Senior Research Fellows
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.
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.
Jennifer was born and raised in Berlin, Germany. She received her Diploma degree in Biochemistry from the University of Greifswald in 2012 and afterwards started her PhD thesis in the Department of Biochemistry in the laboratory of Prof. Sabine Müller specialising in nucleoside chemistry and RNA engineering. During her PhD work she achieved the synthesis of various new nucleoside analogues by multi-step synthesis, which were used for functionalizing diverse RNA strands. This enabled the investigation of a reductive charge transfer through RNA duplex and functional RNA aptamer structures, as well as the evaluation of new RNA probes for structural spectroscopic methods. In January 2020, she moved to the UK and joined the O’Reilly group as a post-doctoral researcher. Her research project is focused on DNA-templated chemistry, which is one of the key steps for the development of an artificial ribosome – a molecular machine capable of making sequence-defined polymers according to a genetic program.
Sam was born in Bolton but grew up in Lincolnshire. He obtained his MChem degree from the University of York in 2016. His masters project investigated the capture and release of aldehyde-based fragrances from supramolecular hydrogels. In October 2016, he began a PhD in Chemical Engineering under the supervision of Dr. Nicholas Warren. His work focused on the synthesis of polymeric materials in tubular flow reactors. In addition, Sam incorporated analytical techniques, such as NMR & GPC, into flow platforms in order to develop autonomous self-optimising systems. After obtaining his PhD in July 2020, Sam joined the O’Reilly group as a post-doctoral researcher. His research project involves developing polymeric nano-particles for use as biological sensors in plants.
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 via a free radical polymerisation method. 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 non-polar organic solvents. He successfully defended his viva in July 2022, and is continuing his research of block co-polymer self-assembly in non-polar organic media as a PDRA in the O’Reilly and Dove groups.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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. 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Beth joins 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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'.
Roshan is from Leeds, and during his MSci undertook a mini-project on antimicrobial polymers during his 3rd year and then a placement in the summer of 2022 within the O’Reilly group on CO2 responsive polymers. Roshan has now joined the O'Reilly group for his MSci project, focusing his research on ROMP in non-polar solvents.
Associate Group Members
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.