New call for UK Catalysis Hub projects 2021 open (SEPT 2021)

The Call will close on the 20 December 2021 at 12.00

Please send a 2 page (A4, Arial 11 point, margins 2.0 cm) proposal for these projects to The Project Manager, Josie Goodall before 12.00 on the closing date . 

Please use the Subject line: ‘Application for New Call 2021’.  It is strongly advised you use the Criteria for Prioritization as headings to organise your proposal. 

This call is for up to one year of PDRA time to work on collaborative multidisciplinary, multi-institution projects that coordinate, promote and advance the UK catalysis research portfolio within the areas of catalysis as represented by the 3 themes of the Catalysis Hub. 

The Hub recognises in these times Industrial contributions may be hard to come by and is using its resources to support industry – academic contributions and welcomes industrial involvement in cutting edge catalytic research. Direct contributions are encouraged but we seek to develop and maintain industrial relationships of all kinds.
It is expected that prioritisation will occur in January and February and successful projects will be announced later in 2022 and must start before November 2022, except where they are following directly on from an existing project (e.g. the core PDRAS in science 1)

The Catalysis Hub supports internationally leading multi-disciplinary multi-institution collaborative research projects where scientific excellence is the first criteria.  The Hub encourages applicants to seek out industrial support if it is relevant to the science proposed prior to the application. All proposals submitted to the Hub should follow the Hub Ethos and should not be relevant to other research council pathways or calls.  

The UK Catalysis hub themes are 

  1. Optimising, Predicting and Designing New Catalysts,
  2. Catalysis at the Water Energy Nexus and 
  3. Catalysis for the Circular Economy and Sustainable Manufacturing. 

Read more about our new research programme.

Criteria for the prioritization panel

The 2 page proposal should address the following areas (please use these headings):

  1. Title and Project team including any industrial collaborators
  2. Scientific quality:   The Catalysis Hub supports internationally leading multi-disciplinary, multi-institution,collaborative research projects where scientific excellence is the primary criteria. Please give details on the scientific background and importance 
    1. 2-3 Key words for proposal
  3. Programme dimension: addressing the impact of the project on the other areas of catalysis as represented by the Hub themes and catalysis areas including upcoming and under-represented areas. Please give details of the aim, what will be done during the project and what will be achieved if successful. Please include any risk mitigation.
  4. Suggested Hub theme: please specify which theme your project best fits and if you are applying for Core PDRA time (Science 1: neutrons, synchrotrons and modelling). 
  5. Collaboration: how the collaboration will work and who will participate. All projects are required to be multi-institution and multi-disciplinary. The Hub promotes collaborative projects which must involve investigators from at least two institutions. Industrial and International partners are welcomed but the PDRA must be hosted in the UK by a UK academic institution. 
    Please detail what the contributions from partners are including industrial partners 
  6. Why, what and where: It is essential to specify why funding from the Hub is required and appropriate as opposed to other UKRI funding mechanisms. Please state what is the required resource from the Hub as well as what resource will be provided by the project team and Industry. Please state why the project is suitable for 12 months funding form the Hub 
     Also, where appropriate, the project should indicate how it will make use of the Hub and the Harwell Campus Facilities.
    Please also include where will the PDRA be located* and any secondments and/or visits to the collaborating laboratories depending on the requirements of the science in the project. 
  7. Success criteria: describe the criteria against which the project should be judged by, e.g. publications, patent applications, industrial collaborations begun, outreach activities and impact. How will the project will be taken forward in the light of success

* Please note that the Science 1: Optimising Predicting and Designing new Catalysis (OPDNC) theme is based at Harwell to take advantage of facilities and the location so projects involving the Science 1 theme will need to be located at the Research Complex at Harwell.

Scientific quality is the most important criteria please cover this and detail what will be undertaken and achieved in at least 1 to 1.5 page(s) – remaining space for the other criteria. 

The UK Catalysis hub is hoping to stimulate collaborations with US researchers supported by the Department of Energy (DOE) Office of Basic Energy Sciences (BES) in key areas for projects with links to US and UK facilities.  Proposals in this area will be positively received but this is not a requirement for Hub projects.  Where relevant such projects may be granted additional travel money to stimulate collaborative experiments. This will be judged on a case-by-case basis. It would be expected that these proposals would be developed with the US counterparts and would be supported by both parties (e.g. DOE-BES funding). Hub management will coordinate reviews of the collaborative aspects of the proposed projects with appropriate BES program managers.


Proposals should be no more than 2 pages long. Please follow EPSRC guidelines on formatting for your proposals e.g. minimum font size 11, with margins being at least 2cm in all directions; only Arial or Helvetica font styles may be used, and text should be justified left. 

There is no need to include a table of costs as these are fixed by what EPSRC have awarded the Hub.

It is strongly advised you use the Criteria for Prioritization as headings to organise your proposal.

Letters of support

If relevant, Industrial letters of support may be appended to the proposals to demonstrate impact or industrial interaction.

Industrial Support

The Hub encourages applicants to seek industrial engagement and support for their projects. The nature of the project should reflect the UK Catalysis Hub ethos. The Hub recognises in these times Industrial contributions may be hard to come by. The  Hub is seeking to support projects so that  resources support industry – academic contributions and welcomes industrial involvement in cutting edge catalytic research. Direct contributions are preferred but we seek to develop and maintain industrial relationships of all kinds.

Please note it is important to agree IP arrangements in advance these will be between the applicants university or universities, and Industry Partners(s).

All industrial contributions should be made to the host institution (e.g. applicant) as detailed in the Letter of Support.


Please note the budget for projects is set across the Hub by what was granted by EPSRC in the grants and thus is fixed, if you wish to view these figures please contact the Project Manager by email It is the responsibility of the person applying to secure agreement from their finance department prior to submitting an application.

