Committee

Dr Clare Mahon (Chair) is an Assistant Professor in Organic Chemistry at Durham University. Clare was awarded her PhD at Newcastle University in 2014, where she worked with Dr David A. Fulton establishing new methods of ‘training’ synthetic polymers to recognise proteins and other macromolecules. She then spent two years at the University of Leeds on an EPSRC Doctoral Prize Fellowship, working with Prof. Bruce Turnbull to develop responsive synthetic polymers which interact with bacterial toxins. In 2017 she took up a Marie-Skłodowska Curie Global Fellowship, held at the University of Sydney, Australia, and the University of York, UK. During this time Clare worked with Dr Elizabeth J. New and Dr Markus Müllner-Bačvić, focussed on applying differential sensing approaches to the identification of carbohydrate-binding proteins. In October 2019, Clare moved to Durham in October 2019, where her work is focused on the interface between materials science and biological chemistry.

Dr Tom Swift (Secretary) is a Lecturer in Polymer Characterisation at the University of Bradford. Since completing an EPSRC CASE award PhD (in collaboration with SNF UK (LTD) at the University of Sheffield he has focused on functional and responsive polymer materials, with a keen interest in the interaction between polymer architecture and chemical structure interact to provide unique material properties. He works closely at the academic – industrial interface and currently is the lead academic partner on the ERDF Northern Powerhouse Project Cayman project, offering free industrial assistance to companies utilising polymer science in the Leeds City Region.

Dr Paul Wilson (Treasurer) is a Royal Society Tata University Research Fellow in the Department of Chemistry at the University of Warwick. He previously studied chemistry at the University of Bristol (MSci, 1st Class, 2006) before completing a PhD in organic chemistry (Warwick, 2010). After spending 18 months working in a spin out company working on reversible deactivation radical polymerisation and bioconjugation R&D, Paul returned to Warwick in late 2011 as a PDRA and then senior research fellow in the group of Prof Dave Haddleton. At the end of 2013, he took a senior research fellow (group leader) position in the group of Prof Tom Davis as part of the Monash – Warwick Alliance before being awarded a Leverhulme Trust Early Career Fellowship in 2015. Paul has expertise in (macro)molecular synthesis, supramolecular chemistry (self-assembly), bioconjugation and surface modification, all of which feature prominently in his current research. His URF is focused on developing a platform for nanoscale synthesis and nanofabrication, through combining the capabilities of scanning electrochemical probe microscopy techniques with electrochemically-mediated organic, macromolecular and supramolecular chemistry to enable localised, spatially and temporally controlled chemical synthesis and modification at surfaces and interfaces.

Dr Matt Rymaruk (Industrial Rep) is a senior formulation chemist working within the materials science team at Syngenta. Matt completed an MChem degree at the University of Sheffield in 2014, followed by a PhD in the group of Prof. Steve Armes in 2018. Matt’s PhD focused on the use of controlled-radical polymerization for block copolymer synthesis. Matt remained at the University of Sheffield for two years conducting post-doctoral research in the same research group. In October 2020, Matt moved to Syngenta where he works on the application of polymer and colloid science to the formulation of agrochemicals. Website: https://www.syngenta.com/en

Dr Bernhard Schmidt is a Lecturer in Polymer Chemistry at the University of Glasgow. His research deals with polymer and colloid chemistry with a particular focus on three topics: Polymers in aqueous environment (block copolymer self-assembly and aqueous multi-phase systems), polymer-metal organic framework hybrid materials (metal-organic framework catalysts and tailored crystal morphology) and reinforced hydrogels (tailored mechanical properties for biomedical applications). Group website: www.schmidt-lab.com

Dr David Fengwei Xie (Website). is an EPSRC Fellow and Lecturer in Chemical Engineering at Newcastle University. He holds a BE degree in Biological Engineering (2004) and a PhD degree in Polysaccharide Engineering (2009) from the South China University of Technology. He started his research career initially at the University of Guelph (Canada). Then, he spent a productive period of eight years at The University of Queensland (Australia) where he led a few research projects. In 2017, he moved to the University of Warwick (UK) by accepting a Marie Curie fellowship. In 2020, he was awarded a five-year EPSRC Fellowship, which enables him to further work towards his research ambition. While his early studies primarily focused on starch processing, he has developed strong expertise in polymer science and engineering. He is passionate about applying particularly renewable and bio-polymers to addressing pressing challenges in sustainability, environmental, health, and food areas. Website: www.fwxie.com

Dr Matt Derry (Social Media) is a Lecturer in Chemistry at Aston University. Matt completed his MChem degree in Chemistry with a Year in Industry at the University of York in 2012, and his industry (Lubrizol) sponsored PhD research in 2016 on the synthesis and self-assembly of block copolymers under the supervision of Prof. Steven P. Armes FRS at the University of Sheffield. Matt then continued at the University of Sheffield as a post-doctoral researcher with Prof. Armes, Prof. Anthony J. Ryan OBE and Dr Oleksandr O. Mykhaylyk, looking further into self-assembly mechanisms using small-angle X-ray scattering (SAXS). In December 2019, Matt moved to Aston University, where his group's research is focused on sustainable polymer materials science for a range of applications. Website:

Dr Seb Sprick (LinkedIn) is a Chancellor’s Fellow and Lecturer in Polymer Chemistry within the Department of Pure and Applied Chemistry at the University of Strathclyde. He completed his PhD with Prof. Michael L. Turner at The University of Manchester in 2013 working on new catalytic systems for the synthesis of poly(triarylamine)s. Following this, he joined Prof. Andrew I. Cooper’s group at the University of Liverpool as a Postdoctoral Research Associate. In 2015 he took up the role of a Research Lead in the same group, primarily focusing on the development of new conjugated polymers that act as photocatalysts for water splitting and carbon dioxide reduction. In June 2020 he moved to the University of Strathclyde where he focuses on the development of polymer photocatalysts for a range of different applications.

