SA05: Recyclable macromolecular catalysts – towards sustainability and enzyme-like selectivity


Dr Daniel Keddie, School of Biology, Chemistry and Forensic Science

Project Description

The macromolecular nature of functional polymer catalysts deliver three distinct advantages over small molecule analogues: it may (1) bestow additional factors that can improve selectivity such as functional group co-operativity and steric strain; (2) provide differing polarity to the bulk solvent phase which may enhance reaction rate; and (3) facilitate catalyst recovery allowing for reuse.

Inspired by the intrinsic function of nature’s enzymes, we seek to develop recyclable, solution soluble, polymer-based organocatalysts that promote key organic transformations relevant for the synthesis of biologically active compounds, such as stereoselective desymmetrisation. 

The project will focus on the use of RAFT polymerization as it is compatible with a broad range of functional groups typically used in asymmetric organocatalysis (i.e. ureas, thioureas, alcohols, phosphines, N-heterocyclic carbene precursors). Substrate specificity will be probed through competitive reaction processes. Fine tuning the periodicity of catalytic functionality along the polymer backbone and tailoring of the hydrophobic-hydrophilic balance of the system are expected to enhance catalyst activity and selectivity.

The successful candidate will be trained in a range of advanced synthetic techniques used in the preparation of functional small molecules and precision polymers. Laboratory work and characterization will be undertaken within the University of Wolverhampton’s new Science Centre, the Rosalind Franklin building, which houses a broad range of state-of-the-art research facilities suitable for undertaking this synthetic project. 


We welcome applications at any time from self-funded students that are well qualified and highly motivated. Applicants should have a recognized Honours or Masters degree with a 2.1 or equivalent in Chemistry, Engineering or Materials (or a related field).

Applicants whose entry award was not delivered in English, or non-native speaker of English shall be required to demonstrate proficiency in English at least to the level of an IELTS score of 7.0 or its equivalent. 

How to apply

Complete the Research Project Application Form (Word doc 679k) and email to

See Guidance for the Completion of the Research Project Application Form (Word doc 23k) for details.

For more information

For an informal discussion please contact Dr Keddie via email