of Chemical and Process Engineering). 

Industrial Sectors: Pharmaceutical; Agriculture; Software. 

Description:  The aim of this project is to link the structure of a molecule to its solubility properties by generating quantitative structure-property relationship (QSPR) computational models which can predict solid-state properties of ionic bioactive molecules.  

Janine Preston

Title: Crystal Polymorphs as Pickering Emulsion Stabilisers and Novel Stimuli-Responsive Delivery Vehicles.

Theme Areas: Product Functionalisation and Performance, Product Characterisation 

Academic Supervisory Team: Dr Elena Simone (School of Food Science and Nutrition), Professor Brent Murray (School of Food Science and Nutrition), Dr Nicole Hondow (School of Chemical and Process Engineering), Dr Arwen Tyler (School of Food Science and Nutrition).  

Description: This project aims to design novel, sustainable and stimuli-responsive formulations in which polymorphs of natural, biocompatible crystals can be used to sustainably deliver active ingredients and improve the stability of oil-in-water Pickering emulsions. 

Raphael Stone

Title: Self Optimisation of Continuous Crystallisers.

Theme Areas: Process Modelling Between Scales.

Academic Supervisory Team: Professor Nik Kapur (School of Mechanical Engineering), Dr Richard Bourne (School of Chemical and Process Engineering), Professor Fiona Meldrum (School of Chemistry). 

Industrial Sectors: Pharmaceutical; Agricultural.  

Description:  The aim of this project is to develop appropriate methodologies for model-free control of continuous crystallization process for the enhancement of polymorphic selectivity through the use of in-line Raman spectroscopy and self-optimization.   

Cohort 2

Ameer Alshukri

Title: Effect of physical and chemical properties of powders on their caking dynamics.

Theme Areas: Product Characterisation, Product Functionalisation and Performance.

Academic Supervisory Team: Dr Ali Hassanpour (School of Chemical and Process Engineering and School of Chemistry), Professor Sven Schroeder (School of Chemical and Process Engineering), Dr Elizabeth Willneff (School of Design).

Industrial Sectors: Pharmaceutical; Agricultural.

Description: The project address manufacturability problems related to bulk behaviour of industrial powders. More specifically, it will examine the impact of the materials’ physical and chemical surface properties, combined with the history of the material, on flowability, caking and performance. The aim is to gain an understanding of how a particular material can vary in its bulk powder behaviour despite being, prima facie, the same physicochemical form of the compound. Using a robust method that utilises specialist techniques to quantify changes from industrial processes and environmental conditions at the level of individual particles and in the bulk.

Megan Bradbury

Title: Industry 4.0 development of novel base-metal catalysed processes.

Theme Areas: Product Functionalisation and Performance; Process Modelling between Scales.

Academic Supervisory Team: Dr Charlotte Willans (School of Chemistry), Professor Richard Bourne (School of Chemistry), and Professor Nik Kapur (School of Mechanical Engineering).

Description: This project involves the development of novel base-metal catalysed processes using an industry 4.0 continuous flow platform combining in-line analysis and algorithm control, with subsequent electrochemical removal of the metal from the product.

Lawrence Collins

Title: Towards the Automated Optimisation of Biomolecule Modification.

Theme Areas: Product Characterisation, Process Modelling Between Scales.

Academic Supervisory Team: Dr Michael Webb (School of Chemistry), Dr Stuart Warriner (School of Chemistry), Professor Frank Sobott (School of Molecular and Cellular Biology).

Description: The project aims to develop a platform technology to automate the process of protein conjugation optimisation using mass spectrometry, enabling high throughput development of novel biopharmaceuticals and labelling methods.

William Grant

Title: Polymer Flow Induced Crystallisation in Computational Fluid Dynamics.

Theme Areas: Process Modelling Between Scales.

Academic Supervisory Team: Dr Oliver Harlen (School of Mathematics), Professor Daniel Read (School of Mathematics), Professor Elaine Martin (School of Chemical and Process Engineering).

Description: This project aims to develop detailed simulations of how polymer crystals form under flow conditions in processing. The crystalline properties of a polymer determine nearly every important property of a polymer such as strength, flexibility, transparency etc. Achieving this would allow the final crystal structure of the polymer be determined by tailoring the processing conditions to suit.

