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Early Stage Researcher (Marie Skłodowska-Curie ITN) in Heterogeneous Catalysis

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    Durham University
    ChemistryHeterogeneous catalysis
    ChemistryInorganic chemistry
    First Stage Researcher (R1)
    16/09/2019 12:00 - Europe/London
    United Kingdom › Durham
    H2020 / Marie Skłodowska-Curie Actions

Early Stage Researcher (ESR7) PhD study position - Use of Porous Architecture Oxides to Prepare Controlled Bimetallic Aqueous Phase Reforming Catalysts (MSCA-ITN BIKE Project)

An EU-funded Marie Skłodowska-Curie Early-Stage Researcher (ESR) position is available in the area of novel synthesis methods for bimetallic aqueous phase reforming catalysts in the Chemistry Department of Durham University, Durham, UK.

This is a full-time position (35 hours per week), fixed-term for 36 months, with a start date of 1st November 2019 (or as soon as possible thereafter) and will require the successful candidate to register for the study for a PhD (NB applicants must NOT already have a PhD).

The successful applicant will carry out European Union-funded research within the “BIKE: BImetallic catalysts Knowledge-based development for Energy applications” Marie Skłodowska-Curie Innovative Training Network (lTN) project (Grant agreement no. 813748), which offers unique doctoral training and research opportunities, leading to the award of a PhD. The BIKE project will develop the next generation of catalysts for “green” and “blue” hydrogen production (from water electrolysis and via steam-methane reforming coupled with carbon capture and storage {CCS}, respectively). BIKE will use a holistic bimetallic catalyst design approach, which combines complementary multidisciplinary expertise in predictive computational modelling; operando characterization of working catalysts; the design, synthesis, and preparation of tuneable bimetallic nanoparticle catalysts; reactor and process design; and testing and demonstration in industrial facilities. The BIKE network comprises 10 member institutions and partner organisations, spanning both academia and industry, located in Bulgaria, Denmark, Germany, Italy, Norway, Spain, and the United Kingdom. In total, 14 ESRs will be recruited across the BIKE network and each will conduct research on a specific, but closely related research area. The ESRs will work in areas spanning heterogeneous catalysis, green chemistry, hydrogen economy, and materials and chemical sciences within a framework of highly specialized research groups from leading European academic and industrial laboratories. The network will provide outstanding inter-disciplinary training opportunities through hands-on research projects, international lab exchanges, industrial secondments, and specialist workshops and conferences. ESRs are generously funded with many opportunities for travel and networking.

This full-time, fixed-term ESR position will involve study for a PhD degree and will be based at Durham University’s Chemistry Department (Durham, UK) under the supervision of Drs Simon Beaumont and Phil Dyer and will involve research and study in the area of heterogeneous catalysis, specifically the synthesis of bimetallic catalysts using tuned and hierarchical porous oxide supports – this will be achieved using both the immobilisation of well-defined organometallic precursors and solution phase nanoparticle syntheses; characterization using a range of techniques and determination of structure-activity relationships in bimetallic catalysts through lab-scale catalyst testing and kinetic analysis for energy applications such as hydrogen generation. See recent publications from the Beaumont and Dyer groups: Nat. Mater. 2016,15, 178; Top. Catal. 2018,61, 977; ACS Catal. 2019,9, 4919; Catal. Today 2019,10.1016/j.cattod.2019.03.017 (in press);Top. Catal.2018, 61, 213. The ESR will collaborate in research, attend joint training events, and contribute to workshops and conferences across the BIKE network. The post-holder will be expected to register to study for a PhD (3 years) as an integral part of this ESR position. The ESR will be provided with a generous stipend to cover their living costs and travel for the duration of the 3 years; tuition fees will be paid for this period. They will also receive funds to support their participation in the BIKE-ITN European-wide research and training events. The network ESR/PhD students will receive training primarily through their host institute with additional training provided by visits to other host institutes and industrial partners in the network.


The ESR post-holder will have specific responsibility for the following areas of research:

  • Assist with the development of research goals and objectives.
  • Meet the members of their supervisory team to discuss their research on a regular basis.
  • Develop and test new hypotheses, analysing scientific data from a variety of sources, assessing, and refining working hypotheses as appropriate.
  • Widen their personal knowledge in the research area and undertake complementary training.
  • Demonstrate high levels of technical skill in the synthesis, characterization and application of heterogeneous and solid-state catalysts, where appropriate using well-defined molecular precursors.
  • Carryout the synthesis of molecular organometallic complexes, heterogeneous catalysts, and inorganic materials using a range of air-/moisture-sensitive reagents.
  • Be an expert in the use of specialist scientific and analytical equipment.
  • Directly contribute ideas to the direction of the research project supported by detailed and critical reference to previously published literature.
  • Produce health and safety documentation relevant to the project work and adhere to all local safety regulations and safe working practices.
  • Keep comprehensive, accessible, secure records of all experimental work (including catalytic testing), data, and analyses.
  • Prepare regular research reports and participate in scheduled face-to-face and Skype meetings including presentation of research results.
  • Undertake regular, comprehensive and systematic literature reviews.
  • Participate actively in group meetings and other project/BIKE Network meetings.
  • Liaise effectively with all members of the local research team, and the technical and research support staff.
  • Help to prepare and give research presentations to national and global conferences.
  • Write or assist with the preparation of papers for publication in global journals and conference proceedings.
  • Participate in the activities of the BIKE Network as specified in the Grant Agreement and/or required by the project coordinator, including travel to/secondments at other network institutions and international project partners’ laboratories, taking part in the network meetings and in the network’s training activities.
  • Keep records of these network activities, such as secondments, visits, and leave of absence.
  • Be prepared to undertake some aspects of undergraduate student teaching, which may include small-group teaching (workshops and tutorials) or laboratory class demonstrating.

