Professor Sir Christopher Dobson PhD Scholarship in Protein Misfolding

Sir Christopher Dobson, former Master of St John’s College, Cambridge, was and a Trustee of the Wilkinson Charitable Foundation and an outstanding researcher in the area of protein folding. This work is leading to new approaches to the treatment of diseases of ageing such as Alzheimer’s disease. In order to help ensure that this important work continues, the Foundation has endowed a PhD studentship at St John’s College in memory of Sir Christopher.  It is anticipated that the first student to be funded through this studentship should start work later in 2021.

Full details are available at the St John’s website:

St John’s Cambridge: Scholarship in Protein Misfolding

Synthetic processes for plasmonic materials

The Wilkinson Charitable Foundation funds a PhD studentship at Imperial College. The current student (since September 2019) is Filip Aniés, who is studying for his PhD under the direction of Profs Martin Heeney and John de Mello.

Filip Aniés

Originally from Sweden, Filip came to the UK in 2014 to study Chemistry at Imperial College London. He gained his first experience of academic research as a research intern at KAUST, Saudi Arabia, where he worked on organic photovoltaic devices (OPVs) with Prof Iain McCulloch and Prof Derya Baran. Having thoroughly enjoyed this experience, he continued to work in the area of organic semiconductors (OSCs) through his Master’s project, where he synthesised new OSCs with applications in organic field-effect transistors (OFETs) under supervision of Prof Martin Heeney. This experience fuelled his passion for the synthesis and design of functional materials.

Being awarded the Sir Geoffrey Wilkinson Studentship Prize in 2018, Filip was given the opportunity to enrol for PhD studies under joint supervision of Prof Martin Heeney and Prof John de Mello. Shifting his focus to inorganic functional materials, Filip is currently researching synthetic processes for plasmonic materials.

Synthetic processes for plasmonic materials

Controlling the reaction conditions varies the size and shape of gold nanoparticles. As the size increases the colour changes from pale yellow to deep red.
Controlling the reaction conditions varies the size and shape of gold nanoparticles. As the size increases the colour changes from pale yellow to deep red.

Surface plasmons are collective electron oscillations confined to a material surface, and they interact strongly with light waves of equal frequency. Because the optical properties of plasmonic nanoparticles are mainly dependent on particle size and shape – rather than on the intrinsic properties of the material – there is widespread interest in the control of such features. Plasmonic nanoparticles have several applications, including biosensing and surface-enhanced Raman spectroscopy (SERS), and by tuning the optical properties of the particles they can be optimised for specific purposes.

The focus of Filip’s current research project is the synthesis of silver nanoprisms. By combining flow synthetic methods with in-line optical characterisation, Filip aims to automate the synthesis and facilitate the tunability of silver nanoprisms via live product monitoring and facile adjustment of reaction conditions. This approach could potentially be extended to a self-optimising system, or be applied to further plasmonic and optical materials.