Current Members

Group Leader

Prof. Rachel O'Reilly

Office: 7.03
Lab: 7th floor
Email: r.oreilly@bham.ac.uk

Senior Research Fellows

Tom Wilks

Tom was born in Brighton but grew up in rural Northamptonshire. He studied Natural Sciences at the University of Cambridge, where he first encountered Prof. O'Reilly's work, doing a summer project with the group in 2007. He then went on to complete his Masters research in the group, graduating in 2008 with a first class honours degree. After a year out working as a Schools Liaison Officer at Clare College Cambridge, helping to break down some of the myths surrounding Cambridge and HE in general and encouraging students from underprivileged backgrounds to aspire to top flight universities, Tom started his PhD with the O'Reilly group. His thesis describes novel DNA-polymer conjugation strategies and the use of these to create interesting new materials incorporating the useful properties of DNA (sequence specificity, addressability, formation of precision 3D structures) and synthetic polymers (low production costs, responsiveness to external stimuli, controlled aggregation). After being awarded his PhD in August 2013 Tom spent 2 and a half years working as a Regional Director for The Brilliant Club, an educational charity that places PhD students and postdocs in schools to help disadvantaged children develop the skills and confidence they need to secure places at top universities. He has now returned to academia as a research fellow in the O'Reilly group, where his work focuses on the use of DNA in a variety of novel contexts including templating, polymer conjugation and self-assembly, and polymeric analogues of nucleic acids. Outside the lab, Tom has two young children who keep him very busy, and is an avid baker.


Email: T.R.Wilks@bham.ac.uk Twitter: @tom_wilks

Jeffrey Foster

Jeff was born in Prince Fredrick, Maryland but grew up in Sacramento, California. He obtained his BS and MS degrees from California Polytechnic State University, San Luis Obispo in 2010 and 2012, respectively. His thesis involved the design and preparation of corrosion-sensing epoxy films for use as airplane coatings in collaboration with Boeing. In August 2012 he moved across the US to southwest Virgina to pursue a PhD in Chemistry under the supervision of Prof. John Matson. His work there focused on the preparation of H2S-releasing small molecules, polymers, and polymer assemblies. In addition, Jeff studied various methods of synthesizing bottlebrush polymers, including seminal work on RAFT transfer-to polymerization. After obtaining his PhD in 2017, Jeff moved even further east to the University of Birmingham to join the O’Reilly group as a Research Fellow.


Email: J.C.Foster@bham.ac.uk

Amanda Pearce

Amanda Pearce

Amanda was born and raised in Dalby, Australia. She obtained a BSc with First Class Honours in Chemistry from the University of Queensland in 2011, with her final year project within the lab of Assoc. Prof. Kristofer Thurecht and Prof. Andrew Whittaker. She then remained in the same research group to pursue her PhD, graduating in 2015. Her thesis focused on the development and synthesis of drug-loaded hyperbranched polymer nanoparticles via controlled radical polymerisation techniques, with active targeting abilities for in vivo imaging and drug delivery towards prostate cancer applications. She then moved to the group of Prof. Cameron Alexander at the University of Nottingham in 2016 as a Research Fellow within the EPSRC funded ‘Next Generation Biomaterials Discovery’ grant, where she focused on the design, synthesis and characterisation of bespoke novel synthetic polymers through various synthetic strategies (RAFT, ROP etc) for in vivo drug delivery, with a particular interest in how choice of chemistry, architecture and size can be tuned to direct nanoparticle delivery in the body. In 2019, Amanda moved to Birmingham to join the O’Reilly group as a Senior Research Fellow.


Email: A.K.Pearce@bham.ac.uk

Visiting Scientists

ZAIZAI

ZAIZAI TONG

Zaizai was born in Zhejiang, China. He received his BS degree in polymer materials and engineering from Hefei University of Technology in 2010. Then he joined the laboratory of Prof. Jun-Ting Xu at Zhejiang University to pursue his PhD degree in polymer chemistry and physics. After receiving the PhD degree in 2015, he subsequently worked in the Zhejiang Sci-Tech University to continue his academic career. His current research interests are focused on the construction of novel stimuli-responsive supramolecular/polymeric materials for drug delivery, self-assembly of block copolymer assisted by other driving forces. In Nov. 2018, he joined the Prof. Rachel O’Reilly’s group as a Visiting Scholar at the University of Birmingham, where his work focuses on the crystallization-driven self-assembly of polymers.


Email: Z.Tong@bham.ac.uk

Post-Doctoral Researchers

Turgay Yildirim

Turgay obtained his B.Sc. and an M.Sc degree from Bogazici University, Department of Chemistry (Turkey) in 2010 and 2012, respectively. He then moved to Jena, Germany to pursue a PhD under the supervision of Prof. U. S. Schubert. His PhD work was focused on the synthesis of novel stimuli-responsive polymeric nanoparticles. In February 2018, he joined the O’Reilly group as a Research Fellow. His research project is focused on the synthesis of polymer-based fluorescent nanoparticles sensitive to auxin.