Eligibility criteria

There are strict eligibility and residency requirements that must be met by applicants for this position. Applicants must be either European citizens (from EU Member States or Associated Countries, but not residents of the UK), or from Other Third Countries (i.e. USA, Canada, Australia, Japan, India, China, etc.).


At the time of recruitment (i.e. first date of employment/signature of the contract) applicants must meet the following eligibility criteria:

  • Have less than 4 years research experience (measured from the time their Master’s or equivalent degree was awarded)
  • Not have a doctorate/PhD
  • Be a national of any country other than the country of the premises of the host organization to which they are applying (unless they have legally resided outside that country for at least 3 out of the last 4 years)
  • Not have resided in the country of the recruiting host for more than 12 months in the 3 years immediately before the recruitment date (and not have carried out their main activity (work, studies, etc.) in that country) – unless as part of a procedure for obtaining refugee status under the Geneva Convention

Selection process

All applicants must submit:

  1. A standard application letter of no more than 2 pages (written in English) signed by the applicant indicating their full name; date and place of birth; citizenship; and postal, emaiI, and Skype addresses. The letter should clearly indicate the applicant’s motivation for applying for this ESR position in heterogeneous catalysis and describe their relevant experience. Applicants should clearly state, giving brief examples, how they meet each of the Essential Criteria. Additionally, the applicant must explicitly declare that they fulfil the eligibility criteria set out in article 3.4 of the H2020 Guide for Applicants Marie Skłodowska-Curie Actions - Innovative Training Networks (ITN), see:


  1. Contact information (including email addresses) for TWO academic referees.
  2. A detailed CV (of no more than 3 pages) in English illustrating the candidate's educational background, a list of undergraduate exam results and degrees held (with grades/rankings); a list of publications, poster and oral presentations (if any); academic prizes or scholarships, etc.; and scientific experience and skills. The document must be signed by the applicant. All applications must use the template CV, which can be found at: https://europass.cedefop.europa.eu/documents/curriculum-vitae/templates-instructions/templates/doc
  3. Where relevant, a copy of Master’s thesis or equivalent (in pdf format) including a separate 1 page summary written in English.
  4. Scanned copies of academic transcripts and degree certificates for the higher education qualifications held.
  1. Note, official translations into English and equivalence certificate of the Master’s degree or equivalent will be required at the point of contract signature.


Next Steps

Short-listed candidates for the post will be expected to participate in an interview (via Skype). We anticipate that the assessments will take place in late September 2019.

Web site for additional job details

Required Research Experiences

    1 - 4

Offer Requirements

    ENGLISH: Good




  • Master’s degree (MSc) or equivalent such as MChem or MSci (but not BSc) in a predominantly chemistry-orientated discipline or a related field (e.g.chemical engineering* or materials’ chemistry*)
  • A good first degree in chemistry or a related field (e.g.chemical engineering* or materials’ chemistry*)

         * The applicant must have undertaken a project involving preparative inorganic synthesis as a part of their prior studies.


  • Demonstratedabilityin conducting high quality academic research involving inorganic synthesis, heterogeneous catalysis, or materials’ characterisation

Technical Skills

  • Experience of heterogeneous catalysis synthesis and study
  • Proficient in the use of techniques for the manipulation of air-/moisture-sensitive compounds and materials
  • Hands-on expertise of materials’ characterisation using IR spectroscopy, surface area measurements, acquisition and in-depth interpretation of powder X-ray diffraction data, catalyst testing experience, experience of electron microscopy
  • Good computational skills including use of Microsoft Office (or equivalent) for text and data manipulation and appropriate numerical analysis software
  • Experience in inert-atmosphere chemistry, molecular synthesis (organometallic / coordination chemistry); analysis of analytical, spectroscopic, and kinetic data
  • Hands-on expertise in catalyst testing using gases/liquids at elevated pressure; reaction monitoring through mass spectrometry, infrared spectroscopy, gas chromatography and NMR spectroscopic methods; and proven ability to analyse the obtained results

Specific Requirements

  • Have an excellent general knowledge of related areas of chemistry through university study, reading of the literature, use of on-line database searching, attendance at seminars or conferences
  • Excellent interpersonal and communication skills and a willingness to interact cooperatively with academic, industrial, and support staff
  • Well-organised and highly-motivated with good time-management skills; ability to focus on project objectives
  • Willingness to assist with day-to-day operation of the research group, to assume a share of group responsibilities, and to contribute to impact reports, dissemination and outreach activities, including updates of the BIKE project website, secondment and training event reports, posters, etc.
  • Excellent written and verbal communication skills in English. It is a requirement that applicants can demonstrate that their ability to understand and express themselves in both written and spoken English is sufficient for them to derive the full benefit from the network training, and to embark on a PhD at Durham University
  • Willingness to re-locate to reside within a reasonable distance of Durham University (or seconded institution) for the duration of the post
  • Previous experience in collaborating within interdisciplinary and/or international research teams

Work location(s)
1 position(s) available at
Durham University
United Kingdom
South Road

EURAXESS offer ID: 409829


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