Smart Plastics!

The GML is embarking on a new project bringing together academic experience, creativity and nature. This work is incorporating green polymers into art and looking at how the hand can make biodegradable products, in partnership with the Royal Botanic Gardens Edinburgh. You can check out our collaborators here:

Congratulations Stefan!

A big well done to Stefan Cairns on having his work accepted into Polymer Chemistry! It reports a family of monomers built from renewable resources and use the elimination of formaldehyde or acetone to access aliphatic polyesters, circumventing challenging monomer syntheses to make these functionalised polymers.

A broad scope of aliphatic polyesters prepared by elimination of small molecules from sustainable 1,3-dioxolan-4-ones

Congratulations Kevin and Joanne!

Check out Kevin and Joanne’s paper using iron catalysts for Heck cross-coupling between styrenes and functionalised alkyl bromides. Yields up to 93% and especially useful for alkenylation of functionalised tertiary alkyl halides typically difficult to target by classic palladium-catalysed Heck reactions.

Iron-Catalyzed Heck-Type Alkenylation of Functionalized Alkyl Bromides

Recruiting Post-doctoral Researcher

With the award of an EPSRC grant to support our research we are on the hunt for two post-doctoral fellows to join our team. The first position opened for applications today – Details below!

Full details and information on how to apply:

University of Edinburgh Vacancies

A fixed-term postdoctoral research position is available for an outstanding and ambitious individual in the School of Chemistry at the University of Edinburgh on a project led by Dr Michael Shaver and Prof Guy Lloyd-Jones. The successful candidate will be required to develop on a recent discovery in our research group on a new route to the synthesis of sustainable, degradable aliphatic polyesters and to contribute more generally to the work of the Shaver and Lloyd-Jones groups. The project involves principally academic research, but will involve liaising closely with industry partners to develop impact from target functional polyesters.

Research in the Shaver group focusses on the development of sustainable polymer technologies through intelligent polymer and catalyst design. We work to develop both fundamental academic projects (controlled radical polymerisation, new-to-the-world polymers) and applied industry-driven projects (hydrogels in medical diagnostics, crystallisation controllers, latex stabilisers). This appointment will be working on the EPSRC funded grant: “Functional Polyesters from Renewable Monomers Through a New Reaction Mechanism”. It is further supported by Prof. Guy Lloyd-Jones as a co-investigator who will lead mechanistic investigations into these new reactions.

Applicants should have, or expect to receive by the start date, a PhD in synthetic polymer chemistry or a closely related field. Additional postdoctoral experience is an advantage but not necessary. They should be capable of working in a team alongside a desire and potential to lead others where required. The project will involve the use of inert atmosphere synthetic techniques, monomer synthesis, catalyst synthesis, polymer synthesis and materials characterisation. The project will run alongside mechanistic investigations and reaction scale-up, so an interest in this area would be beneficial. Expertise in ring-opening polymerisation or sustainable polymer synthesis is desired. A familiarity with polymer chemistry, catalysis synthesis and screening and organic chemistry is beneficial. The successful applicant will be expected to engage in collaborative work as part of an EPSRC-funded research program involving global academic and industrial collaborators.

The position is available for 24 months. Further information about the research team can be found at The position is available from May 1 2017. Initial enquiries should be made to Dr Michael Shaver (

New PhD Studentship

There is a new opportunity to work in the Green Materials Lab, with a PhD position available from 1 September 2017. Applications are only open to UK residents or EU citizens (under exceptional circumstances). Apply by sending your CV and contact details of two references to Mike ( Details below! 

Project Description: While polymer science underpins our material world through efficient reactions, these processes aren’t truly sustainable, even if the resultant polymers are biodegradable. There remains a great need for a broad scope synthetic strategy for preparing functional aliphatic polyesters (so called “green polymers”) as a critical resource. This project builds on a recent discovery in the Shaver group on a new strategy for aliphatic polyester synthesis. In particular, this studentship will sit at the interface between inorganic chemistry and polymer chemistry.

Catalyst design: Current catalysts explored are limited to simple Lewis acids, with the best first generation catalysts aluminium complexes of salen or salan ligands. We will explore both traditional ROP catalysts and develop new ligand frameworks and complexes for this key reaction. The student will exploit the exceptional air-sensitive synthetic equipment, characterisation facilities and our expertise in inorganic coordination chemistry, while rapid catalyst screening will be facilitated by in-house semi-combinatorial reactors.

Monomer scope: This project will importantly extend this reaction in three areas: amines, carboxylic acids and alkenes. Working on collaborative projects in our group, these monomers and their resultant polymers can feed into existing applied projects in collaborations in the pharmaceutical industry, water purification and functional polymers. In a property driven field like polymer science, where simply making a new structure is just the start of the challenge, it is essential to develop impact from the work, and thus building structure-property relationships is essential.

This project is a 3-year PhD studentship, supporting all tuition and fees and a generous stipend at current EPSRC levels. The candidate must satisfy EPSRC studentship eligibility requirements, having settled status in the UK and having been ‘ordinarily resident’ in the UK for 3 years prior to the start of the studentship. The ideal PhD candidate will be a recent or upcoming graduate with a strong interest in synthetic polymer chemistry and catalyst design and a willingness to learn in a multi-disciplinary environment. The successful candidate will have a demonstrated ability to work well in a team, excellent oral and written communication skills and an inherent desire to learn and strive to develop as a scientist and leader. The position is in the EaStCHEM School of Chemistry in Edinburgh.