Email: T.Yildirim.1@bham.ac.uk

Stefan Lawrenson

Stefan was born in Crawley, West Sussex, but spent most of his early life growing up in the small nearby village of Storrington. He graduated in 2013 with an MSc in Chemistry from the University of Bristol, spending his final year in the group of Prof. V. K. Aggarwal FRS, investigating lithiation–borylation–protodeboronation as a route to stereoselective exocyclic alkenes. Following graduation, Stefan worked as a Quality Assurance analyst with GlaxoSmithKline for six months, before leaving to travel throughout South-East Asia and New Zealand prior to starting a PhD. His PhD was carried out under the supervision of Prof. Michael North, within the Green Chemistry Centre of Excellence at the University of York. His work here focussed on the use of alternative solvents for solid-phase synthesis, along with the ring-opening metathesis polymerisation of novel bio-based monomers. In April 2018 Stefan joined the O'Reilly group where he is currently investigating the use of RAFT for the synthesis of thermoresponsive polymer particles.


Email: S.B.Lawrenson@bham.ac.uk

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Carl Reynolds

Carl was born in Sandwell, West Midlands where he also grew up. He studied Chemistry at Durham University, obtaining an MChem in 2014. For his master’s project, Carl spent a year at Unilever in Port Sunlight, Wirral, researching surfactants relevant to laundry detergency. He then returned to Durham to undertake a PhD with Dr. Richard Thompson and Prof. Tom McLeish. In a project sponsored by Michelin, he studied the relationship between rheological properties of polymer melts and their underlying structure. He took a particular interest in novel experimental methods such as multi-pass rheometry and medium and large amplitude oscillatory shear. While completing his PhD, he also studied education, using experiences from lab demonstrating, mentoring and outreach activities and achieved fellowship of the higher education academy. Carl returned to the West Midlands to join the O’Reilly group in April 2018, to work on a project studying the flow of polymers through porous media.


Email: C.D.Reynolds@bham.ac.uk

Robert Keogh

Rob grew up in Bolton, England and graduated from the University of Warwick in 2014 with a 1st class MChem degree with Professional Experience. In his third year, he spent four months working under Prof. Roderick Bates at Nanyang Technological University, Singapore where he focused on exploring a more efficient synthetic route to the Northern hemisphere of the briaranes. He then went on to complete his fourth year MChem project under the supervision of Dr. Matthew Gibson which involved the design and synthesis of novel star glycopolymers for specific bacterial inhibition. Rob started his PhD in the O’Reilly group in September 2014 focusing upon the design, synthesis and behaviour of fluorescent nanostructures, and is now continuing his research after thesis submission.

Email: R.Keogh.1@bham.ac.uk

AS

Amrita Sikder

Amrita received her B.Sc. degree in chemistry from Calcutta University (India) in 2011 and M.Sc. degree from Indian Institute of Technology Madras (department of chemistry) in 2013. Then she joined the laboratory of Prof. Suhrit Ghosh at Indian Association for the Cultivation of Science (IACS-Kolkata) in School of Applied and Interdisciplinary Sciences to pursue her PhD degree. Her PhD work was focused on establishing suitable supramolecular strategies based on H-bonding for directional assembly of π-amphiphiles with designer’s control on their morphology, functional group display, charge density and other properties and correlating with their multivalent interaction with bio-macromolecules such as proteins. In August 2019, she moved to UK and joined the O’Reilly group as a post-doctoral researcher. Her research project is focused on RNA delivery system based on a supramolecular and polymeric assembly.

Email: A.Sikder.1@bham.ac.uk

PhD Students

Final Year

Wei Yu

Wei was born in Hangzhou, Zhejiang province of China. He obtained his MChem degree from Zhejiang University (ZJU) in June 2015 under the supervision of Dr.Zhengwei Mao. His research interest in ZJU mainly focus on Preparation of Polyelectrolyte Assembled Microcapsules with different modulus or surface and the study of their endocytosis behavior. In October 2015 he began his PhD program under the joint supervision of Prof. Andrew P. Dove and Prof. Rachel K. O'Reilly at the University of Warwick. His project, now based at the university of Birmingham,involved synthesis and preparation of nanostructures based on polylactide by CDSA.

