Postdoctoral Research Associate in the Chemistry of Molecular Materials

Durham, United Kingdom
£35,845 - £39,152 per annum
Thursday, 13 May 2021
End of advertisement period
Thursday, 27 May 2021
Academic Discipline
Physical Sciences, Chemistry
Contract Type
Fixed Term
Full Time

Department of Chemistry

Grade 7: - £35,845 - £39,152 per annum
Fixed Term - Full Time
Contract Duration: 8 months
Contracted Hours per Week: 35
Closing Date: 27-May-2021, 6:59:00 AM 

Durham University

Durham University is one of the world's top universities with strengths across the Arts and Humanities, Sciences and Social Sciences. We are home to some of the most talented scholars and researchers from around the world who are tackling global issues and making a difference to people's lives.

The University sits in a beautiful historic city where it shares ownership of a UNESCO World Heritage Site with Durham Cathedral, the greatest Romanesque building in Western Europe. A collegiate University, Durham recruits outstanding students from across the world and offers an unmatched wider student experience.

Less than 3 hours north of London, and an hour and a half south of Edinburgh, County Durham is a region steeped in history and natural beauty. The Durham Dales, including the North Pennines Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, are home to breathtaking scenery and attractions. Durham offers an excellent choice of city, suburban and rural residential locations. The University provides a range of benefits including pension and childcare benefits and the University’s Relocation Manager can assist with potential schooling requirements.

Durham University seeks to promote and maintain an inclusive and supportive environment for work and study that assists all members of our University community to reach their full potential. Diversity brings strength and we welcome applications from across the international, national and regional communities that we work with and serve.

The Department

Durham Chemistry is a world top 100 chemistry department (QS World University Subject Rankings 2020) and one of the very best in the UK, with an outstanding reputation for excellence in teaching, research and employability of our students. Ranked fifth overall in REF2014 and first for impact, we are an active and vibrant department with many of our staff internationally-acclaimed researchers. We have a strong cohort of early career researchers, future leaders, pursuing innovative research agendas. Our research is concentrated on six research areas, supported by world-class facilities, including high quality analytical and spectroscopic support: Functional Molecules & Materials, Physical Organic & Assembly; Computational & Dynamics; Soft Matter & Interfaces; Catalysis & Sustainable Chemical Processes; Bioactive Chemistry & Synthesis.

Ranked second in the Guardian University Guide 2021 our undergraduate programmes are highly rated outside of the Department and well received by our students. We offer both Bachelors (BSc) and Integrated Masters (MChem) which can include a year in industry or overseas. Our Integrated Masters degrees are accredited by the Royal Society of Chemistry (RSC). At postgraduate level our students come from all over the world to carryout research. Durham Chemistry (along with Durham Physics and in partnership with the Universities of Leeds and Edinburgh), is home to the Centre for Doctoral Training in Soft Matter and Interfaces, SOFI CDT. We are also a partnership with the University of Newcastle in the EPSRC Centre for Doctoral Training in Molecular Sciences for Medicine. Each year we admit around 120 single honours undergraduates and around 40 PhD students.

The Department has been awarded an Athena SWAN Bronze Award recognising our commitment to advancing women's careers in STEM academia and reflecting the supportive and positive environment within the Department.

The Role

A Postdoctoral Research Associate position is available to design, synthesise and characterise organic materials which will demonstrate high performance thermoelectric properties in molecular junctions and as self-assembled films between electrodes. The overall aim of the project is to use new tailor-made organic molecules to develop thermoelectric materials and prototype nanoscale devices for applications in information and communication technology and energy management. The work is funded by the EU Horizon 2020 FETOPEN Project 767187: Quantum Interference Enhanced Thermoelectricity “QuIET”. 


