Chemistry research

Female researcher with dropper

The research activity of a University Department reflects its vitality. The graduate research programme at Canterbury offers an exceptional opportunity to talented students who are preparing themselves for careers in Chemistry. Canterbury staff and research students are engaged in a variety of projects which cover areas of chemical research of international importance. There are programmes in basic research in inorganic, physical, theoretical, analytical, environmental and organic chemistry. In addition, there are research programmes in applied topics: the chemistry of the soil; pollutants in the environment; the extraction of natural products from marine sponges; and studies directed to understanding chemistry in combustion processes, the upper atmosphere and interstellar dust clouds. 

The Department is well equipped with technology of an international standard. Nuclear magnetic resonance, electron spin resonance, mass spectrometers, X-ray diffraction as well as laser and computer facilities are available to all research personnel. The library provides a central resource facility for research and Canterbury carries most of the leading scientific journals in the broad field of Chemistry. 

Graduate training at Canterbury is aimed toward developing within each student the ability to do creative scientific research. The most important facet of the programme for a research student is his or her own original research project. 

The opportunities for research are favourable and a research environment is encouraged by all staff, most of whom dedicate a large portion of their time to research and are concerned to ensure that the standing of the Department is recognised in the international scientific community.

Academic staff and their major research interests

Analytical and Environmental Chemistry

  • S K Gaw - Aspects of environmental chemistry, including fate of contaminants in the environment and human exposure to contaminants.
  • B Robinson - Biowaste research, trace elements in the environment, soil chemistry, environmental remediation, Rhizosphere research, Soil-plant interactions.
  • I C Shaw - Toxicology and environmental chemistry, including mechanisms of toxicity, particularly the impact of environmental contaminants on humans.

Synthetic Chemistry

  • A J Fairbanks - Synthetic organic chemistry, carbohydrate chemistry, and applications of carbohydrates in biology and medicine (glycobiology). Research techniques primarily involve organic synthesis, together with biocatalysis and other aspects of chemical biology.
  • C M Fitchett – synthesis of new and interesting organic molecules, particularly focusing on colossal aromatic molecules.
  • R M Hartshorn - Aspects of bio-inorganic chemistry, including the reactivity of chelated ligands, ligand construction on metal ions and the synthesis of metal ion based hypoxic cell selective anti-cancer agents.
  • P E Kruger - Inorganic supramolecular chemistry. Interests are centred in supramolecular chemistry, and involve the design, synthesis and characterization of metal complexes incorporating organic and coordination chemistries.
  • J L Wikaira - Inorganic synthetic chemistry with particular emphasis on materials with interesting magnetic properties. Aspects of bio-inorganic chemistry, particularly the synthesis and characterisation of macrocylic complexes that may act as mimics of the active sites of enzymes. X-ray Crystallography: Small molecule crystallography. Structure determination and refinement. Wood Technology: The application of crystallographic techniques to the determination of tensile strength in timber

Physical and Structural Chemistry

  • D L Crittenden - Theoretical and computational chemistry.
  • S L Masters - Gas-phase molecular structure.
  • G T Russell - Modelling of all aspects of free-radical polymerization kinetics; synthesis of novel emulsion polymers.
  • B E Williamson - Molecular spectroscopy, matrix-isolation and magnetic circular dichroism.

Materials and Nanochemistry

  • O J Curnow - Ionic liquids based on amino-stabilised cyclopropenium cations: synthesis, properties and applications.
  • A J Downard - Surfacechemistry, electrochemistry and nanotechnology.
  • V B Golovko - Inorganic and materials chemistry for applications in catalysis and nanotechnology, including bio-nanotechnology.

Chemical Biology

Research groups