Imperial College London – RAE

Imperial College London

UOA 18 – Chemistry

RA5a: Research environment and esteem

1.                  Research Strategy   

Chemistry at Imperial aims for research excellence across the spectrum from fundamental chemistry through to applied and multidisciplinary molecular science and technology. With College support we have developed high-quality space and infrastructure, grown our staff numbers, broadened our research capabilities, integrated our research with other departments and established an open and supportive research culture. We actively seek to develop new research areas, particularly at the interfaces between chemistry and other molecular disciplines, via recruitment of the best possible academic staff. As a consequence, we have also attracted 11 early career Research Fellows, and over 250 visiting researchers at all career stages, who add to the vibrancy of our research environment. The result is an enthusiastic and ambitious Department with a healthy age profile that produces innovative and excellent science.  

Since 2001 the Department has produced a five-year research strategy document that it reviews and revises annually via its Research Committee, External Advisory Board and Academic Staff Assembly. This is then linked to Faculty and College strategy. The Department has traditional strength in core aspects of chemistry, but has also been forging new scientific interfaces where molecular understanding is fundamental. The interfaces of synthetic chemistry, physical measurement and modelling with materials science and bioscience are key growth areas for us. The following are topics of particular focus:  

1.      The design, synthesis, characterisation and application of nanomaterials.  

2.      Synthesis, measurement and modelling applied to understanding and manipulating biological systems.  

3.      Molecular catalysis from pharmaceuticals to polymers to green chemistry.  

4.      The application of chemistry in sustainable technologies: renewables, energy conversion and storage, alternative feedstocks, etc.  

Our research has evolved since RAE2001. Green chemistry, chemical biology, catalysis and nanomaterials research has grown in strength and breadth. The strategic collaborations with the life sciences, chemical engineering and physics areas that are central to this research and were mentioned in 2001 have strengthened greatly and expanded to encompass materials and bioengineering. Significantly, since 2001, such collaborations have ventured beyond the College and now include the London Centre for Nanotechnology and the Chemical Biology Centre. We have seen a significant growth in research funding since 2001 to support these initiatives; while we continue to attract major support from industry the greatest growth has arisen in RCUK and OSI funding.    

Over the coming six years we expect our strategy to continue to evolve in the manner indicated above. Because of the diversity, quality and quantity of these multidisciplinary activities, where chemistry plays a leading role, the College is committed to creating a Molecular Sciences and Technology Building. This will house the Chemistry and Chemical Engineering and Chemical Technology Departments and enable us to incubate new multidisciplinary areas in close proximity to our core activities. It will also connect us to Physics and create space for significant initiatives in nanoscience, organic photovoltaics, chemical biology, drug discovery, molecular catalysis and the sustainable generation of fuels and compounds from biomass.  

This submission contains 54 A and C category staff from the Chemistry Department and two category A staff (ApSimon and Jenkin) from the Centre for Environmental Policy, which is not making an independent submission. ApSimon and Jenkin demonstrate the pervasiveness of chemistry, working as they do on the measurement of atmospheric pollutants, the modelling of their atmospheric chemistry and impacts, and feeding this into policy assessments on air quality and climate change. With our strategic growth of sustainable chemical technologies and consequently burgeoning involvement with the Centre for Environmental Policy, we consider this to be a fitting inclusion.  

2. Structure and Management   

For administration and personnel management the Department is organised into five sections: Biological and Biophysical (headed by Leatherbarrow), Catalysis and Advanced Materials (V. Gibson), Nanostructured Devices and Materials (A. de Mello), Synthesis (Barrett) and Theoretical and Experimental Physical Chemistry (J. Seddon). Sections are served by a dedicated secretary, who provides support to section members. David Phillips retired as Head of Department in 2002 and was succeeded by Richard Templer who ran the Department until September 2007 when Tom Welton took over.  

Since 2001 the Department has been run through five bodies: Administration; Research Committee (chaired by Leatherbarrow); Teaching Committee (Welton), Finance Committee (Robb), and Operations and Infrastructure Committee (Lickiss). The Chairs of these committees report to the Head of Department and coordinate their operations at the Strategy and Planning Group. Plans and activities are reported and discussed at termly Staff Assemblies.   

