Current Members

Group Leader

oreilly-rachel-2-Cropped-230x230

Prof. Rachel O'Reilly

Office: Aston Webb
Email: r.oreilly@bham.ac.uk

Find out more about Rachel here.

Senior Research Fellows

Calum Ferguson

Calum Ferguson

Calum Ferguson was born in Scotland but has lived across the UK and in Germany. He attained an integrated Masters in Chemistry at The University of Edinburgh, graduating in 2013. After a short time working in industry at Syngenta, he then undertook his PhD at the University of Leeds, UK, with Dr Olivier Cayre graduating in 2018. After the completion of his doctoral studies, he joined the Department of Physical Chemistry of Polymers at the Max Planck Institute for Polymer Research (MPIP), working with Prof. Katharina Landfester. In early 2020, he started as an independent research group leader at MPIP, where he maintains a small group. Calum joined the O’Reilly Group as a Senior Research Fellow in April 2022. His research interests include controlled radical polymer synthesis, photocatalytic classical polymers, organic small molecule photocatalysts, and selective photocatalysis.


Email: C.Ferguson.1@bham.ac.uk

Julia Rho

Julia Rho

Julia was born in London and earned her MChem and PhD in Chemistry at the University of Warwick under the supervision of Prof. Sébastien Perrier. Her PhD thesis was titled ‘Investigating the dynamic nature of supramolecular cyclic peptide polymer nanotubes’. Julia worked as a Postdoctoral Researcher at the University of Florida, and latterly as a Research Fellow at the University of Warwick’s Medical School. Julia has a particular interest in biomaterials: polymer self-assembly, photopolymerisation and drug/gene delivery.


Email: J.Y.Rho@bham.ac.uk

Post-Doctoral Researchers

Parvaneh Eskandari

Parvaneh Eskandari

Parvaneh is from Tabriz in Iran. As a Chemical Engineer, she decided to continue her Master's studies in polymer science at the Sahand University of Technology where her investigation had been based on the improvement of the mechanical properties of industrial polymers. She then joined the group of Professor Roghani-Mamaqani at the department of Polymer Engineering –Sahand University of Technology as a PhD student (2015). Proceeding with her studies, she defined two main categories for her PhD studies in the area of polymer chemistry: (I) Synthesis of responsive polymer nanocomposites for novel applications such as water treatment and drug delivery systems; (II) Studies on grafting methods in order to functionalize carbon nanotube (CNT)/ graphene. At the same time, Parvaneh has worked as an educator and lecturer in Chemistry. Parvaneh joined the O'Reilly group as a Marie Skłodowska-Curie Postdoctoral Fellow in November 2022 to design and synthesize aggregation-induced Emission-active stimuli-responsive nano-objects for water treatment application.

Email: P.Eskandari@bham.ac.uk

Josh Tibbetts

Josh Tibbetts

Josh joined the O’Reilly group in November 2023, to work on the EPSRC molecular technology project entitled ‘An Artificial Ribosome’, which aims to develop responsive DNA machines. Josh earned his MSci from the University of Cambridge, and his PhD at the University of Bath’s Centre for Sustainable Chemical Technologies, working with Professor Steve Bull. Josh was latterly a Postdoctoral Research Associate at Bath, working on photocatalysis and amine functionalisation. He enjoys attending live music gigs, as well as collecting & listening to vinyl records.

Email: J.D.Tibbetts@bham.ac.uk

Visiting Researchers

Jian Zhang

Jian Zhang

Jian was born in Bozhou, Anhui Province, China. He received his Ph.D. degree from the University of Science and Technology of China in 2019. Then, he joined the College of Material and Textile Engineering, Jiaxing University. His present research interests focus on the ionic effects in polyelectrolytes and Develop Functional Nucleic-Based, Polypeptides and Sequence-Defined Polymers and Detect their Potential Applications. During his time in the O’Reilly Group, Jian will design functional polymers based on nucleic acid, developing a new method to synthesize functional nucleic-based and sequence-defined polymers.

