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Postgraduate Positions

SFI-funded PhD Studentship with Dr. Humphrey Moynihan (To commence Sep/Oct 2019)

Project: Impurity interaction at the molecular scale of crystal growth; impurity distributions in crystalline pharmaceutical compounds.

Key areas: synthetic organic chemistry; pharmaceutical solid-state

Four year PhD working with Dr. Humphrey Moynihan, UCC School of Chemistry and Analytical and Biological Chemistry Research Facility. The studentship is funded by the SFI Synthesis and Solid-state Pharmaceutical Centre PharM5 programme (SSPC PharM5), specifically on project P2E (Impurity interaction at the molecular scale of crystal growth).

Management of impurities is essential in pharmaceutical and fine chemical manufacturing and is often related to product isolation and purification by crystallisation. While some impurities are effectively removed by crystallisation, others may be less so and some are strongly retained. Rational impurity management would be greatly improved by information on the locations and distributions of impurities in multi-particulate crystalline materials. This project will build on previous research [1, 2] to map the distribution of impurities using controlled dissolution in conjunction with composition and particle size analysis.

[1] Impurity Occurrence and Removal in Crystalline Products from Process Reactions, Humphrey A. Moynihan and Danielle E. Horgan, Org. Proc. Res. Dev. 2017, 21, 689-704.

[2] Determination of composition distributions of multi-particle crystalline samples by sequential dissolution with concomitant particle sizing and solution analysis, Humphrey A. Moynihan and Declan Armstrong, CrystEngComm, 2018, 20, 2617 – 2633.

The project will develop skills in synthetic organic chemistry and solid state characterisation. Synthetic work will include preparation of compounds and impurities for crystallisation and surfactants designed to act at solid-liquid interfaces, and will involve extensive use of NMR, mass spectrometry and HPLC. Solid state characterisation will involve PXRD, DSC, optical microscopy and particle size analysis. As it is part of the SSPC PharM5 programme, the project will provide many opportunities to attend SSPC events and to meet researchers from other institutions and industry participants.

If interested, contact Dr. Humphrey Moynihan ( for further information.


SSPC-Funded PhD Position in Organic Chemistry Available in University College Cork

Project Start: September/October 2019

Duration of Funding: Four Years

Interested parties should send their CV to

A four year PhD position working with Dr. Peter Byrne in University College Cork, starting in September/October 2019, is now available. Funding is provided by the Synthesis and Solid State Pharmaceutical Centre (SSPC), and will cover PhD stipend, fees, and purchase of equipment and materials. The project is in the area of Green/Sustainable Organic Chemistry. A brief description is given below:
Alkyl halides and related electrophiles are widely used in organic synthesis. However, these alkylating agents are highly toxic and carcinogenic, and are harmful to the environment. Identification and development of suitable non-toxic and environmentally benign alternative alkylating agents to replace such electrophiles is hence a highly desirable goal in the context of Green Chemistry. The use of alcohols for this purpose would be ideal since they are benign and readily available, with a wide range of possible structural variation. The goal of this project is to develop general methodology for nucleophilic substitution of alcohols of any structure by any nucleophile through use of an organocatalytic activating agent. Ultimately, this catalytic nucleophilic substitution methodology will be applied in the synthesis of pharmaceuticals and/or their precursors, improving the efficiency and decreasing the environmental impact of the production process. Opportunities will be available to undertake a placement with one of the industrial partners of the SSPC during this PhD project.

Interviews for this position will take place in the week of May 20th – 24th, and a decision on the successful candidate will be made shortly thereafter. Please contact Dr. Byrne if you would like further information on the project or any other aspect of the position. Further information on the research group can be found Here.

School of Chemistry


University College Cork, College Rd, Cork, Ireland