co-supervised by Charles Cockell and Basile Curchod

The highest clouds on Earth, noctilucent clouds, are named for their night glow. They form at extreme mesospheric conditions, and are sensitive to smallest environmental changes. Noctilucent clouds are the only place on Earth where we find non-hexagonal ice forms, and hold fascinating and yet poorly understood chemistry. In this project we bring together modelling and experiments to unravel the molecular mechanisms responsible for the evolution and growth of these mesmerising clouds.

Further details of the project HERE

Details on eligibility and application process HERE

Deadline: 6 January 2022, 12 noon

Milley Urey Flask

then a miracle occurs/ I think you should be more explicit here in step two

It was great to be contacted by Jason for a comment on a recent work of Criado-Reyes and collaborators (and therefore be within the first to see the article). This work shows how something basic and often ignored, i.e. glassware, can affect our interpretation and understanding of chemical processes. The impact is significant here.

In 1952, Stanley Miller and Harold Urey have conducted a rather simple experiment to validate 1930s primary abiogenesis hypothesis by Oparin and Haldane, stating that conditions on early Earth would promote reactions towards the chemical complexity and the emergence of life (i.e. against Pasteur’ theory of biogenesis that life can originate only from pre-existing life). In their setup, Stanley and Harold unknowingly and fortuitously included another important component — silicate surface of the flask, through this incorporating the effect of mineral surfaces, as postulated in 1949 by Bernal, into their famous experiment.

Read more:

New members of the group

This summer we are joined by five wonderful undergraduate students – Kacper, Sarah, Szymon, Ioana and Ben! They have secured different competitive funding schemes to pursue a topic of their interest, to learn a new skill and to gain experience of research.

In an order of starting dates only:

  • Kacper is funded by Carnegie Trust Vacation Scholarship for his project ‘In search of interstellar glycine – characterisation of spectroscopic properties under extreme conditions via computational simulation‘. He will be working between our group and In Silico Photochemistry Group at Durham University, bringing together molecular dynamics and quantum chemical calculations.
  • Sarah has won Afton Chemical Summer Internship and is working with PhD student Hannah, studying interactions between glycine molecules and Martian clays.
  • Szymon secured the EPSRC Vacation Scholarship and joined PhD student Rosie. Szymon is testing new modes of biochar for the adsorption of pharmaceutical pollutants.
  • Ioana was awarded Undergraduate Research Bursary of the Royal Society of Chemistry for her project ‘Prebiotic Molecules of Icy Moons: Molecular Modelling for Characterisation of Interactions in the Extreme Environments’.
  • Ben has joined us with E4 Research Experience Placement, coming from the computational phyics degree, his is now working with Hannah on the development of analysis tools for molecular simulations.

Warmest welcome to our newest group members. As always grateful to the funders for the opportunity they create by these schemes. I am looking forward to working with you, learning together about how things work and to the science your placements will surely inspire!

Found out more about current and past group members, as well as opportunities to join or visit us.

NERC Research Experience Placements this Summer

We are looking for a motivated UG student from the UK university to join our group with the NERC funded placement.

Bringing Atomic-level insights to Caesium Decontamination by Clay Minerals

The student will investigate the adsorption of Cs-137 onto montmorillonite and vermiculite clays at atomic-level resolution. They will use molecular dynamics (MD) simulations, a theoretical method, providing atomistic-level details to macroscopic observations. Through this work we will gain a mechanistic understanding of the Cs-clay adsorption process and we will help inform the choice of natural clay between the local naturally available ones, on the nuclear waste disposal sites.

More details about project and eligibility here.

Application deadline 19th of May, apply here.

2 PhD positions for 2021

2 x PhD positions (click on the titles for further details):

Design of Biochar for Sequestration of Emergent Pollutants

Weathering of Clays under Extreme Conditions: Implications for the Biosphere and Extraterrestrial Environments

Deadline: 7th January 2021, 12 noon

To apply follow the link 

Funding & Eligibility: The studentship is fully-funded for 42 month, incl. home/international fees, research costs and UKRI stipend (currently at £15,285 per annum), and is part of the E4 Doctoral Training Partnership. For further details see Entry & Eligibility Criteria.