Email: J.Zhang.17@bham.ac.uk

Tuğçe GEVREK CİVAN

Tuğçe Nihal GEVREK

A native of Istanbul, Tuğçe earned her BS at Marmara University (2008), and an MSc at Bogazici University (2011). She completed her PhD entitled "Fabrication and Functionalization of Reactive Polymeric Coatings for Biomedical Applications" in 2017 under the supervision of Amitav Sanyal and Rana Sanyal. Afterward, she joined Gebze Technical University in Kocaeli as an assistant professor. Tuğçe's visit to the O'Reilly group is supported by TÜBİTAK and is focused on the development of novel UCST polymersomes for antibiotic release. Apart from her academic pursuits, Tuğçe enjoys hiking and solving puzzles.

Email: T.N.Gevrekcivan@bham.ac.uk

Peng Sun

Peng Sun

Peng is from Jining, Shandong Province, China, and currently works at the Beijing Institute of Technology. He graduated from Beijing University of Chemical Technology with a bachelor's degree under the guidance of Prof. Shouke Yan. Then he obtained his Ph.D. at Institute of Chemistry, Chinese Academy of Sciences in 2019 under the supervision of Prof. Ke Zhang, and his doctoral thesis focused on new methods for cyclic polymers. After a 3-year postdoctoral research at Prof. Xi Zhang’s group, Peng Sun became an assistant professor at Advanced Research Institute of Multidisciplinary Science, Beijing Institute of Technology in 2022. His current research interests include multicomponent polymerization, supramolecular polymers, and clusterization-triggered emission. Peng’s research in the O’Reilly group will include self-assembly induced emission and the self-assembly of spiropolymers. Peng’s expertise encompasses both organic synthesis and polymer synthesis. Peng enjoys watching movies, listening to music, and playing table tennis and badminton.

Email: sunpeng@bit.edu.cn

PhD Students

Final Year
epitropaki

Eirini Epitropaki

Eirini was born and raised in Crete, Greece where she did her BSc at the University of Crete in Material Science. Her Bachelor Thesis was on drug delivery systems of supramolecular biohybrids of protein-polymer. She continued her studies in Aristotle University of Thessaloniki where she obtained an MSc degree in Nanoscience and Nanotechnology. Her Master Thesis was conducted in the Foundation for Research and Technology Hellas (FORTH), where she worked on the European NanoREG project concerning nanosafety measurements and characterization of nanoparticles and on synthesis of graphene oxide hydrogels for tissue engineering applications. In October 2018, she started her PhD under the supervision of Professor Rachel O’Reilly and Professor Andrew Dove, where she will develop drug delivery systems for neural stem cell proliferation in the brain as part of NANOSTEM program.

Email: EXE896@student.bham.ac.uk

Alisha_Miller

Alisha Miller

Alisha is from Wokingham and completed her MChem in Chemistry at the University of York. During a break in her studies, she worked at a global medical device company where she coordinated material verification and developed testing methods for new regulatory standards. For her fourth year masters project she worked out in industry in the Composites Global Business Unit of Solvay. Her project involved investigating the rheological properties of uncured epoxy resin and thermoplastic mixtures for use in the aerospace industry. In September 2019, Alisha started her PhD in Chemistry under the supervision of Prof. Rachel O’Reilly; her work is focussed on the development of nanoreactors by polymerization-induced self-assembly (PISA) for biomedical applications.

Email: AXM1627@student.bham.ac.uk

Snook_full

Siriporn 'Snook' Chaimueangchuen

Snook was born in Thailand and obtained her Bachelor degree in Chemistry from Chiang Mai University in 2016. Her bachelor project focused on synthesis and preparation of injectable hydrogel based on stereocomplexed polylactide. She studied her Master degree at Chulalongkorn University in Polymer science under the supervision of Prof. Suwabun Chirachanchai. In Master’s thesis, she was working on molecular design and synthesis for supramolecular molecule i.e. [3]Psuedorotaxane. In October 2019, Snook has joined the group and started her PhD under the supervision of Prof. Rachel O’Reilly and her work will be focused on the Polymerization-Induced Self-Assembly(PISA) and DNA in a small volume.