The Science 1: Optimising Predicting and Designing new Catalysis (OPNDC) theme is based at Harwell to take advantage of facilities and the location so Projects involving the Science 1 theme will need to be located at the Research Complex at Harwell. This affects the funding available for these projects as estates cost were not included in the funding granted.

In the OPNDC theme (Science 1) these three areas were designated strategic: Synchrotrons, Neutrons, and Modelling. PDRAS in these areas have been hired for 5 years, though they will be available to work on projects in these areas from the new call. If you are developing projects in these areas we strongly suggest you talk to the PI of the theme (Prof. Catlow) and the PDRA involved in that area. Please specify on the application that it is a core PDRA. CORE PDRAs may work on multiple projects each with a proportion of the time available  

PLEASE NOTE the costs available only cover the PDRA Time, no costs for PI time were awarded by EPSRC and therefore are not included in the projects budget. 

The PDRAS are

Donato Decarolis – Synchrotrons and XAFS  ( Current projects end August 2022)

Donato’s work has focussed on the application of X-Ray techniques to study various systems under catalytic conditions. He learned how to devise, successfully propose and perform in situ synchrotron radiation experiments – while designing specific reactors for such experiments. In the course of his work, he performed 15 experiments, at different synchrotron facilities (European Synchrotron Radiation Facility, Diamond Light Source, Swiss Light Source) on various XAS beamlines: BM26A (ESRF), B18 (DLS), I20-Scanning (DLS), I20-EDE (DLS), SuperXAS (SLS), ID16-B (ESRF) and diffraction beamlines: I07 (DLS). The majority of these experiments involved the application of novel approaches to in situ data acquisition, and the combination of multiple spectroscopic and scattering techniques such as XAFS/DRIFTS, XAFS/XRD, XAFS/SAXS, GISAXS/WAXS. Recently his work also has involved the use and development of spatially resolved techniques for XAFS application such as the SPACI-FB and optimisation of custom-made XAFS/DRIFTS cells.

Santhosh Matam – Neutrons  (Current projects June 2022)

Santhosh Matam has a PhD (from Humboldt University of Berlin, Germany) in the field of chemistry and catalysis with emphasis on the application of in situ/operando spectroscopy to derive structure activity relationships. His education, training and experience are centred on the application of neutron scattering, X-ray absorption and laser based techniques under real operation of a catalytic process (operando methodology) to establish structure activity relationships with more than 17 years of relevant academic research experience. Since 2016, he has employed neutron scattering techniques, including quasi-elastic (QENS), inelastic (INS) and total (TNS) neutron scattering techniques which enable to investigate molecular dynamics in porous materials, surface adsorbed species and liquid or solid structure determination, respectively.

His current research activities are centred on the application of neutron scattering techniques to characterise catalysts and catalytic processes and understand molecular dynamics and surface adsorbed species that provide information on the reaction and deactivation mechanism of a catalytic process (including gas-solid and liquid-solid interfaces). The combination of QENS and INS is unique and make it powerful for complex catalysis studies. TNS enables to understand arrangement of reactant molecules around the active sites in a porous materials. He also employs computational tools to unravel molecular and atomic level interactions at gas-solid and liquid-solid interfaces and thereby aid to determine reaction pathways.

Matthew Quesne – Modelling  (Current projects end August 2022)

Matthew Quesne’s PhD focused on modelling the catalytic mechanisms of enzymatic and biomimetic systems, under the supervision of Dr Sam de Visser (Manchester Institute of Biotechnology). During his first PostDoc as part of the group headed by Dr Tomasz Borowski (Institute of Catalysis and Surface Chemistry Polish, Poland) he focused on MD, QM/MM and cluster model simulations of metal dependent enzymes. Subsequently, a move back to the United Kingdom saw him join the group of Prof. Richard Catlow (Cardiff University) where he studied CO2 activation on a variety of transition metal carbides.  Finally, at the UK Catalysis Hub Matthew is currently applying his experience in modelling both heterogeneously and homogenously catalysed reaction mechanisms to a variety of different Hub projects. Over a decade of modelling he has worked with dozens of different experimental groups and provided the in silico components to many joint computational/experimental studies.  Recently, his work as part of a large multi-disciplinary EPSRC project and as a core Hub PostDoc has demonstrated the importance of collaboration across many different UK institutions. He is keen to offer his expertise to a wide variety of different catalytic problems and would be very happy to answer any email queries.


All institutions must sign the award letter (to the collaboration agreement) as is with no amendments for the projects to go ahead.

Please contact Josie Goodall ( for a copy of these agreements. 

If your institution has not yet signed one of these agreements, please contact your contracts departments to discuss them before submitting a proposal. Please also discuss the financial models with your finance department prior to submitting the project.


It is expected that PDRAS hired on Hub projects will engage with the UK Catalysis Hub including attending Hub conferences and workshops, attending theme and project meetings. The Hub requires regular reporting to the Project Manager (and theme leaders) at least 6 monthly, and short updates (1-2 paragraphs) every other month. The Project Manager should be informed of any outcomes (publications, patents, translation and follow on funding). The Hub should be acknowledged on all relevant outputs (e.g. publications, presentation and posters). It is also expected that PDRAS will spend approximately 5% of their time on impact activities.

UK Catalysis Hub Vision and Ethos

  • To establish a world-leading, comprehensive and coordinated programme of catalytic science in the UK.
  • To develop new knowledge and promote innovation in and translation of catalytic science and technology.
  • Enabling the UK to regain and retain a world leading position in catalysis.

A key feature of the Hub Ethos is that all projects involve multi–institutional multidisciplinary collaborations developing international leading scientific research. Research projects should tackle catalysis challenges and opportunities that are not approachable by one PDRA with one PI in one Lab.

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