Dr Dan Lester (Virtual Seminars) is a Polymer/Materials Analysis Research Platform Manager at the University of Warwick. He completed his PhD at the University of Sussex with Dr John Turner and Dr Qiao Chen in the field of photocatalysis. He then moved to Warwick in 2014 as a Research Technician in the group of Prof David Haddleton, running the analytical equipment, predominantly SEC instruments. After building a portfolio of equipment and clients they formed the Polymer Characterisation facility as part of the Research Technology Platforms Department. Dan has been manager of the Polymer RTP since 2017 building a large collection of analytical instrumentation relevant to Polymer and Materials characterisation. These instruments and associated expertise are provided for those internal to the University of Warwick but are also offered externally via a number of access routes, such as pay-to-play or collaborations. For more information please visit: https://warwick.ac.uk/services/ris/impactinnovation/impact/warwick-scientific-services/polymercharacterisation

Dr Chiara Arno is a Birmingham Fellow and Lecturer in Polymeric Biomaterials at the University of Birmingham. Chiara was awarded her PhD from King’s College London in 2015, where she worked with Dr Sukhi Bansal developing peptides for treating pathologies linked to a dysregulation in iron metabolism. After her PhD, she moved into the polymer chemistry research area taking up a Research Fellow position at the University of Warwick to investigate the biological interactions of polymeric nanoparticles and 3D scaffolds in vitro and in vivo with Prof. Andrew Dove. In 2018, the group moved to the University of Birmingham and she took up a Group Leader role in the Dove group, leading the Biomaterials research strand. In 2020 Chiara started her independent career at the University of Birmingham jointly between the School of Chemistry and the Institute of Cancer and Genomic Sciences. Her work focuses on the development of polymeric materials that can control and modify cell behaviour.

Dr Stephen Fielden is a Leverhulme Early Career Fellow within the School of Chemistry at the University of Birmingham. He completed his MChem at the University of Oxford in 2015. He then undertook his PhD and a postdoc in the group of Prof. David Leigh at the University of Manchester. After this, he moved to Prof. Rachel O’Reilly’s group at the University of Birmingham in 2021. He was subsequently awarded a fellowship from the Leverhulme Trust to study polymersome fusion and is now a member of the academic staff at Birmingham. His interests include non-equilibrium chemistry, molecular machines and polymer nanotechnology.

Dr Matt Unthank (Industrial Engagement) is a Senior Lecturer in Polymer Chemistry within the Department of Applied Sciences at Northumbria University. He was award a PhD in Synthetic Chemistry from The University of Bristol in 2007 and went on to develop expertise in polymer synthesis and process scale-up through leadership roles within AkzoNobel. His background centres around the development of proprietary polymers and polymeric coatings for chemical resistant and anti-corrosion applications, with a broad portfolio of patents to his support these technologies. His current research interests include the development of new, high performance materials for coating, composite and adhesive applications via a ‘safe-by-design’ and ‘recyclable-by-design’ approach, as well as developing responsive surfaces and polymers for functional coatings.

Dr Samuel T. Jones is a Lecturer within the Department of Materials at the University of Manchester. He completed his MChem (with professional experience) from the University of Warwick in 2009, followed by a PhD on supramolecular self-assembly of nanomaterials and polymers at the University of Cambridge with Prof. Oren A. Scherman. He then moved to the Ecole Polytechnique Federale de Lausanne (EPFL) to work with Prof. Francesco Stellacci on broad-spectrum virucidal antiviral materials. His current research studies virus/material interactions towards developing novel antivirals, viral detection systems and virus stabilisers. Group website: www.broadspectrumantivirals.com

Dr Sébastien Rochat is a research fellow and Lecturer in Functional Materials at the University of Bristol. He studied chemistry at EPFL in Switzerland, obtaining his PhD degree in 2010 in the laboratory of Prof. Kay Severin, with a thesis entitled “Metal-based chemosensors for important bioanalytes. He then joined the laboratory of Prof. Timothy M. Swager at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, to work on the development of polymer-based materials for organic electronics and sensing applications. After three years at MIT, Sébastien relocated to the UK, where he took an R&D position at Procter&Gamble. He returned to academia at the University of Bath in 2016 to develop nanoporous composites for hydrogen storage (with Profs Andrew D. Burrows, Chris R. Bowen and Timothy J. Mays), and finally at the University of Bristol where he started his independent scientific career in May 2019. His group is interested in organic materials for energy conversion and storage, light harvesting, and environmental stewardship. (https://rochat-lab.com/)