The Research Committee comprises all Heads of Section plus the Head of Department and is responsible for research strategy, implementing this at sectional level, managing staff appointments, disbursing PhD studentships and reviewing internal research funding. The Operations and Infrastructure Committee monitors and manages our space and facilities. It has been particularly active in a period of rebuilding and growth. The Departmental Safety Committee (run by Wilde) sits within this committee and is supported by three Faculty Safety Managers.  

Our Research Sections provide coarse groupings that enable cross-sectional and multidisciplinary research; much of the research vitality in the department has arisen out of ventures seeded between sections and disciplines. A truer reflection of our research interests is depicted in the categorisation below, where academics often appear in multiple themes.  

Biomedical imaging.                     

Barrett, Edel, Long, P. Miller, Phillips, Steinke, Vilar, Widdowson.  

Biophysical Chemistry and Chemical Biology.             

Albrecht, Armstrong, Barrett, Barter, Ces, A. de Mello, Edel, Gaffney, Gould,  Klug, Kornyshev, Kuimova, Law, Leatherbarrow, Miller, A. Seddon, J. Seddon, Spivey, Steinke, Tate, Templer, Thanou, Vilar, Yaliraki.  


Armstrong, Barrett, Blackmond, Braddock, Britovsek, Craig, S. Gibson, V. Gibson, Hii, Hunt, Long, Marshall, Rzepa, Spivey, Welton, Williams.  

Chemical Physics and Chemical Instrumentation.       

Bearpark, Ces, A. de Mello, J. de Mello, Edel, Gould, Harrison, Klug, Kornyshev, Leatherbarrow, Templer, Wilde.  

Soft Condensed Matter and Interfaces.            

Albrecht, Bresme, Ces, Gaffney, Kornyshev, Law, J. Seddon, Templer, Yaliraki.  

Sustainable Chemistry.                 

Barrett, Braddock, Britovsek, Davies, V. Gibson, Lickiss, Marshall, Williams, Welton.  

Energy Conversion and Electrochemistry.       

Albrecht, Barter, J. de Mello, Durrant, Haque, Hunt, Klug, Kornyshev, Kucernak, McCulloch, Shaffer, Wilde.  

Inorganic and Organometallic Synthesis.         

Barrett, Blackmond, Britovsek, Davies, S. Gibson, V. Gibson, Hii, Lickiss, Long, Marshall, Rzepa, Spivey, Vilar, Welton, Williams.  

Materials Chemistry, Nanoscience and Nanotechnology.        

Albrecht, Bresme, A. de Mello, J. de Mello, Durrant, Edel, Haque, Harrison, Kornyshev, Kucernak, Law, Lickiss, Long, McCulloch, Quirke, Rzepa, J. Seddon, Shaffer, Steinke, Templer, Thanou, Wilde, Yaliraki.  

Medicinal Chemistry.                   

Armstrong, Barrett, Craig, Gaffney, S. Gibson, Hii, Leatherbarrow, A. Miller, Tate.  

Organic Synthesis.                        

Armstrong, Barrett, Blackmond, Braddock, Craig, Gaffney, S. Gibson, Hii, McCulloch, A. Miller, Spivey, Tate, Welton, Widdowson.  

Photochemistry and Spectroscopy.       

Barter, Bearpark, Jenkin, A. de Mello, Durrant, Gould, Haque, Hunt, Jenkin, Klug, Kuimova, Phillips, Robb, Rzepa.  

Theoretical and Computational Chemistry.     

Bearpark, Blackmond, Bresme, Gould, Harrison, Hunt, Kornyshev, Quirke, Robb, Rzepa, Yaliraki.  

Polymer and Supramolecular Chemistry.         

Davies, V. Gibson, Marshall, McCulloch, A. Miller, Shaffer, Steinke, Thanou, Vilar, Williams.  

Atmospheric Pollution and Chemistry              

ApSimon, Jenkin.  

3. Research Environment   

We aim to achieve research excellence by recruiting world class staff, training clever, enthusiastic and creative new researchers, acquiring and maintaining cutting edge infrastructure, generating necessary funding and creating a culture that stimulates new ideas and connects us to the outside world.  


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