Email: WXY708@student.bham.ac.uk

Samuel Nunez

Samuel was born in St. Fost de Campsentelles, Barcelona. He graduated in chemistry (2014) from the University of Barcelona. Then, he did a 6 months stay in the IQAC-CSIC institute focused on the synthesis and biological evaluation of antisense lipid-DNA conjugates, under the supervision of Dr. Ramon Eritja and Dr. Santiago Grijalvo. He undertook a master in organic chemistry in the University of Barcelona (2015), the experimental work was carried out in the IRB-Barcelona, in the Research Unit in Asymmetric Synthesis, on the area of the enantioselective catalysis using P-stereogenic Rh(I) coordination complexes, under the supervision of Dr. Xavier Verdaguer. He joined the O’Reilly group as a PhD student in October 2015, focusing on the use DNA template chemistry for the control of the synthesis of oligomers.

Email: S.Nunez-Pertinez@pgr.bham.ac.uk

Jon Husband

Jon grew up in St Austell, Cornwall and moved to Bath in 2010 to complete a MChem degree. During his 3rd year, Jon completed a study year abroad at Simon Fraser University in Vancouver, Canada. There he worked with the Warren group studying cytochrome c redox chemistry. For his final year project, he completed research with the Pantoş group in Bath. His research involved synthesising naphthalene diimide derivatives for use in flexible conductors and materials. In October 2015, Jon joined the O’Reilly group, focusing his research on the area of fluorescent handles in peptide-based applications



Email: J.T.Husband@pgr.bham.ac.uk

More about Jon here

3rd year

Sètuhn Jimaja

Sètuhn was born in Switzerland where he did his BSc at the University of Geneva. He then moved to ETH Zürich for his MSc and did his master thesis in the group of Prof. A.D. Schlüter where his worked focused on the synthesis of polyphenylenes with Suzuki polycondensation. After his MSc, he undertook a 6 months internship at BASF SE (Ludwigshafen, Germany) where he worked on ring-opening polymerisation of cyclic carbonates. In September 2016, he started his PhD at the University of Warwick in the Dove group and the O’Reilly group as a joint student. He is currently researching into the synthesis of organocatalytic nanoreactors. His project is funded through the SUSPOL programme.

Email: s.i.s.c.jimaja@pgr.bham.ac.uk

Spyridon Varlas

Spyridon was born and raised in Athens, Greece. He graduated from the National and Kapodistrian University of Athens (NKUA) in 2014 with a BSc degree in Chemistry. He then continued his studies at the NKUA under the supervision of Prof. Hermis Iatrou, where he obtained a 1st class MSc degree in “Polymer Science and its Applications” in 2016. His research work was based on the design and preparation of hybrid multi-stimuli responsive polypeptide-based nanostructures for drug delivery applications. In September 2016, Spyridon started his PhD in Chemistry under the supervision of Prof. Rachel O’Reilly. His research project is focused on the synthesis and development of novel nanoreactors by RAFT-mediated polymerization-induced self-assembly (PISA) for biomedical applications and is funded by the European Research Council (ERC).

Email: S.Varlas@pgr.bham.ac.uk

More about Spyridon here

Lucy Arkinstall

Lucy grew up in Leicestershire and undertook her MChem degree at the University of Durham. In June 2016 she graduated and was also named as one of the Salters’ Graduate Prize award winners. During her undergraduate degree she undertook a BP funded summer internship under the supervision of Dr Sandra Engelskirchen and Prof. Chris Greenwell in the area of microemulsions and internally self-assembled emulsions. She also completed her fourth year masters project out in industry working in the Composites Global Business Unit of Solvay. Her work was focussed on the synthesis and characterization of a novel thermoset polymer for the aerospace industry. Lucy started her PhD in October 2016 under the supervision of Prof. Rachel O’Reilly, her work is focussed on a unique DNA templating chemistry.

Email: L.A.Arkinstall@pgr.bham.ac.uk

Yujie Xie

Yujie was born in Lanzhou, China and graduated from the Lanzhou University(LZU) in 2013. She then continued her study in LZU and joined a research group as a master student under the instruction of Prof. Yu Tang. During her Master degree, she undertook the project of Elaborate Supramolecular Assembly of Carbon Dots-Based Nanodevice for Ratiometric Sensoring and Logic Gate. In October 2016, she started her PhD project under the supervision of Professor Rachel O’Reilly. Her research interests are focused on the design and synthesis of maleimide functionalized polymers for fluorescent sensor applications.


Email: Y.Xie@pgr.bham.ac.uk

Bo Li

Bo grew up in Shanghai, China and obtained his Bachelor degree of Chemical Engineering from East China University of Science and Technology in 2012. His final year project was focussed onthe photocatalytic performance of Ce-Si mixed with TIO2 pillared montmorillonite under Dr. Ying Zhang’s supervising. Then he went to the University of Leicester for his MSc and worked on tridentate multianionic ligands for transition metals in Prof. Eric Hope and Dr. Gregory Solan’s group. Bo started his PhD in November 2016 under the supervision of Prof. Rachel O’Reilly and Prof. Andrew P. Dove, now at the University of Birmingham. His project is focus on synthesis and preparation of nanostructures by crystallization driven self assembly.

