Burhan Selected for DEI Fellowship

First Year PhD Student Burhan Hussein has been selected to be a PhD Fellow of the Durham Energy Institute (DEI) at Durham University. The Durham Energy Institute takes an interdisciplinary approach to the broad questions surrounding the supply and demand of energy in a developing World. DEI supports and produces cutting-edge energy research which draws on the expertise of world-leading researchers across Durham University's departments in Science, Social Science and Humanities.

As a DEI Fellow, Burhan will benefit from the DEI’s exceptional academic, industrial and political links at local, national and international level. He will contribute to developing and promoting these links through his research activities.

Congratulations to Burhan for his successful fellowship application!

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Aisha Completes PhD and Starts Fulbright Scholarship

The group’s first PhD student defended her thesis entitled “Fluxional Carbon Cages and their ‘Shapeshifting’ Properties“ in on 19 July 2019.

Aisha’s incredible run of success with prizes and scholarships was capped off by the award of an extremely competitive All-Disciplines US–UK Fulbright Scholarship. From September, she will start as a Postdoctoral Researcher at Dartmouth College with the Aprahamian Group. Congratulations, Aisha!

Aisha is a CAS Future Leader 2019

Final-year PhD student Aisha Bismillah has been selected as a 2019 CAS Future Leader. The elite program looks for PhD students from around the world who they expect to ‘blaze a trail toward scientific leadership’.

Read the award annoncement (C&EN volume 97, issue 29) and Aisha’s profile on the CAS Future Leaders website, as well as excerpts from an interview with Aisha for an article on ‘The making of a PhD chemist’ (C&EN volume 96, issue 36).

Congratulations, Aisha!

Shape Selectivity in Chem. Sci.

Our manuscript on the 'Shape-Selective Crystallisation of Fluxional Carbon Cages' has just been accepted for publication in Chemical Science. We found that overall molecular shape, rather than any specific noncovalent interactions, controls the preferential crystallisation of shapeshifting barbaralane isomers from dynamic mixtures.

The paper has been selected as Chem. Sci. Pick of the Week and included in the 2018 Chemical Science HOT Article Collection, as well as being featured on the cover of Chem. Sci. 2018, 9, issue 46.

Congratulations to Aisha, who led the team, working together with other members of the McGonigal Group and our colleagues at Durham.

Rutherford Reception

Paul and Abhijit attended the UUKi Rutherford Strategic Partner Grant Reception yesterday along with a group of Rutherford Fellows and staff from Durham. The event, which was held in the Shard, London, brought together some of the ~100 Rutherford Fellows who are currently based in 24 Universities around the UK.

Durham's Rutherford Contingent at the UUKi Rutherford Reception in the Shard, London. l-r: Prof Claire Warwick (PVC Research), Dr Abhijit Mallick (Rutherford Fellow) Dr Pavan Yerramsetti (Rutherford Fellow), Dr Alyssa-Jennifer Avestro (Rutherford Award Holder), Dr Paul McGonigal (Rutherford Award Holder), Dr Ali Huerta-Flores (Rutherford Fellow)

Durham's Rutherford Contingent at the UUKi Rutherford Reception in the Shard, London.
l-r: Prof Claire Warwick (PVC Research), Dr Abhijit Mallick (Rutherford Fellow) Dr Pavan Yerramsetti (Rutherford Fellow), Dr Alyssa-Jennifer Avestro (Rutherford Award Holder), Dr Paul McGonigal (Rutherford Award Holder), Dr Ali Huerta-Flores (Rutherford Fellow)

Earlier this year, Paul successfully led Durham's bid to bring four Rutherford Fellows to the University for research visits during 2018/19. The four Fellows, Dr Abhijit Mallick, Dr Pavan Yerramsetti, Dr Woon Kai Lin, and Dr Ali Huerta-Flores, are currently being hosted in the Chemistry, Physics, and Engineering Departments as part of the McGonigal, Avestro, Monkman, and Groves groups. The four Rutherford Fellows and their four Hosts are pictured below.


Abhijit and Jack Join the Group

Two researchers have joined the team in the past month. Dr Abhijit Mallick, who completed a PhD at the Indian Association for the Cultivation of Sciences, commenced a Rutherford Fellowship at the end of March. During the 12-month Fellowship, Abhijit will synthesise redox-active materials in the McGonigal Group, then assess their energy storage properties with collaborators in the Durham Energy Institute.

This week, Jack Williamson has joined the group as a PhD student through the EPSRC's Soft Matter and Functional Interfaces Centre for Doctoral Training (SOFI CDT). Prior to starting in the McGonigal Group, he completed six months of SOFI CDT training, having joined the programme after completing a MChem degree at Durham.


Welcome to Abhijit and Jack!

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 Group, Monkman 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.

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!


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 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.

First-Place Finish for Aisha

Aisha has been awarded the a prize for the Best Faculty of Science Poster at the Durham University Reserachers' Poster Competition. The goal of annual university-wide competition is to effectively communicate research to members of the public and to fellow students from different disciplines.



The Chancellor of Durham University - Sir Thomas Allen - presented Aisha with her award. Congratulations Aisha!