The post-holder will have specific responsibility for the following areas of research:

  1. Laboratory work: design, synthesis, purification and characterisation of new organic materials (approx. 80% of the RA’s time per year).
  2. Critical thinking and problem solving, especially related to (a) the design and synthesis of new molecules; (b) understanding structure-property relationships.
  3. Manage, plan and prioritise research within the agreed framework of the project, including planning several weeks in advance to meet deadlines.
  4. Write detailed, accurate and accessible reports of experimental work undertaken and draw conclusions from the results obtained.
  5. Write, or assist writing, the results of the research in a form suitable for presentation at meetings, patents and manuscripts for submission to world-class journals under the direction of the Research Supervisor.
  6. Interact closely with collaborators and project partners at other European institutions and China to facilitate the overall cross-disciplinary aims of the project. This will include presenting results in regular video calls.
  7. Contribute to the general day-to-day running of the laboratory to a high standard. This will involve, for example, ensuring a safe working environment, passing on expertise to other colleagues, sharing resources, maintaining supplies of solvents, cryogens and chemicals.
  8. Undertake other duties commensurate with the post as requested by the Research Supervisor and Consortium Team and to contribute to the overall activities of the research team and department as required.

The work will be supervised by Professor Martin R. Bryce (www.dur.ac.uk/chemistry/staff). The project is highly interdisciplinary involving close collaboration with a consortium of groups from academia and industry within Europe and China who specialise in experimental physics, nanoscale transport measurements, nanoscale device engineering and computation.

The post is a 8-months PDRA position. The position can start on 01 June 2021 or as soon as possible thereafter. The expected end-date of the project is 31 January 2022. 

How to Apply

For informal enquiries please contact [Prof. Martin R. Bryce (m.r.bryce@durham.ac.uk)].  All enquiries will be treated in the strictest confidence. 

We prefer to receive applications online via the Durham University Vacancies Site. https://www.dur.ac.uk/jobs/. As part of the application process, you should provide details of 3 (preferably academic/research) referees and the details of your current line manager so that we may seek an employment reference.

Applications are particularly welcome from women and black and minority ethnic candidates, who are under-represented in academic posts in the University .

What to Submit

All applicants are asked to submit:

  • Essential: A CV and covering letter which details your experience, strengths and potential in the requirements set out above;
  • Optional: You may wish to include PDFs of two of your most significant pieces of work, at least one of which should be published in the period 2019-2021. 


You should provide details of 3 academic referees and the details of your current line manager so that we may seek an employment reference (if he/she is not listed as an academic referee). Please note:

  • We shall seek the academic references during the application process. Academic referees should (if possible) include your PhD and/or postdoctoral supervisor(s). We would ask that you alert your academic referees to this application as soon as possible so that we can quickly obtain references should you progress to the long list stage. Please note that it is our usual practice to provide a copy of your CV to your referee. If you do not consent to us sending your CV to your referees, or if you do not wish (some or all) of your refereers to be approached during the recruitment process, you must clearly indicate this to us at the time of your application.
  • Academic references sought for long-listed candidates may be made available to the panel during the shortlisting process.
  • We will seek a reference from your current line-manager if we make you an offer of employment (albeit you may have also nominated your line manager as an academic referee). Please clearly indicate which referee is your current line-manager and please let us know if we should only approach him/her once an offer has been made.

Next Steps

The assessment for the post will include a remote interview. Shortlisted candidates will be invited for interview and assessment mid-late May 2021.

The Requirements


  1. An awarded  PhD in the area of synthetic chemistry.
  2. High-level, hands-on expertise in multi-step synthesis of organic molecules.
  3. Hands-on experience of in-depth interpretation of NMR, mass spectra and other general characterisation techniques relevant to the synthetic chemistry aspects of the project.
  4. A publication record in peer-reviewed journals appropriate to the candidate’s experience and career stage.
  5. The ability and desire to work independently as a member of an interdisciplinary and multi-national research team, sharing expertise and resources within the research group.
  6. Good inter-personal skills.
  7. Very good scientific writing and oral communication skills.
  8. Well-organised and highly-motivated with good time-management skills and the ability to focus on the project objectives.

DBS Requirement: Not Applicable.