Molecular structure of a micelle

Chemical Sciences Research

The School of Chemical Sciences possesses an outstanding track record for postgraduate research, currently home to more than 60 postgraduate students engaged in research-based M.Sc. and PhD programmes, in diverse fields. These range from the development of chemical and biological sensors and intelligent materials, to drug design and discovery, and advances in materials chemistry for nanotechnology applications.
Overview

The School of Chemical Sciences houses a suite of state-of-the-art research equipment including high resolution electron microscopy and a range of both mass and magnetic resonance spectrometers. It is one of the most successful Chemistry Schools in Ireland for attracting large-scale research funding, with our researchers having significant roles within a number of recently established, nationally significant research centres, including pharmaceutical science, biomedical diagnostics, biofermentation process analysis, separation science, and marine monitoring.


 

Research Themes

The School of Chemical Sciences is a research intensive department with three primary themes (T1 - T3) that span key areas of research of national and international significance. These include climate and environmental research, nanomaterials and devices, and therapeutics and diagnostics. Underpinning these three themes lies core academic expertise in the areas of synthetic, medicinal, physical, nanomaterials, bioinorganic, and  analytical chemistry. To learn more about our activities and the researchers involved in each theme click on the images below.       

 

School of Chemical Sciences Research Themes: Climate Action; Advanced Materials and Devices; and Therapeutics and Diagnostics
Climate Action
T1: Climate Action: Energy, Water & Sustainability
T1: Climate Action: Energy, Water & Sustainability

The School of Chemical Science hosts an array of environmental research relating to climate, water, soil, atmospheric science, chemical ecology, green technology and pollution. Much research is based on analytical method development and the development of intelligent analysis tools to monitor and improve our environment. For example, novel materials are developed for the extraction and enrichment of analytes and the removal of pollutants from industrial waste water streams and sensors are designed and deployed to monitor marine and freshwater conditions. Technology to detect emerging contaminants in air, water and soil such as phthalates are developed by multiple research groups within the School. An umbrella for much is this research is provided by the Water Institute (https://dcuwater.ie/).

Marine and terrestrial ecosystem health is investigated through innovative approaches such as the combination of analytical chemistry with state of the art geographical surveys. This technological approach is employed to study areas such as soil and pollinator health. We study the atmosphere through aerosol characterisation and investigations of the contents of the air we breathe. Ongoing research seeks to breakdown greenhouse gases such as CO2 for use and we develop green technology that enables industry to be more sustainable. Carbon is essential for life and has many forms in nature. We study carbon in soil, water and coastal sediments and employ novel approaches to investigate subjects such as past environments on Earth, the recycling of waste and the search for extra-terrestrial life.

T1 Researchers:

(in alphabetical order)

Assoc. Prof. Brian Kelleher:

Asst. Prof. Nessan Kerrigan:

Assoc. Prof. Kieran Nolan:

Asst. Prof. David O'Connor:

Assoc. Prof. Mary Pryce:

Professor Fiona Regan:

Assoc. Prof. Blánaid White:

Advanced Materials & Devices
T2: Advanced Materials & Devices
T2: Advanced Materials & Devices

The SCS supports a wealth of research in the area of advanced materials and their integration into devices designed for environmental and health diagnostic applications. Bioinspired material design and supramolecular chemistry are strong themes within the School where diverse materials science is applied for example to design responsive biointerfaces for sensor and drug delivery platforms, catalytic materials for energy production and luminescent probes for high precision cellular targeting and imaging.

The SCS plays a key role in the National Centre for Sensor Research (www.ncsr.ie) at DCU which brings together advanced materials science research activity together with other Schools with the objective of meeting sensor design challenges such as integration of sensing interfaces with functions such as fluidic handling, engineering architectures and properties in novel materials for biosensor and bioelectronic applications, as well as meeting device sensitivity challenges related to analyte detection in marine water for example and early detection of disease biomarkers in blood.

Broader than this, the SCS hosts funded materials chemistry research programmes centred around topics including the engineering of nano- and micro-patterns of soft polymers with responsive properties, the synthesis and photochemistry of materials with antimicrobial properties, conjugated polymers as hydrogen evolution catalysts, the design of carbon nano-onions for catalytic and sensing applications, and electrode material design for wireless electrochemiluminescence and cell stimulation.

T2 Researchers:

(in alphabetical order)

Asst. Prof. Ruairi Brannigan:

Asst. Prof. Loanda Cumba:

Prof. Robert Forster:

Asst. Prof. Susan Kelleher:

Asst. Prof. Margaret McCaul:

 

Assoc. Prof. Aoife Morrin:

Asst. Prof. Mercedes Vasquez:

Therapeutics and Diagnostics
T3: Therapeutics & Diagnostics
T3: Therapeutics & Diagnostics

The School of Chemical Science hosts an array of active research in the fields of Therapeutics and Diagnostics. In the area of nanotechnology and imaging, our department has expertise in developing precision targeted probes for sensing of proteins, metabolites, structure and (super resolution) imaging in live cells and tissues. This expertise provides insights in metabolism, cell health, disease and therapy biocompatable platforms for surface enhanced Raman studies of protein, cells and exosomes; and metal enhanced fluorescence. The department also focuses on nanomaterials chemistry for biomedical applications. This work primarily focuses on the synthesis of imaging probes for cancer cells and bio-inspired functionalization of nano-onions for drug delivery. 

Our School has state-of-art expertise in photocatalytic materials to target antimicrobial resistance and in the generation of renewable fuels. This work is centred on bimetallic photocatalyst synthesis, photophysics of ruthenium compounds, and understanding the mechanisms for photocatalyzed hydrogen generation. Principal investigators in the department are also working to develop new therapeutics for the treatment of multiple sclerosis. In this research programme, green synthetic technologies and the development of new energy efficient continuous flow photochemical reactors for application in chemical synthesis are applied.

The department has extensive experience in inorganic and medicinal chemistry research which extends to metallodrug / metallopharmaecutial design, artificial gene editing, therapeutic oligonucleotide drug development, and in understanding and uncovering new metallodrug-DNA interactions.

In this research theme, the department has active computational chemistry research that focuses on modelling the stability and properties of pharmaceutical solid forms and the development and application of new DFT approaches (e.g. PBE+MBD). This research is applied to polymorphism and structures of molecular crystals and also mechanical properties of API solid forms.
 

T3 Researchers:

(in alphabetical order)

Asst. Prof. Emma Coyle:

Assoc. Prof. John Gallagher:

Professor Silvia Giordani

Assoc. Prof. Andrew Kellett:

Asst. Prof. Nessan Kerrigan:

Professor Tia Keyes:

Assoc. Prof. Kieran Nolan:

Assoc. Prof. Mary Pryce:

 

Download our structured PhD programme factsheet here.

The School of Chemical Sciences structured PhD programme is tailored to the needs of the School and its postgraduate students. It is a student-centred, flexible, research-focused programme, which aims to provide SCS students with discipline-specific knowledge, generic skills and autonomy to augment and support their postgraduate research. Within the programme, with their supervisor's guidance, students can undertake a range of modules across multiple subject areas, developing both scientific and generic skills. This allows our students to create truly individual and personalised PhD programmes, tailored to their specific needs.

For more information about research opportunities and activities in the school, please contact our Research Convenor Prof. Robert Forster.

Email: robert.forster@dcu.ie
Tel.: +353 01 700 5943