Research Associate in Catalysis & Spectroscopic and Laser Techniques

Updated: 4 months ago
Location: Cardiff, WALES


Research Associate in Catalysis & Spectroscopic and Laser Techniques
Cardiff School of Chemistry: UK Catalysis Hub, Research Complex at Harwell, Oxfordshire
Cardiff University

We seek to recruit an enthusiastic, highly motivated scientist with proven intellectual and technical abilities to work on a new UK Catalysis Hub project; The UK Catalysis Hub is based at the Research Complex at Harwell (RCaH) and is co-located with the Central Laser Facility, Diamond Light Source and the ISIS Neutron and Muon Source. This project is an integral part of the UK Catalysis Hub and seeks to exploit cutting edge facilities, including focussing on laser-based techniques to develop novel methodologies for understanding structure-activity relationships in catalysis, in particular through in situ and operando methodologies.

The researcher will be part of the UK Catalysis Hub as a member of the Optimising Predicting and designing new catalysts theme led by Professor Richard Catlow, which is based at the Research Complex at Harwell (RCaH) and is associated with the broader UK Catalysis Hub programme. Each project will have a team of PIs and CoIs. This is a significant opportunity to be part of an established research group with strong links to national and international networks in the field of catalysis. The location at the RCaH provides unique possibilities to interact with the world-leading research facilities on the Harwell Campus, e.g. Diamond Light Source and the ISIS Neutron and Muon Source and the Central Laser Facility. The successful candidate should have first-hand knowledge and experience of the application and interpretation of vibrational and/or electronic spectroscopic techniques applied to inorganic materials or their application in gas-phase heterogeneous catalysis.

Candidates should have a PhD or equivalent professional qualification in Chemistry, Physics, Chemical Engineering, Materials Science (or related discipline) or relevant industrial experience, and a track record of academic and research excellence. Potential candidates should also demonstrate an ability to write research papers independently, present their work at international conferences and be able to work successfully with other research groups.

Further information is available at the following group webpages:
Prof. Richard Catlow ,     

For informal enquiries about the role and the School of Chemistry, please contact Prof. Richard Catlow: e-mail ; Tel. +44 (0)29 2087 4069). For enquires about the UK Catalysis Hub please contact Dr Josie Goodall: .

For further details about working at Cardiff University, please contact Ms Alison Blake ( ; +44 (0) 29 2087 4805).

This position is full time (35 hours per week) and is available from 1 October 2019 for 4 years.

Salary: £33,199 - £39,609 per annum (Grade 6). It is not anticipated that an appointment be made above £35,211 per annum (Grade 6.32).

Important note: It is the University’s policy to use the person specification as a key tool for short-listing. Candidates should evidence that they meet ALL of the essential criteria as well as, where relevant, the desirable. As part of the application process you will be asked to provide this evidence via a supporting statement.  Please ensure that the evidence you are providing corresponds with the numbered criteria outlined below. Your application will be considered based on the information you provide under each element.

When attaching the supporting statement to your application profile, please ensure that you name it with the vacancy reference number, e.g. Supporting Statement for 8798BR.

Date advert posted: Monday, 15 July 2019

Closing date: Thursday, 15 August 2019

Please be aware that Cardiff University reserves the right to close this vacancy early should sufficient applications be received.

Cardiff University is committed to supporting and promoting equality and diversity and to creating an inclusive working environment. We believe this can be achieved through attracting, developing, and retaining a diverse range of staff from many different backgrounds who have the ambition to create a University which seeks to fulfil our social, cultural and economic obligation to Cardiff, Wales, and the world. In supporting our employees to achieve a balance between their work and their personal lives, we will also consider proposals for flexible working or job share arrangements.

Job Description

Main Function

A PDRA post to conduct research in the area of catalysis, and operando laser techniques for catalysis, as part of the UK Catalysis Hub based at the Research Complex at Harwell, Oxfordshire; to contribute to the overall research performance of the UK Catalysis Hub; to collaborate with and support other projects across the Hub, and University; to carry out research leading to the publishing of work in high-quality journals; and to pursue excellence in research and to inspire others to do the same.