Nathan Hennessy

Title: Towards Process Control by Design: Studies of the Nucleation and Crystal Growth of L-Histidine.

Theme Area: Product Characterisation, Processing Modelling between Scales.

Academic Supervisory Team: Professor Sven Schroeder (School of Chemical and Process Engineering), Dr Elizabeth Wilneff (School of Design). 

Industrial Sectors: Pharmaceutical, Software.

Description: This project aims to identify how tuning the method and parameters of a crystallisation procedure affects the crystallographic and physical properties of the final crystal. This project also makes use of computational modelling to model the development of crystal surfaces during growth, as well as the interactions between the surface and other entities such as the solvent chosen and additives. 

Callum Hutchinson

Title: Structure-Stability Relationships of Model Asphaltene Molecules: Implications for Dispersant Design.

Theme Areas: Product Functionalisation and Performance; Product Characterisation.

Academic Supervisory Team: Dr David Harbottle (School of Chemical and Process Engineering), Professor Steve Marsden (School of Chemistry).

Industrial Sector: Petrochemical, Fuel Additives.

Description: This project explores how the structural characteristics of asphaltenes influence their stability in solution. This will be done by synthesizing model compounds to study these relationships and will inform decisions surrounding the design of new dispersants to effectively solubilise them.

Anna Morrell

Title: The Synthesis and Characterisation of Novel and Biodegradable Nanoparticles.

Theme Areas: Product Functionalisation and Performance; Product Characterisation.

Academic Supervisory Team: Dr Paul Thornton (School of Chemistry), Dr Nicholas Warren (School of Chemical and Process Engineering) and Prof. Michael Rappolt (School of Food Science and Nutrition).

Description: This project currently explores the synthesis of a range of poly (amino acid) nanoparticles formed through a combination of ring-opening polymerisation and polymerisation-induced self-assembly. Extensive characterisation of the nanoparticles is also involved in order to gain an understanding of their morphologies and properties and how the synthesis method may affect these.

James Mottram

Title: Machine-learning-assisted rapid prototyping of supported catalysts 3D printed high throughput flow reactors.

Theme Areas: Product Functionalisation and Performance; Product Characterisation.

Academic Supervisory Team: Dr Bao Nguyen (School of Chemistry), Dr Ehab Saleh (School of Mechanical Engineering), Professor Elaine Martin (School of Chemical and Process Engineering).

Description: This project aims to develop suitable protocol for the rapid prototyping and optimisation of heterogeneous catalyst for continuous flow applications. Utilising 3D printing techniques, design of experiment, and statistical analysis.

Mary .C. Okeudo

Title: Investigation of the interactions of proteins with fibrils in composite gel: a multiscale approach.

Theme Areas: Product Characterisation and Product Functionalisation and Performance.

Academic Supervisory Team: Professor Brent Murray (School of Food Science and Nutrition), Dr. Simon Connell (School of Physics and Astronomy), Professor Anwesha Sarkar (School of Food Science and Nutrition), Dr. Rammile Ettelaie (School of Food Science and Nutrition).

Industrial Sectors: Food, Soft matter, Material science.

Description: This research project aims to characterise Fusarium venenatum hyphae and its interactions with proteins in the composite system across multiple length scales. This will provide an understanding of intrinsic fungal properties and process conditions that are crucial to the development of structure and texture in fibre-protein composites.

Emma Thompson

Title: The impact of heterogeneity on the physicochemical properties of novel targeting lipid-based nanomedicines.

Theme areas: Product Characterisation.

Academic supervisory team: Dr Paul Beales (School of Chemistry), Dr Arwen Tyler (School of Food Science and Nutrition), Dr Ralf Richter (School of Biomedical Sciences and School of Physics and Astronomy).

Description: My project aims to explore the heterogeneities present within lipid-based nanoparticle formulations intended for drug delivery. This will involve the characterisation of subpopulations within a lipid nanoparticle formulation by separation using asymmetric-flow field flow fractionation. The aim is to elucidate how desired product properties can be translated throughout their development processes.

Ashley Victoria

Title: Developing a Commercial Process for the Sustainable Production of All-Cellulose Composites from Textile Waste.

Theme Areas:  Product Functionalisation and Performance; Product Characterisation.

