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Join the Cooper Group

We are always looking for enthusiastic and motivated postdocs, PhD students and visiting researchers to join the group. Funded positions will be advertised here when they are available. For further information about positions and the research carried out in the group, please get in touch with James (

We are hiring! PDRA in Supramolecular Chemistry

An EPSRC-funded post-doctoral position is available to join our group. This role offers an exciting opportunity to join a research project investigating the conformational dynamics of prototypical molecular machines in lipid membranes.

There is growing interest in placing mechanically interlocked molecules and synthetic molecular machines into lipid membranes, driven by the desire to understand and mimic the behaviour of biological transmembrane proteins. This project will investigate the conformational dynamics of these molecules in lipid membranes, which is essential for future molecular machines to work together across different length scales, between segregated compartments and with spatiotemporal control.

The project will involve organic synthesis, NMR spectroscopy, fluorescence spectroscopy and fluorescence microscopy. It also involves a collaboration with the Central Laser Facility (CLF) at Harwell Science Campus, which will give you the opportunity to contribute to writing access proposals and will visit CLF to conduct research at this state-of-the-art facility.

You will receive excellent training in synthetic supramolecular chemistry and the chemistry of lipid membranes. You will have the opportunity to enhance your skills in a range of areas and will occupy a significant leadership role in a small, but ambitious, research team.

You will have, or are about to be awarded, a PhD in Supramolecular Chemistry (or closely related area) and either a BSc (Hons) or an MChem in Chemistry, or a closely related subject. It is essential that you have a high level of experience of organic synthesis. Experience in working with lipid membranes is desirable, but not essential.

Funding is available for 36 months. The post is offered for 12 months in the first instance, with the possibility to extend for a further 24 months.

Closing date for applications is 11.59pm on Friday 22nd March 2024

Interviews will be held: In the week of 8th April 2024

See the advert on

We are hiring! PhD studentship available 

We have a 3-year fully funded PhD studentship available. Start date is September 2024.

This role offers an exciting opportunity for an enthusiastic student who wants to conduct research in synthetic supramolecular chemistry, physical organic chemistry, or lipid membranes. 

There is growing interest in placing synthetic molecular machines into lipid membranes, driven by the desire to mimic the behaviour of biological transmembrane proteins. However, information about how these molecules behave in lipid membrane environments is lacking, given that most experiments with molecular machines and related molecules are conducted in solution. This project will address this intellectual gap by investigating the dynamics of mechanically interlocked molecules and molecular machines in lipid membranes, using a range of spectroscopic techniques. The knowledge obtained from the proof-of-concept studies in this project will enable more sophisticated transmembrane devices to be constructed that display behaviour akin their biological counterparts and will open up exciting new areas of research in the field of transmembrane nanotechnology.

During your PhD, you will receive training in a range of areas, including synthetic supramolecular chemistry, lipid membranes, NMR spectroscopy, fluorescence spectroscopy, physical organic chemistry, and fluorescence microscopy. The project also involves a collaboration with the Central Laser Facility at Harwell Science Campus, so you will have the opportunity conduct research at this state-of-the-art facility. 

Eligibility: Applicants are expected to hold, or be about to obtain, a minimum upper second-class MChem (or equivalent) in Chemistry. Experience in synthetic organic chemistry or supramolecular chemistry is desirable. Funding is available for UK students only. 

Before you apply: It is strongly advised that you contact Dr Cooper to discuss your application before applying ( 

How to apply: You will need to submit an online application through the University of Reading website here: 

See the advert on FindAPhD:

PhD Students

Applications from prospective PhD students are welcome at any time. Candidates should have a strong desire to conduct original research in the areas of supramolecular or systems chemistry, and can expect to gain experience in both synthetic supramolecular and systems chemistry, as well as in the manipulation and study of lipid bilayers.

Further information about graduate studies at the University of Reading can be found here.

The University of Reading offers the following scholarships for prospective PhD candidates:

Prospective international PhD students may want to consider the following sources of funding:

Postdoctoral Researchers

If no funded postdoctoral positions are advertised, then you must secure your own postdoctoral fellowship support if you are interested in joining the group. Please contact James ( with a CV and an outline of your research interests or the research that you would like to carry out during your fellowship. Support will be provided to candidates in order to craft highly competitive applications, if required. Please pay close attention to the eligibility requirements and  get in touch well in advance of the deadlines for the funding you wish to apply for.

Prospective postdoctoral fellows may want to consider the following sources of funding:

Undergraduate Students

Undergraduate students at the University of Reading who wish to carry out a final year project in the group should get in touch with James to discuss possible projects (usually during the autumn / spring term).

Summer studentships are also supported, although often funding will need to be applied for. If you would like to work in the group over the summer, please get in touch as soon as possible to discuss projects and possible avenues of funding.

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