PLA group


Postdocs: Dr Amy Price is working on f-block structure and bonding and small molecule activation chemistry for applications in molecular spintronics and quantum information storage. Dr Tatsumi Ochiai is studying subtle ligand and reagent interactions with organo-f-block complexes. Dr Addison Desnoyer is developing new catalyses from simple organo-lanthanide complexes.

PhD students: Francis Lam and Lars Thode are working on the use of chelating O-donor ligands that incorporate stabilising arene interactions for catalytic conversions of small molecules (hydrocarbons, CO, CO2, and N2), and organometallic transuranic chemistry.  Amy Kynman is studying catalytic C-H/C-element bond functionalization chemistry with cerium complexes.  Ryte Rutkauskaite is working on new oxo-group reactivity of actinyl compounds for catalytic C-H/C-element bond activation. Nick Katzer is studying actinyl oxo chemistry, and organo-transuranic chemistry. Steven Gray and Paul Ewing are part of the EPSRC-funded Criticat CDT (Centre for Doctoral Training) in sustainable catalysis, and supported in part by the UK catalysis hub. Steven is developing new, polynuclear rare-earth catalysts for the copolymerization of biorenewables. Paul is working in collaboration with Andrew Smith in St Andrews on catalytic conversions of carbon dioxide and other biorenewables using the reactive lanthanide – N-heterocyclic carbene combination.

We now carry out transuranic chemistry in-house in the HERL, but until recently, conducted most of the transuranic (Np and Pu) work in the Transuranic Actinide research lab of the EU Joint Research Centre for Nuclear safety and security, in Karlsruhe, Germany.

PLA: Recent CV.

Polly is the Director of the Chemical Sciences Division at the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory and a faculty professor in the Chemistry department at University of California, Berkeley. She obtained her degrees from Oxford and Sussex in the UK, and was a Fulbright postdoctoral fellow at MIT before returning to the UK to a lectureship in 1999. Her academic career in the UK comprised a lectureship, then readership at the University of Nottingham, then a professorship at the University of Edinburgh where she held the Crum Brown Chair of chemistry before moving to California in 2019.

She has received a variety of awards and prizes including the GDCH Todd Krebs Lectureship in 2019, RSC Wilkinson prize in 2018, the Lord Kelvin Medal 2017, which is the senior prize for the physical sciences awarded by the Royal Society of Edinburgh, and the Royal Society’s Rosalind Franklin award in 2012. She made the film ‘A Chemical Imbalance’, a call to action for simple changes to achieve equality of opportunity in science, and was awarded an OBE in the Queen’s birthday honours list in 2018 for her contributions to chemistry and women in STEM; A Chemical Imbalance. Recent media work: BBC’s Infinite Monkey Cage; BBC’s Brainwaves.

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