Academic Supervisory Team: Professor Mike Ries (School of Physics & Astronomy), Dr Peter Hine (School of Physics & Astronomy), Dr Richard Hodgett (School of Business).

Industrial Sector: Materials.

Description: My project explores the development of bio-based materials using cellulosic textiles as feedstock. I’m interested in the optimisation of a recently patented process for producing all cellulose composites with enhanced interlaminar adhesion, and assessing the end-of-life options for these materials, including recyclability and biodegradability. Another key aspect of my work involves looking at the influence of different weave types on the resulting composite properties, and various forms of cellulose present in textile waste.

Emily Wynne

Title: Electron microscopy of crystalline and amorphous phases in model leaf waxes and polymer nanomaterials.

Theme Areas: Product Characterisation, Product Functionalisation and Performance.

Academic Supervisory Team: Dr Sean Collins (School of Chemical and Process Engineering and School of Chemistry), Dr Andy Brown (School of Chemical and Process Engineering).

Industrial Sectors: Agricultural, pharmaceutical.

Description: This project involves determining the structure of layered organic materials, replica leaf wax model systems and polymer nanomaterials, using specialised low dose electron microscopy techniques at spatial resolutions that bulk analytical techniques fail to achieve, while minimising electron dose to the sample. Nanoscale structure determines key properties in many organic multi-component systems so identifying and understanding these structures will unlock more understanding of their performance.

Cohort 3

Kudakwashe Chingono

Title: Smart continuous nanoparticle manufacturing.

Theme Areas:  Process Modelling Between Scales, Product Characterisation.

Academic Supervisory Team: Professor Richard Bourne (School of Chemistry), Professor Elaine Martin (School of Chemical and Process Engineering) and Dr Nicholas Warren (School of Chemical and Process Engineering).

Industrial Sector: Pharmaceuticals.

Description: This project aims to enable ‘smart’, continuous organic polymeric nanoparticle (NP) manufacture by developing a modular, computer-controlled platform for nanoparticle production. The current focus of the work is on preparing PEG-Based polymeric nanoparticles and extensively characterising them to understand preparation variables such as solvent and process effects. This will inform optimisation from a scale-up perspective.

Sudeshna Roy

Title: Understanding process effects on the stability of amorphous form products (re-crystallisation of amorphous form products).

Theme Areas:  Product Characterisation, Process Modelling Between Scales.

Academic Supervisory Team: Dr. Nicole Hondow (School of Chemical and Process Engineering), Professor Elaine Martin (School of Chemical and Process Engineering), Professor Andy Brown (School of Chemical and Process Engineering).

Industrial Sector: Pharmaceuticals, Material Science.

Description: The aim of the project is to understand how various processes influence the stability of amorphous form products, in order to limit their recrystallization. These objectives could roughly be divided into three aspects, characterisation of model drug delivery systems, prepared via two different routes, and stored in a range of conditions, identification of the key molecular factors that affect the stability of the model systems (e.g. designing of experiments) and, development of more general predictive models and molecular fingerprints.

Gabriele Sumanskaite

Title: Self-optimising reactor systems combined with computational strategies to understand and control inorganic particles.

Theme Areas: Product functionalisation and Performance, Process Modelling between Scales.

Academic Supervisory Team: Professor Kevin Roberts (School of Chemical and Process Engineering), Dr Mike Evans (School of Mathematics), Dr David Harbottle (School of Chemical and Process Engineering), Dr Maximilian Besenhard.

Industrial Sector: Pigments.

Description: This project aims to use self-optimising continuous flow systems combined with computational strategies to allow better understanding of crystal growth of iron sulphate heptahydrate and to provide better control over the crystallisation process.

Robin Winder

Title: The effect of internal droplet crystallisation on the drying process of Alpha Olefin Sulfonate.

Theme Areas:  Product Functionalisation and Performance; Product Characterisation.

Academic Supervisory Team: Dr David Harbottle (School of Chemical and Process Engineering), Professor Andrew Bayly (School of Chemical and Process Engineering), Professor Michael Rappolt (School of Food Science and Nutrition).

Industrial Sector: Surfactants.

Description: This project examines the effect crystallisation has on the final particle shape and performance in a complex surfactant system. Focusing on single droplet drying and characterisation, and the operational parameters involved.