Email: SXC1216@student.bham.ac.uk

Ben Allot 2

BEN ALLOT

Ben was born in Winchester and competed his MSci in Chemistry at the University of Nottingham. The bachelor component of his degree spanned a variety of topic from solving advanced differential equations to medicinal chemistry. He completed various projects in organic, inorganic, and physical labs throughout his bachelors; in his masters he worked under Prof. James Dowden where he was working on a novel, convergent synthetic route to a natural opioid: Mitragynine pseudoinoxyl. He started his PhD in March 2020 under Prof. Rachel O’Reilly where he is working on DNA template synthesis – a method of programmable, autonomous, sequence specific synthesis.

Email: BBA911@student.bham.ac.uk

4th Year
Jess Hawkins

JESS HAWKINS

Jess was born in Bristol but grew up in Cornwall. She moved to Birmingham for her undergraduate studies, during which she travelled to Basel in Switzerland for a year in industry. Here she interned with Roche working on a project developing small molecules for the treatment of Progressive Multiple Sclerosis. Jess’s MSci Chemistry degree included a final-year project with the Cox Group working on the synthesis of phenyltriazolinedione derivatives for the bioconjugation of proteins. Her PhD on DNA-templated chemistry uses DNA in the synthesis of oligonucleotides.

Email: JRH619@student.bham.ac.uk

3rd Year
David Londoño

DAVID LONDOÑO

David is from Cartagena de Indias in Colombia, and has also lived in Spain. He earned his Bachelor’s degree in Chemistry at the University of Zaragoza, supervised on his thesis 'Synthesis of New hole-transporters for perovskite solar cells applications' by Dr Santiago Franco Ontaneda. His Master’s degree in Industrial Chemistry, supervised by Dr Elena Piera Camas and in collaboration with Nurel Engineering Polymers SA, resulted in the thesis 'Synthesis and Study of properties of new polyamide 6 Nanocomposite polymers type for injection applications'. David worked as an R&D Laboratory Technician at Nurel Engineering Polymers for three years. He joined the O’Reilly Group as a PhD student in early 2021; his studies are supported by the BP Pelican project, which aims to use polymer-based solutions to improve reservoir sweep.

Email: DAL018@student.bham.ac.uk

Rachel Stracey

RACHEL STRACEY

Lancastrian Rachel studies Chemistry to contribute to a sustainable future through the development of new materials. She graduated with a Master of Chemistry from the University of York – her Master’s research project was completed in Prof. Duncan Bruce’s group and was titled: “An investigation into the introduction of perfluorinated chains into the structure of discotic luminescent gold(III) complexes and their effects on mesophase behaviour”. Rachel joined the O’Reilly Group in June 2021 to research crystalline-driven self-assembly and fluorescent barcoding.

Email: RFS146@student.bham.ac.uk

Beth Crow

BETHANY CROW

Beth joined the O’Reilly Group as a new PhD researcher in 2021. A native of Hull, her research interest centres on toxicology, and her PhD will investigate nanoparticles for biomedical application. Beth’s MChem and BSc in Chemistry with a Year in Industry were earned at the University of Leeds. Her masters project was on the Structure Activity Relationships of Quinolines (antimalarials) with an artificial biomembrane screening platform (membrane-on-a-chip), pioneered by Professor Andrew Nelson. Beth is a keen dancer and dog lover.

Email: BXC187@student.bham.ac.uk

Jake Barker

JAKE BARKER

Jake is from Bristol, and his studies have taken him to Wales and Canada. On his Integrated MChem at Cardiff University with Professor Angela Casini, he developed metal NHC-complexes to prevent DNA replication in cancers. Jake’s year abroad at the University of Toronto Mississauga with the Gunning Group involved the development of electrophilic warhead molecules for the disruption of cancer proliferation. His PhD investigating the precision self-assembly of polymers builds towards Jake’s interest in medicinal applications. He enjoys live music.

