EPSRC Centre for Doctoral Training
in Molecular-Scale Engineering
a Centre for Nanotechnology
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Dan Jenkinson

Dan Jenkinson

In 2013 I graduated with a Masters in Chemistry from the University of Sheffield, having spent my third year at the University of Wollongong, Australia. I eventually want to go into teaching at the secondary level, but my research experiences during my degree convinced me to put that on hold until at least after my PhD.

Previous lab experience
Throughout my degree I have had the opportunity to undertake several research projects, including post synthetic modification of metal-organic frameworks with Dr. Chris Richardson at University of Wollongong , a computational study into aromatic ring currents in fused benzene structures with Prof. Patrick Fowler at University of Sheffield and a project aimed towards creating therapeutic surfaces with Prof. Nick Williams at University of Sheffield .

Working on such a broad spectrum of projects has enabled me to develop both synthetic and analytical skills such as thermogravimetric analysis, solvothermal synthesis, high performance liquid chromatography and solid phase peptide synthesis.

Why I chose to study in the CDT in Molecular-Scale Engineering
I was initially attracted to the CDT because of the interdisciplinary nature of the projects on offer. When looking at other PhD projects being offered in chemistry departments I found that they mostly involved just making lots of molecules and doing nothing with them. Many of the projects offered through the CDT gave me the impression that there was less focus on making molecules, and more focus on what they can do.

Current research
My first rotation was with Dr. Simon Jones in the department of chemistry at University of Sheffield. I was working in his lab to develop new synthetic dyes to be used in a relatively new technique called STORM in collaboration with Dr. Ashley Cadby in the physics department at University of Sheffield. The dye molecules were synthesised and altered with an amino acid so that when they were grown into bacterial cells they would label newly formed peptidoglycan (the material from which the bacterial cell wall is constructed). The aim of the project is to characterise the dyes and define the qualities required for a dye to be active under STORM conditions.

Advantages of an integrated PhD over a conventional PhD
As well as the opportunity to experience what it’s like to be in a research group, where you get to know the people in the group, the supervisor and of course the science before fully committing to it, the CDT has given me the chance to gain experience using instruments I probably would not have been able to do otherwise, for example XPS, SIMS and AFM. As well as this, through the lecture courses we attend I am able to appreciate the field of nanotechnology from a much broader point of view, in turn enabling me to tackle problems from a different angle.

After completing my PhD I hope to either go into post-doctoral research or into teaching. I feel the research experience and wide range of techniques used will put me in good stead to find a suitable research position, should I venture down the post-doc avenue.

It is also common for postgrads to demonstrate in undergraduate labs. This is something I would be very interested in doing, as it would provide me with valuable teaching experience. As well as this, having already had to explain my research in “layman’s terms” to my non-chemist friends and family, I would hope to be able to apply this to simpler scientific concepts as a teacher.

The most enjoyable aspects
Honestly, so far I have most enjoyed experiencing the different labs. Although each of my rotations involves synthetic chemistry, none have allowed me to stay completely within my comfort zone. I have really enjoyed getting to grips with using new equipment and learning the intricacies of new techniques such as STORM, cell biology, and NMR titrations.

The most challenging aspects
The most challenging aspect of the course was commuting between cities whilst juggling a heavy workload. It left very little time to complete the work that was set for us, but that was only for a month and the work we were getting was actually pretty interesting.


I enjoy reading and have become fairly obsessed with what’s happening in the lands of Westeros and Essos, although recently I have not been able to find a lot of time for reading. I have participated in the Berlin Marathon and plan to invest in some padded lycra shorts in the near future so that spinning class hurts a little less.

I have a LinkedIn profile.