Main Duties and Responsibilities


  • To conduct research in the  area of developments in spectroscopic techniques using lasers and to contribute to the overall research performance of the UK Catalysis Hub  and University by the production of measurable outputs including bidding for funding, publishing in national academic journals and conferences, and the recruitment and supervision of postgraduate research students;
  • To collaborate with researchers in projects across the UK Catalysis Hub;
  • To develop research objectives and proposals for own or joint research including research funding proposals and to assist researchers across the Hub in the development of proposals;
  • To undertake administrative tasks associated with the research projects, including the planning and organisation of the project and the implementation of procedures required to ensure accurate and timely reporting;
  • To participate in activities to promote the UK Catalysis Hub, Cardiff School of Chemistry and its work to the wider University and externally;
  • To co-supervise students at undergraduate and postgraduate level;
  • To prepare research ethics and research governance applications as appropriate;
  • To review and synthesise existing research literature within the field;
  • To participate in UK Catalysis Hub and School research activities;
  • To build and create networks both internally and externally to the university, to influence decisions, explore future research requirements, and share research ideas for the benefit of research projects.
  • To engage effectively with industrial, commercial and public sector organisations, professional institutions, other academic institutions etc., regionally and nationally to raise awareness of the Hub’s profile, to cultivate strategically valuable alliances, and to pursue opportunities for collaboration across a range of activities. These activities are expected to contribute to the Hub and University and the enhancement of its regional and national profile;
  • To undergo personal and professional development that is appropriate to and which will enhance performance;
  • To participate in Hub administration and activities to promote the Hub and its work to the wider University and the outside world;
  • To provide training to researchers across the Hub and to develop relevant training materials;
  • To ensure that an understanding of the importance of confidentiality is applied when undertaking all duties;
  • To abide by the University policies on Health and Safety and Equality, Diversity and Inclusivity;
  • Any other duties not included above, but consistent with the role.

Person Specification

Essential Criteria

Qualifications and Education

  • Postgraduate degree at PhD level in a chemistry, physics, chemical engineering, materials science or a related subject area or equivalent, or relevant industrial experience
  • Knowledge, Skills and Experience
  • An established expertise and proven portfolio of research and/or relevant industrial experience in the application and interpretation of vibrational and/or electronic spectroscopic techniques applied to inorganic materials or their application in gas-phase heterogeneous catalysis
  • Knowledge of current status of research in specialist field
  • Proven ability to publish in high-quality journals and at high-impact conferences
  • Knowledge and understanding of competitive research funding to be able to develop applications to funding bodies
  • Communication and Team Working
  • Proven ability in effective and persuasive communication
  • Ability to supervise the work of others to focus team efforts and motivate individuals
  • Other
  • Proven ability to demonstrate creativity, innovation and team-working within work
  • Proven ability to work without close supervision
  • Ability to train specialists and non-specialists in relevant research techniques and methods

  • Desirable Criteria
  • Ability to work effectively as a member of team; ability to collaborate in research projects, and communicate research results (including to non-specialists)
  • Experience of a range of vibrational and/or electronic spectroscopic characterisation techniques
  • Experience with a range of techniques including the design or development of reactor environments for in situ/operando catalyst characterisation
  • Experience of research in catalysis, catalyst testing
  • Evidence of ability to participate in, develop both internal and external networks, and utilise them to enhance the research activities of the UK Catalysis Hub
  • Evidence of collaborations with industry
  • Proven ability to adapt to the changing requirements of the Higher Education community
  • Evidence of ability to participate in, develop both internal and external networks, and utilise them to enhance the research activities of the Hub

  • Additional Information

    Project Description

    This scientific programme is aimed at optimising, predicting and designing new catalysts. The programme will largely be based at the Research Complex at Harwell and will make full use of the facilities located there.

    Operando Raman spectroscopy can be considered an underpinning technique in heterogeneous catalysis. Although excellent for studying catalytic materials and adsorbates, it is strongly compromised by background fluorescence. This can be circumvented by choosing an alternative incident wavelength i.e. UV or IR however due to the l-4 dependency of the cross section this approach works better with UV. UV sources are not so common and a switch down in wavelength is always accompanied by an increase in energy-per-photon making the sample prone to burning/degradation. This shift to a shorter wavelength is also not guaranteed to remove the fluorescence and as well, the benefits of resonance enhancement (particularly for visible excitation) are lost. Kerr gate Raman spectroscopy (KGRS) can overcome these problems. In this project, the technique will be employed to study 4 catalytic processes (ethylbenzene dehydrogenation, Fischer-Tropsch synthesis, NH3-SCR and photocatalytic water splitting) focussing on outstanding questions in their catalytic chemistry. In order to study these reactions, developments in sample environment and facility development are also necessary since there are few reactors that are capable of allowing for the acquisition of real ‘operando’ data under a range of relevant reaction conditions (T up to 800 °C, P up to 10 barg, flow etc.) and at the same time also mitigate against sample burning (using a fluidised bed).

    The PDRA position available will make use of a range of expertise and will involve close collaboration within the UK Catalysis Hub, the project and will be mainly based on the Harwell Science and Innovation campus, Oxfordshire. The initial project above will run for another year and then the focus of the work may change based on a call for proposals.

    Job Category

    Academic - Research

    View or Apply

    Similar Positions