Jiri’s Paper in JACS

Our first paper has just been accepted for publication in The Journal of the American Chemical Society! The article describes the inter- and intramolecular interactions that can occur between even simple aromatic groups (e.g., phenyl rings) in fluorescent molecular rotors.

Congratulations in particular to Jiri Sturala, who carried out much out of the research, working in collaboration with other members of the McGonigal Group as well as colleagues in Durham’s Chemistry and Physics Departments – the Avestro GroupMonkman Group and others.

Aisha Picks Up BFWG Scholarship

Second-year PhD student Aisha Bismillah has been selected for a Scholarship by the British Federation of Women Graduates (BFWG). After submitting a research proposal and attending an interview in London in early July, she has been awarded the Marjorie Shaw Scholarship – one of the handful of named BFWG awards given out annually across all disciplines for academic excellence. Well done, Aisha!

Shortly after being selected for the scholarship, Aisha attended a reception at Durham’s Collingwood College, where she met the members of the BFWG’s North Eastern Association.

Background of the Marjorie Shaw Scholarship
Marjorie Shaw studied French and was awarded a Doctorat de l’Université de Paris She was Senior Lecturer in the Department of French at Sheffield University with a particular interest in 19th century French literature but she was devoted to the work of BFWG and of the International Federation of University Women (now Graduate Women International: GWI). Awards in her name are for research in any discipline.

Ketaki Joins for the Summer

The group has recently welcomed Ketaki Samanta, a visiting PhD student from the Indian Association for the Cultivation of Science, Kolkata. Ketaki will be a part of the group for four months with the support of a Newton–Bhaba Fellowship. In Durham, she will apply her expertise in donor–acceptor conjugated molecules to investigate functionalised cycloheptatrienes.

3MT Win for Aisha

Aisha took part in the Durham University heats for the Three-Minute Thesis (3MT) Competition. She made it through to the university final, having won first place in the Faculty of Science round. Congratulations, Aisha!

The 3MT is an international competition that celebrates the work of PhD students by challenging them to explain their research in a compelling, short presentation, using language suitable for a non-specialist audience.

MASC 2016

The McGonigal Group ended the year by attending the RSC’s annual macrocyclic and supramolecular chemistry meeting (MASC), which was held in Edinburgh this year. The meeting was a great opportunity for us catch up on the latest developments in the field, meet other reseachers from around the UK, and to see the first lecture from Nobel Laureate, Prof Fraser Stoddart, after he received his award in Stockholm.

Aisha presented a poster of  her recent results, which was awarded one of the five poster prizes on the final day. Congratulations, Aisha!


Andrew, Mary, and Edward Get Started

October marked the beginning of the new academic year and brought three new members to the McGonigal group. Andrew Turley (MChem, Newcastle University 2016) began his PhD at the same time as Durham undergraduates Mary Gibbins and Edward Mitchell officially started their final-year research projects.


For more information about Andrew, Mary, and Edward, see the group members pages.


Brette Arrives from Across the Pond

Brette Chapin joined the McGonigal Group at the start of September, having recently completed her PhD at UT Austin. During her PhD in the Anslyn Group, Brette investigated the fluorescent response of boronic acid hosts to saccharide binding. In Durham, she’ll use her background in physical organic chemistry to study shapeshifting cations and redox active hosts.

Brette Chapin


Doing it by the Büchi

We recently received delivery of two Büchi R-100 rotavap systems for laboratory CG233.


Thanks to Jiří for setting them up. They’ll come in very handy later in the year when things get even busier in the McGonigal, Walton, and Avestro Groups.


For more photographs of our laboratory space, see the virtual Laboratory Tour.

Gemma Sends Herself to Coventry

MChem student Gemma Parker has graduated from the McGonigal Group and Durham University. After a well-earned break over the summer, she will move to the University of Warwick, Coventry, to study for a PhD in the Chaplin Group, where she will investigate agostic interactions in organometallic complexes. Good luck, Gemma!

Gemma Prize

Gemma had a run of success towards the end of the academic year, graduating with a first class honours degree and winning two poster prizes – one for the best MChem Project Poster in the Chemistry Department (the David Brinley Adams Prize) and the second at Durham University’s 2016 Rising Stars Research Symposium. The photo below shows Gemma being awarded the David Brinley Adams Prize by the Head of Department, Prof Mark Wilson.

Gemma - David Brinley Adams Prize

Aisha Wins Again

Aisha picked up her second poster award in a month, winning the second-place prize at the RSC’s 2016 North West Organic Division Regional Meeting at the University of Central Lancashire.

Aisha Poster Prize May 2016

The conference gave Aisha the opportunity to return to her alma mater for the first time since graduating a year ago. Congratulations on the successful homecoming, Aisha!

Aisha Poster Prize May 2016 2