Postdoctoral Research Associate in Aromatic Cation Materials

Durham, United Kingdom
£34,304 per annum
20 May 2022
End of advertisement period
28 May 2022
Academic Discipline
Physical Sciences, Chemistry
Contract Type
Fixed Term
Full Time

Department of Chemistry

Grade 7: - £34,304 per annum
Fixed Term - Full Time
Contracted Hours per Week: 35
Closing Date: 28-May-2022, 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 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 and hold an Athena Swan Bronze Award supporting the development of women in science.

Ranked fifth in the Guardian University League Table 2022 and fourth in the Complete University Guide 2022, our undergraduate programmes are highly rated outside of the Department and well received by our students (89% in overall satisfaction in the National Student Survey 2020 (NSS)). At postgraduate level our students come from all over the world to carryout research. Durham Chemistry is involved with the EPSRC Centres for Doctoral Training in Soft Matter and Interfaces, SOFI2 CDT, and in Molecular Sciences for Medicine, MoSMed CDT.

Our research is centred on three core themes, Manufacturing the Future, Bio-economy and New Materials, all of which are truly global challenges with the potential to generate significant economic and social impact. Durham Chemistry was ranked the top UK Chemistry Department for Research Impact in REF2014.

To support these themes, researchers with common interests and complementary skills are clustered together in Research Groupings. We currently have six research groupings: Functional Molecules & Materials; Physical Organic & Assembly; Computational & Dynamics; Soft Matter & Interfaces; Catalysis & Sustainable Chemical Processes; and Bioactive Chemistry & Synthesis. We work closely with many other departments, institutes and centres within the University, including the Biophysical Sciences Institute and the Durham Energy Institute as well as research centres in areas such as Sustainable Chemistry, X-ray methods and Soft Matter. We have strong links with many Universities, Research Centres and Companies in the UK and overseas.

The Role

Applications are invited for a Postdoctoral Research Associate in Aromatic Cation Materials, with a particular emphasis on the synthesis and analysis of electrolytes containing aromatic cation motifs. The researcher will investigate materials properties in association with Dr Paul McGonigal.

The successful applicant will have specific responsibility for developing synthetic organic electrolytes for use in lithium-ion batteries. The properties of the targets will be investigated by NMR, FTIR, calorimetry, microscopy, and dielectric spectroscopy. The post-holder will assist with the training of PhD students in the McGonigal research group and will interact closely with the collaborating researchers at Durham.


  • To understand and convey material of a specialist or highly technical nature to the team or group of people through presentations and discussions that leads to the presentation of research papers in conferences and publications.
  • To prepare and deliver presentations on research outputs/activities to audiences which may include: research sponsors, academic and non-academic audiences.
  • To publish high quality outputs, including papers for submission to peer reviewed journals and papers for presentation at conferences and workshops under the direction of the Principal Investigator or Grant-holder.
  • To assist with the development of research objectives and proposals.
  • To conduct individual and collaborative research projects under the direction of the Principal Investigator or Grant-holder.
  • To work with the Principal Investigator or Grant-holder and other colleagues in the research group, as appropriate, to identify areas for research, develop new research methods and extend the research portfolio.
  • To deal with problems that may affect the achievement of research objectives and deadlines by discussing with the Principal Investigator or Grant-holder and offering creative or innovative solutions.
  • To liaise with research colleagues and make internal and external contacts to develop knowledge and understanding to form relationships for future research collaboration.
  • To plan and manage their own research activity, research resources in collaboration with others and contribute to the planning of research projects.
  • To deliver training in research techniques/approaches to peers, visitors and students as appropriate.
  • To be involved in student supervision, as appropriate, and assist with the assessment of the knowledge of students.
  • To contribute to fostering a collegial and respectful working environment which is inclusive and welcoming and where everyone is treated fairly with dignity and respect.
  • To engage in wider citizenship to support the department and wider discipline.
  • To engage in continuing professional development by participation in the undergraduate or postgraduate teaching programmes or by membership of departmental committees, etc. and by attending relevant training and development courses.

This post is fixed term for 12 months. The funding is available for this fixed duration only, ending 31/05/2023 at the latest.

The post-holder is employed to work on research which will be led by another colleague. Whilst this means that the post-holder will not be carrying out independent research in his/her own right, the expectation is that they will contribute to the advancement of the project, through the development of their own research ideas/adaptation and development of research protocols.

Successful applicants will, ideally, be in post by mid June.

How to Apply

For informal enquiries please contact Dr. Paul McGonigal (paul.mcgonigal@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:

  • A CV and covering letter which details your experience, strengths and potential in the requirements set out above

Next Steps

The assessment for the post will include in-person or phone interviews. Shortlisted candidates will be invited for interview and assessment by end of May 2022.

The Requirements


  1. Qualifications
    • A good first degree in Chemistry
    • A PhD (or be close to submission) in Organic Materials Chemistry or a related subject.
  2. Experience
    • Experience in performing multi-step organic syntheses.
    • Experience in NMR spectrometry and mass spectrometry.
    • Demonstrable knowledge of methods to investigate redox-active organic materials.
    • Demonstrable ability to write material of a quality commensurate with publication in highly ranked journals.
    • Demonstrable ability to present research papers at international conferences and communicate complex information to specialists and within the wider academic community.
  3. Skills
    • Demonstrable ability to work cooperatively as part of a team, including participating in research meetings.
    • Ability to work independently on own initiative and to strict deadlines.
    • Excellent interpersonal and communication skills.


  1. Experience
    • Strong publication record in peer-reviewed journals, commensurate with stage of career.
    • A track record of presenting research at conferences, symposia, or meetings, commensurate with stage of career.
    • Demonstrable ability to develop research proposals and designs in collaboration with other academics.
    • Experience of overseeing students with respect to the development of their research skills e.g. acting as a demonstrator; supervising student projects.
    • Experience in additional analytical techniques, such as DSC, FTIR, cyclic voltammetry or dielectric spectroscopy.
  2. Skills
    • Demonstrable ability to plan and manage independent research.

​​DBS Requirement: Not Applicable.