Email: B.Li.4@pgr.bham.ac.uk

2nd Year

Matthieu Miclotte

Matthieu was born in Uccle, Belgium. He obtained his BS degree in industrial chemistry from the Institut Paul Lambin in 2013. During his BS he completed two internships. Firstly, he undertook 5 months at UCB pharma where he worked on drug synthesis. After he spent 4 months at the Université catholique de Louvain where he synthesized and characterized composite materials for aeronautical applications in a project for SONACA. He continued his studies at UCLouvain where he obtained a masters degree in chemistry. During this Mchem he undertook an Erasmus placement in the group of professor Rachel O’Reilly from February 2016 to May 2016 where he worked on thermoresponsive polymers. During the second half of his Mchem degree he worked on the synthesis of a bifunctional heterogeneous catalyst of Copper(ll) and Palladium(0) at UCLouvain in the group of Professor Sophie Hermans from September 2016 to June 2017. Now he is back in the group of Professor Rachel O’Reilly as Research Assistant before starting a PhD at the University of Birmingham.

Email: MXM1095@student.bham.ac.uk

Maria Pervez

Maria was born in Pakistan, done her early studies there and was awarded Gold Medal at UG level. She graduated with 1st Class M.Sc. and M.Phil. degrees from the Quaid-i-Azam University, Islamabad in 2014 and 2016, respectively. Her M.Phil. research project was based on hydrogen production by water splitting using transition metals deposited nanomaterials. She then worked as Research Associate at Allama Iqbal Open University, Islamabad for 1 year. In October 2017, she started her Ph.D. under the supervision of Prof. Rachel O’ Reilly. Her work is focused on the preparation and characterization of biocompatible fluorescent particles.

Email: MXP799@student.bham.ac.uk

1st Year
MT

Marjolaine Thomas

Marjolaine was born in France and obtained her Bachelor degree in Materials Chemistry from the University of Bordeaux in 2016. She continued her studies at the University of Bordeaux where she obtained a masters degree in Advanced Materials in 2018. During her masters degree she undertook an Erasmus placement at the University of Helsinki and did an internship under the supervision of Prof. Heiki Tenhu working on drug delivery systems using RAFT polymerization. During her second year she went back to Bordeaux for a semester. Then, she completed her master thesis at the University of Montréal in the group of Géraldine Bazuin working on the self-assembly of block-copolymers on PDMS substrates. In October 2018, Marjolaine has joined the group and started her PhD under the supervision of Prof. Rachel O’Reilly and her work will be focused on the Biomimetic polymerization-induced self-assembly and DNA.

Email: MXT884@student.bham.ac.uk

SD

Simon Dale

Simon is from Cheshire and completed his BSc and MSc in Chemistry at University of Liverpool. He undertook his MSc research project under Professor Steve Rannard with the primary aim towards synthesising hyper-branched polydendrons using free radical polymerisation. The second aim of his project was to show that thiol chain transfer agents could be made in-situ prior to polymerisation via de-protection of a masking xanthate group. After completion of his Masters degree, Simon worked for Perstorp in Warrington researching and synthesising polycaprolactone by ring opening polymerisation for use as additives, blends and biodegradable thermoplastics. In October 2018, he started his PhD under the supervision of Professor Rachel O’Reilly and Professor Andrew Dove investigating polyester containing block co-polymers and their self-assembly in oil

Email: SXD802@student.bham.ac.uk

CC profile

Cinzia Clamor

Cinzia was born in Germany and obtained her BSc in Chemistry from the University of Münster in 2016. She then continued her studies at the University of Münster and graduated with a masters degree in Chemistry in 2018. During her masters studies she undertook an Erasmus placement at the University of Bath in the group of Prof. Stephen Husbands working on the design and synthesis of compounds targeting G-coupled receptor kinase. Then, she completed her master thesis under the supervision of Prof. Gustavo Fernández at the University of Münster with the focus on the synthesis and self-assembly behaviour of fluorescent BODIPY-based structures for biomedical applications. In October 2018, she started her PhD under the joint supervision of Prof. Andrew Dove and Prof. Rachel O’Reilly working on the synthesis and self-assembly of oil soluble polyesters.

Email: cxc1023@student.bham.ac.uk

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

IremAkar

Irem Akar

Irem was born in Istanbul, Turkey. She graduated from Marmara University in 2015 with a BSc degree in Bioengineering. She then obtained an MSc degree in Biotechnology at Bezmialem Vakif University in 2018. Her studies were focused on light-responsive DNA-polymer and protein-polymer conjugates to be used as smart drug delivery systems. She has started her PhD in January 2019 under the supervision of Prof Rachel O’Reilly to study stimuli-responsive polymeric nanoparticles for drug delivery applications.

Email: IXA849@student.bham.ac.uk