Email: JXB1408@student.bham.ac.uk

Phillippa Edge

PHILLIPPA EDGE

Phillippa has lived in Bedford, Cambridge, and Durham, where she earned her MChem. Her Masters Project took place in the Functional Surface Research group, and was based around metal-organic frameworks and the functionalisation of surfaces with biopolymers. Most recently, Phillippa worked in R&D at US biotechnology company Illumina, investigating patterned flowcell technology. Her PhD in the O’Reilly Group will focus on DNA. Phillippa enjoys camping and playing squash.

Email: PKE178@student.bham.ac.uk

Laihui Xiao

LAIHUI XIAO

Laihui is a graduate of Fujian Normal University – where he researched recycled PET during his BEng majoring in Polymer Materials and Engineering – and of the Chinese Academy of Forestry, from where he earned an MEng focused on modifying commercial epoxy resin with bio-based materials. He has most recently worked as a research assistant investigating bio-based functional polymeric materials. Laihui’s research in the O’Reilly Group will concentrate on the synthesis of complex, degradable and functional polymeric nanoparticles by the method of crystallization driven self-assembly (CDSA). Laihui enjoys cycling, table tennis, and running.

Email: LXX115@student.bham.ac.uk

2nd Year
Yu Lu

YU LU

Yu was born in China’s Fujian Province and has also lived in Shanghai. He completed a Master of Science at Guangxi University in 2020, researching 'Alkaline anion exchange membrane fuel cells'. In 2021 he earned his Master of Research at the University of Nottingham, investigating the development of degradable polymers. He takes part in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu.

Email: YXL1554@student.bham.ac.uk

Tianlai Xia

Tianlai Xia

Tianlai obtained his BS degree in Materials Science (especially in energy field) under Prof. Yongtao Li’s supervision at Anhui University of Technology in 2018. In 2021, Tianlai finished his Masters by Research in Chemistry under the supervision of Prof. Rachel O’Reilly and Prof. Andrew P. Dove at the University of Birmingham, focused on nanoparticle engineering using crystallization driven self assembly.

Email: TXX840@student.bham.ac.uk

Megan Elliott

Megan Elliott

Megan has lived in the UK, and the US – in North Carolina, California and New Jersey. At the University of York she earned a BSc in Chemistry, and an MSc in Green Chemistry and Sustainable Industrial Technology, with a thesis entitled 'Preparation of Non-Polar Lubricant Additives by Aza-Michael Modification of Bio-based Unsaturated Polyesters'.

Email: MXE271@student.bham.ac.uk

Visiting Research Students

Kaixiang Yang

Kaixiang Yang

Kaixiang was born in Hefei, Anhui Province, China. His Bachelor’s thesis was on programmable smart hydrogels. Kaixiang is currently a PhD student of the University of Science and Technology of China, and his research mainly investigates the preparation of adhesive hydrogels. Kaixiang is spending a year as a Visiting Research Student with the O’Reilly Group, and while he is at Birmingham, he will focus on the design of controllable adhesives based on a self-assembly method.

Email: KXY266@student.bham.ac.uk

Associate Group Members

Stephen Fielden

Stephen Fielden

Steve is an independent Leverhulme Early Career Fellow affiliated with the O’Reilly group.

Born in Bury, Greater Manchester, Steve earned his MChem from the University of Oxford in 2015, working with Prof. Véronique Gouverneur FRS during his Part II year. His PhD, supervised by Prof. David Leigh FRS at the University of Manchester, concerned the construction of interlocked molecules (rotaxanes, catenanes and knots) and developing new molecular machinery. After completing his PhD in 2019, he continued his research in Prof. Leigh’s laboratory with a postdoctoral research position. He then joined the group of Prof. Rachel O’Reilly FRS as a Research Fellow in January 2021 before commencing his Leverhulme Early Career Fellowship in October 2021. Steve’s experience spans supramolecular and non-equilibrium systems chemistry. In his fellowship, Steve will explore the dynamics and applications of non-equilibrium polymer nanoparticles. Steve is mentored by Rachel and contributes to the activities of the O’Reilly group.

Email: S.Fielden@bham.ac.uk